<html><head /> <body> <META http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-16"><title>Reflections on the Third Way</title><meta name="keywords" content="america,amitai,balance,bioengineering,communitarianism,communities,community,decision-making,employment,etzioni,europe,free,health,inequality,laws,marketplace,markets,politics,socialism,Society,state,states,united,US,third,way,"><table style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:larger; " align="center" border="0" width="50%"><tbody><tr> <td style="background-color:silver; border-color:white; border-left-style:none; border-style:none; " width="730"><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:larger; ">Reflections on the Third Way</span></td> </tr> <tr> </tr> </tbody></table><br><table style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:medium; " align="center" bgcolor="white" border="0" width="50%"><tbody><tr> <td height="131" width="669"><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small;"><strong>Editors Introduction</strong></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; "></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><IMG SRC="auth_Etzioni.jpg" WIDTH="90" HEIGHT="120" ALT="Amitai Etzioni" BORDER="0" VSPACE="10" HSPACE="10" ALIGN="right"> Amitai Etzioni (right) reflects on the paradox of the Third Way, a concept that embraces both state control and free-marketeering as desirable and beneficial. He stresses the importance of communities for building the good society--defined not just by affluence but by emotional well-being. Maintaining the communitarian values of civic control, the most effective way to this good society is to allow the freedom of choice that the free market affords.</span><br> <br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Where you join the Third Way depends on where you stand. Different societies will join it at different points. Different questions need to be asked of each society. The first important question for British society is: How far should we allow Americanism to go? A colleague of mine said the other day that the United States is racing to become a 24/7 society. This means a society in which people work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We're not quite there yet, but we are trying. And he then said that Britain comes a close second, and I'm really not sure that was a compliment.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">The second question is: Do we need to and how can we make devolution much deeper, much further-reaching than it has been so far? I would like to dwell on community as the third partner in the good society, and I would also like to ask whether affluence as the definition of the good life is commanding ever more control. Everybody has two cars, three TV sets and four computers--will that really be the good life? It sometimes seems as if that is the way we are headed.</span><br><br><span style="font-size:x-small;"><strong>The first two ways</strong></span><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">For me, the Third Way is a synthesis of two principles often considered contradictory. There was a school of government (maybe the First Way) which believed that the state is the agent of society and the more the state controls centrally and in finer detail (not only economic life but also social life), the better the society. This is a project that the Soviet Union tried to lead on. The First Way allowed some minor corners for capitalism; it saw capitalism as evil, and market forces could be slightly tolerated but were in principle wrongheaded.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">The Second Way took, in effect, the opposite view. It believed that the state (as President Reagan said) was not part of the solution--it was the problem. It recognised that there needed to be <I>some</I> place for the state, but that basically it was an evil. The good was in the free market and the freedom of choice that engendered.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">So here you have two fairly radical and opposed views, both of which the Third Way swears are useful. Both have a positive role to play, both are part of the solution and neither is the problem. We surely need an active state, we surely need a free market, and actually it is just a question of the proper balance.</span><br><br><span style="font-size:x-small;"><strong>Between America and Europe</strong></span><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">I recently attended a White House conference on teenagers. The conference's main recommendation was--hold your breath, please--that parents should find time to have dinner with their children. Social goals other than efficiency and productivity are being systematically undermined, sacrificed for ever-higher levels of productivity. I do not think this is the way to the good society. It is a way that lies somewhere in the middle of the ocean, not that close to the Continent but closer to a point of balance between what is due to the economy and what is due to the state. We have experienced some good years during which (in my judgement) correctly high priority was given to the economy. But I think the time has now come to look at the other part of the equation, to see how we can strengthen the body of society to be sure that we don't promote ever more economic productivity at the cost of society, making it the lesser partner.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">First, I would argue that we need to put a limit on ever-rising inequality. I'm not talking about this simply in terms of social justice; I'm talking about it in terms of sustaining a community. Part of the community is being chauffeured around in limousines, lives in protected communities and feasts in fancy restaurants. This can be completely detached from people who have to take the tube and eat whatever is the British equivalent of McDonald's--or, God forbid, McDonald's--who need to work long hours to meet the needs of their family. Putting some ceiling on inequality is not contradictory to a well-nourished market.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">This is one direction we can move in. I also feel, on strong moral grounds, that everybody should be entitled (just because they're human beings) to a certain rich basic minimum. After all, even those who commit multiple murders are given a roof over their heads, clothing, three meals a day and even television rights. I don't see why anybody who is poor and on welfare should not be allowed the same basic minimum we give to inmates in prison. Now, I'm not saying that this is all we should give them. I'm just using it to illustrate the principle that there are certain things everybody is entitled to and we need to provide them as part of a decent society.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">I would say that as long as our society considers working and having a job to be not just something you do in order to earn income but the basic requirement of self-esteem and pride, as long as our identity is so deeply associated with the work we do, we need to be sure that everybody who wants to and can work has a job. Therefore, for me, reducing unemployment is not only a way of reducing costs and making society more productive; it has an enormous human and moral significance.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">The US has enormous defects, believe me. I could spend a whole week talking about our deficiencies, but come and see one thing. The US has half a million young people who have been drug addicts in the ghettos, never had a job in their lives, and you can see them now proudly working in various parts of our society (aggravating the middle class because they don't provide the slick and efficient service they are used to). But these young people are of enormous human consequence. Everybody who can and who wants to work should have access to work, and if it cannot be produced in the private sector it should be produced through non-competitive community jobs. I'm just saying it's time to talk about how much more we are willing to invest in the market and where we have to invest in order to shore up its social limitations.