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Crab Nebula

Yes, nobody has the time for meetings except the people you mention. And that won't change -- workforce participation and the "new" economy erect significant barriers. I agree that transactional models will become increasingly prominent.

Teachout is clueless...again. It's yet another example of (liberal or conservative) political activists generalizing from their own desires and experience and not seeing how unrepresentative they are.

"Giving people things to do" that are meaningful and not too time consuming is the way to go. For those who can afford it, giving money is part of that, as long as proper communication models making people aware of the gratitude and utility of their investments.

J. Dunn

I don't think Zephyr is totally off the wall here. Speaking as someone who is younger and single and doesn't have the commitments of a full adult yet, I think there is a real desire for in-person meetings and community among those of my demographic, and that there is something to the Great American Loneliness she speaks of, especially for people in their 20's who are still trying to establish themselves. So, why not use the web to encourage that, especially when it doesn't cost that much in the scheme of things? I also think that it potentially fills a noticeable void in terms of local, on-the-ground organization for progressives. The other side has it in the form of the churches and associated social networks, and I think we need an equivalent of some sort to match them. It's certainly not a sole solution, but it sure seems like a worthy part of a larger and more comprehensive one.

Rebecca Allen, PhD

Another aspect of workforce participation is that communities used to have a large cohort of married women, often with education and good skills, to draw on for volunteer efforts. Now, of course, almost all of these women are working and are thus much less available for volunteering. My belief is that this change has probably had profound effects, but I've hardly ever seen it mentioned as significant.


I think that community is important. It's why I go to church.

I also think that there need to be real rewards for some of the participants beyond just feeling good about making a difference.

There needs to be networking and opportunities for some of the people who get involved locally to get paid work and to move up in the ranks, and there needs to be real status associated with involvement. Do you really think that people run for the Harvard Board of Overseers just because they want to give back?

I think this fits in nicely with your point about the end of isms. A lot of people don't have time to join a whole bunch of different groups, but if there's one DFA or the Democratic party which broadly speaks to their ideals, then it's easier to be involved.

Crab Nebula

JDunn - agree totally. *Some* people (a small minority, but an important enough number) will have some time to spend.

Rebecca - I heard this once: greater workforce participation is why we don't have *as many* super-talented women teaching in schools anymore. They now have other jobs to attract them: law, medicine, business.....which coincidentally are all even harder on personal time (though in the beginning of a teaching career, you're working longer hours)



"In short, I've always tried to remember Oscar Wildes' comment that 'the trouble with socialism is that it takes up too many evenings.'"

Which, maybe, is another way of saying that capitalism just takes up too much of the rest of our time.

Matt McIrvin

Personally, I tend not to be a joiner just because even the groups I am most inclined to support almost always end up advocating something that I vehemently disagree with. This doesn't necessarily make me want to have nothing to do with them, but I'm more comfortable with affiliations of convenience around narrowly targeted issues than with a membership that involves implicit or explicit endorsement of a whole menu of positions.

I suppose someone of a more communitarian bent could attack this as a dangerous modern form of narcissism, but I'm inclined to think that it could be a general phenomenon among educated, politically interested people who have evolved lots of opinions.

Nell Lancaster

the young and single people who populated the Dean campaign

To me, this phrase indicates pretty clearly that you never got very close to any actual Dean campaigning. I don't think the experience in my area was atypical, and it was all age groups, married, single, straight, gay, and with a wide range of life and political experience.

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