THE SPIRIT OF COMMUNITY by Amitai Etzioni

THE SPIRIT OF COMMUNITY

Rights, Responsibilities, and the Communitarian Agenda

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A primer on how to move from the ``me generation'' (castigated by Etzioni in An Immodest Agenda, 1982) to the ``we generation.'' The text doubles as a manifesto for the Communitarian movement, which Etzioni helped found in 1991 and which he heavily promotes here as an antidote to many of the ills of the permissive 70's and 80's. Etzioni (Sociology/George Washington University) defines ``communitarianism'' as an ``environmental movement dedicated to the betterment of our moral, social and political environment.'' We can, he says, reverse the breakdown of the family, rising crime rates, deteriorating schools, and political corruption by restoring those communities (family, neighborhood, professional, etc.) that uphold strong moral values--even if these values clash with the individual rights extolled by civil libertarians. Etzioni does a lot of fancy footwork to avoid charges of authoritarianism, insisting that we can ``shore up'' our values and institutions without becoming a church-dominated or right-wing society. Among his targets are ``no fault'' divorce, since it allegedly sanctions divorce and leads to one-parent families; the insatiable pursuit of careers that conflict with parenting and community service; and special-interest groups that get in the way of effective government. Throughout, Etzioni lards his argument with show- stopping rubrics (such as ``McDonald's is Not Our Kind of Place,'' which means that teens working in fast-food restaurants are trained to become robots and senseless consumers). A lively polemic that highlights some important issues for the 90's and that seems more or less in step with the beliefs of the man at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1993
ISBN: 0-517-59277-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993




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