File spoon-archives/baudrillard.archive/baudrillard_1994/baud.May94, message 1

Subject: Re: diasporal evasions
Date: Thu, 19 May 94 10:07:40 PDT
Cc: triley-AT-helix.UCSD.EDU

Beth B. writes: 
> 	everyone here, however many are hiding in the dark amongst
> the trees, is part of a community, a culture -- this virtual one
> right here called the B-list. 

This is something I should perhaps like to talk about for a moment
or two--the claim (which seems omnipresent on the net these days)
that what this *is* is a "community" or a "culture".  These are too
big to take on at once--I leave the latter for a later treatment.
"Community" though carries with it a rich sociological legacy--I
look in several books on my shelf to remind myself of what I read in
Intro to Sociology.  Toennies' gemeinschaft/gesselschaft distinction
and the notion of community as a form of social group characterized
by kinship and something he called vaguely a 'sense of belonging'.
Other notions talked of self-containment in a geographical area.
'Community spirit' (which may be much the same as Toennies' sense of
belonging) runs through nearly all the accounts.  Even purportedly
new-fangled conceptions of the "community", like that of Benedict
Anderson, which acknowledge the disappearance of geographical
boundaries (while yet replacing them with "finite if elastic
boundaries" whatever that means), retain the commitment to "deep
horizontal comradeship" and "fraternity".  None of these elements of
the various definitions of "community" seem very reflective of my
experience of e-mail lists, nor do they seem very sympathetic to the
thought of one who has announced the death of the social generally.
I wonder how and why we seem to retain such a reliance on this
notion "community", what is it about this concept which yet makes us
seem to desire it so.  

Two further thoughts--another element in the definition of
"community" which yet persists at least in our associations and
connotations upon hearing the word is the the image of rural utopia,
the Volk tied by blood and labor to the land upon which they toil.
I mean no accusations of Beth or anyone else using this term--I mean
merely to point out that "community", the need for it in the face of
'modernity' or 'anomie' or whatever, has indeed been the driving
force behind some rather frightening political projects.  Which
leads to my second thought--most of the time (not all, as Beth's
post bears out) when I hear the term "community" on a mail list, it
is being invoked as a justification for *removing* someone from a
particular "community" (as in "she has violated the standards of our
community" or some such).



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