For those of us who remember the 1960's and 70's communism is a dirty word with black and white images of people in queue for toilet paper, any kind of car you want as long as it's a Trabant, empty grocery shelves, neat columns of soldiers high-stepping before the Politbureau on May Day while showing off their huge missiles; so much of what America surely was not. It was communism that made Americans stick a circle encompassing three triangles on every library and stone building in America. Still, the ideology of communism was then, and still is,a concerted but flawed attempt at community; people coming together to share their common resources and move toward common goals. The root word is "common" and is a word that Anglo-Americans have fought tooth and nail to be anything but in their time apart from the Europe they once knew. After all, to practice liberty is not to ask for approval or authorization, or a green light or a hall pass. Liberty is thinking something and then doing that something, as expeditiously as possible. The absence of time between conception and realization is liberty's greatest boast. Thus a car is liberty personified, time is the road liberty travels upon, and drive-thru living is how liberty thrives. But liberty is not community, which is what we're considering here.
Being familiar with "common" and practicing "common" is imperative to knowing and practicing community. "Common" is anything that is shared between two or more entities (it doesn't have to be just humans). Ah, and what about "sharing", which is birth mother of common. This sharing is what two people reach for when they are exploring the possibility of relationship in some form. Maybe a tennis team, or gal pals, or study buddies, but always the questions that probe the possibilities of shared interests or property. In any case, sharing is about becoming better through co-mingling the resources of two or more entities. If you have NEVER shared yourself with someone, any initial effort will be quite a struggle to sincerely realize common ground in some form with your entity of choice. The person who grows anti-common separates themselves from the possibility of community.
What is not common is anti-common or set apart. What I am is for me alone. You are there and I am here. You have no influence on me nor I on you. If I fall down, you will not fall with me. If you get sick, I will not suffer your ailment. If I prosper, you will not benefit from my increase. Being anti-common is as messy a practice as being common. But, it's easy to see the founders of America practicing some of both; desperately needing each other in the New World (native peoples included) while yelling at those in Europe to "stay away and leave us alone". The United States has been a people who have, in unspecified ways. held loosely to the precepts of community and the conditions for which it can be maintained. Liberty, wholly lacking in the Soviet consideration of community, has been a documented cornerstone of American community. And yes, everyone has their own idea of what liberty is and how they personally experience liberty on a daily basis. I was not there, but I doubt men and women of the Stalin era spoke much of liberty or had thoughts of liberty, excepting how it might be to have more than they had, which was very little. There was a job to do, a service to perform, for the sake of the Soviet Union, and those in Moscow who led the Union knew what was necessary. By edict, a comrade in this community no longer had a voice. Clearly, this was a misnomer because if no one spoke then nothing could be pursued or accomplished.
Americans are patriots, right? I doubt an American has ever considered himself (or herself if the cap fits) a comrade, living the "American dream". The American patriot, living the American dream, is a person pursuing goals of their own deriving, with employment that provides a clean home to live in, a car to drive wherever one pleases, and a family of ones' own personal preference. Patriotism is as much about beating the drum for family, home, and transportation as for defending the boarders against threats known or yet to be known. This mentality smacks of the anti-commoner, while the comrade, though miserable, has locked arms with other miserable comrades to march to work and run the machines that will run down the ideology of liberty and freedom for all.
Humans are forever trying to come together up to the point somebody yells "Give me some space!" and to grow in their understanding of the construct of community. How it works for good and how it contributes to evil is vital to the survival of humanity. Humans have one world on which to live, and move, and, for a season, have their being. The Soviet/American condition is but one expression of how community is compared and contrasted. There are many other stories of communal experience and everyone a success story, even if unanimously declared a failure (Jonestown, New Harmony, Oneida). In failure come the painful answers of why, thus the possibility of not working to the same dead end twice. It is vital to see the imperative of community, all the while being intimate with the failures of communities long gone.
The human condition mandates communities of varying compositions. These conditions originated in simple survival (watch my back and I'll watch yours) to communities of thought (theology, philosophy, arts) but always based in either the physical or the mental/spiritual. Lately the physical and mental health of the human condition is on the table of discussion and it will be interesting to see if we will look to history to again tell us what is best to do in this regard. Communities have typically cared for their own, supporting a physician in community relationship. Can it be as simple as a community of people establishing a common relationship with a physician? Is that the starting point for universal healthcare? I am persuaded that true community is imperative and not just a group of the type the insurance industry promotes. Groups can be impersonal and unfamiliar with one another; without intimate dialogue and common bonds. True community is sincere interest in the well being of its members. There must be a starting point and I believe it is indeed revealed out of our human history. The question is have we grown too antisocial to promote community in this regard? Are we loosing sight of what the human condition is for the sake of our own selfish ends?