Communitarianism and Creeping Totalitarianism
The business entities, from single proprietorships to giant corporations, are made accountable to the public through the mechanism of competition from other companies, as well as through scrutiny by media and law. The government entities are made accountable to the public through the mechanism of electoral system sustained by active and involved media and electorate. A corrupt corporation like Enron or WorldCom, like the corrupt officials in the government, are exposed and either lose their market, their status as legal entities, their electoral base, or their official position. But communal organs of power have no checks upon them and therefore have the potential to get away with far greater abuses than either of the preceding.
Communitarianism - the belief that community is more important than individual and deserves to have power in itself - may sound appealing until one runs into reality of what communitarianism means. Community organizations such as tribal separatists, the KKK, militias, gangs, mafias, Muslim terrorists, old-boy networks, and religious cults, are the real-world manifestation of communitarianism - and none of them are benign. In all cases these are entities that arrogate for themselves life-and-death power over the lives of others and commit horrible violations, both within the community and without. These entities are not accountable to the consumer through the market, and they are not accountable to the voter through the elections. And that means, they become tyrannical, seeing it their right to control everyone in the community and to commit horrible violations to that effect.
When communitarianism began developing, I foresaw the creation of effective totalitarianism. I recognized that the unofficial local organs of power are capable of at least as great abuses as are the official ones, and lacking the constitutional principles and accountability to the public that keep the official government from becoming despotic, they could, and would, perform greater abuses than the official democratic governments can under Constitutional law. And I recognized that those communities and organizations, lacking either the human rights and civil rights principles that these governments or the mechanisms of check and balance upon them, could, and would, do graver damage to people's life, liberty and existence than the governments that they were seeking to supplant.
A rural small town - nameless for the purpose of this article - that prides itself on being a model community shows exactly what the term means. A lady who has achieved great professional success and raised a family of highly effective people married a millionaire from this community. When her husband had a stroke, his family, that wielded significant influence in the town, repeatedly claimed that she was not competent to take care of him even though she was a registered nurse. Unable to take custody over him, they poisoned the entire town against her, until she even had to beg cabs to come to her home in order that she could go shopping. They finally had their way when she had to go to a hospital for an operation, and her husband was placed in the town nursing home for a week. He entered the nursing home alive; he came out in a vase. During that week, he was not properly fed or given medicine, and nurses gave conflicting accounts of his death. When the daughter of his wife asked for an autopsy, his body was cremated before an autopsy could be performed.
On the Internet, communities become so arrogant that they decide it rightful to commit real crimes. Forgery, harassment, slander and defamation are common; as are such actions as mailing someone a piece of manure; pursuing people to career networks in order to damage their job prospects and reputation; sending viruses to people's workplaces, web pages and home computers; and making credible threats of death. The community mindset takes over and deems itself more powerful and more rightful than the law. And anything that is seen as a threat by the communal mindset is deemed to be exterminated by any means possible. This means in many cases blatantly illegal conduct protected by coverups involving members of the community. And while the potential for abuses of power in government and business are checked by media, consumer, voter and other branches and levels of government, the abuse of power in communities - unofficial organs of power - goes on unchecked.
In America, my friend C. had an aunt that went into a nursing home in New Hampshire. She was administered wrong medication that destroyed her health, after which she had a hole ripped in her back with a bedpan. When the nursing home found out that C., who has an M.D., was on the way, the nursing home murdered her aunt. Her body was still warm when C. showed up. Tests showed a six times the lethal dose of morphine in her body. C. has the photographs and the medical chart readings of the matter. But when she tried to go to court to get justice for what took place, her lawyer betrayed her. He was found out to be a part of the town's old-boy network. He since then continued to lobby other lawyers that C. tried to hire, who all betrayed her as a result. The employee who told C. what had happened was fired, and when C. had tried to call her last summer she was told that she'd had a nearly-fatal accident at her next workplace. That's the reality of old-boy networks; the reality of communitarianism.
