I ett tidigare inlägg belystes översättningen av den tyske sociologen Ferdinand Tönnies (1855-1936) huvudverk och teori om Gemeinschaft och Gesellschaft.
Samma utgåva innehåller också den 23 sidor långa artikeln "Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft" (1931), som skrevs mot slutet av Tönnies karriär och liv. Den utgör ett försök att tydliggöra och uppdatera de insikter som gjordes nästan ett halvt sekel tidigare, och är således av stor relevans och fungerar lite som ett slags brygga till de senare Gemeinschafts- och Gesellschaftsstudier som har gjorts av bland andra ekonomer, sociologer, statsvetare och kulturpsykologer.
Nedan följder några excerpter från artikeln. Dels en kortare utläggning om de centrala begreppen naturlig respektive rationell vilja och deras kopplingar till Gemeinschaft och Gesellschaft, dels de tre sista sidorna av artikeln som berör sociala organisationer och juridiska personer utifrån de två huvudbegreppen. Jag har tagit mig friheten att fetstila de primärt tyska begrepp som översättaren har satt inom parentes med kursiv stil.
The general human volition, which we may conceive as natural and original, is fulfilled through knowledge and ability and is also fundamentally conditioned through reciprocal interaction with them. The whole intellect, even in the plainest man, express itself in his knowledge and correspondingly in his volition. Not only what he has learned but also the inherited mood of thought and perception of the forefathers influence his sentiments, his mind and heart, his conscience. Consequently I name the will of thought in this latter sense natural will (Wesewille), contrasting it with the type of rational will (Kürwille), in which the thinking has gained predominance and come to be the direct agent. The rational will is to be differentiated from intellectual will. Intellectual will gets along well with subconscious motives which lie deep in man’s nature and at the base of his natural will, whereas rational will eliminates such disturbing elements and is as clearly conscious as possible. (...)
Continuing our discussion of social organizations or corporate bodies, we may take the following observations:
(1) A social organization or corporate body can originate from natural relationships provided these are social relationships. In this connection, kinship, the most universal and natural bond which embraces human beings, comes to our attention. The most important social organization or corporate body which originates therefrom and from which all known peoples occurs as the original form of a common life is the kinship group, the gens, clan, or whatever name is applied to designate this ancient union or unity.
Whether or not the totality of adult persons includes the women, whether their council ends in agreement which is sanctioned by a supposed will of God, or whether they rejoice in and willingly accept the decisions of a leader and head, it is under these conditions that there is formed the embryo of a consciousness which matures into something beyond a mere feeling of belonging together, and there is established and affirmed an enduring self or ego in the totality
(2) A common relation to the soil tends to associate people who may be kinsfolk or believe themselves to be such. Neighborhood, the fact that they live together, is the basis of their union; it leads to counseling and through deliberations to resolutions. Here again the two principles of fellowship and authority will be involved. The outstanding example of an association of this type is the rural village community, which attains its consummation in the cultivation of the soil practiced in common and the possession of common property in village fields or land held in common by the village, and in the Markcommunity which comes to represent the unity of several neighboring village communities which originally may have formed one unit.
The rural village community is frequently identical with a great family or clan but the more alien elements are taken in the more it loses its kinship characteristics. The bond of field and soil and living together first takes its place along with and later more and more supplants the bond of common ancestry. Especially when an alien tribe and its leaders become the conquers of a territory and establish themselves in the seats of control without extirpating or driving out all the former residents and owners does this tendency manifest itself, molding a new people (Volk) from the two groups, even though the one was subjected to new masters. The existence of the village community as a social organization or corporate body ordinarily continues in the form of a fellowship. Such a village community, however, may be modified by the power and rights of feudal lords.
(3) In the more intimate and close living together in the town, the fellowship and co-operative quality attains a new level. Living together tends to depend less on common nature. People not related by blood tend to assemble in the towns since these originally were walled-in villages or strongholds whose inhabitants were forced to co-operate for defense and for the maintenance of peace and order among themselves and thereby to form a political community, either under the rule of a lord or as citizens of equal rights. This was the great mission and service of the town (Stadt) community, the “Polis” which grew to be that commonwealth which later in Europe and elsewhere up to our time bequeathed its character and name to the state (Staat), the mightiest of all corporate bodies. That assembly of the sovereign people, the religious association (Ekklesia), the other great commonwealth of the Roman and the post-Roman period, loaned its name to the church and spread its glory throughout the world in a similar manner.
These social bodies and communities retain their common root in that original state of belonging together, which according to our concept is the Gemeinschaft. Indeed, although the original state of common being, living, and working is changed, it retains and is able to renew its mental and political form and its co-operative functions. Thus, a people (Volk) which feels itself bound together by a common language, when held together within a national association or even when only striving to become a nation, will desire to be represented in a unity or Volksgemeinschaft, which may become intensified by national consciousness and pride, but may also thereby lose its original genuineness.
Capitalistic, Middle-Class, or Bourgeois Society (bürgerliche Gesellschaft). During this development, the original qualities of Gemeinschaft may be lost because there takes place a continued change in the original basis upon which living together rests. This change reaches its consummation in what is frequently designated as individualism. Through this development social life in and of itself is not diminished, but social life of the Gemeinschaft is impaired and a new phenomenon develops out of the needs, interests, desires and decisions of persons who previously worked co-operatively together and are acting and dealing one with another. This new phenomenon, the “capitalistic society”, increases in power and gradually attains the ascendancy. Tending as it does to be cosmopolitan and unlimited in size, it is the most distinct form of the many phenomena represented by the sociological concept of the Gesellschaft.
A great transformation takes place. Whereas previously the whole of life was nurtured and arose from the profoundness of the people (Volk), the capitalistic society through a long process spreads itself over the totality of this people, indeed over the whole of mankind. As a totality of individuals and families it is essentially a collective of economic character composed primarily of those who partake in that wealth which, as land and capital, represents the necessary needs to the production of goods of all kinds. Within narrow or far-flung borders which are determined by actual or supposed kinship bonds, of the existence of which the language group is the most valuable sign, it constructs its state, that is to say, a kind of unity resembling a town community which is capable of willing and acting. It develops as the capitalistic middle-class republic and apparently finally attains its perfection in the social republic. It considers the state a means of attaining its ends, of which not the least important is protecting its person and property as well as the intellectual attitude which gives status and honor to its supporters.
However, since the first capitalistic middle-class society cannot, without betraying itself, admits its uniqueness as a collective of Gesellschaft in contradistinction to the people (Volk) or, so to speak, herald this difference by raising its own flag, it can only assert its existence through claiming to be identical with, as well as representative, and advocate of, the whole people to which it furnishes guidance. This process, which does not stop with conferring equal political rights on all citizens, to a certain extent closes to the always widening hiatus between the wealth monopoly of the narrow and real Gesellschaft and the poverty of the people, but it cannot change the essential character of the hiatus. Indeed, it deepens it, spreading and strengthening the consciousness of the “social question”.
By means of political and other intellectual organization promoted by town and, to a greater extent, by city life, the consciousness of the Gesellschaft gradually becomes the consciousness of an increasing mass of the people. The people come more and more to think of the state as a means and tool to be used in bettering their condition, destroying the monopoly of wealth of the few, winning a share in the products. Thus, the laborer would be allowed a share in proper production to his reasonable needs and the leaders in production their share of certain goods which are to be divided for consumption, and those things suitable for continued common utilization would be retained as common property of the Gesellschaft, which is to say of the people of their organized association, the state.