This struck me most powerfully during anthro class on Monday. We were talking about Japanese business men who basically sever all ties to their families in order to devote more time to their company. Even their need for females is met by these "Hostess" clubs that they go to with business associates. The class basically agreed that this was bad because it was unfair to the wives not becuase of any sort of shattering of the familial community. I think that this is just wrongheaded.
Even if we accept the claim that the goal of society is to please as many individuals as is possible I think it's pretty fair to say that going about doing this without the use of communities is incredibly wasteful. Think about it, all the prepackaged television music and virtual entertainment in the world can't really match the complexity and depth of a single human being. How much money and how many gadgets would it take to replicate the joy of watching a beautiful sunset with somebody you love? Somewhere along the line we started to seperate individual happiness from group harmony and I think it's destructive and stupid. Don't people realize how efficient and important social interactions are as a source of personal pleasure and happiness? Don't they recognize that just because old social orders were opressive doesn't mean that new, healthier ones cannot be constructed?
Here's what I think happened.
A) Community organizations and family bonds are good for general well being but they are restrictive to women and minorities as identification of an us leads to an identification of a them and discrimination against them.
B) The "Thems" decide they are tired of being opressed and through new ideologies and lots of work they manage to break out of the old rolls and enter mainstream society. In doing this they weaken the old "us" organizations because they were defined in a large part by the "thems."
C) The fight against opression has created a liberal infastructure. However there are now fewer things to fight against so the infastructure, which has become self generating and self protecting, tries to find new foes to battle. They pick many institutions that actually had a positive influence just because they now need something to smash. Meanwhile since a lot of the old norms and structures have been smashed and the pieces haven't been glued together into something new society starts to cater to the fragments. New structures that do sprout up are ignored because nobody quite knows how to deal with them and they are more complex than the individual. Because of this they fail to become standardized or used as new models of socialization. Instead the fragmented individualist perspective is embraced because it's easy to deal with. This reinforces the individualism and makes people see social groupings as things restricting them from their rights to be happy well adjusted individuals with no responsibilities to other people.
D) People eventually become isolated and angry, searching for individual fulfillment without realizing that in some ways that term is an oxymoron. Divorces continue to skyrocket as people continue to see marriage as a repression of their individuality without considering the benefits of compramise and mutual support. Neighborhoods fade away alongside marriages as too many people are coming and going for there to be a cohesive stable whole.
E) Children raised in this fragmented world don't even understand the old concept of unity and togetherness. Instead they also ignore human beings natural desire for social contact and engage in the same kind of individualistic faulty logic that their parents did. Things go wrong.
So what's my solution? Well I think that we need to rebuild the basic building blocks of community, the nuclear family, in a new and less restrictive way. We need to promote marriage, responsibility, compramise and all that stuff. We need to get men to do more by appealing to ideas of building something together rather than sacrificing for the other individual. We need to teach the health and psychological benefits of the family in our grade schools and our high schools. We need to bring back old stigmas against selfishness and ruthlessness. We need to cull the liberal establishment so it only fights against the truly harmful institutions (Some of which DO still exist.) We need to do a lot of stuff.
Anyway I know this post has been somewhat fractured but I think that the points still stand and the progression is sound. I just didn't have the time to write it up like I would have liked to. Anyway, any thoughts? That don't involve butter and waterbuffalo and...oh my...what's that? No don't...that won't...you can't put that there. You people are sick. Just plain sick.