||CHAPTER 6: AFFILIATION VS. ANARCHISM AND INDIVIDUALISM||Page 18|
For the most part the negative qualities that hinder affiliation are not inherited, but are due to the lack of training for cooperation in Western society. After meeting and working with Peter Maurin, whose watchword was "community," Dorothy Day became acutely aware of our society's failing:
Man is not made to live alone. We all recognized that truth. But we were not truly communitarian, Peter said - we were only gregarious, as most people in cities are. Peter knew that most of us not only had not been trained to disciplined work, but we did not know how to work together.
Given his background in the world of academics, which encourages competition and individualism from the first grade on, it is not surprising that Bertrand Russell found it particularly difficult to affiliate:
Throughout my life I have longed to feel that oneness with large bodies of human beings that is experienced by the members of enthusiastic crowds. The longing has often been strong enough to lead me into self deception. I have imagined myself in turn a Liberal, a Socialist, or a Pacifist, but I have never been any of these things, in any profound sense. Always the sceptical intellect, when I have most wished it silent, has whispered doubts to me, has cut me off from the facile enthusiasms of others, and has transported me into a desolate solitude.
The negative tendencies of individualism such as those taught in the universities, can lead to anarchism in practice. The organizing of Helen Caldicott exemplifies this tendency, as she describes the "loose knit organizations" she formed while still in Australia:
Although we met once a week to report on what we had all been doing, there were no rules and few agendas. Each individual was totally free to do what he or she considered necessary to further the cause. The organization imposed no restraints....
Later, when she came to the United States, Caldicott apparently found it difficult to work with already established organizations, and instead she founded her own group called WAND. Russell's reluctance to affiliate became a matter of great historical importance when, almost 90 years old, he split from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament that he had previously helped to establish, and he formed, instead, the Committee of 100 dedicated to civil disobedience. According to biographer Ronald Clark, Russell got a reputation "for abandoning campaigns when they reached the crest of the wave."
There is a special risk related to affiliation - the risk of sectarianism. If the analysis of the group that one has joined turns out to be sectarian, in other words, narrow and isolated from the common people and the course of history, then one's work becomes ineffective. At best, a sectarian group may be irrelevant, and, at worst, it may be counterproductive to the progress of peace and justice. In such a case, the activist is faced with the difficult necessity of changing the direction of the group or leaving it and affiliating with another.
Despite its risks, there is no substitute for affiliation in the development of consciousness. The isolated individual, no matter how brilliant, is incapable of making history. Only through affiliation and leadership in organizations can a person develop world-historic consciousness. We will return to this question after dealing with the next step of personal integration.
(end of Chapter 6)