State vs. Community

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There
are some crimes, which are peculiarly repulsive to humanity. Crimes
which raise the ire and exude contempt for those who perpetrate
such acts.

One
such criminal act is child killing, an act rightly held in the highest
condemnation by society, but often inconsistently so in the ages
past (as we see in the abortion controversy). Especially vilified
are those who were charged with the care of such little ones but
were found wanting in the most abominable way.

Such
people warrant the limit of a society’s sanctions and often receive
a double portion of retribution when their prison inmates find out
the true nature of their incarceration.

So,
when we were confronted with the tragic cases of torture and finally
murder meted out to Lauren
Wright
(aged 6) and Victoria
Climbie
(aged 8), society began to ask the usual questions.

The
first being “How could people do such a thing?” and the answer to
that remains the same whilst human nature retains a propensity to
commit incorrigible evil.

The
second question is more relevant to those of an anti-statist disposition
when it is asked why such a thing was not preventable.

Indeed,
the decivilising forces inherent in encroaching statism not only
trickle down to those who commit such acts but also to those who
have a part to play in the curbing of lawlessness. I will address
the second group because they include our own law-abiding selves.

Whether
one is a libertarian or otherwise does not change the axiom that
the liberty of community must survive in order that the liberty
of the individual survives. The Christian builds this upon the concept
of “common grace” whilst the secularist may refer to it as the herd
instinct (I am open to a nobler sounding phrase than that).

When
the plight of an abused child is ignored by neighbours pre-occupied
with their internal affairs to the exclusion of others then community
becomes a mere aggregate of dissolving social links. Man is a social
creature who is at his prime fulfilment when he is engaged in the
business of relationships.

I
venture that the concept of community is likened to the layered
effect of an onion, which has the individual at the centre with
varying concentric shells of family, local community and regional
culture. A common and regional culture may include the nation-state
but this is not mandatory, as we see in the primary distinction
and allegiance to tribes within an artificially imposed national
boundary.

The
further that two layers are from each other, the less effective
and even threatening they are to one or the other on the grounds
of unfamiliarity, cultural disparity and a distance that leads to
increasing indifference and even xenophobic hostility.

Therefore,
each layer immediately above the one below acts as a buffer with
it in a symbiotic manner against the layers above, which ensures
the survival of each for the benefit of each.

So,
take away the tribe or nation-state and the community is at the
mercy of other tribes and nation-states.

Take
away the community and the family is at the mercy of foreign communities
and tribes/nations.

Take
away the family and the individual himself is threatened and neglected
by foreign families and beyond.

Take
away the individual and the destruction of society is complete.

Why
do I say “threatened” or “foreign”? Simply, because each layer which
is in contact with its immediate neighbour has a unique familiarity
which offers security and aid.

The
individual is best served by his or her own genetically related
family. The community is not as good as the family in serving the
individual. How sadly this was demonstrated in these two girls who
were being “cared” for by those who were not their natural mothers.

Moreover,
the family unit is best served by the community of common families
within the boundary defined by the range of face-to-face contact.
It is not a social community, which relies on multi-megabit communication
links to sustain its existence. Talking to people across the Internet
lacks the warmth and immediacy of the human face. The regular altruistic
contact and amiable conversation between those separated by fractions
of a mile rather than freeways and oceans is a proven builder of
relationships and hence motivation to effective and sincere mutual
aid.

And,
finally, the community is best served by other immediate tribal
communities, who share a common, regional culture rather than that
of a distant dialect or even ethic.

Which
brings us back to the sad cases of these two little girls and, at
which point, I bring in the State and its Social Welfare arm which
was exposed as appallingly negligent in heeding the warnings of
neighbours. The social workers and managers were given sufficient
warnings to remove these kids from their abusers. Why did they not
do this?

For
the usual reasons – overworked, underpaid and under motivated staff.
For less personal reasons beyond that, such as the bureaucratic
paper trail and the legal bear traps underneath that impale the
unwary with poison tipped lawsuits from falsely accused guardians.

But
there is one prime reason, which the State will not accede to, and
that is that there are others who can do the job of community and
family welfare better than itself. In fact, so much better, that
the State is not needed at all.

The
two girls as individuals lacked the first layer of protection —
those over them with a close genetic interest in their future. They
thus fell back on the next layer of the community and encountered
immediate problems for the State has helped oversee the increasing
dissolution of the concept of communion within community.

Strip
away the family, the community and even the tribal region and we
see the omnipotent State offering to us the sophistry of the global
village. It is a sedative which whispers to the layers below such
promises as "We have the money.", "We have the technology.",
"We have the professionals." and "We have the sanctions.".

They
do indeed. One thing they cannot say, though, is "We have the
love." and "We have the compassion." and therein
lies the reason why their professionals will remain just that and
no more. These people are paid to do a job; they expect money in
return for their services. If they are not paid, how many will betray
their ultimate indifference to the little ones they claim to have
an interest in?

The
neighbours who warned the Social Services of the evil going on did
their part in the family-community symbiosis. They expected no pay
rises in return or "employee of the month" awards, only
justice. They too were failed. Neighbours who watched these little
children come in and out each day grew to know them and develop
and interest in their well being through the milk of human kindness.
Such is the concept and evolution of this microcosm of society.

But
the bureaucracy and monolith of the Welfare State knows none of
this — it is a robot, it is a machine which pounds to the pistons
of dogma rather than the beat of the compassionate human heart.
It is a creature that cannot properly participate in a community
for its ultimate allegiance lies in the distant and centralised
offices of the Senate or Parliament or, worse, in the manifesto
of its ruling party.

It
skewers through the layers of our metaphorical onion in the name
of common national interest and then watches as the life juices
of that delicate and multi-layered organism ebb away through that
wound whilst all the time agitating for more taxes to staunch the
flow of the resulting society ills.

Yet,
the thing that rankles most is that they do not appear to comprehend
that they are part of the problem rather than the solution. I would
that they knew they were culpable, for change may be quicker if
they ever repented of it.

Libertarians,
I hope, should not seek purely the role of complainers. We are problem
solvers as well. Or, in this case, the community is the solution
to State interference and sloth. The State has played its part in
desensitising the fellow feeling of community, it is not the sole
guilty party in this, but it is a large player.

The
family and community combine to form a buttress against the State.
In these small groupings within society individuals can find the
protection to express themselves fully without fear of a centralised
planner imposing a homogenous culture upon all.

Who
is my neighbour? Let us learn the answer to that question anew lest
the State redefines the very meaning of family and community before
our very eyes.

October
22 ,
2001

Roland
Watson [send him
mail
] writes from Edinburgh, Scotland.

©
2001 LewRockwell.com

Roland
Watson Archives

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