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Written Review: Beware the C-Word

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In addition, Morton bewails the governments’ strategy in using communitarianism as a catch basket for all responsibilities they are trying to divest themselves of like employment, education and social services. In Australia, Morton cited with disbelief the convergence of the unlikely partnership of the Left and the Right with respect to the issue of communitarianism thereby blurring political distinctions. The Australian government, for example, relies on the Job Network, a group of organisations which are private, community and church based, to take care of employment services. Tony Abbott, the Federal Minister for Employment Services, in trying to promote the group, went on air and harped on the advantages of communitarianism and the government’s efforts towards empowering communities and strengthening civil society.

To Morton, Abbott, an adherent of the Right, seemed to have been sleeping with the enemy parliamentarian Lindsay Tanner, a known Leftist who is an advocate of community-building and social capital. The case of the Job Network illustrates yet the point of Morton when Abbott defended it from discriminating against homosexuals in the past. Since most of the organizations in the Job Network are largely church-based, like Centacare, Mission Australia and the Salvation Army, it imposed a palpable discrimination against homosexuals.

This was however corrected by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission by issuing a guideline which, in effect, prohibited against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment. Abbott, however, defended the Job Network by stating that it is the prerogative of the church to reject the application for employment of people who lead lives which opposed the teachings of the church. In this respect, communitarianism illustrates that it could promote negative values like bigotry because communities tend to adopt the values imposed upon it by its most powerful and influential member.

In short, Morton’s article points out the fact that the cult of community may tend to limit people’s perspectives because as one community, everybody is expected to adopt a common way of looking at things imposed by the leaders of the community. This conformity eventually negates individualism and people become used to thinking alike and the sad thing about it is that the government is on the forefront of the movement, relinquishing its responsibilities to private and voluntary groups who then become more influential in imposing their will on the rest of the community.

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