Finding the Middle Way

Okay, so here’s a question. Is the Communitarian political philosophy a reasonable extrapolation of Kenotic Theology? (see below)

In Communitarianism, indivudual rights are guaranteed and protected but individuals are called on to give up some of their autonomy for the good of the larger social group. Is this a kenotic social dynamic?

Here’s some representative political verbage from Amitai Etzioni, the father of Communitarianism:


We hold these truths….

We hold that a moral revival in these United States is possible without Puritanism; that is, without busybodies meddling into our personal affairs, without thought police controlling our intellectual life. We can attain a recommitment to moral values – without puritanical excesses.

We hold that law and order can be restored without turning this country of the free into a police state, as long as we grant public authorities some carefully crafted and circumscribed new powers.

We hold that the family – without which no society has ever survived, let alone flourished – can be saved, without forcing women to stay at home or otherwise violating their rights.

We hold that schools can provide essential moral education – without indoctrinating young people.

We hold that people can live in communities without turning to vigilantes or becoming hostile to one another.

We hold that our call for increased social responsibilities… is not a call for curbing rights. On the contrary, strong rights presume strong responsibilities.

We hold that the pursuit of self-interest can be balanced by a commitment to the community, without requiring us to lead a life of austerity, altruism, or self-sacrifice….

We hold that powerful special-interest groups in the nation’s capital, and in so many statehouses and city halls, can be curbed without limiting the constitutional right of the people to lobby and petition those who govern….

We hold these truths as Communitarians, as people committed to creating a new moral, social, and public order based on restored communities, without puritanism or oppression.

Etzioni (1995: 1-2)

And there’s this dude named E. Frazer who extracts three theses from this political platform by way of a more coherent systematic philosophy:


It is not the case that all there is in the world is individuals (we have also to look at the significance of collectives, institutions etc. – see the discussion of selfhood).

Ethically we need to look to the social individual or collective and the significance of reciprocity, trust, solidarity etc. (what has sometimes been discussed as social capital).

Methodologically it is necessary ‘to interpret and refine values that are immanent in the ways of life of really living groups – societies, communities’

So I wonder — If you start with Communitarianism on one end and Kenotic Theology on the other, do they meet in the middle somewhere? Seems like they should.

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