Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Community-organizing as a conservative act

This BBC article tells the story of one community organizer working to re-establish healthy communities in the UK. The key commitment of her work--not to do something for members of the community that they can do for themselves--comes straight from Saul Alinsky, the radical bugaboo of the GOP primary season.  (FWIW, two great books on Alinsky-style community organizing: Upon this Rock: The Miracles of a Black Church, and Dry Bones Rattling, both of which are essential reading for understanding how communities can rebuild their institutions and themselves.)

The irony, of course, is that in the UK this community organizing effort is sponsored by the Conservative government, as part of its Big Society effort--a movement to create civic infrastructure to do work that the state cannot, will not, or should not do.

American Conservatives have forgotten that community restoration is a key conservative activity, one that preserves traditions of liberty and self-help while knitting individuals together into  fellow-citizens.  Now it may be the case that the Big Society already exists in the US, so Conservatives can go ahead and dismantle the state without worry for the well-being of communities and the preservation of tradition.  But I doubt it.

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