Thursday, September 25, 2014

america: club life - may the best intentional communities win


Time | We're used to choosing to join together for a goal—or not—whenever we want to 

Over the course of the last 15 years or so, there’s been an explosion in the number of charter schools around the country. According to the latest figures (from 2012), some 2.1 million students are enrolled in schools run by private groups awarded public money. The schools bear optimistic names like “YES Prep North Central” (in Houston) and “Animo Leadership High” (in Inglewood, California). Beyond the specific concerns about education, the charter school movement is powered by a particularly American world-view, one rooted in the ethos of the dissident Protestant churches that were the foundation of early American culture: Citizens opting out of a hierarchical system to pursue personal goals by joining together in a local, voluntary society.

This ideological impulse – which I and others call “voluntarism” – is a cultural trait that helps explain why the United States remains different from comparable wealthy, western nations. Broadly speaking, voluntarism is not another term for American individualism, although it entails individualism. Voluntarism is the way Americans reconcile individualism and community. And we can feel the weight of American voluntarism in our approaches to public issues, not only in charter schools, but in debates about issues like Obamacare and gay marriage as well.

Other western nations, by contrast, consider health care a civil right of citizens and a moral obligation of government. American tradition, however, treats health care as an individual’s personal responsibility, or at least as a personal responsibility exercised through voluntary association, as in workplace health insurance. When the debate around gay marriage shifted from a discussion of God, gender, sex, and propriety to a debate over individual rights, tolerance, and the personal freedom of Americans to choose their partners, the struggle for marriage equality became easier.

American voluntarism makes it hard for social-democratic reformers to persuade their fellow citizens to accept the types of ambitious state-run initiatives common in most western democracies, such as universal healthcare, free pre-schools and guaranteed labor rights. Conversely, the spirit of American voluntarism makes it harder for non-Americans to understand our public policies, which are often caricatured as being nakedly Darwinian.

 That American society was notably different — exceptional was the term — from other western societies was a staple for much of twentieth-century social science. Researchers have offered up lists of hows and whys, trying to distill the difference. I joined the enterprise when I started researching my 2010 book, Made in America, and the evidence spoke to the centrality of voluntarism in understanding American culture and its so-called exceptionalism.

8 comments:

BigDonOne said...

Still not too late...." Has the wing confirmed holding at their failsafe points?"

CNu said...

lol, no saving throw for you and you'n either, except for fresh protective gear and powered respirators. Better buy yours before the rush is on. Those things'll be more valuable than AR-15's were a few years ago.

BigDonOne said...

Dunno if it would be safe to go out even if you had the yellow suit, etc.... Bangers would kill you for it just like they do for Michael Jordan's and iPhones....BD"s plan is to self-quarantine till things cool off...

CNu said...

Too bad for you, I send out my fpv drones with nightvision and surveil the busters before going outside to streetsweep them and harvest their tallow...,

John Kurman said...

"Everything but the squeal"

rohan said...

Damn brav...., you went hella hard today. LOTS to think about. Thanks!

rohan said...

Where do you come down on these questions? Social democratic inclusion or individual sovereign/intentional communitarian exclusion and competition?

CNu said...

My man..., intelligent questions tend to be rather vanishingly rare - very much appreciated! So, where I come down on it is simple. We're well down the road of the anthropocene extinction and that means environmental, ecological, and ethological musical chairs. Given our current levels of mass psychological maturity and development, as a species, we can't help but fight viciously among ourselves for what we instinctually consider the last chair in the dwindling collection of musical chairs.

Some precious few humans will escape and survive, off-world, deep underworld and under the sea. I am confident that that WILL happen, and hopefully these few will survive and learn and be more having made it through the bottleneck we've brought upon ourselves and most multicellular and vertebrate animals living on the surface of the earth.

Social democratic inclusion would require a degree of moral development (spiritual development) unimaginable to 99.99999% of these humans.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna...,

I wonder if @elonmusk has ever read The Book of Enoch. God is real. 💡 https://t.co/sU6T0tCQS6 — Anna Paulina Luna (@realannapaulina) Dece...