Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World
'Community' is one of those words that feels good: it is good 'tohave a community', 'to be in a community'. And 'community' feelsgood because of the meanings which the word conveys, all of thempromising pleasures, and more often than not the kind of pleasureswhich we would like to experience but seem to miss.
'Community' conveys the image of a warm and comfortable place, likea fireplace at which we warm our hands on a frosty day. Out there,in the street, all sorts of dangers lie in ambush; in here, in thecommunity, we can relax and feel safe. 'Community' stands for thekind of world which we long to inhabit but which is not,regrettably, available to us. Today 'community' is another name forparadise lost - but for a paradise which we still hope to find, aswe feverishly search for the roads that may lead us there.
But there is a price to be paid for the privilege of being in acommunity. Community promises security but seems to deprive us offreedom, of the right to be ourselves. Security and freedom are twoequally precious and coveted values which could be balanced to somedegree, but hardly ever fully reconciled. The tension betweensecurity and freedom, and between community and individuality, isunlikely ever to be resolved. We cannot escape the dilemma but wecan take stock of the opportunities and the dangers, and at leasttry to avoid repeating past errors.
In this important new book, Zygmunt Bauman takes stock of theseopportunities and dangers and, in his distinctive and brilliantfashion, offers a much-needed reappraisal of a concept that hasbecome central to current debates about the nature and future ofour societies.