Politically Bereft – If You Really Love Us

Values, morals, and social expectations differ between communal cultures and individualist cultures, each camp believing it has solid justifications for being what it is.

But this doesn’t stop loners from longing to join communities, or disgruntled collectivists from seeing the distant individualist culture as a utopia where all dreams come true.

But there’s always that rude awakening.

The enthusiasm of the newcomer to communal life begins to fade when she notices all the little ways in which she’s asked to abandon herself.

The newcomer to an individualist society will soon realise that not even personal success will reduce her loneliness and vulnerability.

Those who’ve experienced both worlds can imagine an alternative paradigm, one that’s always existed in parts of the world in the form of communities of individualists. In these groups basic needs are provided communally in order to free, nurture, and encourage group members to do their own thing. Sometimes these kinds of communities are consciously constructed, and sometimes they just happen.

Such communities see no need to enforce communal values with propaganda, legislation, or social pressure; the individuals within them have already accepted that their lives can be better—i.e. freer and more productive—if they share responsibilities and resources while respecting each other’s special gifts.

If we can’t find a community like this to join, we can fake it ’til we make it—i.e. live as if we’re in one right now. By seeking ways to help others and share goods we balance personal interests with the social good, constructing environments in which every person can thrive and self-actualise.

The path of the communal individualist is a win-win. Try it and see.

Wanda also writes the blog The Mindful Bard:The Care and Feeding of the Creative Self.