Obama the "Communitarian"

 Over at Big Government, Jeremy Segal, aka RebelPundit reported that Van Jones described Obama as a communitarian after a lecture at Loyola University, Wednesday night.

 Jones compared the president’s address to that of Ronald Reagan in
1980 and 1984 and recommended that the theater full of college students
read Reagan’s “powerful” and “strong,” inaugurals, which he said were

Following Jones’s comparison of President Obama to Ronald Reagan, the
insight into what and who President Obama really is.

Jones replied: “He is a communitarian.” He then elaborated briefly:
the, American story, and I think we’ve overbalanced the individualistic
direction and I think he’s trying to rebalance toward communitarianism.”

Later, when asked (off tape) to define “communitarian,” Jones was
unable to answer or to point toward any source for a definition. He said
there wasn’t really a way to look up “communitarianism.” 

He did reiterate, however, that he saw communitarianism as a
counterbalance to libertarianism, which he equated to “individualism.”

For further edification, I consulted Van Jones’ think tank,  Center for American Progress on their  “About Page” under the heading “What we believe“:

“We believe an open and effective government can champion the common good over narrow self-interest,…”

A few years ago, Donald Bly of Flopping Aces discussed an article at CAP written by John Podesta  entitled Progressivism’s Role in the Economy, Health Care, Education, and the Climate which used the term to describe their progressive philosophy.

“What’s the difference between liberalism and
progressivism? According to John Podesta, it is the “fire of social
justice” that is often born from faith or a belief in a communitarian approach to the common good–as opposed to an individualistic approach.


It all sounds rather benign, however, I kept coming back to the preface of the video and the word “communitarian”
and an advocacy of such a principle over the “individualistic
approach”, which took me back to the “What we believe” page’s use of the
phrase “common good over narrow self-interest”.

Further research revealed a look at  how communists define communitarian.

The Socialist Alliance programme is the foundation upon
which everything else is built, including in time our exact
organizational forms and constantly shifting tactics. The programme
links our continuous and what should be all-encompassing agitational
work with our ultimate aim of a communitarian, or communist, system.
Our programme thus establishes the basis for agreed action and is the
lodestar, the point of reference, around which the voluntary unity of
the Socialist Alliance is built and concretised. Put another way, the
programme represents the dialectical unity between theory and practice.”
— Weekly Worker 368, Janury 25 2001. See also: 5. The transition to the
communitarian system in the same issue of Great Britain Communist
Party’s Weekly Worker.

The Ism Book – A dictionary of philosophies from Peter Saint-André, editor of the Monadnock Review defines communitarianism as:

Communitarianism (Idea and Movement in politics) – “With
the demise of true socialism as a viable intellectual force,
communitarianism is now the most active philosophical opposition to libertarianism.
Communitarianism is usually presented in vague terms, but it is
probably best understood as a mild form of collectivism or “democratic

That sounds about right.

But whether we call them liberals, progressives, statists, Socialists, Communists, collectivists, Communitarians, or Democratc Socialists –  Obama and the Democrats in Congress, today are certainly not your grandparents’ Democrats.