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Moreover, some communitarians "experience this less as a case of being used for others' ends and more as a way of contributing to the purposes of a community I regard as my own". Still other communitarians question the very idea of natural rights and their place in a properly functioning community. They claim that instead, claims of rights and entitlements creates a society unable to form cultural institutions and grounded social norms based on shared values. Rather, the liberalist claim to individual rights leads to a morality centered on individual emotivism, as ethical issues can no longer be solved by working through common understandings of the good.

The worry here is that not only is society individualized, but so are moral claims. In the early s, in response to the perceived breakdown in the moral fabric of society engendered by excessive individualism, Amitai Etzioni and William A.

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Galston began to organize working meetings to think through communitarian approaches to key societal issues. This ultimately took the communitarian philosophy from a small academic group, introduced it into public life, and recast its philosophical content. Deeming themselves "responsive communitarians" in order to distinguish the movement from authoritarian communitarians, Etzioni and Galston, along with a varied group of academics including Mary Ann Glendon, Thomas A.

Bellah , among others drafted and published The Responsive Communitarian Platform [15] based on their shared political principles, and the ideas in it were eventually elaborated in academic and popular books and periodicals, gaining thereby a measure of political currency in the West.

Etzioni later formed the Communitarian Network to study and promote communitarian approaches to social issues and began publishing a quarterly journal, The Responsive Community.

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The main thesis of responsive communitarianism is that people face two major sources of normativity: that of the common good and that of autonomy and rights, neither of which in principle should take precedence over the other. It further posits that a good society is based on a carefully crafted balance between liberty and social order, between individual rights and personal responsibility, and between pluralistic and socially established values.

Responsive communitarianism stresses the importance of society and its institutions above and beyond that of the state and the market, which are often the focus of other political philosophies. It also emphasizes the key role played by socialization, moral culture, and informal social controls rather than state coercion or market pressures. It provides an alternative to liberal individualism and a major counterpoint to authoritarian communitarianism by stressing that strong rights presume strong responsibilities and that one should not be neglected in the name of the other.

Following standing sociological positions, communitarians assume that the moral character of individuals tends to degrade over time unless that character is continually and communally reinforced. They contend that a major function of the community, as a building block of moral infrastructure, is to reinforce the character of its members through the community's "moral voice," defined as the informal sanction of others, built into a web of informal affect-laden relationships, which communities provide.

Responsive communitarians have been playing a considerable public role, presenting themselves as the founders of a different kind of environmental movement, one dedicated to shoring up society as opposed to the state rather than nature. Like environmentalism, communitarianism appeals to audiences across the political spectrum, although it has found greater acceptance with some groups than others.

Although communitarianism is a small philosophical school, it has had considerable influence on public dialogues and politics. There are strong similarities between communitarian thinking and the Third Way, the political thinking of centrist Democrats in the United States, and the Neue Mitte in Germany. Other politicians have echoed key communitarian themes, such as Hillary Clinton, who has long held that to raise a child takes not just parents, family, friends and neighbors, but a whole village.

It has also been suggested that the compassionate conservatism espoused by President Bush during his presidential campaign was a form of conservative communitarian thinking, although he did not implement it in his policy program. Cited policies have included economic and rhetorical support for education, volunteerism, and community programs, as well as a social emphasis on promoting families, character education, traditional values, and faith-based projects.

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President Barack Obama gave voice to communitarian ideas and ideals in his book The Audacity of Hope , [17] and during the presidential election campaign he repeatedly called upon Americans to "ground our politics in the notion of a common good," for an "age of responsibility," and for foregoing identity politics in favor of community-wide unity building.

However, for many in the West, the term communitarian conjures up authoritarian and collectivist associations, so many public leaders — and even several academics considered champions of this school — avoid the term while embracing and advancing its ideas. Reflecting the dominance of liberal and conservative politics in the United States, no major party and few elected officials openly advocate communitarianism. Thus there is no consensus on individual policies, but some that most communitarians endorse have been enacted. Nonetheless, there is a small faction of communitarians within the Democratic Party; prominent communitarians include Bob Casey Jr.

Many communitarian Democrats are part of the Blue Dog Coalition. A small communitarian faction within the Republican Party also exists. Rick Santorum is an example of a communitarian Republican. Dana Milbank , writing in the Washington Post , remarked of modern communitarians, "There is still no such thing as a card-carrying communitarian, and therefore no consensus on policies.

Some, such as John DiIulio and outside Bush adviser Marvin Olasky , favor religious solutions for communities, while others, like Etzioni and Galston, prefer secular approaches. In August , the right-libertarian Reason Magazine worked with the Rupe organization to survey 1, Americans by telephone. The Reason-Rupe poll found that "Americans cannot easily be bundled into either the 'liberal' or 'conservative' groups". The organization used the terminology "the bigger the better" to describe communitarianism.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, founded and led by Imran Khan , is considered the first political party in the world which has declared communitarianism as one of their official ideologies. Early communitarians were charged with being, in effect, social conservatives. However, many contemporary communitarians, especially those who define themselves as responsive communitarians, fully realize and often stress that they do not seek to return to traditional communities, with their authoritarian power structure, rigid stratification, and discriminatory practices against minorities and women.

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Responsive communitarians seek to build communities based on open participation, dialogue, and truly shared values. Linda McClain , a critic of communitarians, recognizes this feature of the responsive communitarians, writing that some communitarians do "recognize the need for careful evaluation of what is good and bad about [any specific] tradition and the possibility of severing certain features. Bruce Douglass writes, "Unlike conservatives, communitarians are aware that the days when the issues we face as a society could be settled on the basis of the beliefs of a privileged segment of the population have long since passed.

