For Leaving the Community Behind

Richard Chappell says, “communitarianism creeps me out.” That makes two of us. More from his excellent post:

I’m so incredibly grateful to be where I am now, to have the opportunity to dedicate my life to the discipline of philosophy; I can’t even begin to imagine being nearly so happy doing anything else. The academic philosophical community is the first to which I’ve felt that I truly belong. But if I had been born a Maori, if my skin were a darker shade, then suddenly I would have been obliged to remain with my ethnic community instead? *shudder*

[…]

So, count me in favour of meritocracy and the upward-mobility (though not the crass materialism) of “middleclassness”. Count me in favour of “elitism”, understood as the claim that some ways of life are better than others, tempered by the cosmopolitan insistence that the best forms of life not be closed to anyone merely due to the circumstances of their birth. (Sadly, this demand is yet to be met. Much more still needs to be done to enable humanity. But entrenching class divisions in the name of “solidarity” is not the place to start. We should want as many people as possible to join the creative classes — to vacate the working class and its culture, not hold people there and reinforce it.) Count me in favour of liberalism.

Richard emphasizes that one need not be some kind of egoist or a pinched individualist unable to value a common enterprise to think this. It’s just generally better for people if they do not feel pushed to consider their parents’ culture a cage within which life must be lived.

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