Communitarianism: the practice of postmodern liberalism

Bob Brecher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


The chapter argues that communitarianism is the ‘postmodern bourgeois liberalism’ that Rorty, probably the leading avowedly epistemological, rather than political, or merely political, communitarian, describes himself as espousing. Proceeding by way of a detailed discussion of Philip Selznick’s definitive ‘Social Justice: a Communitarian Perspective’-- in which he seeks ‘to reaffirm, and to clarify if I can, the communitarian commitment to social justice’ -- I show that rooted in the particular as communitarianism is, it cannot but reflect the values, beliefs and attitudes of the particular “community” in which it is variously found. Selznick's communitarianism, like any other, offers itself as a complement to, as well as a correction of, liberal principles: it could not do otherwise, since the institutional frameworks within which its values are to be realized are those of the modern nation-state and market econonmy. Communitarianism turns out to be the practice of postmodern liberalism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal norms in the twenty-first century
EditorsK.-D. Giesen, K. Van der Pijl
Place of PublicationCambridge, UK
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781904303985
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


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