One major way the communitarian position differs from the social conservative one is that although communitarianism's ideal "good society" "reaches into the private realm, it seeks to cultivate only a limited set of core virtues through an organically developed set of values rather than having an expansive or holistically normative agenda given by the state.

For example, American society favors being religious over being atheist, but is rather neutral with regard to which particular religion a person should follow. There are no state-prescribed dress codes, "correct" number of children to have, or places one is expected to live, etc. In short, a key defining characteristic of the ideal communitarian society is that in contrast to a liberal state, it creates shared formulations of the good, but the scope of this good is much smaller than that advanced by authoritarian societies.

Authoritarian governments often embrace extremist ideologies and rule with brute force, accompanied with severe restrictions on personal freedom, political and civil rights. Authoritarian governments are overt about the role of the government as director and commander.

Civil society and democracy are not generally characteristic of authoritarian regimes. Liberal theorists such as Simon Caney [26] disagree that philosophical communitarianism has any interesting criticisms to make of liberalism. They reject the communitarian charges that liberalism neglects the value of community, and holds an "atomized" or asocial view of the self. According to Peter Sutch the principal criticisms of communitarianism are:.

However, he goes on to show that such arguments cannot be leveled against the particular communitarian theories of Michael Walzer and Mervyn Frost. Other critics emphasize close relation of communitarianism to neoliberalism and new policies of dismantling the welfare state institutions through development of the third sector.


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with Communism or Communalism. Central concepts. Civil society Political particularism Positive rights Social capital Value pluralism. Important thinkers. Related topics. Christian democracy Radical centrism Republicanism Social democracy. Hobhouse J. Indianapolis: LibertyFund, New York:BasicBooks, London:Routledge, Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved After Virtue. Archived from the original on New York: Crown Publishers, Retrieved May 27, Retrieved 1 October Reason Magazine. Retrieved January 1, Political spectrum.

What theologians such as Mosala have, however, insisted upon is that "the question of ideological framework is of vital importance in any attempt to participate in a theology of liberation". This must not be confused to mean that one ideological framework is better than all others Maluleke In this regard one should be soberly conscious of the diverse ideological positions that might be associated with the school. At the same time, the vital importance of ideology, clearly linked to a particular social theory, is indispensable to those who do Black Theology of Liberation.

Our focus for this dialogue, nonetheless, is on that brand which, as seen by Mosala, "consciously adopts a black working-class perspective" Perceived as the most liberative and comprehensive of the brands of Black Theology of Liberation, this one which adopts the working-class perspective obviously places the proletariat as the agent of change, a significant point of dialogue with Radical Democracy.

At least, secondary to the thrust of this article, must be a clear need for social analysis in order to engage whatever diverse ideological frameworks there are in the school itself or in the liberation movement. Following this point above, Nkosinathi Biko suggests that the powerful of this world can, when it suits them, co-opt socialism, i.

The collapse of the Berlin Wall and the historical fiasco of the socialist project and the evident co-optation of the socialist tools by the central banks must remain a challenge to Black Theology of Liberation to the core! For this reason, it may ultimately be inexcusable for Black Theology to refrain from dialoguing with new insights that reflect on the tension between capitalism and socialism, or better, liberty and equality discourses in the 21 st century.

The theoretical and intellectual discourse of the school may become sterile in a context of structural pragmatism and contradictions in public life. The co-optation of the tools of socialism by the liberal project adds its own dimension to the sterility of the liberation project. How does Black Theology of Liberation move beyond rearticulating or renouncing its positions for meaningful engagement with liberal democracy and the contradictions that are prevalent since the demise of Apartheid? Let us turn to Radical Democracy with this question in mind.

Radical Democracy: Alternative for a New Left. This subtitle above is the exact title of an article written by two leading scholars in the field of Radical Democracy, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe in We should state upfront that their writings, which I am constantly quoting, are rather intellectually challenging - a situation which finds its parallel in a remark once made by Maluleke, namely that the Marxist tools are " Radical Democracy is one such a social theory with which we need to dialogue more because its proponents have also been known to be Marxists.

Laclau and Mouffe argue that as an alternative for the Left, they locate themselves fully in the field of democratic revolution. They explicitly state that:. The task of the Left therefore cannot be to renounce liberal democratic ideology, but on the contrary to deepen and expand it in the direction of a radical and plural democracy Laclau and Mouffe This is what is at the core of Radical Democracy, the deepening and expansion of liberal democracy rather than its denunciation. Known to be Marxists themselves, they criticise the deterministic nature of Marxism and point to the failure of the Left to contend with the shifts, or displacements of what they call nodal points that structure social formation which are important to locate for liberation struggles.

Due to a dogmatic view of class analysis, these shifts or nodal points elude the Left. They argue that classism, "the idea that the working class represents the privileged agent in which the fundamental impulse of social change resides" is an obstacle. Against this dogmatism, which in their view leads to what they designate as 'essential fixity,' they posit that a deeper understanding of the notion of revolution might be helpful to disentangle the Left from its weaknesses.

For example, they argue, revolution is foundational, it instantiates a new concentration of power around which society could be newly reorganised. Revolution is a process which has both internal and external moments. In the process of revolution therefore, the multiplication of political spaces that prevent the concentration of power in one point then become conditions for democratic transformation. Let me allow them to speak:. The classic conception of socialism supposed that the disappearance of private ownership of the means of production would set up a chain of effects which, over a whole historical epoch, would lead to the extinction of all forms of subordination.

Today we know that this is not so in Lemert These sentiments are too important to ignore. Private ownership has not disappeared even though there have been successful struggles against subordination.


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