But there are serious problems--and they come to this:
Linzey doesn't go far enough to articulate either what is a community or--and intimately related--where the powers of a community ends and those of a state or federal government are legitimately exercised.
In other words, what in this argument bars me from defining "community" as the economic bastion of the wealthy--at the expense of the less well-to-do?
What prevents "community rights" from simply deteriorating into a version of NIMBY-ism for those who can afford the lawyers?
This is no idle question.
I have watched first hand--over and over--in Pennsylvania communities of the working class become the fracking cesspools of the gas industry--all the while communities better off win (however brief) respite from this industrial assault.
But this response is inadequate since
(a) Linzey already effectively accedes to economic/class divisions by omission (see (1)), and
|Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, May 2015|
Could a community whose majority of members want a fracking ban vote to silence or exile opposing members?
Do communities have the right to censor their membership if that member's speech is perceived as a threat to the integrity or cohesion of the community?
Who's authorized to make these determinations in particular cases?
This is thorny to be sure--but what does Linzey envision--a confederation of loosely knit but entirely independent communities as opposed to a "united states"?
What happens when the action of one community poses potential harm to another?
For example, do communities really have the right to decide against vaccines?
Do they really have the right to erect barriers to keep out "strangers"?
Should every community be responsible for its own militia?
What about a community who wants as many frack pads and pipelines as they can squeeze in--at the direct cost of water contamination for their neighbors?
What of the community who wants to build a flood wall--and makes their poorer neighbors the victims of the next hurricane?
What about a community that determines it's in their best interest to make a communal living off puppy mills?
Rare earth mineral extraction?
Can communities impose a religion on their members?
Can communities impose any variety of qualification for membership?
But this is clearly not the case.
In fact, the opposite is true--and that is among the reasons we do not have any cohesive movement in the U.S. that would undertake the revolution he calls for. In fact--a loose confederation of not-necessarily-cohesive communities might actually agitate against that revolution--deteriorating into a panoply of special interest enclaves as opposed to communities of genuinely democratic citizens.
But they're not merely philosophical--real people, real nonhuman animals, and real ecologies can be harmed immensely by communities, and appealing to community rights will be no panacea to prevent this.
There is a place for larger government.
I don't think Linzey denies this--but he also doesn't spell out what--or where--this is.
And without it, no revolution will be possible.
Or, perhaps better: a confederation of "communities" can certainly generate the conditions of violent sectarianism just as readily as democratic decision-making.
How does Linzey assure us that we'll get the second in the course of the revolution he proposes?
But it's end will not by itself usher in a new day for democracy.