The New Golden Rule: Community and Morality in a Democratic Society

In This Review

The New Golden Rule: Community and Morality in a Democratic Society

By Amitai Etzioni
Basicbooks, 1997
314 pp. $26.00
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The founder of the communitarian movement brings together a number of themes from his earlier writings and lays out the case for a society with strong intermediary institutions -- families, churches, voluntary associations, and the like -- that neither leaves individuals to their own devices, nor makes them dependent on a large and overweening state. Etzioni rightly criticizes calls for a stronger civil society that fail to define the moral rules on which such a civil society can be built. Those waiting for such a definition in this book will be disappointed, however, since the author maintains that such rules are to emerge only through an extended moral dialogue. While the case for the re-establishment of more authoritative norms and stronger community is unimpeachable, it will require clearer stands on right and wrong than the gentle measures proposed in The New Golden Rule.