The Myth of the Community

Some years ago, my barber’s son ran a losing campaign for mayor of Oakland.  He blew several house payments on a very prominent billboard that belched out “Unity to the Community!”  Being a mortgage loan broker by trade, he could still afford it.  Henceforth, whenever I showed up to get my hair cut, I’d yell out that phrase and everybody there would crack up.

Fast forward to today.  My ultra-progressive friend recently gave me a copy of Fareed Zakaria’s Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World.  Trump was still President when it was first published; and many newer lessons about the COVID pandemic have since been learned.  But I did learn some very interesting stuff about how leftists see the world.  The concepts of the family and of the individual are “modern” constructs and are contrary to true human nature.  Really?  Zakaria insists that our natural state of being is as basic units of a larger unified mass.

What about the Enlightenment and the relentless progress of social evolution?  It seems beyond Luddite to insist that humans are best off when they remain within their primordial social structure.  In order to achieve a dictatorship of the proletariat, however, herding the masses away from individuality and into communal identities sure makes the job a lot easier.  Hence, we now have a “Gay” community, a Black community, Hispanic community, etc.  How else to better strip people of their individuality and exploit them to the max for political gain?

In the current buzz-generating publication Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari lays out a less ideologically tainted description of human social evolution.  Homo sapiens were originally hunters and gatherers, as I was taught in my studies of anthropology.  Eventually, agriculture became the primary human food source.  Our population drastically increased but, according to Harari, life wasn’t as much fun.  This is fairly consistent with a narrative compiled more than 5,000 years ago, but not actually referenced in Sapiens.  With Adam and Eve’s banishment from the Garden of Eden, two curses were heaped upon them (and all of subsequent humanity):  Women shall bear children in agony; and men shall eat bread for evermore.

The childbirth issue has to do with the evolutionary trend towards walking on only two legs.  The human pelvis had to narrow, and females had to give birth earlier and earlier to accommodate this tendency.  The transition and its end result had to be fairly painful.  Bread, however, is now the staple of life.  There are various recipes, but still according to Harari, we’re supposed to suffer from dietary problems as a result.  Then, why do we keep living longer and longer?  Also, hunting and gathering for survival can be quite nervewracking.  Agriculture is a lot more predictable.

What is also not really covered in Sapiens is the pastoral nomad human business model.  The word Hebrew means “wanderer.”  The Jewish dietary prohibition pertaining to pork is considered by some scholars to be the result of the inability of pigs to be easily herded, unlike sheep, goats, and cattle.  Archaeologists have found that, often when herders settle into villages, the bones of swine eventually start appearing.  Some Arabs may still be Bedouin, but their nomadic lifestyle is not embraced by Islam.  The mullahs would much prefer their flock to settle in villages, clustered around mosques.

Perhaps the most profound aspect of American society is mobility.  Unlike traditional Europe and Asia, an American’s ancestry has little, if any, bearing on one’s destiny.  Physical mobility is also of tremendous significance.  My old college chums and I still keep in touch with each other, even though we’ve scattered ourselves all over the continent.  The Internet and, especially, email have greatly enhanced the ease by which this is accomplished.  This is hardly conducive to being bunched together because of some externally imposed artificial identity.

There are, of course subcultures in our midst.  Car salesmen can be considered a subculture.  In a given locality, they mostly tend to know each other and some will change jobs frequently.  Subcultures became more obvious after World War II.  Jack Kerouac’s “beatniks” are one.  Motorcycle gangs are another.  These groupings are truly organic.  People join them voluntarily and they impose their own style of conformity.

Being Black or Hispanic in America is nothing more than an accident of birth, just like being colorblind, left-handed, or a redhead.  No choice is involved.  It’s about time our “leaders” stop pandering to these accidental differences among us and treat us like the individuals we truly are, rather than pawns in some grand political game.

Image: OpenClipArt

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