The Anti-Communitarian League (ACL)
Grassroots Research & Analysis of the Ultimate Third Way
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Table of ContentsCommunitarian Quotes
Where does the Communitarian Network stand on religion?
What Is Racial Communitarianism?
Articles About Commmunitarianism
New Democrats Are Communitarians
Presidential Supporters of Communitarianism
A Few Good Overviews
Ties To Marxism
Ties To Theosophy
Ties To Agenda 21
Ties to Compulsory Service
In the ACL's Opinion
Communitarian Concepts NEW!
Sample Communitarian Programs
"Communitarianism (Idea and Movement in politics) - With the demise of true socialism as a viable intellectual force, communitarianism is now the most active philosophical opposition to libertarianism. Communitarianism is usually presented in a vague terms, but it is probably best understood as a mild form of collectivism or "democratic socialism". Communitarianism has had some influence in the realm of practical politics, as witness the fact that Hillary Clinton is reputed to admire many communitarian thinker." From the The Ism Book
More good quotes
"Global governance has been criticized for many reasons, some of which are more compelling than others. For instance, it is said that such governance violates old-fashioned notions of national sovereignty,9 which Professor Dinh defines well. However, the notion of national sovereignty is neither God-given nor part of human nature. Instead, as Professor Dinh correctly points out, global governance was something concocted in the seventeenth century to stop religious wars, which entailed the intervention of one ruler in the internal affairs of other communities." by Amitai Etzioni, pdf file at GWU, On the Need For More Transnational Capacity.
"Healthy communities are built upon two pillars of equal strength and necessity: a respect for the freedoms of individuals and a commitment to the common good. In order for our society to continue and to flourish, all of its members must work toward this balance between rights and responsibility-including children." Amitai Etzioni blog March 2005, Educating for Freedom and Responsibility.
"Officials recognize that these vaccines will harm a small percentage of (genetically susceptible) individuals, but it is for the common good. The communitarian code posits that it is morally acceptable, if necessary, to sacrifice a few for the good of the many. Or as one observer more bluntly puts it, "Individual sheep can be sheared and slaughtered if it is for the welfare of their flock." This information is provided by Mercola.com a natural health website.
"The First Amendment's disestablishment clause is not a foreign policy tool, but a peculiarly American conception. Just because the American government is banned from promoting religion within the United States does not mean that the State Department and the Pentagon cannot promote religion overseas in societies that are undergoing profound societal changes. This last point is crucial: Overseas we are participating as a key architect and builder of new institutions; we are in what social scientists call "the design business." This is quite distinct from what we do at home: shoring up a solid social structure designed two centuries ago, careful not to rock the foundations or undermine the pillars on which it stands. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other Third World countries, we participate in the ground-breaking, foundation-laying stage, one in which elements we can take for granted at home - such as a thriving religious life within civil society - must be provided." [emphasis added] Amitai Etzioni quoted on Publicradio.org.
"What then is the answer? If the question is how can we run a sustainable and just consumer-capitalist society, the point is that there isn't any answer. We cannot achieve a sustainable and just society unless we face up to huge and radical transition to what some identify as The Simpler Way, that is to a society based on non-affluent but adequate living standards, high levels of self-sufficiency, in small scale localised economies with little trade and no growth, to basically co-operative and participatory communities, to an economy that's not driven by market forces and profit, and most difficult of all, a society that's not motivated by competition, individualism, and acquisitiveness. Many have argued that this general vision is the only way out of the mess we're in." What is our biggest problem? by Ted Trainer. Extract from Ockham's Razor, ABC Radio National, 27 Nov 2005. (The Simpler Way is another new term for the communitarian's U.N. Local Agenda 21 Programme and the "mistaken for communists" international communitarian Vision 2020.) Editor of Raise the Hammer.org raised objections to this citation. His email and our response posted at bottom of old home page.
1st Wave: 1600s and 1700s: Spititual and authoritarian; German/Swiss Pietist and English Separatist.
2nd Wave: 1840s: Secular: Anarchist Socialist, Associationist, Mutualist Cooperative, Owenite, Perfectionist. Religious: Christian Socialist, Adventist.
3rd Wave: Crested in the 1890s:(50 years after the 2nd wave) Hutterite, Mennonite, Amish, and first Georgist single-tax colony.
