Why i don't like community.

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nigel's picture
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Why i don't like community.

Why community may not be the answer. 
The first premise of my argument is that the people in charge of the government and major corporations are the people who have an irrational self interest. That these people have a larger negative impact on our culture, society and environment than they have a positive impact on the same things. 
(Side note: I accept there will be exceptions to this, but as a whole it is generally correct) 
The second premise is that the causes of these people behaving in an irrational way are systemic to the culture we have today and that if we could magically remove the people in charge, the people that replace them will be fundamentally no different to the group we have in today. To clarify I would suggest that those people who have the desire to be in charge and the determination to see themselves in power will be those who naturally are the wrong people. 
Call that whatever you want, a tendency of sociopaths to gravitate to power, or call it an entrenched selective power structure that naturally promotes it's own members based on criteria that self reinforces the characteristics within the power structure. It really doesn't matter how the people at the top get there, it only really matters that you can't get real change in power structures. 
As a third premise I would like to suggest that this systemic flaw exists at all levels of society. It doesn't matter if it is the bake sale, or the multinational, that sooner or later the wrong type of person will end up in charge. 
Why am i writing this? Well I come from a small rural village of about 150 people, about 2 hours drive from Sydney Australia. There is a split in the population 1) about 50 people come from old farming families that have lived in the area for 150 years 2) about 50 people are rich weekenders who have a rural retreat 3) about 50 people are tree changers, baby boomers who want to live in the bush. 
As a rule the older farming families are always polite and courteous, but they have as a rule withdrawn from the community events. They still show up but they don't take an active role. Most have lived on a farm their whole life, they are a very capable group of people. they have been taught that agriculture is the basis of civilisation and they generally have a large amount of respect for other people. They are the type of people who if asked would help anyone, but if not asked will not tell you if you are doing the wrong thing just in case you invent a new way of doing something, that and respect for someone enough to let them make their own mistakes. They generally have a culture that values self reliance, and a culture that believes in providing by production. 
The tree changers are in charge of community events and organisations, they are as a rule the opposite of the farmers. They believe that they can make a difference, and that they are right. They have over time got elected to all of the community institutions and are in charge of all of the community events. They rule these instuitions in a top down autocratic manner. They come from all walks of life, doctors, police, professionals, hippies and people who run away from bad experiences in the city and arrive angry. They have some very fancy tractors, equipment and ideas, and as a rule all three get used once or twice and sit in the barn / shed never to be used again. They believe in getting and spending money. They will if they can use the community fire truck to go and get firewood for themselves, or they will use the community money to pay their husbands or friends for work they think needs to be done. 
The weekenders generally accept the tree changers are the village community authority and or use them as labour for their weekend farms. The longer lasting weekenders usually end up using on of the older farming families in the end but start out with the most vocal people 1st. 
There is one farmer in the village who would be the leading hand, he is an excellent horseman, excellent cattle man, expert on a tractor, expert at ploughing and putting in crops, and amazing with almost any type of animal. As a rule the farmers have stepped back from the community and just look after their own farms. This one farmer doesn't, he is polite and helpful to a fault. He doesn't mean to do it, but he just naturally makes everyone else look bad, because of that, and because he competes with the tree changers for work in the community and because he represents a challenge to their authority he has been systematically destroyed by sociopaths in the entrenched power structures. He is going to court because everything that can be invented or made up about him has been. For a good 6 months last year I was the only person to employee him, his work is amazing, excellent quality, he was well worth it, and not a single thing was stolen from my farm, despite being told dozens of times that it would. If you repeat a lie often enough it becomes true. Because I employed him on my farm to help build a stockyard I became a target of the same attack. I have been accused of theft, illegal logging, illegal shooting and so on. I have come to realise that the fabrications made up to tarnish my name are the same they have used to tarnish his.
What I am trying to say is that the people in charge today, that are causing most of our problems will still be there post a great collapse, and if it's a slow decline those are the people that will keep making life harder. These people not only exist on the national / multinational level but on the local level. I would join a community of old farmers in a heart beat, but i will run screaming from any community of anyone else.

goes211's picture
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Very true

Great anecdote.  I don't know why it is but a certain percentage of the population believe they know best for everyone and therefore should be in a position to tell everyone what to do.  This is not a left / right thing, nor even conservative / progressive thing.  What makes this problem especially difficult to deal with is that many of these people are really decent people that truly believe that what they are doing is helpful and correct.  Unfortunately as they say, power corrupts.

