An Alternative Approach to Communitarianism
- News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
An alternative approach to communitarianism
By Alex Shantz
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 12:00 am
On July 11, Kevin Eggers wrote a scathing article against
communitarianism entitled “Sustainable nightmare to plague Napa County.”
Eggers states that communitarianism is a philosophy whereby individual
rights are balanced with community rights. He then goes on to claim that
“public officials decide what ‘community rights’ are.” It is presumed
that under communitarianism (or likely any collective situation
according to Eggers), community rights are determined by public
officials rather than the people. This isn’t necessarily the case.
Allow me to put forth an alternative model. People gather collectively
and autonomously, independent from any public official, to form their
own associations. The people within these associations can structure
their associations however they want. Perhaps some associations will
have a voting system to elect leaders to make decisions. Perhaps some
associations will have people vote on every decision made. Perhaps other
associations will be entirely consensus based.
The functions of these associations would be to facilitate the process
whereby people’s needs are met, conflicts are resolved and resources are
combined and allocated.
This model combines elements of the libertarian and communist
philosophy. It is libertarian in the sense that this model is radically
The state would be entirely eliminated from the picture. Communities
would be truly localized and entirely autonomous. However, this model
would also be communist insofar as it would be a stateless and classless
situation in which every individual would have equal say within the
The libertarian element would ensure that individual needs and desires
are not overlooked by valuing autonomy while the communist element would
offer a support system to alleviate certain burdens from the individual.
This model could be described as libertarian communism or even
Most importantly, and to dispute Eggers’ point, this model would
necessitate the people determine the rights of the community rather then
While sustainability practices limit the individual freedoms in places
like Cuba or Europe, it is not the philosophy of sustainability that is
at fault, but the big government which oppresses the people.
Agenda 21 is merely an advisory plan, not a blueprint to Cuban-style
statism. Need I add that there are thousands of people in Napa Valley
that would fight to prevent a dictatorship from occurring in our cities?
To end on a personal note: in many regards I wish to see the Tea Party
as allies. Their rhetoric claims to critique tyrannical government.
However, they are inconsistent in terms of applying their critique of
tyranny to corporations. Furthermore, their rugged individualist ideal
undermines any notion of community.
A new generation is rising up. This generation is calling for an end to
the tyranny of government and corporations while emphasizing the need
for autonomous collectivism.
(Shantz lives in Napa.)
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News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
in charge on this island?
Professor: Why, no one.
Skipper: No one?
Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
-- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"