Community, Reciprocity and Sustainability

  • David Bromell


The charge is sometimes made that liberalism has failed because it has promoted individual rights and freedoms at the expense of community and sustainability. Bromell argues that we should think about the debate between liberalism and communitarianism as a both/and, not an either/or. The individual, intermediate associations (communities) and the state are three points of a triad, to be held in creative tension. The chapter explores this in relation to state neutrality, perfectionism and nation building before elaborating on community as reciprocity. The challenge for a pluralist democratic politics is to regain compassion for humanity and nature, adapt institutions and processes to ensure anticipatory governance, facilitate progress through “gifts and gains” and embrace a politics of kindness. The proposed resolution for public leadership is to be prudent. This implies exercising practical wisdom in governing for the long term that maintains a creative tension between individuals, intermediate associations and the state.


Liberalism Communitarianism Sustainability National identity Public leadership Prudence 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Bromell
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Governance and Policy StudiesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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