Communitarian Equality : To Each According to their Contribution to the Group Identity
International Social Science Journal
US : Blackwell Publishing
21 - 30 p.
Communitarianism, Equality, Identity Politics
Rooted in a contemporary political reality marked by anxieties over identity within culturally dominant groups, this study seeks to interrogate what happens to equality, a principle of justice generally placed at the forefront in liberal democracies, when it becomes subordinate to the preservation of the majority identity. Communitarian conceptions of equality and justice are examined through analysis of the critiques of political liberalism – and notably the writings of John Rawls – advanced by Alasdair MacIntyre, Michael Sandel and Charles Taylor in the 1980s and 90s. This article shows how the “constitutive” role these writers attribute to the sense of community belonging, their emphasis on “indebtedness” to the community, and the value they give to “desert”, tend to subordinate equality to an enterprise of “identity securing” by national majorities. The article highlights problems and dilemmas concerning the respect for fundamental rights and pluralism, which can be generated by an adherence to communitarian equality in the move from theory to practice.