Redefining Community


Longing for Community Mark Tobey 1973

Unbridled consumerism reduces the life and light of the world. It is a dimming of potential, creativity and community. It is a hyper-managed cloud of particulates that promote the cult of opinion, the promise of technological solutions and ‘self fulfillment’ experiences that will result in transcendence.

Once community ties and interwoven ties predominated – and if that support was oppressive at times, it was for the most part, a safety net that could be depended upon if we needed it. But that support has been reengineered. Today traditional values that once characterized community life have been altered to value the personal and those in our immediate environment. For this to work, critical thinkers, for example, had to be convinced that while buying and selling for purely personal gain was indeed superficial, non-profits and foundations would step up and serve as stand ins for the conscience of the community – but these adjuncts never delivered real community, nor were they ever never meant to.

For most, there is no upside to consumerism. Most do not reap the rewards promised and despite this, change is feared. Consumer science already knows this and has developed the promise of ‘experience’. Our purchasing power broadcasts our status and determines our ability to have experience and the variety of such experience. It is a system that venerates the winners. The losers are accepted as a necessary side effect. This has been a gradual process of desensitization –to pretend there are no side effects of this lifestyle choice–– and it is one that has required a massive suppression of the cost of consumerism – for people, plants and animals in the world today

Community is to give as we would like to receive so that everyone has access to all the things we would want for ourselves: good housing, food and shelter. That’s the point of the Living Income Guaranteed: it is the unauthorized view of our potential, a stepping down from the manufactured into the real, from consuming and production to communing, to communicate, to build common ground. It is a deliberate transfer of resources to reprogram our world to serve common goals for all humanity, not just those sanctioned by the elite or by socialists or communists – it is non-hierarchical, it is reasonable and it is worthy of who we are and what we are capable of becoming.


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