Friday 16 July 2021

The end of Gemeinschaft - the dawn of... what?

Gemeinschaft is a German word which indicates a type of social grouping which has been actively extinguished over the past century; indeed I saw into almost-total obliteration during my working life. Yet, Gemeinschaft used to form the basis of all human society. 

The features of a Gemeinschaft grouping include a relatively informal, self-selected (and self-regulated) group of men who are united by common interests and/or purposes. Examples would include the Medieval craft guilds and learned professions. But also much smaller groupings of men such as clubs and hobby groups, and social/ discussion groups such as the Oxford Inklings.

I emphasize men, because women very seldom form such groups, or even participate in them - and there are (I think) no examples of mixed sex Gemeinschaft groups that were stable over time.

What has been apparent over several generations is the replacement of Gemeinschaft by at first mixed sex, then woman dominated, formal, externally-controlled/ internally rule-based bureaucracy

Why? Ultimately because bureaucracy has been a major strategy of purposive evil in the world - because it is intrinsically demonic in nature: anti-God, anti-spiritual, anti-human.

Gemeinschaft has been attacked by feminism on one hand - which regarded all-male groups as inherently oppressive to all-women; and on the other side by an inferred sexualization of Gemeinschaft as latent or covert male-male sexual attraction. 

In reality; the major thrust of hostility was that Gemeinschaft contains an intrinsic goodness in terms of the basis of its cohesion - whereas bureaucracy is intrinsically evil. 

Yet, on theoretic and empirical grounds, it seems obvious that we cannot return to a world dominated by Gemeinschaft ... It certainly looks as if modern men do not even want Gemeinschaft: they are not pressing for more Gemeinschaft, modern men are not spontaneously doing Gemeinschaft. 

So now there is hardly any need for the authorities even to repress or disrupt it; and anyone who yearns for Gemeinschaft will find it difficult or impossible to get going; and will find it almost impossible to sustain.

We must not accept bureaucracy, because it is evil - yet we cannot go back to traditional Gemeinschaft because it is obsolete - so, as usual, we need to develop hitherto unprecedented creative possibilities; and these may need to be be so radical as to require extremely high motivation of a kind only possible when based on strong and personal religious convictions. 

And there is our clue. We must build from what actually does motivate and is Good; no matter how small such groups may be, to begin with.  

Note added: The cause of the decline of Gemeinschaft is - like the cause of decline in all human institutions and groupings - the loss of Christianity as a framework and assumption for human life. This deletion either obliterates Gemeinschaft aspects altogether - as for the mass of young people whose lives are dominated by mass and social media; and large, variable and loose groupings. Or renders smaller interest-orientated groups weak and labile, being merely contingent mutual venues for pleasurable pastimes. One should not mistake these hedonically-justified residues for the internally-cohesive, mutually-aiding and -influencing, and temporally-resilient Gemeinschaft groups of history: strong enough to serve as the building blocks of functional human society.  


Karl said...

I agree to your explanation of the German word "Gemeinschaft", yet I fail to understand why you think that "Gemeinschaft" is obsolete.

Now, in professional live openly forming an all-male group ("Gemeinschaft") like a medival guild is illegal. If it is done in secret, the state would probably consider it an illegal cartel. But illegal is not the same as obsolete. Anyone who expresses Christians views, e.g. on marriage, in public quickly finds that theses views are "hate speech" and voicing them is illegal, but these views are not obsolete.

In private live all-male groups are still legal, e.g. something like the inklings. Why do you conculde that such a "Gemeinschaft" that is centered around a mutual hobby of the members is obsolete?

I'd rather say, that "Gemeinschaft" is the only way forward. The official groups all turned evil. I want to get out of those to the extent it is possible, but neither do I want to be all alone (or with family only). Of course, there are friends, but as soon as these friends know each other and there is some common purpose (hobby, business, faith, whatever) they form a "Gemeinschaft". So I'd say "Gemeinschaft" is the only way forward.

Mike Bryant said...

I know your not a great fan of cycling Bruce but I do see lots of men in groups out on their bikes together, this could be the only state sanctioned Gemeinschaft left for men all others being verboten.

Genie said...

Thinking I will recommend hunting as a Gemeinschaft for my husband. Several guys per hunting stand out in the woods for hours with time to talk without being monitored sounds pretty idyllic. For like minded couples we created a Stammtisch and met every Friday night at the same gasthaus in Germany. Sometimes four, sometimes twenty but always interesting. And within stumbling distance of the house. I miss it!

whitney said...

One of my very first observations as a little girl, I was still in single digits, is that women always want to join male groups but men never want to join women's groups. I hopped on that truth really early despite my feminist atheist mother or maybe because of her. It was a really amazing observation for a little child and it has helped shape me for all the decades of my life. I think it helped me know that I could see truth even if I was told the opposite. Im glad i saw it.

The Continental Op said...

I've been to the gun range, thinking "now that's a man's place" but the handgun area was infested with women. The ranged section (rifles) was all men. Only there could a man make wisecracks about Lee Harvey Oswald ("You miss 100% of the shots you don't take!")

You make good points about the bureaucratization / feminization of life. Women are conformist, like to obey consensus, love to passively follow a plan, like to be told what to think and do, especially what is popular at the time. Filling the workplace with women turbocharged the bureaucratization. Once a place has been taken over by women, it's impossible to get men interested in re-taking it. Education is a prime example.

The sexual revolution helped turn women into the devil's vanguard, men becoming drooling lusting beggars for a few crumbs of pleasure.

AnteB said...

What English word is closest to Gemeinschaft? In Swedish there is a word that is quite similar to Gemeinschaft but I´m not sure the German word denotes the exactly same thing, even though I think so.

I used to not fully understand your aversion to bureaucracy, except for a general dislike petty and Kafka-esque rules, but after working in a bureaucratic environment I have come to understand the pernicious atmosphere and influences of such a world. Steiner´s ideas about Ahriman is an help in conceptualizing and detecting such influences and impulses.

When thinking about Berger´s excellent summary of 2020 my thoughts were drawn to the Lord of the Rings and how it mainly presents the evil side. It is notable that the eye is the image Sauron is most associated with and that he strove to put every one under his dominion even in a spiritual sense and that nothing could be allowed to be outside his dominion.

Jacob Gittes said...

This mini essay is important.
Gemeinshaft is de facto illegal. However, it may make a comeback.
I know from personal, current experience of men who are forming a real, powerful proto-gemeinshaft. We have a hierarchy. It's organic. It's Christian-centered. It's already been targeted by the media, but is forging ahead.
But you have given me much to think about. We need to stay focused, and privilege the spiritual focus, and not allow any subversion. The extent to which the state itself will try to stop it remains to be seen.

I've noticed that very few men, any longer, dare to suggest that being away from women is a good, positive thing.
We have the "man cave" thing in the USA and West, but it's more focused on passively watching football and drinking beer.

We need the real thing: organic groups devoted to the good, true, and beautiful. And God.

Mike Bryant said...

I think the key to modern Gemeinschaft is that it has to be informal the minute it becomes formal it is absorbed into the demon bureaucracy.

Anonymous said...

I'm just reading The Gobi Desert (1942) by Mildred Cable and Francesca French, and the missionary 'Trio' of Cable and the French sisters seem very like your characterization of 'Gemeinschaft', leaving me wondering if missionary work has been - and perhaps (sometimes) continues to be - a distinct category of 'Gemeinschaft' which could/can be all male, all female, or consist of husband and wife, and groups of husbands and wives. (There is a scan of The Gobi Desert in the Internet Archive, and one of the things it reminds me of is the Laura Ingalls Wilder books - !)

David Llewellyn Dodds