By Jonathan Boswell
Featuring a brand new political and ancient conception of the combined economic climate, this booklet is a powerful argument for a not easy social excellent - democratic communitarianism. Individualistic notions of liberty, equality and prosperity are too significant to trendy existence they usually have to be balanced through values of `community' and co-operation. Arguing that this sort of transformation is feasible and useful, the writer argues that long term adjustments has to be accomplished sooner than financial good fortune can happen in a extra fraternal, participative, and democratic society.
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It regards as grossly inadequate the economic theory that 'preferences' for goods and services, as held by so-called independent, autonomous individuals, arc the basis of 'social welfare'. Once we accept communion as crucially formative, we are able to perceive, and to welcome, many lesser forms of free associativeness. We become capable of recognizing the faint approximations to communion which appear in wider, sometimes unlikely places. We begin to see more clearly how communion filters through in a variety of paler, less complete or more fleeting forms; for example, in neighbourhoods, at workbenches or on playing fields, in political colloquy or religious acts, also in a bus queue, a thunderstorm, a national celebration.
These themes have been expressed under a confusing variety of banners. 26 More than with Durkheimian solidarism and personalist Christian democracy, the main emphasis has been philosophical in a rather abstract sense. The role of the state has sometimes been overplayed. The practical workings of civic participation have received little attention. Its links with economic life have seldom been confronted. The political economy dimension has been almost wholly lacking. Yet the civic humanisLs have much to offer towards a democratic communitarian synthesis.
Durkheim's manifesto for corporations as 'public institutions', as it emerged by 1902, had six main components. (1) New or refonned corporations should provide a wide range of participation and solidarityenhancing services for the people inside them, through welfare, education and recreation as well as work patterns and economic decision making. (2) The corporations should be national or even international in scope, and mobile and enterprising, unlike the previous more rigid guilds. (3) The corporations would need to be in direct contact with the state, but emphatically not so as to be absorbed by it.