It also reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
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Johnny Oxygen
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Really great post Nigel I

Really great post Nigel

I enjoyed reading it and you make excellent points.

In your case I wouldn't worry. As soon as the SHTF the tree changers and the weekenders will lose their 'investments' and move back or stay where they came from because they sure as hell won't know how to work the land or have the grit to try.

Its a win win Nigel Smile

Full Moon's picture
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 Thank You Nigel . FM

 Thank You Nigel .


cmallende's picture
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I grew up in a small town & we had the same problem. Folks wanting to get away from Silicone Valley found our community and thought it could be paradise; it just needed a few improvements.

When the storms & mudslides (and occasional earthquake) knock out the power for a week though these folks get a reminder of where they are in the community & why they are better suited for the role of neophyte not leader.



Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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rural outsider know-it-alls

The same thing is happening in the rural town of Turbeville, SC, where my in-laws are from. It's a farming community but you have rich people who are moving there and building these insanely huge, inappropriate homes on good arable land.

The locals just laugh at these McMansion islands in a sea of what they consider to be reality, but I doubt they would do so if the trickle of outsiders became a flood.

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Good post

Good post with lots of great observations.  I moved to rural Wisconsin to farm with a wave of back-to-the-land folks in 1990. We are a mixed bunch and I have been accepted because I work hard and have proved that I can pull my share.  Many of the people who moved here think that the local folks are "red necks" (a derogatory term for working rural people) and make fun of them. They call us the "f-ing tree huggers." These are the people who really know how to make due.  I do think though that there are things to learn on both sides.  When we started the Transition Initiative here, I have really held out that we need to include and listen to the local people and I have attempted to include them in planning and execution of events.  Often they are criticized because they don't come to out events, but I realized that we don't go to their events.   Our goal is to change that this year and get behind and support them in their events to build relationships.

When people get money and power, it is very corrupting.  You can remove one ruling power and another jumps up to take its place.  We need to keep our leaders connected to the people and really following them.

SagerXX's picture
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nigel wrote: I would join a
nigel wrote:

I would join a community of old farmers in a heart beat, but i will run screaming from any community of anyone else.

Zacktly!  IMO when SHTF the busybodies will dry up and blow away like a bad foot fungus.  

SagerXX's picture
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Upon further reflection
SagerXX wrote:
nigel wrote:

I would join a community of old farmers in a heart beat, but i will run screaming from any community of anyone else.

Zacktly!  IMO when SHTF the busybodies will dry up and blow away like a bad foot fungus.  

And with further reflection (as I drove our March garbage to the dump in my pickup) -- I'd say that "community' is a word which by my definition means "the people with whom I am actively engaged in the many aspects of living [and living as well as possible]"...  As opposed to the entire mass of people living in a given geographic area, which I would simply refer to as the "population."  So the dunderheads and busybodies might be a part of the population, but they can't be in my community.  

Not to be nitpickitty, but...  Laughing

Viva -- Sager

h2oBoy's picture
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Upon further reflection


I agree with your sense of "community". I think there are more and more emerging these days. It's just hard to find them. Having attended Transition Training, the people I met were widely different in education and background. The primary thing that they had in common was a sense that living in a "community" would be very beneficial in a peak resource future. I came away surprised how easily I bonded with such a diverse group of like-minded people. Unfortunately we are too scattered geographically to build on the bonding. So, as are others, I continue to scout around for a manageable climate and an emerging community.

Thanks for further reflection. 

xkguy's picture
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Perfect assessment

Your first few statements are the eternal problem: those who wish to have power are the very ones who should not have it. William Buckley once said he'd rather be ruled by the first few hundred names in the New Haven phone book than by the Yale Faculty. I'll go him one better: I'd rather be ruled by the first few hundred names in any phone book than by any group of elected leaders. When I think of those who cling so dearly to power in spite of overwhelming evidence they shouldn't  have power (Bill Clinton comes to mind, Tom Delay too) I'm tempted to ask random strangers to run for office.

nigel's picture
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Thank you for the replies. I think my post was an expression of the frustration I feel at the moment. I would like to clarify, that the people moving, or tree changers as I call them are generally nice polite and very intelligent, and almost all of them by themselves are rewarding people to know. They can be helpful, and they can be very knowledgeable about their area of expertise.

What I really find frustrating is the fundamental notion that instead of self reliance, they accept the authority of the group and actively encourage it, and those few sociopaths in the community naturally gravitate to the positions of power and take control of the group.

