The Communitarian Constitution
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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In the spring of 1861, soldiers in the Union army surrounded the Cockeysville, Maryland, farm of John Merryman and arrested him for allegedly participating in the destruction of several railroad bridges west of Baltimore. The Union soldiers were acting on orders from the president of the United States, who earlier that year had suspended the constitutionally protected writ of habeas corpus in an attempt to...
1. Introduction: Communitarianism, Constitutional Visions, and the Anti-Federalist Legacy
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Traditionally, Americans have engaged in continuous and spirited debate. From slavery to abortion, we have vigorously defended our positions on the major moral and practical issues of the day. Some, like Herbert Storing, even claim that the principles of debate, deliberation, and compromise lie at the cornerstone of the American political...
Part I: Toward a Vision of Communitarian Politics
2. Theoretical and Prescriptive Foundations: The Liberal-Communitarian Debate
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The communitarian movement in America has a long and staggered history. Beginning with the Anti-Federalists, communitarianism has come in and out of vogue at regular intervals. Michael Walzer, himself a noted contemporary communitarian, remarks that the movement ‘‘is like pleated trousers: transient but certain to return...
3. Participation, Consensus, and the Common Good: Constructing a Communitarian Polity
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What does a society look like if it is governed by contemporary communitarian institutions and values? Will it resemble its now discredited distant cousin, the communist regime, or does it more closely mirror the small, often-admired, New England town? Or perhaps even more plausibly, is the portrait of a modern communitarian polity conceptually...
Part II: The Communitarian Constitution
4. The Constitutionalist Challenge to American Communitarianism
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The communitarian movement in America has a long and staggered history. Beginning with the Anti-Federalists, communitarianism has come in and out of vogue at regular intervals. Michael Walzer, himself a noted contemporary communitarian, remarks that the movement ‘‘is like pleated trousers: transient but certain to return.’’1 Over the past two decades, communitarianism has been resurgent, once again resurfacing to challenge the dominant political ideology—liberalism....
5. Communitarian Democracy: In Tension with Constitutional Theory?
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Perhaps the most concrete and important provision of constitutionalist thought, the self-conscious restraint of political power, takes us directly into the heart of communitarian politics. What is at stake in fully contrasting constitutionalism and communitarianism is the very essence or power of collective decision making, unitary democracy, and the generation of consensus. In fact, what is principally at stake...
6. Mixed Constitutionalism and the Communitarian Hope
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The theoretical notion of communitarianism, I have argued thus far, appears to be mostly incompatible with the basic constitutionalist ideal. To put the point slightly differently, it should now be clear that the communitarian challenge to liberal dominance is circumscribed by the inability on the part of major communitarian supporters to envision a community-centered regime that is also attentive...
7. Conclusion: The Enduring Constitutional Debate
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Communitarianism as a political ambition is here to stay. Ever since Rawls almost single-handedly resurrected the subject of political philosophy, the communitarian movement has been at the forefront of the normative debate over liberal values. Central to its mission has been an almost continuous investigation of liberal...
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Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2004