Roger Cohen

“Community — a stable job, shared national experience, extended family, labor unions — has vanished or eroded. In its place have come a frenzied individualism, solipsistic screen-gazing, the disembodied pleasures of social networking and the à-la-carte life as defined by 600 TV channels and a gazillion blogs. Feelings of anxiety and inadequacy grow in the lonely chamber of self-absorption and projection.”

Community, the favorite term of left wing idealist. The Utopian dream of the common man working collectively as a casualty of our evil individualistic culture is always a hoot. If you pay close attention, the left wing collective dream always involves force. It’s always some BS like jury duty or health care – as if those were the only options for common association. Community is not dead, it just doesn’t tend to involve the types of activities the left wants it to involve, so they bemoan the death of community.

Other collectives – groups of people who choose to associate with each other of their own free will – are met with nothing but contempt. Smokers. Snowboarders. Chess clubs. Star Trek conventions. Community softball teams. The Republican Party. Hunters. Fishing tournaments. Insurance companies. Newspapers (IE: the New York Times). These are events, organizations and groups of people associating with each other because they choose to – or even more sinisterly because they are responding to consumer demand. AKA community.

It’s not that responsibilities like jury duty aren’t important. But obviously, people generally would rather be somewhere else. For the left, community never has any value unless it involves forcing individuals to participate. It’s nearly identical to the argument for the National Endowment for the Arts – as if the arts weren’t a multi-bazillion dollar industry in this country with all the movies, television shows, record labels, rock bands, radio stations, etc. We subsidize art in America because some moron in Congress actually bought the argument that art is dying. Seriously! Does Brad Pitt know about this?

Once again, it’s forced art. It’s not art that’s suffering but rather art that the left wing thinks everyone should be appreciating. Die Hard doesn’t count as art, everyone has seen those movies. Let’s fund Piss Christ instead. It never seems to occur to the defenders of this baloney that such art might not be profitable because it sucks. So we have to be forced to buy it, or subsidize it lest the brilliant work of Robert Mapplethorpe vanish from the earth.

“I was struck by how rare it is now in American life to be gathered, physically, with an array of other folk of different ages, backgrounds, skin colors, beliefs, faiths, tastes, education levels and political convictions and be obliged to work out your differences in order to get the job done.”

This is called work. Despite the high unemployment rate, most Americans still do this every day. Since Cohen’s article appears in the New York Times, even he seems to have a job. My favorite part of the article is when he quotes his lawyer friend:

“When it comes to health it makes sense to involve government, which is accountable to the people, rather than corporations, which are accountable to shareholders.”

First of all, the statement is false. Corporations are accountable to customers, otherwise they wouldn’t have any. All versions of the Democratic health care plan (which Cohen sums up his article by extolling) seek to change that by forcing people to buy insurance even if they don’t want it, but I digress. Let’s get to the second and more glaring problem with that sentence.

Government operates by force. If a private corporation wants you to behave a certain way, you’re free to ignore that request. You might lose your health care coverage or get fired from your job but nobody is stopping you from seeking other means of health care or employment (at least not yet). When government wants you to do something, you have no choice. Either you comply or the police kick down your door.

Government in America is partially accountable to the majority, not the people. Big difference. This accountability is checked with various other less accountable branches. Just ask the President. Further and much more importantly, the majority are notoriously unconcerned with the needs and wants of various minorities. Those minorities can be found participating in the various voluntary community events listed at the beginning of this article which Cohen insists are eroding by the day. This is why the founding generation limited the scope of government and it is why free markets will always be superior to government mandate.