Community, Yes, But Whose?

March 01, 1997

“Community, Yes, But Whose?” A Debate with Roger Scruton, City Journal, Spring 1997, pp. 72, 79-83.
Editor's note: In "Communitarian Dreams" (City Journal, Autumn 1996), Roger Scruton found much to criticize in the widely celebrated intellectual movement called communitarianism. Communitarians present themselves as champions of traditional social ties and opponents of the self-absorbed atomism of modern society. But for all their talk about shared values and social sentiment, Scruton charged, communitarians deeply distrust local communities and the institutions of civil society. Instead, they favor an expansive welfare state, which they see as embodying the inclusiveness and mutual respect that are the essence of community--but which, in Scruton's view, has caused much of the decay of community that they bewail. As Scruton summed it up, communitarians are "just so many made-over liberals, dressed up in a rhetoric of fellow feeling." Amitai Etzioni, a well known communitarian thinker whom Scruton singled out for criticism, responds opposite, on page 72. Scruton's reply begins above.

Education for Intimacy

March 01, 1997

“Education for Intimacy,” Tikkun, Vol. 12, No. 2 (March/April 1997), pp. 38-42. Also published: “Education for Intimacy,” Educational Leadership, (May 1997), 20-23.
Instead of approaching the discussion of sex in public schools as a matter of health and safety bereft of moral content or forbidding discussion of sex out of traditional moral concerns (seeking to rely exclusively on the family and religious institutions for this purpose), schools should develop a program of education that provides children with the facts they need to know, within the context of values that responsible and moral persons seek to affirm and embody in their lives. Sex education should not be taught as a chapter in human hygiene or human biology, akin to dental care or car mechanics. We can find better sources and role models for teaching this subject than what the birds and the bees do. Nor should sex education be treated as if it is, was, or could be, value-free.

Cross-Cultural Judgments: The Next Steps

February 09, 1997

The debate between those who argue that we should not pass judgment on the conduct of other people and those who champion universal human rights or other global

Ein Kommunitaristischer Anata gegenuber dem Sozialstaat

February 01, 1997

Der Autor gilt als einer der Vater des Kommunitarismus und ist Proiessor, Griinder und Girektor des Communirariar: Network an der Univ.

Balancing Individual Rights and the Common Good

January 01, 1997

“Balancing Individual Rights and the Common Good,” Tikkun, Vol.12, No.1, (January/February 1997), 66-67.
Some people have thought that communitarianism resembles conservativism in placing a focus on the need for greater individual responsibility toward the community, and in its critique of the excesses of a rights-oriented society. In fact, communitarians really seek to establish a New Golden Rule, one that seeks a balance between the still valued needs of individuals and the larger society. If we were living in a totalitarian society, that golden rule would lead us, as dissenters, to challenge the misuse of communitarian language, and to insist on greater individual liberty. In Western democratic societies, where the pendulum has shifted toward extremes of individual self-indulgence and a lack of community responsibility, communitarianism often takes the form of a critique of this excess. Yet what we seek is actually a new kind of balance.

Building a Better Child

December 29, 1996

“Building a Better Child,” Washington Post Book Review, December 29, 1996, p. 1. (Robert Coles, The Moral Intelligence of Children: How to Raise a Moral Child.)

Give Couples Tools to Make Marriages Last

November 18, 1996

“Give Couples Tools to Make Marriages Last” USA Today (November 18, 1996), p. 25A.

The debate about the value of families is rapidly shifting, in this election year, from "should we save the family?" to "how can we save the family?"
One answer to this challenge comes from the states, that already have been credited with being our best national laboratories when it comes to welfare, health reforms, and numerous other social policies.
Michigan and Iowa are leading the way in trying to make divorce more difficult than it has been since the "no fault" approach was adopted. At least 11 other states also are considering anti-divorce measures.

