I could not have written this chapter without the help, advice, and love of Diane B.
Gottlieb and Katja Gottlieb-Stier. I am indebted to the work of Michael Walzer, Jean
Elshtain, and Charles Taylor for the fundamental perspective on political and social life
that guided me in writing this chapter, as well as for more than a few of my specific
arguments. See, among their many other works: Michael Walzer, What It Means to Be an
American ( New York: Marcel Publishers, 1992); Jean Bethke Elshtain, Democracy on Trial
( New York: Basic Books, 1995); and Charles Taylor, "The Politics of Recognition" in his Philosophical Arguments ( Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995). Walzer, Elshtain, and Taylor should not, however, be held responsible for what I have done with what
I learned from them.
I can give no more than a potted account of this argument here. I call this view
Augustinian because it is Augustine who is in large part responsible for making it so central
to our civilization. Some would argue that we should call this view Platonic. In my view,
however, a careful reading of The Republic and Symposium would lead us to reject this
This concern partly explains the peculiar fascination that people have with the sex
lives of our politicians.
I can do no more than gesture to this argument here.
In addition, I stand with most Jews in rejecting the notion of original sin.
Andrew Sullivan, Virtually Normal ( New York: Vintage, 1996).
In my view, neither homosexual marriage nor the bathhouses are a threat to the practice of heterosexual marriage. But the conception of the place of sexuality in human
life implicit in the practices found at the bathhouses is such a threat. Note, however, that
the identical conception is implicit in the practices found at the heterosexual equivalents
of the bathhouses, not to mention at many fraternity houses.
See Richard John Neuhaus, The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in
America ( Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans, 1984); Michael Novak, The Catholic Ethic
and the Spirit of Capitalism ( New York: Free Press, 1993); and The Spirit of Democratic
Capitalism ( New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982).
Long ago Michael Walzer presented a social democratic argument for the "hollowing out" of the welfare state and its replacement by local, participatory, and often vol
untary organizations. See his "Dissatisfaction in the Welfare State" in his Radical Principles
( New York: Basic Books, 1980).
It can be extended further to the regulatory activities of the state. I can't discuss
this here, however.
In most cases, it is probably important for these neighborhood councils to have a
broad rather than a narrow mandate. That is, they should play a role in many policy areas,
such as governing local public schools, police protection, sanitation, planning, and so
forth. The difficulty of political bodies with narrow mandates is that they are often neglected by many citizens who are not particularly concerned with one area of public policy.
This leads to neighborhood councils being dominated by one faction in a community
with a very particular interest. This is a reason for the ineffectiveness of community control
of the elementary schools in New York City.
Since the aim would be to test schools, not students, a series of intensive tests could
be given to randomly selected students or all of the students at certain grade levels rather