It's easy for people who identify with the Right to recognize the communist/socialist parts of Communitarianism. It's a lot harder to show them how Capitalist Free Trade Conservatives participate in Rebuilding a Communitarian World. The best current example of how the Conservative Right promotes Communitarianism is England's Big Society, an "impressive attempt to REFRAME the role of government"...
It was launched in the 2010 Conservative manifesto and described by The Times as "an impressive attempt to reframe the role of government and unleash entrepreneurial spirit". Nat Wei, one of the founders of the Big Society Network, was appointed by David Cameron to advise the government on the Big Society programme.
- Give communities more powers
- Encourage people to take an active role in their communities
- Transfer power from central to local government
- Support co-ops, mutuals, charities and social enterprises
- Publish government data.
I’m excited about going to see Alasdair MacIntyre talk today. I think he’s the most influential living philosopher, and it’s a rare chance to see him speak in London (he moved to the US 40 years ago). The influence of his 1981 book. After Virtue, is still growing. More and more thinkers are following him in embracing Aristotle and a Neo-Aristotelian virtue politics as a way beyond the ethical relativism of liberal, pluralist capitalism.
That includes communitarians on the right, like Phillip Blond, the architect of the Tory party’s Big Society concept, who called for a ‘new communitarian settlement’, and communitarians on the left, like the MP John Cruddas, who writes in the New Statesman today that Labour should embrace a “politics of virtue, rooted in Aristotle, which resists commodification and nurtures community”.
It also includes the literary critic Terry Eagleton, who I see has left behind post-modernism and the relativism of literary theorists like Derrida and Baudrillard to embrace a Neo-Aristotelian / MacIntyrean virtue politics.
MacIntyre, and Aristotle, are obviously back in vogue. But I wonder what he thinks of the contemporary fusion of Aristotle with empiricism and utilitarian happiness measurements? Does he think we can discover a ‘science of flourishing’? Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to ask him this evening.