Echidne nails Amitai Etzioni (not that way!) with this post on why communitarianism is about as popular with most feminists as yeast infections at a pool party. She dispatches the unspoken assumptions of communitarians, most of whom assume that women will stay out of the paid labor force to look after the communibabies and see to the communicooking and communicleaning. Feminism is low on the list of communitarian values, because of all of the free work that men used to get out of women before. She explains:
[As communitarians argue, n]ow that many women work for money nobody is doing that important charity [work] and therefore the past might have been a better time for the community. Surprisingly, the chapter had nothing about charity being a task which men, too, could practice.
This whole treatment made me uncomfortable, because it appeared to construct “the community” as somehow not including the women whose free labor was perhaps semi-forced into charitable uses.
Interestingly, as she notes, “many communitarians want other people to have good unselfish values while they themselves continue working as professors or whatever they do for money. It’s a neat trick, that one, because the only way you can really be a selfish communitarian is by leading the movement.” Some people are more equal than others, natch!
But there are other reasons to cast a skeptical eye at Etzioni and his ilk. Communitarianism rests on the delusional belief that it’s “identity politics” that divide Americans from each other and not, you know, income inequality or other material measures that the have-nots are still very much among us. As Etzioni argued in a recent article at The Huffington Post (h/t Echidne again),
Identity politics led to attempts to form a ‘rainbow’ coalition, composed of various groups who considered themselves victimized — against the declining white, male majority. Other forms of identity politics pitted citizens against immigrants. Some of the more radical versions of multiculturalism also contributed to this kind of divisive politics.
(Howd’ya like those quotation marks around “rainbow?” “Bite me,” Professor!) That’s right: the problem is not that you have less than I, and worry about it constantly to the detriment of your health, and are discriminated against because of your lack of resources and outsider status every day–the problem is that you keep pointing it out! So shut up and sing Kum-Bye-Yah a little louder for me, m’kay?