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Additional resources for Communitarianism: A New Agenda for Politics and Citizenship

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27 to all power structures which deny citizens a real role in shaping their communities. This applies not just to the superficial democracy favoured by individualist advocates of the free market, but also to every anti-democratic variant advocated by authoritarians. In fact, the options represented by these two groups are rejected as a false dichotomy which has dominated political thinking for too long. While authoritarianism maintains that the power to govern should rest with those who can demonstrate their absolute authority (by force; by invoking some abstract principle or holy text; or by lineage), market individualism insists instead on a conditional selection process that gives power to those who have enough resources to attract more votes than their nearest competitor for any given election.

If it is claimed Re-mapping the Ideological Battleground 43 that C can rightly know that it is A, because C uses criterion z, then it can be asked how anyone can rightly know that C is right to use criterion z. If the answer refers to criterion z again, then the whole chain of reasoning is exposed as being circular. If it refers to another criterion, then the same question would be raised again, and this process of epistemological interrogation would go on until either (a) it terminates at a point which is blocked off from further questioning - which would be seen to be arbitrary; or (b) it goes on without end, in which case the quest for a foundational point is found to be futile.

From the sceptic's point of view, only Option 3 is left. No one can rightly claim to know what is to be done for all. One can, of course, state what one wants to see done, but such a demand has no greater epistemic force than any other demand made by individuals. It follows that no one should be given the authority to decide what is to be done for all. The power for collective action should be left to individuals, so that only where their self-interests coincide would there be a legitimate use of collective arrangements.

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