The same reality can be seen, to even greater wrongs, in the parts of the world where communitarianism has had a longer run of power. In Indian rural communities, the goal is to beat a young bride into submission, and it is a common practice to murder brides who are not completely obedient to the will of the family to whom they have been given. In rural Ethiopian communities, the most common way to get a bride is by raping a teenage girl - and as the family rejects her since they can no longer give her in marriage, and the rest of community rejects her since she is no longer a virgin, the only place she can go to is to the rapist. In both cases, the law does not reach these communities; and the horrendous wrong goes unchecked by media, politics and law.
It is likewise the communities in Afghanistan and Pakistan that hide the terrorists, using community codes and loyalties to protect people whose goal is to murder and fear-monger their way into unearned power. It is communities and families that are the root of the Mafia, and the community organization that is the Mafia wields power given to it by the families and the communities to terrorize and enslave the families and communities for which it claims to work. The community-based KKK and inner city gangs; the Southern old boy networks and fraternities; the survivalist militias; all commit horrible crimes under the name of community. And for as long as this is the ideology, they continue to get away with it.
The co-founder of pioneering software giant Cisco, Sandy Lerner, found out the reality of communitarianism when she moved to rural Virginia and attempted to open a diner. "The problem with small towns," she said, "is that the mind takes the size of the town." She is a self-made multimillionaire with significant power and experience. Imagine what someone who's not a multi-millionaire, who's less experienced, and who is in a less powerful condition, will discover if she were to move to such a place.
It is communities in America that create the phenomenon known in psychology as conspiracy of silence against the victims of sexual abuse. In order to keep up the lie that the community represents tradition, family and happiness, those on whose backs this pretense falls are silenced, slandered, demonized and destroyed. The police does not do its job; it is co-opted by the community to perpetuate the deception. Mental health and social services do the same. And then the community built on brutality, incest, deception, and corruption goes on claiming that it is moral and the rest of the country or the world is not moral and has its representatives usurp the values platform to bludgeon the civilized world into perpetuation of the community's barbaric, deceptive, corrupt, poisonous ways.
In business, false advertising - presenting a product as something other than what it is, or failing to inform the customer about problems with it - is a crime that is punishable by law. But communities continually advertise falsely, claiming to have a wholesome way of life while in fact being places of extreme corruption and abuse. And at issue here is not simply a product; at issue here is people's lives. How many are lost to false advertising by corrupt and brutal communities? How many find their lives taken by smilie-faced lie disguising a snakepit of brutality and corruption? How many cannot find their way out because the community is more powerful than the law, claims itself as the law, and is made that way by communitarian attitudes and beliefs?
The women who fall for the siren song of country community find themselves stuck in a horrible situation from which they either get out with greatest difficulty or not at all. Far from idyllic existence, they become the town's and the family's acquisition, scapegoat, whipping girl, and object of control and abuse. Like the brides in rural India, these women experience extreme physical and psychological violence from the families into which they have married, whose goal is to make her their own in every way possible and to never relent until she submits completely - after which, if she does, violence still goes on because violence in the country is way of life. The police and the court system refuses to acknowledge abuse but instead seeks to silence its witnesses in order that the community's big lie and selling line do not get punctured by fact of what goes on in the community behind closed doors. And if the woman attempts to flee, the community seeks to break her down entirely and to use all its representatives to not only destroy her but also to take away her children.
This is what happens when unofficial entities hold greater power than official entities, and corruption, venality, deceit, and brutality perpetrated by communities is not subjected to openness, scrutiny, accountability, check and balance.
Without such check and balance, the communities arrogate for themselves life-and-death power over the lives of people. I have heard from people in some parts of America that they kill people like me. Which means not only that they have adopted murder as way of life and must have killed many along the way, but further that they believe they have right to kill people by virtue of how they think. Which means that they create an effective totalitarianism and do not shy away even from murder to keep it going. And communitarianism, by sanctioning such a thing, is in effect sanctioning corruption, murder, and indeed every other crime, by way of creating de facto totalitarianism.
