William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


During the last year, both Communitarianism and private militias have received a considerable amount of attention in the popular press and in law reviews; nevertheless, few observers have discussed the similarities between these two seemingly dissimilar movements. In this Essay, the authors demonstrate that Communitarians and militias actually have more in common than it might at first appear. Summarizing the Communitarian agenda, the authors note that Communitarians speak a language that would be readily understood by the Framers, who saw militias as an important vehicle through which civic virtue could be transmitted. The importance the Framers placed upon militias is evidenced by the prominence given to them in the text of the Constitution and in the Second Amendment. As the authors point out, however, not only do Communitarians fail to acknowledge the connection between their ideology and the classical militia, their platform exhibits a hostility towards the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment that is at odds with Communitarianism's other tenets. The authors argue that, as traditionally constituted, militias reinforce the same civic virtues that Communitarianism wishes to restore, while at the same time offering to individuals security against tyranny. The decline of the classical militia, say the authors, has led to a renewed interest in the Second Amendment and even the "neomilitia" movement as people search for something to fill the void left by the demise of the militia of republican ideology. That this point is ignored by Communitarians perhaps says something about Communitarianism that its proponents would rather not acknowledge.