By Paula Martín Salván, Gerardo Rodríguez Salas, Julián Jiménez Heffernan (eds.)
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Additional resources for Community in Twentieth-Century Fiction
This is palpably overstated. 33 While liberals stressed the individual–state nexus, communitarians sought to defend the mediating role of community. It is important to note that, in the cases of Taylor and MacIntyre, this defence was carried out in a distinctively philosophical idiom manifestly overriding the jargon of classical political liberalism used for instance by John Rawls. Nancy could have found much to commend in Taylor’s and MacIntyre’s readings, respectively, of Hegel and Nietzsche, as their frame of philosophical interpellation was certainly not uncongenial to his.
Tönnies was probably spurred to write his book by what he saw as the sterility of false debates on “individualism versus collectivism”, debates which were both sociological in tone and socialist in inspiration. In his preface he jeers at “the relevance of the antagonism between the doctrines of individualism and socialism for the theoretical understanding of the real facts of modern industry and commerce” (10). 22 However, by the end of the book, the slightly modified thesis that “individualism” is “the underlying principle of Gesellschaft” (170) is made wholly clear.
He also shared the belief that metropolitan society was contaminated by separation: “In Gemeinschaft people stay together in spite of everything that separates them; in Gesellschaft they remain separate in spite of everything that unites them” (52). That much was true for Morris, for whom cities were “enormous unmanageable aggregations” (30), and for Rilke, who in 1903 wrote that all “big cities are untrue”—“Die großen Städte sind nicht wahr” (Das Stundenbuch). e. 20 As Jose Harris notes, Tönnies’s alternative solution to the same problem took on a retro-communitarian form: the Ethical Culture movement, consumer and producer co-operatives, and “guild-socialism”, “all of them, by Marx’s standards, mere tinkering with Utopia” (24).