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The Communitarianism Philosophy of Amitai Etzioni



In his 1995 book, The Spirit of Community, Amitai Etzioni raises an important and fundamental subject that should be addressed by everyone who cares about the future of society. Etzioni coined it communitarianism – or in other words the responsibility of communities to develop social cohesion.

The principal philosophy behind communitarianism is an emphasis of the role a community members have towards ensuring that the society functions accordingly and that its people are safe. Etzioni makes the point that “too many people shirk their communal responsibilities” and as a result rules and regulations have to be enforced by governments which ultimately restricts the rights and freedoms of others within a society.

It´s a tough question to call, because on the one hand people need to feel safe in the city and country in which they live, but on the other hand they also want to have the same freedom´s they have always enjoyed. For the last several decades, civil liberties in western countries have been slowly stripped away under the terms of the Terrorist Act by a corrupt elite preparing for the New World Order.

Community institutes need to work together

Etzioni maintains that all aspects of community need to be strengthened, but at the same time individual rights and aspirations should be protected. To do this he suggests people should take an active role in their own communities to ensure society progresses unhindered by political interference from central governments. Families, schools, places of worship, voluntary associations and companies can offer a great deal more for the common good if they all shared responsibility of the community in a pro-active way rather than waiting for governments to pass legislature that only serves to restrict civil rights.

It is at this point where opinion is split. Some commentators argue that individual rights have to be sacrificed if society is to work. They argue that people are organic cells within a community and they must all follow the same course. On the other hand the liberals strive for freedom of choice and individuality. Neither are right, nor are they both wrong, but a balance between the two is key to finding the winning formula.

Capitalism v Communism

The argument basically boils down to capitalism versus communism, the latter having failed in Eastern Europe, yet is thriving in China – at least on the surface in terms of economic productivity. Taking the same economic stand point, the greed created by capitalist ideologies in the west has bought the world to the verge of financial collapse and is churning out a conveyor belt of materialistic drones.

You could argue that communism brings with it a tighter sense of society, yet keeps a tight rein on individual freedoms. Since 9/11 civil liberties in the US have been restricted and freedom of expression has always been a veiled right. A quick look at American history and you will find that speakers in the public eye preaching for peace and radical change have been assassinated; the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X.

Etzioni makes the point that communities must strive to work and learn together to create psychological foundations that can stand up to governments that attempt to suppress its people. In doing so communities will forge it own codes of conduct and people within society will learn to respect their fellow man rather than victimise them, or throw insults, accusations and punches. More social control will reduce the power of government and given many politicians and other wealthy harbingers are criminals that don´t care about the rest of us, it is time communities, not government started looking after their own.


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