This is a test
Community Collapse in the West
The efforts of the British administration to pacify the province without being able to first restore a belief in imminent prosperity have involved it — despite massive transfu¬sions of investment for ailing industry — in merely contributing to this process of social dismemberment. The Protes¬tant community, deprived of its government in March 1972, rapidly fell prey to the same proliferation of competing political organizations, each more extreme than its predecessor in the narrowness of its views of the whole crisis, and each consequently less likely to perceive the general lowering of horizon from province to city to town to street to individual family. In a tragic but utterly characteristic statement of the vacuum which lies beneath the dissolving social structure of Northern Ireland the mother of a fifteen-year-old girl tarred and feathered by the IRA for ‘espionage’ told a television interviewer eager for evidence of sectarian bitterness that she took no interest in the outside world any longer, she knew nothing about it and thus could tell no lies. All she cared about was her own home.
The disappearance of the traditional concept of community is evidenced by its failure to re-emerge under conditions of stress. The basic interdependence is gone because the whole technology of consumer supply, as well as the matrix of obligations and supports which constrained consumer ambitions, has changed from interlocking concentric circles to radiating lines. The linear structure of supply is monolithic and vulnerable; the seamless web of consumption, when starved of either its product or its product’s image, does not so much fragment as dissolve. Community is gone, only wealth conceals atomization.
Society in its contemporary Western form is thus held together by a pattern of aspirations somehow marketed alongside products and services whose social effects are demonstrably fragmenting. This paradox — which is nowhere implied in the Latin derivation socius ( meaning ‘ally’ ) nor in the 1553 definition ‘the system or mode of life adopted by a body of individuals for the purpose of harmonious coexistence’ — can only be unravelled by some consideration of the overwhelming importance of economic factors in social organization today.
Since the Industrial Revolution and its attendant demographic changes the ‘system or mode of life’ in the developed nations has been recognized as dominated by the principle of the division of labour; a fragmentation of the processes of production in the interest of increased efficiency which over two centuries and more has led to a complexity and differentiation in patterns of employment closely reflected in the modern system of labour mobility which underlies suburban living. The migrant suburban family, of the kind described above, survives in what C. B. Macpherson has called ‘a possessive market society’ entirely because it has willingly extended the fragmentary pattern of relationships which emerges from the conditions of employment out into all its social relationships — this is why Macpherson uses the term market society instead of market economy. Uncomplainingly it moves from suburb to suburb, even from country to country; friends are left behind, relatives unseen for many years, schools changed frequently. In all this it merely reflects the demands of the forces of production with minimal inertia and maximum compliance. The system of alliances (in the Latin sense of socius) that such a family builds up is filtered through the primary imperative of employment and this in turn derives from fluctuations in demand, investment and other factors influencing the market for the product or service with which the employed member of the family is involved.
Curiously, this slavish adaptation to market conditions has not brought about a balance between population distribution and the distribution of employment possibilities. On the contrary, despite increased labour mobility and increasing use of government money to finance the relocation of industry and commerce, there remains an irreducible conflict of interest between business prosperity and the perfect articulation of the worker’s life-style to conform to it. There can be no one-to-one relationship; if there were, the competitive advantage — which together with tax incentives, government loans and other penalties and incentives makes the whole operation worth while — would evaporate overnight.
Looked at in this light it is difficult to claim that social cohesion can result from such an arrangement, where even the final achievement of a unified pattern of mobility is unthinkable. Such cohesion as consumer societies at present evince must derive from other sources, or else amount to a form of resistance against the dominant social pattern of fragmentation. For if the social impact of the possessive market is conditioned by its demonstrable tendency to isolate and fragment, and yet a relatively harmonious pattern of social behaviour still exists, then that ‘system or mode of life’ must represent something other than the endlessly slicing effect of the productive machine.
This is another test. It looks like comments work fine, after I fixed an error in the system.
Well, NY isn’t a much better alternative…just a bunch of people who don’t care about one another living on top of each other. That’s the beauty of an online community. You can get to know people that you would otherwise never talk to.