Communitarianism and Individualism Public Good vs. Private Gain
Public Good vs. Private Gain • What is a public good? • A public good is a good that is non-rival and non-excludable. This means that consumption of the good by one individual does not reduce the amount of the good available for consumption by others and no one can be effectively excluded from using that good. • Collective goods (or social goods) are defined as public goods that could be delivered as private goods, but are usually delivered by the government for various reasons, including social policy, and financed from public funds like taxes.
Public good vs. Private Gain Excludable Non-Excludable Rivalrous Non-Rivalrous
Public good vs. Private Gain • Group membership, then, falls into the “club goods” category • Group membership defined: “The political community, whose members distribute power to one another and avoid, if they possibly can, sharing it with anyone else (Avineri & de-Shalit). • Group membership refined: “[Group membership] determines with whom we make those choices, from whom we require obedience and collect taxes, to whom we allocate goods and services” (Avineri & de-Shalit).
Public Good vs. Private Gain • The idea of nation vs. state: • Nation: A group that shares a common cultural, religious, racial, ethnic, or linguistic, identity. • State: a political association with effective dominion over a geographic area. It usually includes the set of institutions that claim the sovereign authority to make the rules that govern the people of the society in that territory.
Public Good vs. Private Gain • Ways of constructing membership in the political communities: • The Neighborhood Model: • No enforceable admissions policy • Strangers can be welcomed, not welcomed, not admitted, or excluded • Voluntary movement into the neighborhood (market forces determine this), thus, the state is only minimally involved in enforcing “restrictive covenants” • The state, although it legally minimizes discrimination, may engage in processes that segregate • In this way, the “state” becomes a facilitator of neighborhoods in that it guarantees the loyalty, security, and welfare of its citizens, thereby allowing neighborhoods to develop as “indifferent associations” (Avinieri & de-Shalit)
Public Good vs. Private Gain • The Club Model: • General qualifications for membership • Varying degrees of administrative discretion • The club takes on the characteristics that the members themselves want it to accrue….public policy changes • The decision that determines with whom its members share and exchange goods is political • The Family Model: • The state as nation • Feelings of obligations to groups of outsiders viewed as ethnic “relatives” • The “kinship principle”: Priority given to immigrants who are relatives of citizens
Public Good vs. Private Gain • Nationality vs. Nationalism: • Nationality: Common characteristics • Nationalism: • Nations are distinct, immutable chunks of humanity • National allegiances are to be fostered at the expense of all other commitments • Nations may agress against each other (Avinieri & de-Shalit) • Nations develop “myths of descent” that are useful (see p. 91) • Citizenship, then is a result not just of a distribution of rights and obligations, but a pattern of beliefs and behaviors
Public Good vs. Private Gain • A variety of norms and values that are predetermined in the economic and political world operate separately • Nationality and citizenship are valuable in that they reinforce an equal set of political and legal rights
Public Good vs. Private gain • Some problems with this theory: • The Feminist Perspective • Neighborhoods, clubs, and families have all developed as models that have historically disenfranchised women • Women have to claim their individualistic “selves”; they cannot concern themselves with the communitarian “social self” • What feminism requires is the opposite, the extension of liberal individualism into the social relationships that have been typified as “private”, i.e. family, club membership, etc. • Feminism offers a fourth possibility, that of membership modeled after “friendship” (common needs, desires, attractions, fears, etc based on similar social circumstances)