The Real State Of The Union: The Erosion Of Community

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

The Central State and its core directives, central planning and ever-widening control of every aspect of life, is eroding the human essential: community.

Rather than the rah-rah phoniness of the President's State of the Union speech, which was predictably filled with Soaring Rhetoric (tm) and promises of more central planning and state expansion, let's consider the real state of the union.

Two related truths are self-evident: that community is essential to human progress, communication, development and well-being, and that the current global systems of the central state (socialism) and cartel-state capitalism (capitalism) actively dismantle community.

These basics inform the view that the only way forward is a community-based economy that recognizes and restores community as the foundation of human life.
On the most fundamental survival level, if humans were isolated, solitary hunter-gatherers, humans would likely have gone extinct long ago, as we simply aren't as capable as our competitors. If the species did endure, it would be equivalent to other solitary Great Apes--small in number and isolated to small pockets where it could survive.

Our dominance ("success" if you prefer) as a species flows directly from our social nature and the development of ways to spread better techniques, i.e. knowledge and cooperation, via spoken and eventually written language.

Yes, opposable thumbs boosted our toolmaking abilities and year-round fertility boosted our reproduction rates, but these advantages would be marginal were we a species of isolated individuals. Indeed, the fundamentals of sociobiology support the notion that human longevity results partly from the genetic advantages 
bestowed by grandparents, i.e. a generation of elders who can aid in child-rearing and serve as a repository for experiential knowledge/wisdom that would be lost to short-lived species.

In our current system, the impersonal state replaces the core value created by participating in community with welfare checks; there is no need to bother cooperating and working with others once the state provides the basics of life.

A similiar dynamic is implicit in corporate capitalism, which assumes that large corporations dedicated to pursuing profit wherever such profits might be greatest can successfully replace communities with corporate "communities" of workers and supervisors.

In The Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America (submitted by correspondent Cheryl A.), The author proposes that social cooperation waxes and wanes with wealth inequality: as inequality rises, so too does polarization. People become less cooperative and socially engaged as polarization increases.

The correlation between loss of community and wealth inequality is only the first step. This sociological perspective misses the political point, which is the structure of our centralized state-dominated economy leads to both wealth inequality and the loss of community from the same dynamic: the substitution of the state/corporation as the organizing/controlling structure for society, displacing community.

Want to Reduce Income/Wealth Inequality? Abolish the Engine of Inequality, the Federal Reserve (January 28, 2014)

Our state-cartel system creates aimless armies of unemployed people who receive just enough from the state that the incentive to rebel is eroded, but this does not fill the gap left by the destruction of community with anything positive or fulfilling: it simply maintains the void via bribery.

The entire notion that corporations pursuing maximization of profit for their shareholders can organize society to benefit everyone is nonsensical; how could organizations dedicated to reaping profits replace multi-layered communities that meet needs that cannot necessarily be commoditized for a profit?

Longtime correspondent Bart D. cogently summed up these issues:

"When boiled down to real world conditions, for a society and economy to operate sustainably and successfully, people have to do things for and with each other, and BE SEEN to be doing it.

From an evolutionary perspective a community would form the basis of the economy in which individuals lived their lives. Each participant would have known, in social terms, every other participant to some degree.
In such a ‘traditional’ system, individual participants were heavily incentivised to be valued by others. Being valued for your good works and deeds increased your chances of having other individuals help you out when you were individually unable to support yourself for some reason (sickness, old age, personal disaster).

In economies of small and local scale you really strived to have others feel they owed you something based purely on their sense of fairness and conscience, because people interacted economically and socially with the same people. This creates a pool of good will that functions as ‘social security’ (This has since been transmuted into the Frankenstein of ‘debt’ and ‘taxes’ both of which are grudging rather than volunteered.)

That type of interaction has been and is continuing to be eroded away in the modern economic system that seeks desperately to separate social relationships from economic relationships.

Thus we have the disconnect between small business taxpayers and welfare recipients that sets up the perfect conditions for corporatocracy and the bizarre ever-expanding debt economic models of the west.

