Friday, April 23, 2021

When Society No Longer Benefits: A Response

 In yesterday's post When Society No Longer Benefits relatively new commenter Bob (we are glad you are here, Bob!) made the following comment:

"But if this "society" of which you speak no longer exists, what's the answer?  Relocate to another one?"

It is a good question.  I will try to provide my proposed answer.

I start with a couple of base facts:

1)  Given the current interconnectedness of the world, "relocating" to another society may be possible, but probably just reflects degrees of difference instead of true difference.  Sadly, this is no longer the Late Medieval Europe and there really is no undiscovered country.

2)  Physical relocation is, for most people, not a limited possibility.  Sure, there is always a group of people that are able and willing to move at the drop of a hat.  For most, it is a process that takes a lot more time and thought and will be more limited in scope over time (after college, I have moved nine times in thirty years, seemingly each time with more people and more stuff.  I have told The Ravishing Mrs. TB I have one more move in me and I am done.

So based on these two base case facts, what to do?

What I positing is the idea of building a society within a society.

There is the outer society that I currently live in with its laws, expectations, taxes, and social norms.  The ability of the individual to impact this is fairly limited at best. The only thing I can do in this situation is minimize my involvement with it and its involvement with me.

For some, that might look like moving from a more intrusive state or country to a less intrusive state or country.  It might mean purchasing less (to avoid sales taxes), and finding ways to minimize one's tax positions and other revenue generating devices used by governments to separate individuals from their hard won cash.  It might mean that I choose to participate much less in the society (I do participate a lot less actually), or when I am forced to, to spend the minimum time on anything involving social norms and expectations.

Of course, if one is taking something away, one needs to replace it with something else.  And that is second part, the building of a society within a society.

That is a rather grandiloquent way of simply doing what our parents told us to do, make friends with interesting and good people, emulate them, and spend time with them.

The reality is, this already is happening as well.  The Social Internet - of which this blog and most of the blogs over to the right are part of - is already connecting small groups of like minded individuals, separated perhaps by distance but not by interest or philosophy.  There are financial communities as well - barter group, cryptocurrency adherents, even the proverbial "gold bugs" - that exist and practice what they preach effectively on the fringes of "society".  Ed, purveyor of Riverbend Journal   and resident Forty-Five optimist, spends his efforts on his local community and local government - which works as well, although the dilutive effect in larger urban areas may not work as well.

In all ways, there is a movement that is - in a sense - counter-counter cultural, coalescing on the fringes and putting their way of life into practice.  It is these societies that we are building, small pockets of hope and goodwill and knowledge, unifying individuals that may be in disparate locations but benefit from belonging to the other.

It is not a glamourous process.  It is not a fast process.  But I can at least provide my own perspective of why I do this.

Simply, I fit in here.

I fit in here among individuals which - although holding different opinions about some things - hold similar opinions about things like personal liberty, personal freedom, classical culture (if you are at all based in the West, you live in classical culture), and practicing, each in our own way, the process of making a living for ourselves rather than being dependent on someone else or the government.  I fit in here, where we can disagree (we sometimes do - even here) but do so with mutual respect and some fashion of listening to the other's ideas.

The larger society is becoming more and more torn apart by centrifugal forces:  rising spending, atomization of society combined with a greater and greater demand for uniformity of thought and opinion, and the increasing expectation that society should become and do more for the individual, thus increasing the dependency of the individual on those that provide their necessities (and giving such authorities more power).  This combination cannot last.  Something has to give.  And when it gives, those societies within the societies will remain, ready to begin the effective renaissance of a civilization.

I close with a phrase from Mahatma Gandhi.  While I am not nearly the pacifist he was, what he speaks to is what will ensure that such societies within societies continue to thrive:

"I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill.  I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil is permanent.  Strength does not come from physical capacity; it comes from an indomitable will."

Ultimately, our societies within societies exist and thrive because we have the will to be different than the rest, and to practice that differences in meaningful ways to improve our lives and (eventually) the lives of others.  Would that our wills are indomitable as well.


