I have recently been watching (from a safe distance) Dmitry Orlov’s recent dealing with the denizens of the progressive left. Since I am safely ensconced on the other side of the continent, it has been a instructive interlude. I have no doubt, were I closer to the action, that my amusement would be less and my sympathy would be greater.
I need to give you some background on the reason that I tend to agree with Dmitry on the issue of “fringe” groups.
I grew up in Northern Utah, the product of Italian Immigrants and a Scots-Irish/Jewish mutt. The high school I attended was >80% Mormon and they shamelessly threw their weight around.
So, In a sense, I grew up as part of a fringe group circling a fringe group. A meta-fringie if you will.
The Mormons kept to themselves and kept the booze tight. The only land that was available to our church was right next to the stockyards. They tried to force everyone into their system and for the most part succeeded. But even with the repressive nature of the Mormon Church when it is allowed control, there is much to admire about the organizational structure of the church.
First and foremost, the Mormons took care of their own. Oh, don’t go believing that nonsense that the church PR department spews out about the cradle to grave nature of the Bishops Warehouse. They will feed their needy into the state and federal welfare systems to make sure that the resources of the church are stretched as far as possible, but they do have a welfare system that works. The Mormons also support a rational education system (or did), none of this nonsense about college for everyone. The educational system was tied through and through to church doctrine (hell, back in the day, they even used public school land and buildings to hold “seminary” classes for the majority. The grades in seminary even counted toward GPA.)
But enough about the LDS. Lets talk now of the Italian ghetto in West Weber. Insular as hell, thank you very much. In theory, ruled by the stooped Italian men at the Depot Grocery, in fact ruled by the incredibly bitchy Italian women in the altar society. Insular as hell, but I repeat myself. My mother marrying out of the ghetto was a source of scandal for years (it also started a trend which ended up with half my family being Mormon now). We spoke Italian around the farm until my Nona died.
Now that we have a meandering history behind us, let’s start talking about the differing natures of two fringes.
First the Mormons: Patriarchal as all get out. They have a defining overall structure, a clear source of funding (10% is quite a bit), a clear hierarchy, and a us-vs-them attitude to beat the band. The one thing that stands out is the inclusion of new generations into their scheme. Last time I looked their religion and reach were expanding.
Now the Italians: Matriarchal as all get out. No clear structure, just a series of agreements between the matriarchs, no clear funding, most of the progeny wanting desperately to get out from underneath the thumbs of the matriarchs. The new generations were not included in the planning, merely directed following the decision. The whole structure is now dust.
Now, you are probably expecting me to begin a tirade against matriarchy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What I am arguing against is the idea that robust structures can be made, whole cloth, from the ideas of a small group. The idea that a community of “Ideas” can be formed has been disproved so often in the past that I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to find a case where there is a success (Good Luck).
Nope what I see is an issue of organization. For all the talk about “flat” organizations with consensual goals, I cannot seem to find evidence of longevity. All of the Corporations that tried this either backed out as fast as possible or succumbed to “creative destruction”. The only attempt at a similar structure on a non-corporate basis was locally in the Spanish Civil War, a miserable failure.
The progressive left wants a Kumbaya-based structure, even though every previous attempt in the millennia preceding this has failed or been co-opted. This is the core of the matter. If you are to have a workable, long-lived group, the only known method of doing this is the tribe, complete with tribal elders, a defined population, and well-established methods of recruitment of new members and disposal of the non-compliant.
The culture I grew up in is now dead. Ground to dust by the incursion of mass-culture and a more dynamic and effective sub-culture. I would recommend, should you wish to create a sub-culture, you take heed,