What the architects of these current systems have lost sight of is that the illusion they created by pumping free credit into the system only works on some parts of the economic system and at the cost of GREATLY undermining the social component of the system."

Richard Dawkins makes much the same point in this interview published in The New Republic:

"Now, there is another kind of altruism that seems to go beyond that, a kind of super-altruism, which humans appear to have. And I think that does need a Darwinian explanation. I would offer something like this: We, in our ancestral past, lived in small bands or clans, which fostered kin altruism and reciprocal altruism, because in these small bands, each individual was most likely to be surrounded by relatives and individuals who he was going to meet again and again in his life. And so the rule of thumb based into the brain by natural selection would not have been, Be nice to your kin and be nice to potential reciprocators. It would have been, Be nice to everybody, because everybody would have been included."

This is not to suggest there isn't a role for the state and profit-seeking organizations in society or the economy; it is simply to state the obvious that the wholesale replacement of community by the state has eroded an essential of human life that cannot be filled by impersonal states and corporations. States and corporations cannot "fix" what's broken with the model of state-cartel capitalism/socialism because the model itself is the problem.

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TeamDepends's picture

Remember, "real" means "royal".

Oh regional Indian's picture

Indeed. And it is the Animal Pen that is mightier than the sword.

See what they did there?

The Pen is mightier than the s-Word....




Murf_DaSurf's picture



the real state of the union?


We are Fucked

onewayticket2's picture

"if you like your 'no risk, guaranteed return' principal, you can keep it"

Clint Liquor's picture

I felt like I was watching a government official from 'Atlas Shrugged' last night.

Unemployment checks bring prosperity to the community. Really?

HobbyFarmer's picture

It's scary when our favorite novels like 'Atlas Shrugged' or '1984' become playbooks and are no longer considered fiction.

The Vineyard's picture

Obama is out of his depth.  The global economic reality is a motherfucker.  It might even lead to war.  His speech wasn't bad.  But how is President Joker supposed to quell this mammoth shit-storm.  Impossible.

TBT or not TBT's picture

He isn't a freedom agenda guy, so indeed it is impossible for Obama.

Kilgore Trout's picture

Honestly, I could take the lies (they're expected), but the soaring rhetoric is what causes me to switch off.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Antisocial technology?

If Bradbury's book, Fahrenheit 451, the people have 3-D Floor-To-Ceiling 360 Degreee Interactive Television-Walls as their family.  Front porches are no longer popular, as people might sit on them in the quiet evening and talk to one another.

“Why aren't you in school? I see you every day wandering around."


"Oh, they don't miss me," she said. "I'm antisocial, they say. I don't mix. It's so strange. I'm very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn't it? Social to me means talking to you about things like this." She rattled some chestnuts that had fallen off the tree in the front yard. "Or talking about how strange the world is. Being with people is nice. But I don't think it's social to get a bunch of people together and then not let them talk, do you? An hour of TV class, an hour of basketball or baseball or running, another hour of transcription history or painting pictures, and more sports, but do you know, we never ask questions, or at least most don't; they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing, and us sitting there for four more hours of film-teacher. That's not social to me at all. It's a lot of funnels and lot of water poured down the spout and out the bottom, and them telling us it's wine when it's not. They run us so ragged by the end of the day we can't do anything but go to bed or head for a Fun Park to bully people around, break windowpanes in the Window Smasher place or wreck cars in the Car Wrecker place with the big steel ball. Or go out in the cars and race on the streets, trying to see how close you can get to lampposts, playing 'chicken' and 'knock hubcaps.' I guess I'm everything they say I am, all right. I haven't any friends. That's supposed to prove I'm abnormal. But everyone I know is either shouting or dancing around like wild or beating up one another. Do you notice how people hurt each other nowadays?”

Are you ready for some football?  There has never been a better time to buy a bigger(er) BIG Screen to watch the BIG GAME!

DaddyO's picture

I subscribe to the quaint notion that Faith, Family and Fellowship are the antidote to our current woes.