4th Wave: 1930s:(40 years after the 3rd wave) New Deal Green-Belt towns, Catholic Worker, Emissary, School of Living.
5th Wave: 1960s: (30 years after the 4th wave) Peace/ecology/feminism.
6th Wave: 1990s: Cohousing, ecovillages, various networks.
"The Socialist Alliance programme is the foundation upon which everything else is built, including in time our exact organisational forms and constantly shifting tactics. The programme links our continuous and what should be all-encompassing agitational work with our ultimate aim of a communitarian, or communist, system. Our programme thus establishes the basis for agreed action and is the lodestar, the point of reference, around which the voluntary unity of the Socialist Alliance is built and concretised. Put another way, the programme represents the dialectical unity between theory and practice." Posted by Towards a common Socialist Alliance programme Weekly Worker 368, January 25 2001. See also: 5. The transition to the communitarian system in the same issue of Great Britain Communist Party's Weekly Worker.
"Pope John Paul's great vision of communitarianism and a New Global Order has yet to receive the recognition it deserves in furthering the understanding that humanity is built on religious values, without which transformations in totalitarian regimes would have been impossible. The essence of communitarianism, as put forth by the Vatican, consists of seeking middle ground between Marxist collectivism and rigid individualism and capitalism. Phillips traces the history of communitarianism through Aristotelian and Judeo-Christian writings, clarifying the proper function of the community in helping individuals help themselves by mobilizing church resources and countering anti-religious movements such as Nazism and communism. Communitarianism presents an encouraging universal notion of freedom, transcending the one-sided stances of Marxism and libertarian capitalism and promoting the vision of a unified human destiny." Communitarianism, the Vatican, and the New Global Order by Robert L. Phillips, Carnegie Council.org.
"Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros and White House domestic adviser William Galston have come out in favor of the communitarian agenda, and Sen. Bill Bradley goes so far as to say that communitarianism "promises to shape a new political era in much the way progressivism reshaped our nation a century ago..... As a consequence, people are beginning to think critically about what it means to translate such fuzzy, feel-good rhetoric into action.
"This is the Clinton administration's version of 'family values,' something vague and moralistic that everyone supports but no one seems to be able to define," says Professor Walker. "I suspect that what the communitarians, and especially Etzioni, really want is to be influential with the White House. If that's an accomplishment, then they may already be achieving something."[emphasis added]
|Officials said they see the program as an ambitious successor to the "thousand points of light," the private efforts to solve public problems
that Bush's father saluted in his 1988 acceptance speech at the Republican
National Convention. In office, Bush's father conferred a Daily Point of
Light Award. Strategists in the new Bush administration recommend that
"rather than officially designating Communities of Character, use heroes
to tell the story."
Bush aides are researching such options as encouraging public service announcements that salute the community work of movie stars and opinion leaders, and working with news organizations to develop "profiles in character" about worthy citizens.
The project is built on the communitarian philosophy, which aims to bolster the foundations of civil society -- including families, schools and neighborhoods -- and foster a commitment to the welfare of the community.
Amitai Etzioni, a George Washington University sociologist who founded the communitarian movement in 1990 and has been consulted by the Bush administration, said the plans reflect "the better Bush." But Etzioni said the White House would have to be subtle in its approach for the plans to be successful.[emphasis added]
"We are all exposed to a wide variety of moral voices -- the media, Hustler, corporations," Etzioni said. "It is part of the job of the president to add his voice, as long as it is exhortation, not legislation. It's one thing to tell what you think. It's another thing to shove it down their throat. That's what they do in Iran.""