  1. It is so weird when someone explains what I have unconsciously been doing for years. I have developed my little circle of influence, not through effort or planning, but just by being me. I have a smallish group of folks that I work well with.

    It hurts when one leaves and never comes back, but there is usually another one that shows up eventually to fill out the unit. I'd never thought about that before this post. But there it is.

    That is what used to be American civilization... Groups of folks getting along with their life, and treating each other with deference if not respect. I learned it so well, that it's done without thinking, and that can be a problem. I've bumped into folks that will take everything you have given half a chance, and move on to the next mark. Takes a bit more thought and awareness now.

    I miss the complexity of life when I was a kid. This time of the ages is too complex to keep abreast of.

    Time of the ages... or end of the age... Time will tell.

    1. STxAR - If I have captured something someone is doing, then that amazes me. Truly. These are often thoughts and reflections of my own experiences; the fact that others have them is fascinating.

      You are right - this is what it used be like. Groups of individuals pretty much living their lives and getting along. More and more, this is not the case: the desire simply seems to be that every single person is agitated and on edge. It really does dim the desire to want to do anything with a great many people anymore.

      I would argue it is not sustainable.

      It is odd - yes, life seemed more complex as children yet I suspect it was much simpler. We have "progressed"; I do not know if we have improved.

  2. Like Bob perhaps, I've been having a hard time following this for the last two days. I think perhaps it has to do with how I was raised, pretty much out of society. On the farm, we often went weeks or months without seeing another person and since my mom was the one who went to town for groceries and supplies, I mean that literally. As a result, I am very comfortable with being on my own and out of society. But as I have aged, I have grown to enjoy those things I did without in my youth, such as attend a cultural event like a musical or a play. Eat out amongst others at a nice restaurant. But I have the ability to do these things and switch right back to the solitary existence of the farm life. Many I suspect, don't have this ability because they have largely spent their life among society. I remember having many a guest visit our farm and cut their stay short after a couple evenings. We had no television and this was pre-internet so our main entertainment was reading and conversation and we were comfortable leaving large pauses in the conversation.

    I do like the blogging society that I fit into now but for me, blogging has always been about writing down words for a future generation in my family to discover. If it weren't for that, I could probably stop it tomorrow and never miss it.

    1. Ed - It may not be you. As I wrote to Bob below, I sometimes become enamored of my own words and thoughts which may make sense in my own head, but which translate rather poorly.

      Yours is an extreme case - at least in modern times (and by modern, I mean within my lifetime). Most people now do not go weeks or months without seeing anyone else. I have had a taste of this from my times at The Ranch now, and I can in a very small way state that I believe I can do pretty well in that environment as well. I switch a little less easier than what it sounds like you do, but perhaps that is because I find myself intensely introspective - on the whole, I am much more happy and at peace by myself.

      That said, what I am trying to enunciate is that - at least for me - I am finding that society as it is currently casting itself is not one that I am finding any real need for or value in socially, culturally, politically, and to some extent economically. When this becomes the case, what does one do? The society, I believe, just wants your money, your obedience, and your complicity. But at some point if there is no value, any of those things become incredible priceless things to give to a group that ignores, misuses, or trashes them.

      This is my question then: when the society you are in fails, what do you do?

  3. Really appreciate your comments, as well as the shout-out. I look forward to more stimulating conversation.

    1. You are more than welcome Bob. That is really the point of what I try to do here, stimulate conversation. I hope it gave a little more clarity (I fear I sometimes become a captive of my own imagined wordy cleverness...).

  4. Anonymous4:09 PM

    TB, you're a "normie." More reflective, more intelligent than average, but very much a normal American. That you're saying what you've been saying over the last week is significant. Keith

    1. Keith - Thank you. I like to think I am reflective; the intelligence may still be out for judgement. But yes, I would (prior to really this year) consider myself to have been a "normal" American.

      To be frank, the thing I have found disturbing this week, especially since writing these as I move through the Social Internet, is that these thoughts are not isolated to me. I have read four posts and an article thinking along this same vein. Something is moving through the system, something that a great many folks are oblivious to.


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