Thursday, November 27, 2008

Community vs. Democracy: Communitarian Theories and the Israeli Settlers

Community vs. Democracy Communitarian Theories and the Israeli Settlers , Prepared for delivery at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, August 28 - August 31, 2003. Copyright by the American Political Science Association. presented by Avia Pasternak, MA The Department of Political Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


"The communitarian critique of liberal thought, which defied the liberal conception of the autonomous subject and the neutrality of the liberal political sphere, attracted much criticism for its vagueness in what regards the practical implications of communitarian politics. More specifically, critics of communitarianism argue that communitarian philosophers, when shaping their proposed political model around a rather obscure definition of the community, do not consider the possibility that ‘ communities’ may have some negative implications as well, if they impede individual autonomy. Accordingly, these philosophers fail to provide a sufficient explanation as to how the political models they propose can be disassociated from anti-democratic communities. 1 This paper aims at reinforcing such a critique on communitarian thought by comparing the communitarian theory with the praxis of an actual community. Focusing on the thought of Charles Taylor and Alasdair MacIntyre it strives to show that there are distinct similarities between these philosophers’ ontological premises and those of the Israeli Settlers, 2 and that such similarities raise doubts as to level of 1 Buchanan Allen, "Assessing the Communitarian Critique of Liberalism” Ethics, 98(3), 867; Phillips Derek, Looking Backward (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 7-8; Holmes Stephan, The Anatomy of Anti-Liberalism (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993), 178. 2 The Israeli Settlers are Israeli-Jews who reside in settlements in the occupied territories (Gaza Strip and the West Bank). They are motivated by a strong religious ideology, claiming that the settling of the biblical Land of Israel is a divine commandment; and hence they strongly object any territorial concessions to the Palestinians."

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