The Third Way to a Good Society

May 14, 2001

The Third Way debate has, so far, not been very successful. While governments across the world searchfor a new political synthesis, the theoretical debate has offered little to those interested in a new framework for progressive politics. This essay presents an account of what the Third Way really means, and roots it in a communitarian vision of the good society.


May 13, 2001

Communitarianism is a social philosophy that maintains that societal formulations of the good are both needed and legitimate. Communitarianism is often contrasted with classical *liberalism, a philosophical position that holds each individual should formulate the good . Communitarians examines the ways shared conceptions of the good (values) are formed, transmitted, enforced and justified. Hence their interest in communities (and moral dialogues within them), historically transmitted values and mores, and the societal units that transmit and enforce values such the family, schools, and voluntary associations from social clubs to independent churches.

Is Bowling Together Sociologically Lite

May 13, 2001

Robert Putnam's new book raises crucial questions for the analysis of the social and moral future of American society. He demonstrates that the old, 1950s social fabric, and the white male dominated social bonds on which it was based, have largely frayed. Numerous kinds of civic engagement have declined, including participation in voluntary associations, public life, and religious activities. Putnam documents well that the anomie that followed this disengagement has had numerous ill effects on individuals and on society that are usually associated with the breakdown of social order, such as the increase in violent crime. The unavoidable question therefore is: What is going to fill the gnawing social vacuum? While he addresses this question largely in terms of a need to recreate social connectedness or community, it cannot be adequately answered, I shall argue, without examining the sources and content of a new shared moral culture.

Suffer the Children

May 13, 2001

Several leading civil libertarian groups and advocated (and libertarians) argue that minors of all ages are entitled to First Amendment rights. (To save breath, they are all referred to from here on as civil libertarians.) Reference is mainly not to "production" of speech but to "consumption," the unfettered access to cultural material.

To Diversity and Beyond

April 30, 2001

“To Diversity and Beyond” The Weekly Standard (April 30, 2001), p 19.
Even Americans who don't care squat about abstractions such as "race relations" might well be infuriated to learn that - under an order by the Clinton White House, which George W. Bush could yet rescind - the U.S Census is following a deep South tradition: Americans who check both "black" and "white" race boxes on their Census forms are to be counted as 100 percent black.

Are Liberal Scholars Acting Irresponsibly on Gun Control?

April 06, 2001

“Are Liberal Scholars Acting Irresponsibly on Gun Control?” The Chronicle of Higher Education (April 6, 2001), pp B14-15.
A recent court case now under appeal in the Fifth Circuit, United States v. Emerson, raises, once again, the question of whether Americans have a constitutionally protected right to own guns.

Hispanics just want what everyone wants

April 03, 2001

“Hispanics just want what everyone wants” USA Today (April 3, 2001), p 13A.
I know a bit more than many people about the great number of Hispanic Americans who are now popping up on radar screens form Texas to Coloarado and from New York to Milwaukee with the release of new Census figures.

Enron Type Scandals Will End When Penalties Fit Crimes

March 26, 2001

“Enron Type Scandals Will End When Penalties Fit Crimes” USA Today (March 26, 2001) p 16A.
On Monday, a Senate committee sent out more subpoenas to former Enron board members seeking to question them about their contacts with the administrations of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Toward a good society

March 19, 2001

“Toward a good society” The Christian Science Monitor (March 19, 2001), p 9.
A young dotcommer, a friend of my son's, sold his company for $35 million. He was very unhappy, because a friend of his had sold his start-up for $55 million. (This was a year ago, before much of all the funny money turned into dust.) When I asked him if he was content, having made such a killing, he moaned.

For a Soft Moral Culture

March 13, 2001

Americans aspire to a society that is not merely civil but also good. A good society is one in which people treat one another as ends in themselves and not merely as instruments, a society in which each person is shown full respect and dignity rather than being used and manipulated.

On Ending Nationalism

March 13, 2001

Nationalism must be ended. It is a creed that has come to burden the expansion of globalism (as evident for instance in the demonstrations agains WTO); hobbles the growth of the European Community (as seen in the votes against the Euro in Denmark); stands in the way of resolving violent conflicts (for instance, over the fate of Jerusalem); complicated the resolution of differences within existing nation-states (for example, in Corsica); and turn refugees and immigrants into a threat to the receiving countries.

The politics of accusation

March 05, 2001

“The politics of accusation” National Law Journal (March 5, 2001), p A18.
Increasingly, our elected officials charge one another with criminal conduct and initiate criminal proceedings against one another.

Decriminalizing Politics

March 01, 2001

“Decriminalizing Politics” Society (March/April 2001), pp 43-49.
In several earlier eras and in recent years, American politics has broken out of bonds of civility, causing gridlock in Washington and worse: the criminalization of politics. The resulting climate of personal attacks, followed by vendettas, can be captured by the following anecdote told by Republican Congressman Tom Campbell (Calif.). He was walking down the Hill with several Democrats and Republicans after the GOP removed former Speaker of the House James Wright (D.-Tex.) from office following relatively minor ethics violations in the selling of his book. Campbell expressed some regret about this action and suggested, "We must stop doing this to each other." The Democrats responded: "By all means--immediately after we get your guy!"

New Medical Privacy Rules Need Editing

February 22, 2001

“New Medical Privacy Rules Need Editing” USA Today (February 22, 2001), p 13A.
Pity President Bush. He wants to stay on the message of the week, but the world just won't hold still.
Like it or not, Bush soon must tip his hand on an issue that is of major concern to most Americans, but that is not at the top of his agenda: privacy.
The decision Bush is being pressed to make is whether to allow major new medical privacy regulations to go into effect, or whether to postpone, change or kill them.

The Monochrome Society: Policy Review. No. 105

February 20, 2001

281. "The Monochrome Society." Policy Review. No. 105 (February & March 2001), 53-70.

Various demographers and other social scientists have been predicting for years that the end of the white majority in the United States is near, and that there will be a majority of minorities. CNN broadcast a special program on the forthcoming majority of people of color in America.(1) President Clinton called attention to this shift in an address at the U.C. San Diego campus on a renewed national dialogue about race relations.(2)