Thursday, April 24, 2008

American Ideals versus American Institutions

Samuel Huntington was writing about Japanese communitarianism in 1982, the same time the "IDEA" for communitarian solutions jumped up and hit Amitai Etzioni in the head during lunch one day. What a coinkydink.

Political Science Quarterly Volume 97 Number l Spring 1982
American Ideals versus American Institutions

the extent that those ideals derive from Protestant sources, they must also be weakened by trends toward secularism that exist even in the United States. Each of the four creedal passion periods was preceded or accompanied by a religious "great awakening." These movements of religious reform and revival, however, have successively played less central roles in American society, that of the 1950s being very marginal in its impact compared to that of the 1740s. As religious passion weakens, how likely is the United States to sustain a firm commitment to its traditional values? Would an America without its Protestant core still be America?

Second, the social, economic, and cultural changes associated with the transition from industrial to postindustrial society could also give rise to new political values that would displace the traditional liberal values associated with bourgeois society and the rise of industrialism. In the 1960s and 1970s in both Europe and America, social scientists found evidence of the increasing prevalence of "postbourgeois" or "postmaterialist" values, particularly among younger cohorts. In a somewhat similar vein, George Lodge foresaw the displacement of Lockean, individualistic ideology in the United States by a "communitarian" ideology, resembling in many aspects the traditional Japanese collectivist approach.12 " {emphasis added}

"SAMUEL P. HUNTINGTON is Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs and director of the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. During 1977-1978 he served at the White House as coordinator of security planning for the National Security Council. His many books include The Soldier and the State; The Common Defense; Political Order in Changing Societies; and most recently American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony, from which this article is adapted."

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