Why Communitarianism threatens a free society

I have been reading articles by Amitai Etzioni, the professor at George Washington University, who is the director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies.  He founded the Communitarian Network, a non-profit ‘dedicated to the moral, social, and political foundations of society,’ and is the world’s leading proponent of communitarianism.

It doesn’t do you much good to criticize a theory without thorough research into it, so I’m doing my homework.

An article by Etzioni in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs entitled The Common Good and Rights, A Neo-Communitarian Approach (Winter/Spring 2009), is a concise argument for the central tenet of communitarianism: The common good must be a central part of our public morality, and human rights  and liberty must be subsumed into the service of all members of the society.  This is what he calls ‘balancing.’

Etzioni states that where there is no ‘community’ the people are disaffected, lonely, anti-social, alienated, and prone to finding artificial community such as gangs and militias.  Without community, in his view, there are no informal social controls that will serve to enforce the moral code and commitments of the residents. The antidote, he says, is to produce a community that uses censure, or pressure, to control behavior.

Here’s an example of what’s wrong with that concept.

Now, in an open society, such as the one we are now building, a gay person can live freely in many places.  An outsider just 25 years ago (and of course, still, in many places), a gay person is now able to form loving attachments without fear of job loss, loss of children, or shunning by society.  But if you take a look at the ‘community’ of Etzioni’s making, you’re looking at America in the 1950’s.  At a society that can shun you, shame you, reject you, attack you, and claim it’s for the common good.  And they truly believed that.  And many of them were good people.  And still are.  And if you define the common good as producing uniformity, and regulated, wholly expected results, then I suppose homosexuality is not in line with the common good.  But why would you want complete uniformity in your culture?  There is a perceived threat.  Whether it’s valid or not, the group can decide to reject and stigmatize a whole segment of the population.  For the common good.

Now, this is the kind of thing that was done in the name of religious prosecution.  Community morality.  How many have been persecuted or killed because they didn’t have the right religion?  This empowers mob rule.  Enforcement of morals outside of the law is not serving the Constitution of the United States.  Etzioni says that common moral beliefs make a community.  That sounds like a religion. Like environmentalism?  Has ‘green’ been hijacked and transformed to a secular religion?  Is it being used as an excuse and justification for restriction of individual rights?  Etzioni is defining the community as the planet.  The global village.  So, by extension,  just your use of the resources on the planet can endanger it, and make you a threat to the common good.

Your rights have been ‘balanced’ against the rights of the community as determined by some.  Whoever is the most dominant group.  Some group is going to be making these decisions.  How is the good of the community determined?  By the Delphi Technique?

Our constitution guarantees individual rights for a reason.  Because they are the first thing to go when a community takes on the role of the arbiter of behavior.

I do not feel comforted by the idea of community rule.  I have been at the receiving end of community attack.  Abuse.  Cruelty.  Why?  Because I dared to speak out about what was wrong.  Are these the people we want dictating what is for the good of the community?  The only way you can get to what Etzioni is talking about is to overthrow our entire system of law.  Our constitution and legal system are based on individual rights.

In Etzioni’s article he states:
“The neo-communitarian position seeks to understand as well as design society in light of the inevitable conflicts between rights, which privilege the person, and concerns for the common good, which privilege the community or society.”

Did you catch that? Design society in light of the inevitable conflicts between rights and the common good.

Re-Designing society. This is happening now.  In your town.  Right in your neighborhood association, your PTA, your city council, your place of worship, your local planning department, your schools.  This is not a remote, scholarly concept.  This is being imposed and enacted across the nation.

The overthrow of our legal system is in progress by the election of politicians  and judges who support communitarianism and Agenda 21.  For the common good.

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