Post-Election Safety Nets

November 01, 1996

“Post-Election Safety Nets” Challenge, (Nov.-Dec. 1996), pp. 4-7.
One cannot but hope that after the 1996 elections both major parties will agree to form a joint commission to develop a national policy on entitlements. Among those who recently called for such a commission is Republican Jack Kemp. The liberal position on this issue favors maintaining the basic system while making some limited adjustments. It is much less clear what position conservatives will bring to the table. This is especially true when it comes to "conservatives with a heart," who must consider what to do for the deserving poor, abandoned children, the victims of catastrophic illnesses, and other truly vulnerable members found in even the most accomplished society.

How Americans Can Contribute to the Common Good

October 09, 1996

In 1989, while I was a visiting professor at the Harvard Business School teaching ethics, I came across a finding in the library that symbolized for me the problem people have today in 

recognizing the common good.

Building Better Dreams

July 21, 1996

“Building Better Dreams,” Washington Post Book Review, July 21, 1996, p. 5. (John Gillis, A World of Their Own Making, Myth, Ritual, and the Quest for Family Values.)

Two Cities, One Deficit

July 07, 1996

“Two Cities, One Deficit” New York Times, (July 7, 1996), p. 10F.
I UNDERSTAND that Lehman Brothers has an analyst who specializes in the Government's effects on business. From where I sit, this is a smart move.
I lived in New York City for 20 years and am completing my 15th year in Washington. I continue to be amazed by how different the world looks from these two vantage points. A telling example is the different way many people in each city view the recent increases in long-term interest rates -- a divergence that has great significance not only for the financial markets but also for the future economic growth rate and the outcome of the Presidential election.

July Fourth: Independence Together

July 01, 1996

“July Fourth: Independence Together” Wall Street Journal, (July 3, 1996), p. A8.
The way we celebrate our holidays tells volumes about the values to which we are committed. Over the last decades, in many suburbs, patriotic parades of bands playing Sousa marches, veterans carrying tattered flags and fire departments proudly displaying the community's shiny new truck have been replaced by barbecues in backyards and an additional day on the beach. We no longer measure the day by the number of flags raised from rooftops and verandahs or the length of patriotic speeches, but by the pounds of hot dogs consumed, beer lapped up and, above all, the record of people killed driving under the influence. Even if there is a concert in the commons, it is likely to be an imitation Beach Boys ("cruising with a girl. . ."),Van Halen or maybe Brahms. Fireworks still abound, but their colors are not necessarily red, white and blue. While in small-town America and in working neighborhoods glimpses of the traditional Fourth, celebrated on Main Street, can still be caught, in many upscale communities it is a day friends hang out with each other, at home or at a private picnic.

Let Teens Bust Cigarette Sellers

June 01, 1996

We have a little militia man in each of us, and he refuses to get out. We are still reluctant to recognize the necessity of a firm authority to maintain social order. Take the most recent fuss about the use of teenagers in sting operations whose purpose is to reduce the sale of cigarettes to minors. The police are sending 15-year-olds, who show their age (not some of those overgrown hunks), to try to buy smokes. When cigarettes are sold to these minors, the offending party is warned the first time and fined as much as $125 thereafter. When liquor is also sold to minors, the business license may be revoked.

Virtue Should Be Seen, Not Just Heard

May 29, 1996

“Virtue Should Be Seen, Not Just Heard” Education Week, (May 29, 1996), p. 40.
Should values be taught in public schools, and if yes--whose? are questions frequently raised as several thousand school board members across the nation prepare for the November elections. The questions are likely to be revisited this year with particular fervor as most Americans are deeply troubled about the moral state of the union and the character of the young. How and above all who is to impart moral education is a subject that has raised vehement controversies in past elections and in between. The left is fearful that the promotion of virtues in public schools will lead to religious indoctrination. The Religious Right suspects that values education in public schools will promote secular humanism and spread "relativism", the notion that there are no ultimate values but only those favored by one group or another of the diverse polyglot that America is said to have become.

Why fear data rape?

May 20, 1996

“Why fear data rape?” USA Today, (May 20, 1996), p. 14A.
At first you are horrified. Your remaining shreds of privacy are being peeled away as if you are caught in a nightmarish forced striptease. Neighbors listen in on your cellular phone. Your boss taps into your e-mail and medical records. Companies analyze what you paid for with your credit card. Furiously, you seek new laws to protect yourself from data rape.