</span><br><br><span style="font-size:x-small;"><strong>Responsible communities</strong></span><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">The Third Way is not only about properly balanced market and government. It is also about the careful balance between the government, the economy and the body society, or the community, and that is where I think we have done the least. Let me make a very simple statement backed up by lots of evidence. If you look at Robert Putnam's new book, you will find that people who are in communities live a longer life, a healthier life and a happier life--longer, healthier and happier lives than people without community. That's a hell of a claim, and it's fully substantiated. If you look at psychological studies of depression, of people's heart attacks, alcoholism and drug abuse, any way you turn, community makes people happier, healthier and better than they would be otherwise. So on those grounds alone, whenever we weaken community we create public cost and we create human cost. Indeed, we need to be elevated, eased by communities.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">There are basically two ways of strengthening communities. One is by granting their missions, rather than taking away their missions, and the other is by increasing the decision scope we grant to communities. The first part is obvious. If everything is run by a state government, communities ossify, and if they're given more opportunities for more assets, more missions, they exercise their civic muscle. It's really like any other muscle. If you practise and use it, you strengthen it. If you don't use it, it atrophies. Now, the other way to facilitate and strengthen communities is to increase the decision scope given to each community. I'm not an expert on Denmark--in fact, I wish I knew much more about it--but I've been told that the Danish government recently came back to school districts and told them that they would have more opportunity to control the school budget. Although budgets were slightly lower than before, communities welcomed the trade-off, which meant having fewer resources but much more freedom of decision.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">There are many stories which show how much value people put on the opportunity to participate in the decision process. I choose my words carefully here: I would not want to turn over a whole caddy of resources to the community without any standards, because when they do that the community may use it all for soccer. However, with some defined standards, the more room created for decision making by communities, the more vigorous they become. We need, in effect, to make devolution much deeper. Devolution cannot rest on the level of Scotland, Wales and London. It has to move much further down into the communities.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">We also need to worry about the other side of the equation, and that is about the community of communities. It is a terrible mistake to see communities as the ultimate social body for many reasons. The most important one is that while communities have all the social benefits, they're not naturally benign. A community can agree 100 percent to lynch anybody who walks through the door. The important counterbalance is what we have in our basic laws and constitution, that certain basic inalienable rights are invested in the body society. In effect, we say to a community: You can choose what you want as long as you do not deny anybody the right to free speech or the right to assemble, and as long as you don't discriminate against anybody on the base of race or gender or sexual orientation. To ensure that communities will remain in morally acceptable boundaries requires that the larger body of society enforces basic laws on the community as effectively as they take action on anybody else. That requires keeping the larger society intact and effective as the main community decider. We can have layered loyalties. You can be a proud Virginian and a proud American. In effect, what we're trying to do is add layers rather than destroy layers. So we're trying to move from national communities to European communities.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">There is another reason we need to concern ourselves with the larger communities: we are in a situation where technological and economic forces keep outracing our capacity for political and moral decision-making. With each new technological development (as you see in the Internet), all kind of issues are sprung upon us. We have never had to deal with issues like gross violation of privacy before. And while we are trying to struggle and come to terms with them, we still haven't dealt with the old issues like nuclear weapons. There is an enormous storm coming right around the corner, called bioengineering. We will allow people to be cloned; we will allow people to harvest the organs of their brothers in order to make themselves perfect. This is no longer science-fiction fantasy, and what we need to do is to see if we can catch up by facing political and ethical institutions so we will not forever be dominated by ever-larger forces we do not understand and do not control, against our better judgement.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Finally, we come to this question of "beyond affluence." First of all, there is very robust evidence that, once you move above a certain level of income (a bit above poverty), additional income adds very little to human contentment. Just to give you one figure, in the period where the Japanese GDP increased five times, the percentage of Japanese who were happy increased by 2 percent. So we need to bring back a moderate measure of counterculture. We need to talk to those around us who are well appointed (not to the poor--we should not dream of telling the poor to enjoy their poverty). We need to look at those cases where one man can earn $550 million each year and then embezzle $100 million more. Cursing people in the upper range of income will not do. Trying to gel them into a democratic society is not going to happen, but perhaps they will find more happiness and contentment in their life if they will have dinner with their children, if they take a walk on the beach, if they will enjoy a painting. That seems to me one of the major prerequisites--not the only one, but a clear prerequisite--to their holding a little less tightly to all this money they do not need, and then you can start thinking about reallocation of wealth.</span><br><br><span style="font-size:x-small;"><strong>A new day</strong></span><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">I'll close with a story from the Talmud. It says that at the end of the day you're better off if there are no communities and we're all members of one community--a very short tale. It's a tale about two students of a rabbi who were arguing over when the night ends and when the day begins. One of them said, "If you look over there and you see a tree and you can tell if it is a fig tree or an olive tree, then the night is over and the day has begun." The other one said, "No way. If you look over there and you see a small animal and you can tell if it is a lamb or a goat, then the night is over and the day begun." So they went to the rabbi and said, "Rabbi, what say you?" And the rabbi said, "Let me tell you how it works. If you look over there and you see a woman and you can tell if she is black or white and you call her my sister, see over there a man and you can tell if he's an Israeli or Palestinian and you call him my brother, then," the rabbi said, "the night is over and a new day begun."</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; font-style:italic; ">This article is an edited transcript of a lecture given at the annual conference of the Society for Socio-Economics, held at the LSE on July 14, 2000. Copyright the London School of Economics and Political Science.</span></td> </tr> </tbody></table> </body></html>