Coherent community

A coherent community . . . is . . . the means of unifying and making politically effective our now disparate efforts to save the good things: The members of a community cohere on the basis of their recognized need for one another, a need that is in many ways practical but never utilitarian. The members of a coherent community, moreover, keep the good things they have because of a recognized need for them, a need sufficiently practical but never utilitarian.

If it is to cohere, a community cannot agree to the loss of any of its members, or the disemployment of any of its members, as an acceptable cost of an economic program. If it is to cohere, a community must remember its history and its obligations; it is therefore irreconcilably opposed to ‘mobility’ as a social norm. Persons, places, and things have a practical value, but they are not reducible to such value; they are not interchangeable. That is why we outlawed slavery. That is why a house for sale is not a home. (Wendell Berry, “The Purpose of a Coherent Community,” in The Way of Ignorance: And Other Essays)

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