|"who are known by various names--Communists, socialists, totalitarians, globalists, collectivists--" and doesn't pull any punches what-so-ever: "Communitarian ruling elitists are an unsavory assortment of serial killers, terrorists, gangsters, drug traffickers, and totalitarian demagogues with an insatiable appetite for power. They are out to rule the world. Their modus operandi is to feign compassion for the world's poor, redistribute the wealth from the productive to the nonproductive, and make all human beings totally dependent on a one-world communist state. This communitarian criminal cabal urges Americans and other peoples to turn away from individualism, stifle all personal aspects in themselves, and live selflessly in the service of the community. In order to strengthen communities and instill into Americans the communitarian morality, it promotes community organizations, community initiatives, character education, and a host of community-building policies. It preaches the principles of compassionate conservatism and promotes the policies and programs of the welfare state in order to transform self-reliant, independent individuals into helpless, submissive wards of the state." [p 15]|
"Starting in 1960, the doctrine of the movement, "National-European Communitarism" whose social character was affirmed from the beginning, derived from national-communist positions. If in the first years of the movement, Thiriart would have a right-wing orientation (fundamentally Franco-Belgian) which feeds on virulent anti-communism, from 1960 on he affirmed the ideological positions that were in direct line with those that he would defend from the eighties on, under the generic name of "the Euro-Soviet School". [This called for] the creation of a Great Europe [extending] from Dublin to Vladivostok, National-communism and a collaboration between the USSR and Western Europe. In 1962 Thiriart wrote: "In my view, there are big chances that in the next twenty-five years the following blocks may be formed: the two Americas (subsequently he would return to the idea of seeing a Latin America liberated from the Yankees), the Asian block, China-India, and the Europe-Africa- U.S.S.R. block which would allow us to no longer write about 'from Brest to Bucharest' but about 'from Brest to Vladivostok'. Geopolitics is already underlining this future" (18)."
"After the definitive elimination of the right-wing sector of the organization in 1964, Thiriart would lead Young Europe in a direction in which two general orientations dominate: on one hand, radical anti-Americanism and, on the other, a progressive approach to national-communist positions. Thiriart sees Communitarism as surpassing communism and not as its opponent, this is a typical national-Bolshevik posture. In 1965, he defined Communitarism as "national-European socialism" and he added that "in the mid century, communism will become, wanting it or not, Communitarism" (19). In this, history has had to agree with him given that before the fall of the Soviet block, the economic reforms that were introduced in Hungary and Romania took communist economy towards Communitarism (20)."
America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the Nation and gentler the face of the world. My friends, we have work to do. There are the homeless, lost and roaming. There are the children who have nothing, no love, no normalcy. There are those who cannot free themselves of enslavement to whatever addiction--drugs, welfare, the demoralization that rules the slums. There is crime to be conquered, the rough crime of the streets. There are young women to be helped who are about to become mothers of children they can't care for and might not love. They need our care, our guidance, and our education, though we bless them for choosing life.
The old solution, the old way, was to think that public money alone could end these problems. But we have learned that is not so. And in any case, our funds are low. We have a deficit to bring down. We have more will than wallet; but will is what we need. We will make the hard choices, looking at what we have and perhaps allocating it differently, making our decisions based on honest need and prudent safety. And then we will do the wisest thing of all: We will turn to the only resource we have that in times of need always grows--the goodness and the courage of the American people.
I am speaking of a new engagement in the lives of others, a new activism, hands-on and involved, that gets the job done. We must bring in the generations, harnessing the unused talent of the elderly and the unfocused energy of the young. For not only leadership is passed from generation to generation, but so is stewardship. And the generation born after the Second World War has come of age.
I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good. We will work hand in hand, encouraging, sometimes leading, sometimes being led, rewarding. We will work on this in the White House, in the Cabinet agencies. I will go to the people and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I will ask every member of my government to become involved. The old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in. ([What is 1000 points of light?)
|According to US News, the Washington Post and other sources, the campaign involves what writer Mike Allen described as "more emphasis on the presidential role of moral leader with a series of executive actions and legislative proposals designed to foster community spirit and family values..." A strategy plan for the new initiatives says that Bush should build upon his support base with religious groups, and stress issues that "unite Americans by focusing on children, quality of life and universally appreciated values."|
|This paper reports on the social science debate in Germany over the environmental policy program, 'Local Agenda 21' (LA 21). It attempts a preliminary reconstruction of the specific form the LA 21 processes have taken, and it tries to show how they deviate from the traditional West German notion of political ecology. The paper examines theoretical issues and questions that present themselves in light of this new phenomenonin particular, it considers the appropriateness of the modernization-theoretical perspective with which participants and observers have scrutinized LA 21. Contrary to their suppositions, the success LA 21 has enjoyed does not appear to have stemmed from fact that problems generated by differentiation processes has been resolved through a reasonable consensus based upon universal norms. It is more likely that particularistic instances have played a decisive roll in LA 21's success - not only in terms of calculated pursuit of selective benefits, but also in terms of the impacts of local identities, which can be more accurately described by using 'communitarian' concepts. Precisely because of this particularistic orientation, it appears that LA 21 represents a fundamental shift within German political ecology. (Author's abstract)|
Communitarianism is not a theory of the collective but is, fundamentally, a theory of people in relation with each other. Similar to the Aristotelian view that man qua man lives within the polis not outside and alone as the beasts, communitarians posit that society exists prior to the individual and that it creates the social self. Indeed, because society pre-exists the individual, it provides continuity of the life-world allowing the individual a place and time within which to function and exercise his or her capacities through the interaction with others resulting in interdependence. It is from this interdependence that the “primordial sources of obligation and responsibility” flow (Selznick, 1986, p. 5). To be sure, the me exists as a separate entity from the collective but the other part of the person, the I exists as the agent of “reflective morality” (p. 3).
