Community For Justice A Communitarian Critique Of Traditional Liberal Theory

1484 words - 6 pages

Communitarians cannot accept liberal theory. It fails to pay mind to the essence of what makes human beings function as social creatures. And while it continues to stray from its beginnings it can no longer satisfy what is necessary for an acceptable political theory. Communitarians view this distance from the original theory their main objection to liberal theory. Instead an ideal communitarian theory would involve “a more contextual and community-sensitive approach” (209).
The classical liberal theory is considered by many to be highly ahistorical, this point of view is held especially by those considered communitarians. The criticism extends further by explaining the theory as being ‘universalist’. Ignoring necessary communal living conditions in order to create a well-rounded theory that lends itself easily becomes counterproductive, as the theory loses its power when it is related to genuine nations or societies. Traditional liberalist theory’s roots originate from the French revolution, a movement whose goals included community, in partnership with liberty, justice, and equality (Kymlica 2002, 208). However ideal the theory’s origins, the progression to today’s liberal theory has left the concept of community ignored. This would be unacceptable to original liberals, as modern liberalism compensates by using liberty and justice as placeholders and vetoing the importance of the community, society and the family. This oversight is a recent product of liberalism developing only after World War II; theories viewed as evil, such as fascism and Marxist communism, used the community as a tool for controlling the masses, the theory fell out of favour. As community became removed from the liberal theory historically, literature reflected this. When the community was involved it had very little to do with the original definition, instead using the community as an opportunity to view if the nation had access to other ‘more important’ core values, being justice and liberty.
The objections communitarians raise towards the notion of justice is the first opportunity for rejection. According to communitarians the liberal society has placed too much importance on the principle of justice, and in doing so has reduced other more ideal virtues such as benevolence and solidarity (210). On this view, justice is the solution to the individual nature that comes with the exclusion of communities and the family. When justice is required, some communitarians note that this is the by-product of persons who fail to demonstrate characteristics of virtue, such as compassion, honesty and shared goals. The very need to establish a system of justice is proof that the liberal ideal has failed.
This criticism is too simplistic in Kymlicka’s view and I agree. One cannot say that love and the need for justice are exclusively separate ideals. Consider the following example a man’s wife, whom he loves very much, has a deadly disease and there is a very expensive treatment...

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