The community bond

Says the cliché that community ties have been broken. It is repeated by those who promote the tribal shift and identity withdrawal, under the pretext of achieving a more cohesive society. Some blame progressivism and others, neoliberalism, projecting their obsessions onto the end of the community, as if it were a Rorschach test.

Even adducing causes that are different from each other —sometimes the centrifugal strength of globalization, sometimes the decline of centripetal patriotism—, they agree that a sort of liquid phase dilutes the community. They sometimes take on the nativist myth of a homogeneous society threatened by the dissolving enemy, and in doing so they supply ammunition to the reactionary agenda, which is always based on genuine discomfort.

The postmillennial generation has been raised on the breasts of a perpetual crisis. The pessimism underpinned by the Great Recession is now fueled by the loss of quality of life and the increase in inequality, mistrust of the elites and fear of declassification. The pandemic, seen as a whole, becomes the last milestone on a road marked by disappointments.

Meanwhile, globalization seems to break down cities, leading their inhabitants to withdrawal. In the era of hypercommunication, the city ceases to be a place of socialization and becomes a capernaum of loneliness. The community, which has its roots in the common (communis), it empties into a barrage of connected isolates.

Like the Baudelairean stroller, who wanders among the crowds without mixing with them, we surround ourselves with hundreds of virtual friends but continue alone. What connects us isolates us. The philosopher Santayana affirmed, moved by the experience of exile, that the dialogue was nothing but a tangle of misunderstandings and confusions. More sensible than dialogue would be, in his opinion, “soliloquy in harmony.” Today we are tuned in real time; we soliloquized simultaneously, without actually hearing each other.

A few days ago, the political vice president of Vox, Jorge Buxadé, stated that “there is a real will in Brussels to launch a population replacement in Europe.” He upheld the racist theory of replacement, according to which immigration is the Trojan horse used by elites to destroy national identity. Uprooting, you know, is fuel for the reactionary.

Those who, for some time now, brandish the community fetish in our country know something about this malaise. As Ignacio Peyró says, the Spanish can be uprooted very badly. Dangerous matter, because, lacking mediations before the cosmopolis, the citizen runs the risk of succumbing to paratribal promises. The shelter of the burrow is tempting when it’s cold outside.

Those who trust everything to the title of the open city are wrong. In times of rootlessness, the liberal pricks to the bone when he appeals to the abstract virtues of cosmopolitanism. The community bond is not a blood bond nor is it vacuous cosmopolitanism: it is a bond that binds us to a higher project than self-interest, rescuing it from the anomie to which procedural democracy sometimes leads, without chaining us.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are relational subjects. The word community derives from munus, debt: living in society consists of responding to a set of tacit obligations. immune, its antonym, represented in times gone by the denial of that debt: turning to the particular, like Cándido in his orchard. Today they are no longer opposite words. As we have learned, there is no immunity without the participation of the community.

In the video announcing his candidacy for the French presidential elections, the far-right Éric Zemmour spoke of the country “that your children yearn for without having known it.” The nostalgic love and the cave feeling serve as glue when well-being perishes. That is why it is not enough to promote meeting spaces to keep a community alive. What degrades the neighborhoods is not the uprooting, but the lack of maintenance and the deterioration that this causes. Nor does one get out of anomic introspection without combating unemployment. Whoever wants to challenge the symbolic must also attend to the tangible.

Of course, France is not Spain. Marx argued in the eighteenth brumaire that the Gallic country was likened to a sack of potatoes: the villages were crammed together to make departments, and then these formed the mortar of the nation. Our country resembles, rather, a mesh of oranges. The atomization only becomes apparent when one of its components escapes through the holes in the mesh. And those who ask to return to the community of yesteryear, pretexting the isolation of today, limit themselves to changing the hairnet that shackles us.

They paint coarse when the only alternative to individualistic isolation is tribal paste. Restoring community ties does not require going back to the tribe. But the underlying discomfort will not end with good words. Uprooting is an organic ailment: its symptoms are moral, but its causes, of a material nature, can only be alleviated with facts.

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