RealClear Policy: “What the Biden Administration Must Learn about Community”
By Lee Trepanier
“With a Democratic administration now in the White House, we are likely to see the growth of the federal administrative state. It is therefore worth considering what effect this anticipated growth might have on our sense of community, especially our churches, families, neighborhoods, and other local and civic associations.
The crisis of community is particularly acute within the white working class, with the disintegration of family, vanishing economic and educational opportunities, limited social support systems, and a general absence of solidarity. What role can the federal government play in fixing these things — and in restoring our sense of community generally? Will the likely growth of the administrative state aid or ail local and civic associations?
One thinker who can help us answer these questions is the late sociologist Robert Nisbet. In his influential book, “The Quest for Community,” Nisbet argued that the growing concentration of power in the state dislocated other centers of function and authority, with the ties between the individual and local associations being severed by the mandates of the state bureaucracy. Individuals consequently experienced alienation from their local communities — and even from themselves — and turned to the state for moral, cultural, and political guidance. By supplanting these communities, the state was able to reorganize society in its own image of individualism, secularism, and progress…”
Lee Trepanier is the Chair and Professor of Political Science at Samford University and editor of VoegelinView and Lexington Books series Politics, Literature, and Film. Additionally, he is the author and editor of more than 20 books, including The College Lecture Today: An Interdisciplinary Defense for the Contemporary University and Eric Voegelin’s Asian Political Thought. His scholarly interests include political philosopher Eric Voegelin, Politics and Literature, Religion and Politics, Democracy and Education, and Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.
Professor Trepanier is a JMC fellow.
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