They have been supplanted by an ever increasing, centrally planned society for the past 2-3 generations.

Can you say Generationl Amnesia?


Sudden Debt's picture

you should meet my family in law...

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Long front porch swings and dinner guests; short televisions and Facebook.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Yeah. I'm doing my part too, hanging with anonymous pseudonyms on ZH.

It takes a village you know.

aerojet's picture

I content that religion has not solved any of man's problems whatsoever and is most often used for divisive purposes.  Because although you may believe you are open to people who are of other faiths or simply non-believers, what you really do is look down your nose at them and act superior because that is human nature.  I see this behavior even between people who attend different Protestant churches--their god is always bigger than everyone else's.  That is not community-oriented behavior.

TuPhat's picture

Daddy-o said "Faith", not religion.  You confused religion with faith but they are not the same.  Religion is an organized set of beliefs and is often set up by men to get money in donations.  Faith does not require an organization.  You can even have faith in family and friends without a belief in God.  I believe in a supreme being and have faith in him but that does not limit my faith in other things.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



aerojet is consistently the least interesting of all the trolls on this site.  Please, do not feed him/her. 

Tall Tom's picture

Yes Hedgeless Horseman. Your stance breeds community...(Seriously it does.)


You suggest community ostracism???


If ZH is to become an Echo Chamber Community which has intolerance for diverse expression then it loses value.


I prefer Rugged Individualism.


While I do not agree with aerojet, as I promote Faith in God, while he confuses faith with religion, I will disagree with your stance and I will do as I please.


Besides it is fun to deal with the irrational, don't you think?


One of the reasons which I reject community is because that community ostracized me as a child One Half Century ago...continued to do so throughout my experience, and continues to do so today.


Do not make the errant observation that I am somehow crying "VICTIM" as that is the most removed conclusion from the truth.. In fact it is EXACTLY WHAT I WANT. As I wrote I prefer "Rugged Individualism"


I have been on the receiving end of community..SOCIALISM. Your attitude is demonstrative of that Generation, YOUR society.


You can continue the process. Please do. I invite you to ostracize me if you'd like. Hell I invite your whole community, YOUR SOCIETY, to do that. It just serves to give me incentive to act "antisocially". Of course I have had that incentive for half a century. Each additional event just serves to intensify my repressed urges.


The fact that I do not act impulsively can either be a blessing...or a CURSE. Before acting I think things through to the consequential ends.


Note that the Latin root for the word, "community", is the same Latin root for the word, "communism".


Remember community, "Don't feed the trolls.". That includes me, or, anybody that expresses an opinion which does not align with the "groupthink", the community promoted here.


Because we want "community" at ZH.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

"One of the reasons which I reject community is because that community ostracized me as a child One Half Century ago...continued to do so throughout my experience, and continues to do so today."

50 years is a long time ago. What should have been dead and buried long ago is kept alive daily by you. Living in the past or future is unhealthful and a curse of humanity. Once given up, all the energy you expend to remember the injustice returns to you and you are that much lighter in spirit. You are the one suffering, not those who did the ostracizing.


DaddyO's picture

If you have one foot in yesterday...

And one foot in tomorrow...

What does that leave you doing on today?


Blano's picture

Unfortunately many of the faith are ok with the system as it is, or change is ok as long as it doesn't upset their own personal applecart.

pazmaker's picture

Community... what community?   it seems everyone has their face buried in facebook and twitter etc and they think that is community... People living in fantasyland virtual communities with their virtual bitcoins!

Dr. Richard Head's picture

I learned my lesson about communnity recently and it doesn't bode well for the little bit of faith I had in humanity.  Our neighborhood was always about sharing and giving what we could to our neighbors, many times without being asked.  Turned out one of those neighbors thought that meant my wife too. 

I understand the elite mentality of get yours while you can, because no one else will look out for you no matter how generous one is with their time, labor, and money.  Fuck community. Fuck fiat. 

pazmaker's picture

Sorry to hear that man..I didn't down arrow you. I'm not into fiat either but I'm not into sharing my wife either.   Take care man.

