Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Poverty of Affluence

Last night I finished Ehrenreich's Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy. A fascinating look at the history of ecstatic group experience and it's suppression by those it may threaten. If you wonder why modern life feels so pale and unsatisfying, read this book. I wanted to share just this one paragraph, which vividly describes our sorry state:
We pay a high price for this emotional emptiness.… Collectively, we seem to have trouble coming to terms with our situation, which grows more ominous everyday. Half the world's people live in debilitating poverty. Epidemics devastate whole nations. The ice caps melt, and natural disasters multiply. But we remain for the most part paralyzed, lacking the means or will to organize for our own survival. In fact the very notion of the "collective," of the common good, has been eroded by the self-serving agendas of the powerful—their greed and hunger for still more power. Throughout the world (capitalist and postcommunist), decades of conservative social policy have undermined any sense of mutual responsibility and placed the burden of risk squarely on the individual or the family.
This really is the problem isn't it? Rebuilding the sense of collective responsibility. Reintroducing the concept. Like George on Seinfeld. "HEY! We live in a SOCIETY you know!"

3 comments:

Mark said...

I can think of one collective get together sports(ritualized war). Specifically hockey, I and my fellow Canadians are going to root for the Ottawa Senators.

Mark said...

community event http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WRC8RE9dfg
Bay To Breakers 2007 - Public Nudity at It's Fastest!

edited so no nudity on the youtube.

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