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Creating community where you are/Political communities

Knowledgebase > Creating Community Where You Are > Creating community where you are/Political communities

Creating community where you are/Political communities

From ICWiki

Political communities are defined by the boundaries of the political territories that contain them. These boundaries are usually created by convenience, using handy rivers and north/south & east/west lines convenient for surveyors. They often have no relationship to the environmental boundaries (like watersheds, local ecologies, etc.) This usually means that people with similar interests find themselves on different sides of a political boundary. (For example, two towns across a river from each other, who have more in common as river towns than they have in common with the farmland around them.) This can make creatinga nd implementing appropriate regional policies very difficult, as any change can involve multiple political jurisdictions.

People often identify with particular political communities, whether it is “I’m a Tennessean” or “I’m an American” or “I’m from Chicago.” The political boundaries make it easy to draw a community boundary & put up a figurative (or literal) wall; here we are inside, and everybody else is outside. There is a long-running tension in American life about people from outside coming in and taking what is ours. (Where “we” are the people who came here a few years or a few generations ago and are hence entitled to everything.)

Political communities in the United States tend to be very fractured. Years of partisanship have encouraged deeper and deeper divisions, with less focus on the general well being and more on the bickering. The tendency toward division is furthered over time by the fact that the political system attracts new members who fit in to the existing system, people for whom partisanship and bickering come naturally. It discourages the entry of people who find partisanship and bickering unpleasant, and who would want to operate in a more harmonious way.

If our political systems can move away from division and more toward seeking common ground, they can operate to find a balance between competing interests, rather than a winner-take-all outcome that favors the only the rich and powerful. It is most likely that this could be implemented on a local level first, where there is more face-to-face communication, and the consequences of decisions can be more visible and immediate. We can help create a culture that sees this as possible by moving the groups we are in toward more consensual, agreement seeking decision-making processes.

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