Dr. Richard Head's picture

I think the example I provided is more a symptom rather than the problem.  The fact is, our society has become a self-indulgent, sociopathic, virus of takers.  Those who do good for the community will many times see that fact when they start to help people that continue to be takers in life and nothing more, from the lower class to the elite.  Me, me, me, me, me!!!!

Son of Loki's picture

Fewer and fewer people talk to each other in their neighborhoods. Ad dto that all the absentee owners an dhigh turnover of the rentals and it looks like more fragmentation at every social level.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



They have Facebook friends.  It is far easier to track and file digital relationships for future use and profit.

John Law Lives's picture

Sorry to hear that.

I have another (recent) experience causing me to be increasingly skeptical about "community".  I spent ~6 years serving (voluntarily) on an HOA Board at a condominium.  It was extremely difficult to get any other homeowners to serve on the Board (3 total positions on HOA Board), so I served multiple times (base term is 2 years).  I spent (conservative estimate) several thousand (unpaid) hours (cumulative) serving the community.  The ingratitude from the fellow homeowners (mostly yuppies in their 20s and 30s) was galling.  I could count on one hand the number of homeowners who bothered to say thanks for all those years of hard work (which cost them nothing).  I sold my place at a decent profit (thankfully) and moved away.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

We had the exact same experience living in a townhouse with a HOA. Absolute fucking nightmare dealing with idiots that cost so much time to deal with their problems as well as power hungry crazies on the board. I am convinced people start their psychopathic political careers starting on a HOA board member. We also got out with a profit and our number one rule was NO HOA! So pristine McMansions were off the list. So we can paint my chicken house gold and no one can complain.


John Law Lives's picture

Agreed wholeheartedly.  I never plan to live in another property governed by an HOA.

Shad_ow's picture

Often clubs and volunteer organizations are loaded with people on power trips or grifters too.  It is really hard to find relationships with principles.  Too many are in for what they can get rather than give.

Dinero D. Profit's picture

I enjoy reading these pitiful stories.  It reminds me of Studs Turkel, or Miss Lonelyhearts.  (I'd also like to read some confessions, or, some testimomies!)

John Law Lives's picture

I wasn't intending to be a Debby Downer on this forum.  I was just relaying my experience to Dr. Head.

ebworthen's picture

Dr. Richard Head,

Very sorry to hear that.

Been there; a hard place to be.

You'll need to get counseling and move unless what's his name moves but the real problem is your Wife; she's got a hole in the soul that made her betray a sacred trust. 

There is always another penis so it isn't about the asshole in the community that betrayed you but your Wife.  If the marriage is worth salvaging you can try to forgive - but you won't forget.

Buy yourself a professional friend (a.k.a. - Psychologist) so you have someone on your side who can help filter the insanity.

Back in the day it was the Priest or Pastor that filled that role so if you have one you trust talk to them and pray, a lot.

Do not blame yourself.  Repeat after me; do not blame yourself.  You can take responsibility for your half of the relationship but when your spouse fucks someone else - especially someone you know - they have abandoned you and that was their choice alone.

If you can't work things out then move on and find someone who respects and values you.

You have my deepest sympathies.  You are not alone.  It gets better with time.

DaddyO's picture


Excellent Advice!!!

That hole in the soul is the bane of most human intimacy.

Dealing with hurt is probably the toughest thing to do in this life.

Yet pain may be the greatest gift to mankind in that it calls for action.

Answering that call is where relief and growth occur.

My deepest sympathies to the good Doctor!


Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Eb that was very well said and obviously reflects a man who has worked through the anger and hurt from a very horrible injustice done to you. I am glad you have not chosen to hate all women as some here have done. I am sorry some choose to betray trust when confronted with difficulties in life. Being married for thirty years I can attest to some awful times in our past and, yes, I was offered by other men to have an affair when I was at my lowest. I thank god a million times over I never did and break that sacred trust. Both of us have claimed responsibility for hurting our marriage and we both worked diligently to repair the damage. We are stronger as a couple going through it and are so much happier when we married at 22.