I like sagers reply, and I really like the notion of getting people from a random list in the phone book

ejanea's picture
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When I read "why I don't

When I read "why I don't like community" I couldn't imagine what was to come.

I have had a  similar experience.  I live in a small town north of Adelaide, South Australia, where I live a relaively self sufficient lifestyle and I can do most of what I need to for myself.  I have vegetables (especially potatoes because they produce the largest amount of carbohydrate for my effort) chickens, goat, firewood and rainwater tanks and a house that operated "pre-electricity" and could again.

The similarity that I noticed in Nigel's description involved my trip to a Transition weekend several years ago.  It all sounded really interesting and I talked to a couple of friends at home about it later.  Interesting.  Then I looked around my town and there were the women's groups who were making and selling their produce/clothing/prreserved food in a co-op shop, the local monthly market where not only goods/vegetables/furniture/appliances are traded, but any amount of information and skills if you're willing to listen.  So many of the things I need are done via barter...  car service for sewing, eggs for fruit and gutter cleaning for the loan of a car that will get to the city....  even counselling for coffee, for  that is how issues have been resolved forever.

I'm not sure that the calculated transition movement could add much... not that there's anything wrong with those ideas,  but I think that there may be many communities that are relatively self sufficient and sustainable already... they have jsut been very unfashionable and "backward" for many years.  

But Nigel is right.  There are some new people moving in and I give them a wide berth.  I don't want to be sucked in to putting my effort into someone's empire building... where I get to bring food or clean up afterwards while they are building their empires.  I am involved with several groups, mostly for social reasons as I don't go to church, but I am very careful about getting value for my effort as I work very hard at home anyway.

Thankyou for the "lightbulb moment" where I realised why I am very careful where my "volunteer" hours are spent.  I can't afford to waste my effort.



summersolstice's picture
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ejanea wrote:Thankyou for
ejanea wrote:

Thankyou for the "lightbulb moment" where I realised why I am very careful where my "volunteer" hours are spent.  I can't afford to waste my effort.

Exactly. I was an idealist for a very long time and helped people tirelessly and though I realised that they did not appreciate my help or took it for granted, I kept thinking one day it will click. It rarely does. People who know how to exploit will find the people they can exploit by means of some kind of myterious radar.

Only when it got really bad did I realise that I am not doing myself any good. And not doing anyone else any good, either. If people do not want to become better persons, one has to stop trying to educate them. It's a waste of time and if it came down to it, they would not care for one, either.

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Nigel- Excellent post. There


Excellent post. There is an author (who is now deceased) by the name of Andrew M Lobaczewski, who apparently was a psychologist in Poland during the communist take over. He and others were researching the psychology of those in power and evil. With the communist take over, they went underground with their research and many of his collaborators ended up being hauled away and killed by the secret police. He wrote a book called "Political Ponerology"; it can be found on the internet for free. I would highly recommend downloading it and reading it. In a nutshell he describes what Nigel has noticed, in that sociopaths and psychopaths tend to be drawn to political power like moths to a light on a dark night.

Lobaczewski suggests that if you view the world as a sociopath does, the sociopath has no boundaries on what he can do- the sky is the limit, while he is surrounded by crowds of people who have social and moral limitations that bind them into being perpetual suckers. To a sociopath, living in modern society is like being in a candy store where they can get what they want, when they want by running roughshod over everyone and no one will notice or stop them.

My own limitations only allowed me to think that the power hungry were only at the top of the food chain. I failed to realize that those same personality types permeate our whole society. Upon retrospect, in my own community, upon closer examination, I can recognize sociopaths in training vieing for the power positon of community seats. I guess a burgeoning sociopath needs to start somewhere.

I wonder what the answer is? Maybe a representative government without any representatives? When a bill comes up for vote, everyone in the community votes? I'm not so sure I want the guy next door who watches tv all day to be responsible for creating a healthy society.Or perhaps the truly modern society consists of groups of people who interact well together within a community and maybe those groups as whole entitites are the ones who make the rules.

Nigel- you got me thinking (a scary thought).

Tim_P's picture
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Excellent post Nigel.  It

Excellent post Nigel.  It really does start the mind thinking and changes how I look at some folks.  That same trait of 'Sociopath in Training' can be seen at all levels of society.  I can point out quite a few here at work and there is even at least one in our family.  I agree that they may seem strong now, but will be less than worthless when the SHTF.  Hopefully, they do crawl back into their holes when it gets rough, but in all likelihood, they will be out there standing in the way of meaninful action.


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