This presupposes that the I has a morality which learns from the community through interactions with others. It is this sense of morality or of what is good held as a community value, that distinguishes, and indeed can transform, a community from a mere association or grouping of individuals. It is the community which defines the common good, the authoritative horizon, and seeks it. Communitarians believe that it is this “feeling of commitment to a common public philosophy which is a precondition to a free culture” (Kymlicka, 1990, pp. 122-3). It is thus the responsibility of those in the community to defend the common values when under attack by others from within as to fail to do so would result in the “debasement and decay” of the community values and ultimately the community itself (Dworkin, 1985, p. 230). In general, it is fair to say that communitarians believe that the freedoms and rights enjoyed by individuals, which are not denied but are circumscribed by society, flow from the common understandings or values accepted by the community. The enforcement of social values within the communitarian ideal is not physical force but rather persuasion and social opprobrium. Such an approach is possible as interrelationships are the grist to action within society and to be an outcast is so restrictive to the individual that he or she will, theoretically, stop the offending behaviour (Etzioni, 1998, p. xii).
Communities then share common meanings and values within their language and actions. The legitimization of the community’s values rests not on consent but from what sociologists call the implicated self which postulates that “our deepest and most important obligations flow from identity and relatedness, rather than from consent” (Selznick, 1986, p. 7). Surely, relatedness entails duties to others and it is within that context there arises the duty to respect the rights of others (Selznick, 1986, p. 11). Thus unlike liberalism which posits the primacy of autonomy and individual rights with few social restrictions, the thin social order; communitarianism states that a necessary precondition to freedom and rights is a society of common values which justifies many reasonable restrictions on the individual in order to protect those values, the thick social order. In other words, the real world is composed of interrelationships, which to function with any degree of consistency, require order and common values as preconditions. These relationships justify social rules to promote cohesion and the furtherance of its communal values.
Communitarians do not steam-roll over the individual, as the individual is respected and valued as an end in him or herself, and not simply a means to a collective end. Nor do communitarians seek to produce automatons to the collective will. Bellah (1998) states,
A good community is one in which there is argument, even conflict, about the meaning of the shared values and goals, and certainly about how they will be actualized in everyday life. Community is not about silent consensus; it is a form of intelligent, reflective life, in which there is indeed consensus, but where the consensus can be challenged and changed- often gradually, sometimes radically-over time. (p. 16)
Beiner (1992) describes the purpose of the communitarian society:
The central purpose of a society, understood as a moral community, is not the maximization of autonomy, or protection of the broadest scope for the design of self-elected plans of life, but the cultivation of virtue, interpreted as excellences, moral and intellectual. (p. 14)
In summation, communitarianism is about the individual living in community where the individual maintains his or her free will but where personage is formed through a common language, values and concepts which in turn frame the individual’s reality and cause him or her to related to that world, and the people in it, with the values of the community.
The Supreme Court of Canada applied two communitarian views to the case before it. The majority approached the values conflict from a “unity in plurality” position while the dissent argued for a “unity of community” approach.
