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Samizdata quote of the day – communitarianism is ultimately totalitarianism

To Blair and his circle, then, the individual did not precede society – as Hobbes and Locke had it. People are born into an existing social compact and have obligations towards it that they do not necessarily choose. Other figures in New Labour’s stable of philosophers included Anthony Giddens, who offered the phrase “no rights without responsibilities” as the slogan of the Third Way, as well as the communitarian theorist Amitai Etzioni.

New Labour proceeded to govern in this spirit, with the political strategist Philip Gould crystallising these ideas into a policy agenda. The New Labour years saw the beginnings of Stakeholder governance, which envisages society as a compact of chartered interest groups – faiths, ethnicities, capital, labour – who have a right to be consulted on all matters of public policy. This is an anti-liberal idea: it formally dispenses with the individual citizen as the primary political unit, and denies the rights of voting majorities – a basic premise of liberal democracy. The establishment of protected characteristics is another example; it was premised on the idea that, in the eyes of the law, you were a member of a community first and an individual second.

J Sorel

6 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – communitarianism is ultimately totalitarianism

  • SkippyTony

    Yes, and another body blow to a society my grandfather would no longer recognise or find comprehensible.

  • TimRules!

    No socialist system ever seems to get past the “dictatorship of the proletariat” stage …

  • Kirk

    They can’t get past that stage, because in order to do that, they’d have to fundamentally change human nature and instinct.

    Socialism is a brilliant idea, for ants. For people, who’re not evolved to live in hive-like circumstances, giving endlessly and selflessly to the collective? Ain’t happening.

    TBH, I’m not even sure you could somehow re-engineer humans into ant-like social animals. I don’t think that “ant-like hive” scales very well into the sort of environmental niche that humanity occupies; there’s too much scope for “bad decision-making” to screw up things on that level. You lose an ant colony here and there, no biggie; you lose a human-scale thing, and it’ll take most of a region or continent with it. Which is why you’re really better off with the sort of chaos typified by ancient Greece than some massive Persian-esque polity that can be tipped over by losing one battle and the centralized leadership cadre misruling the place.

  • DiscoveredJoys

    It is strange (not) how proponents of communitarianism believe that a Supreme Leader is still required… and it is them. Rather than devolved powers spread wide in the community.

    Communitarians are not against individuality for themselves, they just find it more efficient and easier to deal with fewer individuals. The power pyramid is still there, just flatter. An undifferentiated mass of people at the base level. A few obsequious minions halfway up. The Supreme Leader perched at the top.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Communitarianism is totalitarianism.

    “Stakeholder Capitalism”, the doctrine of the international elite, is the Corporate State – it is what Mussolini called “Fascism” and, yes, “totalitarianism” (he used the word – and positively, Mussolini thought it was a good thing).

    The only difference is that the modern elite want totalitarianism on an international (not just national) scale – they want world “governance” (Agenda 21 and so on).

    To talk of this is attacked as “paranoia” or “Conspiracy Theory” – but the documents are in the public domain.

  • They can’t get past that stage [“dictatorship of the proletariat”], because in order to do that, they’d have to fundamentally change human nature and instinct.

    Where is New Soviet Man when you need him?