I’ve added some commentary to my reposting of Shaun Chamberlin’s @theFWD entry (“If you want to go far…”). Take a look.
By the way, the Future We Deserve just reached its funding goal on kickstarter!
Because we risk losing our grasp of “the concept of a community holding an artist safe while he or she explores the wilder reaches of individual expression,” individuals lack the support they need to be autonomous. As a result our artists (those self-selected canaries in the gold mine of a society’s tolerated individuality and free expression) are either unsafe (Hendrix and Morrison) or shallow.
A smart community designs itself to recognize “the need to balance creative self-expression with collective interaction and mutual support.” It must continuously compute how this balance can show up for every single member, every single day, as external and internal factors shift unpredictably.
Rational self-interest can lead to negative group outcomes, but also positive ones. As Chamberlin points out, a dead end is found in “passive individualism”—individualism that is blind to the difference between the “invisible hand” and the “prisoner’s dilemma.”
In the end, what Chamberlin is proposing here is no less than the “death of passive individualism as a coherent philosophy.”
Monasteries often make interesting decisions in regard to these—individual expression, community boundaries, collective interaction and mutual support, self-interest, reciprocity and common-interest. They hold a monk “safe while he or she explores the wilder reaches of individual expression,” (in this case the expression is of the true self, perhaps), and they balance self-expression (from a creative standpoint) with some kind of renunciation and collective interaction.
Some restrict it severely, and some allow it to flourish (within bounds). Benedict said “If there be craftsmen in the Monastery, [then] let them practice their crafts with all humility.”