This is not coincidental; this is inevitable. An official organ of power is subject to its official precepts; but a community is an unofficial organ of power and is therefore not subject to any laws. As such it becomes lawless - indeed it becomes a law unto itself. A law that is unwritten; that is not subject to checks and balances; and that therefore becomes despotic. A law that claims for itself all the psychological weaponry that comes with being associated in public mind with family and morality, and in so doing can silence any criticism on moral grounds and get away with extreme abuse against the ever-diminished individual and ever-more-discredited official power. And people, rather than seeing a freedom from oppression they have mistakenly identified to be based in "statism," are bound much deeper, much harder, and much more completely by an entity that is far inferior to capitalism, and far inferior to liberal democracy, in ethics, legality, principle, vision or understanding of people's rights.
Another problem, and one that Sally Lerner has discovered, is one known in psychology as groupthink. Even when not deliberately intending wrong, people in closed systems prevail on each other to think the same way and control their thinking until it accords with the rest of the group. This problem has been responsible for Challenger disaster, when everyone knew of the problem but none had the courage to talk about it; and when even the people as smart as those at NASA are subject to this, then so is clearly any other closed system in the world. Besides the result seen in Challenger - the result of leading people to overlook crucial information, silence real perspectives, deny legitimate understanding, and thus make horrible and uninformed decisions - groupthink leads to this: Absolute similitude of mind that does not tolerate anything that differs from whatever lie it becomes. Which leads to extinction of freedom of thought, subversion of democratic process and due process, failure to honestly address and resolve endemic problems, and conspiracy of silence on matters that violate the community's pretense before the world.
But even worse that that it leads to this: The collective hubris of the community that would judge it acceptable to murder people and to destroy people's lives in the name of the community - to create corrupt, venal, oppressive and murderous cancers upon the face of the Western Civilization - and, as if that was not enough, to go on and aggressively claim on political scene to speak for values, tradition, and family, while in fact representing murder, oppression, corruption and deceit.
As if that weren't enough, there is something here that is yet more sinister and far-reaching, and that bodes horribly for the future of democracy. And it is this: The moral and psychological power given to unofficial entities as vehicle for power-tripping as the supposed spokesperson therefor. As Stalin claimed to speak for the people and claimed that his enemies were the enemy of the people - and as the aggressive feminists claim that they speak for women and that their enemies are enemies of women - likewise those who claim to speak for communities portray their enemies as enemy of community and wield the power of the community to kill them or force them to submit. To speak for an unofficial authority is a power gambit that does not possess check and balance and therefore has the complete capacity for becoming tyrannical. There is no official code for a community, a society, a gender, a family, a tradition. Thus the people who claim to speak for these entities have nothing to check their words and actions against and can get away with any deception, any usurpation, any cruelty, any injury, any violence, any vileness, any violation, under the sun. All this of course has taken place at communitarian entities the world over and can only take place given the mechanism that underlies communitarianism.
That an entity is unofficial, does not make it not real. Instead the power that it wields is unaccountable, unbalanced and unchecked. As such it becomes insidious as well as tyrannical; and far from fostering good character as many communitarian types would claim, instead fosters the character of treachery, deception, venality, and corruption. Which undermines and degrades the character of the people instead of improving it, and also undermines and degrades the character of the countries in which they live.
Communitarianism has been wrong from its inception. An unofficial organ of power, without constitution or checks and balances or accountability, can, and will, abuse power to a far greater extent than an official one that is by law forced to operate within official constraints or one that is accountable to the market or to the voter. If the communities are to be made organs of power, then it must be a power that is official, accountable, checked and balanced, and placed under the rule of law. Their rules and their ways must be codified and advertised precisely as they are, and then checked from both government entities from the outside and individuals from within in situations where either the rules or their enforcement violates civil law. Otherwise the result is absolute and unchecked criminality of whoever claims to speak for community; effective destruction of liberty and civil and human rights in the community; effective destruction of honesty and transparency in the civilization; false advertising leading to lifelong ensnarement; degradation of character of the population toward venality and corruption; and mafia values, mafia tactics, mafia character, and creeping totalitarianism everywhere that such an ill-conceived ideology is given green light.