As with most medicines, the things that are good for us in small doses can become toxic in large ones. Writ large, the intimacy that we value so highly is cronyism. The valuing of the personal is an impatience with ideas. The tolerance is indifference. The love of the local is also a clientelist political system in which the sense of a national polity almost disappears.
The adaptability that has allowed communities to absorb large-scale immigration also manifests itself as mass emigration when times are tough. The Irish success at social networking can lead to the idea that you can get around anything if you know the right people.
- Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times Weekend Review, 26 October 2013, perhaps unwittingly hitting on the Aristotelian model of community.
In the beforetimes, in the long long ago, Aristotle wrote that “man is a political animal”. This is frequently misinterpreted to mean that man is naturally interested in representative democracy as we currently understand it.
What he meant was that humans are designed by nature to actively engage in the particularly Greek way of organising people, the polis. Because this word polis is the source of our ‘police’, ‘policy’, ‘politics’, and every city that ends in ‘-polis’ or ‘-pol’, there has historically been some confusion about this quote, ascribing to Aristotle motives and intentions that he cannot have had.