This is a book about two forms of energy—binding and expansive—and how getting the relationship between them wrong is destroying us. The modern world sees society as a collection of autonomous individuals, held together to some extent by the self-interest of its individual members, but excluding any notion of community—i.e., relationships that bind persons to one another in a way that transcends self-interest and individual autonomy, something we used to call love. When we talk about love at all, it is as one of the “frills,” something pleasant that we can get along without, but playing no role in the “practical” business of making the world work. This turns social reality upside down. The truth is, love—of God first, then of neighbor—is the binding energy that holds communities and their institutions together, that makes possible strong families, strong neighborhoods and towns, and everything else. Yet today, we see both the State nd the corporate world waging endless war against genuine community, sacrificing community to supposedly more ultimate goods like wealth, utopian social engineering projects, and so on. At the root of it all is the loss of the sense of cosmic order and unity, something only the Catholic Church has ever been able to embody and impart. Hence these essays rely heavily on Catholic social teaching and the vision of reality at its foundation.
Self, Other, Community is a collection of essays, written over a decade or so, examining this situation from a variety of perspectives: things like authority, bureaucracy, wage labor, our obsession with college education for everyone, the “pregnancy pact,” sexual chaos, the legitimacy of a government which relentlessly attacks human communities, why I am a Luddite (who publishes electronically), and so on.