The Bankruptcy of Liberalism and Conservatism

Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 128, No. 1, 2013

Posted: 4 Jun 2013 Last revised: 5 Jun 2013

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: May 1, 2013


This article argues that the frequently employed distinction between the public and the private realms is becoming increasingly obsolete because the two realms are intertwined, move in tandem, and seem to be co-determined. It follows that many of the statements most commonly made in public discourse about the government and the market, or the state and individual rights, must be reexamined. Such a reexamination is warranted because if it is true that the two realms are driven by the same historical forces — blurring the boundaries and making them prone to moving in unison — it becomes increasingly difficult to assume that one realm is either the main benefactor or the main cause of harm inflicted on the other realm. This observation challenges those who blame the government for interfering in the marketplace and damaging the economy, or for running a surveillance state that undermines privacy and other individual rights, as well as those who see the government as protecting the people from exploitation by private corporations and banks, or as the main protector of the rights of consumers, workers, minorities, and the poor.

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, The Bankruptcy of Liberalism and Conservatism (May 1, 2013). Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 128, No. 1, 2013. Available at SSRN:

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

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