Review: The New Golden Rule–Community And Morality In A Democratic Society

4 Star, Civil Society, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Democracy, Philosophy, Politics

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4.0 out of 5 stars Learned Introduction to Social Ethics,

December 12, 2004
Amitai Etzioni
My eyes glazed over in places, and I had to struggle to finish the book, but on balance believe the author provides a learned introduction to social ethics and the topic of how morality, community, and democracy are inter-twined.

My over-arching note on the book is that information can and should be a moral force, and a force for good within any community.

The author's bottom line is that morality must be inherent in the individual–it cannot be imposed, only taught–that those who consider themselves religious are not necessarily moral, and that politicians cannot be neutral on moral relativism, or they open the door to moral extremists.

Among my notes in the margins, inspired by the author: cannot turn responsibility into duty; citizens failing to be socially responsible can open the door to tyranny; anarchy comes with excessive autonomy–deviance allowed is deviance redefined as acceptable; communitarians may be an alternative to the extreme right, something is needed with the collapse of the democrats; organizational morality is important–should corporations be allowed to degrade and exploit humans in the name of “neutral” economic values?; shared values are the heart of sensible sustainable policy making; laws can inspire corruption and crime; inherent morality is the opposite; many policies (e.g. transportation, housing, education) do not provide for social impact evaluation; no such thing as “value free” anything; monolithic communities harm the multi-layered community.

Given seven layers of dialog, from neighborhood to national, it is possible to have every citizen participate in a national dialog in the course of a single day. This makes it irresponsible for any of us to accept a political process that claims to be value neutral while opening the door for extremists. I have said this, but this excellent book documents it: you get the government you deserve. Participate, or lose it.

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