Communitarian Vs. Individualistic Ideologies
A Comparative Analysis: Norway Vs. United States
The intent of this paper is to examine individualistic and communitarian cultural ideologies within two distinctly different political environments. The first challenge in comparing two nations is deciding which approach is most appropriate. There are several approaches in political science that have proven most beneficial when making comparisons. This study will use a comparative government approach to examine the political institutions, processes, constitutions, and functions of government within each of the two countries selected. The countries that have been chosen for this study are United States and Norway, respectively.
Gregory Scott believes that the fundamental aspects of human interaction in society are the need for community (unity) and the need for individuality. The argument is that the entire history of politics is largely the story of how communities and nations resolved the inherent conflict between the universal needs for community and individuality. With that, the topic that this paper tends to address has emerged, within the study of politics in this class and others, as the single most dynamic in scope and in implication. Freedom, equality, and justice combine to build a substantial argument for the individualistic ideology. Authority, order, and democracy are all building blocks for the argument of the communitarian. Scott notes that much of what motivates individualist is a strong desire for freedom. This author also argues that we are all interdependent and authority is justified by the need to bring order to societies competing values and thoughts. In studying the history of humanity, the battleground that has been formed between the need for individuality and unity is undeniable. A person's view of the nature of humanity is fundamental to their view of government, and its scope. If people are seen as dangerous, then a government to protect people from that danger is most appropriate. If people are viewed as capable of fulfilling their own creative potential, you may want a government that protects individual liberties (Scott, 47). These are all examples of core values for the entire foundation of government and of politics. This argument, for the use and scope of government, is divided into many different arguments that address basic issues of political science. Political scientists believe that individuals and their actions are what lead to collective problems. The problem is that our individual actions, each perfectly consistent with our individual preferences, can and often do combine to produce collective outcomes that none of us would have chosen (Bickers, 11). And thus lead to the need for protection against those outcomes, administered through a democratic government. There are several authors that are noted for their dynamic research on the communitarian movement. The spokesperson for the contemporary communitarian movement is Amitai Etzioni. He explains that communitarians believe that the fundamental and central political problem is finding the right amount of togetherness and common concern. He continues, if people are to individualistic, they fail to support each other's efforts and to respect each other's needs. If people are too unified, they become authoritarian and attempt to use the state to impose a common set of beliefs and practices.
Like ancient philosophers, communitarians find the lack of unified purpose and direction in society to be a crucial problem. Those who speak of the joys of not associating with others, but of being left alone by them, are most closely associated with individualism. And their noteworthy spokesperson is author and abolitionist Henry David Thoreau. This early author, observing the pressures, expectations, and demands made upon us by the societies in which we live, concluded that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet...
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