You are correct. There is a hole in the soul. That was definitely true for me. Guess what. I decided to fix it and did work with a psycologist who made all the difference. But the key was, I wanted to fix it and was determined. It was a lot more difficult than I had imagined. May be this is why people chose the affair. A few moments of pleasure are much more attractive then months of hellish work. However, because the hole remains you are continuously looking for relief and are never satisfied. In many ways this is symbolic of the sickness our society is suffering in so many ways.

Both you and Dr are casualties of the actions of sick people. I hope there is joyful happiness in your futures. Both of you deserve it and I wish you well.


ebworthen's picture

Thanks for the kind words and sharing your experience Miffed.

Glad you two have worked things through and stayed committed; it is worlds better than the alternative.


Spanky's picture


Well said.

squid427's picture

Cartel-sate capitalism? WTF is that. A cartel state is an oligarchy or plutocracy. When gov and private business collude to cotrol the market that is not capitalism. Unless I misinterpreted that statement. 

Brett Merkey's picture



"the wholesale replacement of community by the state has eroded an essential of human life"

True enough, but "community" is an awfully vague concept compared to the concrete reality of the state's taxes, armed police, war machinery, established churches and 24-7 spying and lying propaganda.

Maybe a closer approximation is that we have been thrown out of politics. We have left the politics that define community to our enemies. We will remain sheeple until we re-enter the field of politics and establish a force that can answer every one of their damn lies.

Toe to toe, out in the open.





TBT or not TBT's picture

Toe to toe? The statists got this far through insidious subversion. Time to subvert them back. Don't pay for holly weird crap, don't send your kids to public school, ridicule them. Statists are not cool. They suck.

financialrealist's picture

the irony here is the current situation will result in the re-birth of the community. 

sschu's picture

"rebirth of the community"

Yes, those that believe PMs and rugged individualism will see them through the coming reset are taking a big chance.  Maybe they will, but you become a bigger target when you isolate and PMs imply isolationism.


Smegley Wanxalot's picture

My experience with community and volunteering is as follows: I get to be everybody's bitch, and then if I need anything I get heavily shat upon by "the community."

Fuck all that "we're all in this together" nonsense.  If I'm going to be a slave, it will be to either myself or my cat.  Mankind can fuck off and rot.

Dr. Richard Head's picture

This is becoming my way of seeing things too.  Tis' a shame.

NemoDeNovo's picture

Is it truly?  Let's be realistic here....You come into this life ALONE and you damn sure go out ALONE, love it or hate it that is the truth.  Now this does not mean that you can enjoy the experiences along the way to the out door of this life, just don't to get 'attached' to anything along the way.  Humanity has several inherant flaws that from my view can not be fixed, but must rather be embraced as being a constant in out lessons here.


All of the Negative[s] you go through here are to show you what you are NOT! 


Keep what resonates and discard the rest ~ 

Dinero D. Profit's picture

I remember taking The Breath of Life



Groping at the air—         


It was scary, I admit,                                                                                                   

but not too scary,

--I grasped a speechless breath,                                                                                              

and I became alive.


The situation did not require crying.


There I was, --

-bare assed,                                                                                                                 

-all of a tremble,

-unable to prop myself up, and

-covered in strawberry ooze.


In other words,                                                                                                                       

a fresh infant,



but with a feeling that something was beginning.


When I was 10 seconds of age,                                                                                              

I was old enough to be spanked!


(This is my actual life story,                                                                                       

scaled down to poem size.                                                                                          

I prefer to deal with facts

rather than a lump of pathetic thoughts.)


When I was 20 seconds of age,

I knew what human beings do not like.


(Small snicker)


I was not a bad baby,


but it took someone else to straighten out my trouble.


And for the feeder’s care

which nuzzles up gently                                                                                                         

I was desperately glad.


So here, a poetic point,                                                                                                           

such as it is,

comes home.


I was not alone.