Michael Sandel's America

Michael Walzer

in Debating Democracy's Discontent

Published in print October 1998 | ISBN: 9780198294962
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598708 | DOI:
 Michael Sandel's America

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The members of greedy communities do not make good citizens because they are only marginally interested in the political community; their sense of the common good is determined mostly by their religious beliefs and not by their membership in or allegiance to the state: some of them refuse, on principle, to declare their allegiance to anything as secular as a state. Immigration is an individual (or familial) decision, a free choice, which represents a break with those Old World communities whose members were, in Sandel’s exact sense, encumbered selves, that is, men and women whose obligations were given; the immigrants, once they have arrived in their new country, do not have obligations in quite the same sense. The more active members of groups (though not of the greediest groups) are also the more active citizens of the republic, the people who come closest to the civic commitment that Sandel wants to encourage–but a substantial part of what they are doing, and they probably understand it this way, is representing particular interests, bargaining for a place on “balanced” tickets, negotiating compromise arrangements, getting as much as they can from the state. Justice is a kind of recognition, and individual men and women who are recognized in their communities and empowered by them may be the most likely citizens of the community of communities.

Keywords: active; allegiance; bargaining; greedy; immigration; interests; justice; Old World; recognition; religious

Chapter.  3821 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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