The means to build a community

Building communities is one of those elusive items whose exercise will need to be a regular topic of conversation at  The conundrum is: How do communities get “built”? And what are the sociological dynamics that go into the course of their building?

In the contemporary world we attempt to give all such questions explicit, enumerable, consciously deliberated answers, and in doing so we risk losing the power of true community.  This is because the real power of any community rests in its complex of organic relationships.

By organic, I mean those interactions and relations which grow and develop spontaneously by way of human responses sparking-off one another within an unstructured commerce of human social relations.

I’m not a conscious or clinical student of Anthropological or Sociological method, not at all. Rather, the spirit in which I want to explore and consider community as a phenomenon, is for us to embark on a venture carrying some risk and doubt which claims that expression within true community is not able to be plotted as if it were a scientific formula, and nor do statistical studies of them capture anything valuably meaningful about community and its construction.

Sure, we can always do with some received wisdom about how to make and to seal good relations between peoples of a community, though I would want to say that actual community is itself wholly dependent for success or failure on the human contexts in which it arises and subsists.

Community is also usually dependent on certain physical realities like those in regard to its communicational dynamic. (I’m thinking specifically of ideas like those of network theory with its “nodes” and “hubs” which model communications and ideas that of people who make up communities.)

An example that comes to mind to help illustrate what I’m trying to get at is:

A friend of mine is a guitarist and singer who lives in the Philippines.  He has described to me how musicians make friends and connections through doing their concerts.  He observes that as an interest group they then naturally begin to cluster into an informal unit to discuss and consider their mutual concerns as musicians.  This natural aggregation into clusters creates for them a dynamic wherein empathies arising from their like-minded concerns and activity (in music) is the catalyst for them working out together problems they have in common such as finding work, paying bills, and so on.  Thus spring up loose ‘associations’ which just ‘happen’ in the course of occasion and  occurrences which are not planned not even wholly intended by any one individual or leading coterie.  This is the kind of thing I mean when I talk of spontaneity and the development of organic collaborations.

The sequel to the story of the spontaneous musical community is that its enthusiasm and scope grew to become a very helpful support for the musicians mixing within its ‘cloud matrix’.  Furthermore, at the same time, it took on what appears to me perhaps to be a natural progression among free, undirected, and equitable human communities:  it became a source and model for others, sometimes in other areas of life, and its crucial character which makes it alternative and vital, began to be imitated elsewhere.

Public Health Warning: Our communities which we intend, we understand very well must be worked-on – just as the best marriages need to be -so that as we continue to seek their refreshment and in doing so we are preserving all those qualities which go into making them desirable and truly radical. Most importantly we have to be vigilant about ourselves -each of us – and look to curtail any thrusts or ambitions to predominate or steer or consolidate or take hegemony – whether or not we feel we ought to ‘for the general benefit’.

You and we have seen in our experience and in the long roll of history the dispiriting progression of early communities founded originally on good intentions and mutual goodwill withering quite quickly into calcified rigidity and stale rote routine, when agendas and personalities supererogate and pre-empt and go for control and power. Whether the motivation is for good or for self-aggrandizement the outcome is always the same: the effectual death of true vital and real community, and the substitution of a phoney imitation.  The ways the methods and associations of the people in the music piracy community have been hijacked over recent years so as to offer the general public ‘new ways’ of streaming and hearing music, is in fact the ‘same old’ song’ in a different orchestration.  The piratebays and napsters of this world that take the ‘thirty pieces of silver’ and join the general melee for gold.

We need not imagine too hard that the same company which has enshrined in its “fundamental doctrines” the slogan “Don’t be evil” has likewise fallen prey to the same phenomena; and we as members of distinctively vital communities must be on our guard always not follow by example.


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