One major consequence of our mass culture is that we no longer see ourselves as social beings, but rather as the center of a separate little world with no essential need of betterment through society. In such a vision, notes philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, we “see in the social world nothing but a meeting place for individual wills, each with its own set of attitudes and preferences and who understand that world solely as an arena for the achievement of their own satisfaction, who interpret reality as a series of opportunities for their enjoyment.” 1
That is why extreme individualism leads to the demise of community. This can be seen, for example, in the aftermath of the sixties when powerful currents swept away the remaining traditional bonds that once held the social fabric together so tightly. The result is now evident. Silently and imperceptibly, the life of communities is dissolving with shocking rapidity as most Americans withdraw from civic and community involvement and become less engaged with family, friends, and neighbors.
This process is facilitated by the modern megalopolises which, by their anonymity, make social relation more difficult and impede the natural formation of local leaderships. Nevertheless, notes Robert Putnam: “No part of America, from the smallest hamlet on up the scale has been immune from this epidemic.” He observes that this “anti-civic contagion” is found in every social class, ethnic group, racial category, and marital status group. 2