Another Word for  The DIALECTIC Process

by Professor Amitai Etzioni

 Director of the Center for Communitarian Policy Studies of the George Washington University, Washington, DC.


See also Glossary of Communitarian Terms

Training students to rethink God's Word


“While governments across the world search for a new political synthesis, the theoretical debate has offered little those interested in a new framework for progressive politics. This essay presents an account of what the Third Way really means, and roots it in a communitarian vision of the good society. It argues that such societies achieve a dynamic balance between state, market and community...." Amitai Etzioni (Page 5)


Civil society: "...the ensemble of suprafamilial, nonstate institutions that organize the members of society into coordinated groups and allow them to express their opinions and particular interests. Of course, the prerequisite is that these institutions and organisms are autonomous and are not merely transferred into offshoots of the state apparatus, or simple 'transmission belts' for state power."Lubomir Sochor, The Black Book of Communism

The SYSTEM or structure of government

"The good society is a partnership of three sectors: government, private sector, and community. Each one reflects and serves a distinct facet of our community. ... While these partners may differ in terms of their respective roles, and these may change with social condition, in a good society the three sectors seek to cooperate with one another." [page 24]

"In order to encourage communities' role in social services, all state agencies should have citizen participation advisory boards. Their talks would be to find ways for citizens to participate as volunteers in delivering some services currently carried by the state. They should also play a role in providing timely, relevant and informed feedback on the performance of service providers." [page 27]

"Third Way governments do best when they resist the rush to legislate good behavior. When there is a valid need to modify behavior, the state should realize that relying on informal community-based processes is preferable to relying on the law." [15]


The PROCESS: Group dialogue to consensus

"At the core of the Third Way ought to be the recognition that a good society combines respect for individual rights and fulfillment of basic human needs with the expectations that members live up to their responsibilities to themselves, their family and friends, and to the community at large. Responsibilities from all means that a good person, a member of a good society, contributes to the common good. No one is exempt...."17

"Responsibility from all is to be paralleled by responsibility for all. ... One of the core implications of treating every human being as an end means that all deserve a rich basic minimum standard of living, irrespective of their conduct.... They deserve at least food, shelter, clothing and elementary health care." 18

"A balanced society approaches the tension between individual rights and social responsibilities along these lines and adjusts its policies accordingly." 19

"...moral culture is continually recast to reflect new social needs, demands, insights and , above all, oral claims. This occurs through a process of special importance to those seeking a good society: moral dialogue. Moral dialogues are "give and take' discussions that engage values rather than merely interests or wants. /they involve more than facts and reasons; they engage our beliefs....

"Local communities, whole national societies, and even international communities engage in extensive dialogues about acute moral issues, such as our duty to the environment, women's rights and sexual discrimination...." 20

"Moral dialogues are largely about values. They are not dialogues among experts but among citizens....
A profound moral dialogue that developed in the 1960s and 1970s led not merely to a shared moral sense of our duty to Mother Earth... but also to a fair measure of changed behavior.... [ 20-21] If a community needs to change its social policies in a significant way, such changes are best preceded and largely generated (as far as changes in personal and social conduct are concerned) by moral dialogue.... Moral dialogues lead them to reexamine their beliefs, world views and prejudices and to recast them."21

"Before one can settle any of the numerous specific issues that arise from the transition from traditional forms of families to 'post-modern' ones, we require a more conclusive examination of the evidence about the effects of highly divergent social arrangements. To proceed, the government should convene a 'science court', an inquiry composed of expert social scientists. The court would hold public hearings, interrogating scientific witnesses and representatives of the various bodies of thought on the subject.... In this way, it should be able to reach solid credible conclusions about critical issues that arise concerning our ability to replace the two parent family, and help move to settle the public dialogue on these issues.
        "The science court should focus on children of young age, especially from birth until five, the years in which many believe the foundation of character are formed." 22

"The evidence shows that profound contentment is found in nourishing ends-based relationships, in bonding with others, in community building and public service, and in cultural and spiritual pursuits.... The most profound problems that plague modern societies will be fully addressed only when those whose basic needs have been met shift their priorities up Maslow's scale of human needs. That is, only after they accord a higher priority to gaining and giving affection, cultivating culture, becoming involved in community service an seeking spiritual fulfillment." 33

"The upward shift in priorities, a return to a sort of moderate counterculture, a turn to voluntary simplicity--these require a grand dialogue about our personal and shared goals. Intellectuals and the media can help launch such a dialogue and model the new forms of behavior. ... But ultimately such a shift lies in the changes in t he hearts and minds, in the values and conduct, of us all. We shall not travel far toward a good society unless such a dialogue is launched and advanced to a point conclusion." 34

Standards and Assessments:

"To ensure that this core education principle will be heeded, an annual assessment should be made in all schools of the educational (as distinct from teaching) messages they impart, and of their approach to character formation. If these are defective, schools should be helped by personnel especially dedicated to this issue to restructure their approach." 23

Reviews of Etzioni's latest book: From Empire to Community: A New Approach to International Relations


Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands: "Amitai Etzioni's new book offers us an inspiring example of the out-of-the-box thinking that is needed to confront these challenges. Etzioni brings new diplomatic challenges into focus, and launches a crucial debate about the sort of world we are leaving to future generations and how we can best manage problems and grasp opportunities...."


Per Stig Møller, Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs: "It underlines the need of the legitimating United Nations also to seek hard power to enforce its resolutions. As an echo of Kant's Perpetual Peace, Etzioni leads us to the ‘good society' based on both the Western legal tradition and social duties deriving from moral suasion. Etzioni is a bridge-builder by the grace of God."


Joseph S. Nye, author of Soft Power: "Amitai Etzioni applies his communitarian approach to international affairs and foreign policy...."


Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter: "A thoughtful and timely examination of some of the fundamental issues that modern society confronts."


Lee H. Hamilton, Vice Chair of the 9-11 Commission: “...a sweeping and thought-provoking blueprint that gets at many of the key issues of our time.”


Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University: "His vision of a potential East-West synthesis is particularly compelling. Better still, he is not afraid to tackle the very real challenge of creating genuine institutions to govern a potential global polity. A valuable read for anyone interested in the future of global governance."


Leon Fuerth, former National Security Advisor to Vice President Al Gore: "Professor Etzioni's new book From Empire to Community, delivers on its promise of 'A new approach to international relations.' ... This book is not about dogma: it is about the hopeful possibility that an evolving and expanding sense of common need among peoples and nations can with luck and vision, bring about a knitting together of a form of global governance that would permit humankind to address its most urgent issues more effectively: with less sovereign authority for national states as we have known them, but greater freedom, combined with enhanced responsibility for people as individuals and as communities."

See also See also Training students to rethink God's Word

Catchword For Bush Ideology: 'Communitarianism' Finds Favor

Facilitating permanent social change and

Using Dissatisfaction (a crisis) for social transformation