Front Page Titles (by Subject) Community, Individuality, and Freedom - Literature of Liberty, Summer 1980, vol. 3, No. 2
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Community, Individuality, and Freedom - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Summer 1980, vol. 3, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Community, Individuality, and Freedom
“Toward a Philosophy of Community.” Philosophy Forum 16, Nos. 1/2(1979):101–125.
Leslie Armour observed in “Value, Community, and Freedom” that “the question of a ‘real community’ is. . . the most pressing issue of our time.” Prof. Drengson concurs and adds that developing a philosophy of community will do much to resolve the social and environmental problems which plague the modern world. In large part, these problems derive from a failure to appreciate the complex interconnections which comprise both the natural and human processes of community.
Since sustaining a community requires regular contacts, locale figures prominently in communal life. To distinguish whether a given group functions as a community, Drengson postulates four basic axioms of community life: (1) locals respect one another in word and deed (Mutual respect and trust); (2) locals look after locals when help is needed (Interdependence); (3)locals work to maintain the integrity of their locale (Physical plant and ecology); (4) locals accept diversity (Tolerance).
Throughout his article, the author stresses the analogy between living in human communities and existence within natural ecosystems. On a purely practical level, a cherishing of the land helps to assure a group's very survival, since poisoned earth and sky will not nurture children who must carry on community traditions. At a deeper level, the same attitudes of reverence, interdependence, maintenance, and tolerance of diversity required for a society are also needed to sustain coexistence on the purely natural level.
Drengson discerns four major themes which underlie life in most human communities. They are: the affective (or aesthetic), productive, rational, and spiritual. To a great extent, they also parallel quite similar themes in the lives of individuals. From individual to individual, from community to community, these themes will receive varying emphasis. Nevertheless, harkening back to Plato's arguments in the Republic, Drengson asserts that, both for the individual and the community, harmonizing these four elements looms as a primary task. It is crucial that the person and the group achieve a skillful blending in order to avoid disharmony, suffering, alienation, and other ills.
In connection with these four motifs, Toennies's distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft relationships becomes particularly fruitful. Gemeinschaft ties result from the interaction of natural wills (spontaneity, emotion, attraction, sharing, caring, etc.), while Gesellschaft relations arise from contact among rational wills (associations of special interest groups, contracts, corporations, etc.) This distinction captures some of the paradoxes between our need for both individuality and belonging in society. “We are both social and antisocial, wanting both the public and the private, wanting to plan but to live spontaneously.” Much of the drama of social life is the struggle to achieve balance in individuality and community without either oppressively inflexible or insensitively mechanistic forms of human interaction.