Does Etzioni ever present an opposing viewpoint in The Spirit of Community?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Amitai Etzioni's book The Spirit of Community presents arguments for the adoption of communitarianism, where the community takes responsibility for its members and acts to better the whole rather than the individual.

Since he believes in communitarianism as a philosophy, and since the book is intended to directly influence and convince others of its merits, Etzioni only uses alternate viewpoints as either examples of where they go wrong, or as examples that directly or indirectly support communitarianism. When referencing politics, Etzioni mentions that both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton made community a central part of their campaigns. He treats most modes of individualism as extreme:

Many Radical Individualists confuse the right to be free from government intrusion with a nonexistent "right" to be exempt from the moral scrutiny of one's peers and community. Any form of social encouragement or pressure is quickly branded "coercion. (emphasis his)
(Etzioni, The Spirit of Community, Google Books)

In general, Etzioni uses opposing viewpoints to show the superiority of communitarianism. He evokes the concept of libertarianism to show how his own view of Constitutional rights is similar, and refers to a hypothetical "right-wing" authoritarian state that he sees as the end result of today's individualist tendencies. Etzioni is under no obligation to argue the opposition stance, so he focuses on communitarianism and leaves debate to others.