The Spirit of Community
Communitarian founder Amitai Etzioni’s THE SPIRIT OF COMMUNITY could signal a change from the 1980’s “Me Decade” to the 1990’s “We Decade.”
Communitarians say they seek a middle ground between too much personal freedom without consequences on the one hand, and too much central control and responsibility to authority on the other. Already, the general idea, if not the specific movement, has been embraced by Clinton Democrats and New Paradigm Republicans, independent Perotistas and ex-militant Baby Boomers who’ve become parents—all of whom suspect there’s too little sense of community, civility, and citizenship in contemporary society.
People must temper individual rights with mutual responsibility, says Etzioni, a George Washington University professor and former White House adviser. Growing responsibility—and responsiveness and respect—for a community may require a drastic restricting or redistributing of rights: alcohol and/or drug checkpoints, mandatory youth national service, moral education, gate-controlled entries to some neighborhoods.
“We can’t wait for change to trickle down from our nation’s capital,” Etzioni says. “The restoration of our communities... must occur now, and is essential to reaffirm and communicate our shared values.” Exactly who shares which values isn’t defined precisely, but there’s a vague notion that any “nesting box”—from part of a neighborhood to the...
(The entire section is 311 words.)
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