Disputing the Communitarian Malaise--One Mouse Click at a Time
After utilitarianism, distributive justice, and libertarianism, we've now gotten to communitarianism as a normative theory for law and regulation. Much as I dislike the reading, Michael Sandel was certainly thought-provoking. (It's not often that I write "I WISH I HAD MORE TIME TO THINK ABOUT THIS" in the margins of my reading.)
That said, Michael Walzer's The Communitarian Critique of Liberalism, 18 Political Theory 6, 6-18, was a particularly frustrating and disappointing piece of work. The centerpiece of the reading focuses on "Four Mobilities" that are limiting the bonds of our communities: geographic mobility, social mobility, marital mobility, and political mobility. Walzer, writing in the heart of the internet explosion--academia--during the beginnings of the internet boom, sees these forces as eating out the heart of community, and places the blame squarely on a liberal society. What he doesn't mention  (or rather, dismisses in a single sentence) is that increased availability of communication has made those forces less destructive to a sense of community, at the same time that it changes our very ideas of what communities are. They're more communities of choice and idea, and less communities of geography, but this is simply a byproduct of the 'death of distance' .
To make the (lighthearted) point, I'd like to see if I can transcend Walzer's Four Mobilities during Reg. State itself. I can do this with the newest and most disruptive of communications technologies, Instant Messaging. The way I figure, I need:
1: Someone from one of my old homes (preferably England) to conquer Geographic Mobility.
2: Someone from a former social set (perhaps an ex-teacher, or someone from one of my non-white-collar jobs)
3: An ex-girlfriend (OK, it's not 'marital' mobility, but I'm not getting married for the sake of this point)
4: A democrat, preferably one who remembers me back in the days when I was a democrat. Since I was eight at the time, this may be most difficult. I'd consider this condition satisfied if I were chatting with someone who knew me when I was a more rabid Republican--say, high school.
Volunteers welcome. :)
 At least, he doesn't mention it in the reading we're assigned. We do admittedly have an excerpt, so it might be elsewhere in his article. If I'm doing a disservice to Walzer with this critique, my casebook is doing at least as great a disservice to me. I'm pressed for time at the moment, but over the weekend I'm intending to look up the whole thing on Westlaw and examine it more thoroughly.
 The tales of the 'death of distance' have always been greatly exaggerated. Indeed, tales of death by distance are pretty common, and generally shared by those waiting for a connecting flight at O'Hare.