In communitarian terms, the challenge to the Supreme Court was, as Etzioni (1996) suggests, “to point to ways in which the bonds of a more encompassing community can be maintained without suppressing the member communities”(p. 191). The Court had rejected what they feared as the tyranny of the majority, the idea that Canada is a “melting pot” of values, and preferred a mosaic of values. It is that ideal that Etzioni (1996) speaks of when he says, “as I see it, the image of a mosaic, if properly understood, best serves the search for an intercommununity construction of bounded autonomy suitable to a communitarian society” (p. 192). He goes on to say,
A good communitarian society . . . requires more than seeing the whole; it calls on those who are socially aware and active, people of insight and conscience, to throw themselves to the side opposite that toward which history is tilting. This is not because all virtue is on that opposite side, but because if the element that the society is neglecting will continue to be deprived of support, the society will become either oppressive or anarchic, ceasing to be a good society, if it does not collapse altogether. (Etzioni, 1996, pp. XIX-XX)
It was the fear of majoritarianism, in effect a dictatorship of values espoused by the majority in society, which caused the Supreme Court to say, in effect, show us the damage, then we will consider a remedy.
Implicit in the majority of the Court’s argument is that there is no hierarchy of values in the Charter. They believed that to hold otherwise would make law less certain; in that choosing a particular right as predominate today, leaves open the possibility of choosing another right as predominate in the future. In other words, the Court recognized that the priorization of Charter rights could vary according to the historical period in which the Court views them. Such a decision would put all rights at risk or subject to the judicial Zeitgeist of the times. However, if the judicial rule is to recognize all rights as equal, then regardless of the time at which the Court viewed an alleged conflict, it would be required to balance rights based upon concrete evidence of conflict and not what may be the predominate value or right as viewed by society or even legislation at that time.
The difficulty with Justice L’Heureux-Dube’s view is that whereas today equality may Be the dominate right or value to be protected, but what of tomorrow? The majority answered that acceptance of the dissent’s position would, by stare decisis, lock the Court into judicial positions which might not be tenable in the changing times. The majority found that a much more flexible judicial approach in such cases and in a constitutional approach to interpreting the rights in the Charter, was to give equal authority to all of the Charter rights and thus, when in conflict, to balance them.
Balancing rights is a difficult process. The Supreme Court, although finding that the equality provision of the Charter did not apply in the Trinity case, stated, as aforementioned, that there was no evidence that any Trinity graduate had ever discriminated against homosexuals or lesbians in a school. In colloquial terms, it amounted to, “show me the money,” and, failing to find such danger their decision was, arguably, predictable.
In our postmodern society one can reasonably expect that groups in society will claim their particular values as, just and good and so the “melting pot” analogy, as it applies to public values, fails. As Etzioni (1996) states,
The concept of a community of communities (or diversity within unity) captures the image of a mosaic held together by a solid frame. “E pluribus unum” may not be equal to the task; it implies that the many will turn into one, leaving no room for pluralism as a permanent feature of a diverse yet united society. (p. 197)
In balancing rights, and thus the values which underlie them, decision makers must refer to some common core elements which transcend the particularities of the various contending groups. In the Trinity Case, the Supreme Court of Canada determined that the core public values which enable a balancing of rights are democracy and freedom. It was with reference to those core values that the Court was able to navigate its way through the multi-dimensional labyrinth of jurisprudence, politics and philosophy.
If democracy is by definition composed of heterogeneous individuals and groups, and if freedom is the exercise of rights, subject to reasonable democratic limits without coercision, and if there is no clear and present danger to others in evidence, then a balancing of rights is both appropriate and reasonable. So suggests the majority’s decision.
This approach is suggested by Etzioni (1996) when he indicates that several core elements in balancing the rights of sub-communities within a society involve, a) considering democracy as a value rather than a process, b) fundamental legal rights (in his example the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights), c) the layering of loyalties such that a community is willing to acknowledge core values which are respected by all citizens, d) respect for the values of others while maintaining one’s own group values, e) the unacceptability of stereotyping by one group to another, f) the acceptance of ongoing civility in dialogue among groups so as to avoid “culture wars” (pp. 200-202).
Although members of the Supreme Court may not have read Etzioni’s writings, there is no doubt that the ideas expressed in their judgement ring with Etzioni’s concept of society being a community of communities, for the purposes of this paper, a mosaic not only of cultures, but of values underwritten by the key values of democracy and freedom.
Etzioni (1996) correctly characterizes the judicial decision making process as “ ongoing societal moral dialogues . . . couched in legal terms, regarding the proper place to draw the line between the societal set of values and the particular ones, those of the community of communities and those of the constituting communities” (Etzioni, 1996, p. 202). Prima facie, the Trinity Case represents just such a dialogue of values.