Reinterpreting civil society
"At the present juncture," one scholar has observed, "we find ourselves at the end of the cold war between the individualist and communalist ideologies and in search of ways to proceed."1The political history of the modern world over the last two hundred years has itself amounted to a kind of "cold war" between two conflicting visions as to what constitutes the "good life." Let us call these two political philosophies liberalism and socialism (or, perhaps better said, communalism). The main focus of the first has always been onthe individual, while the second has always stressed the role ofsociety(orcommunity).In their extreme versions (e.g., laissez-faire libertarianism, on the one hand, and communism, on the other), these two global philosophies have been irremediably at odds with one another. Nevertheless, and for the most part, they have not been merely antithetical but have often overlapped in a multitude of ways. What, for instance, is nowadays called "social democracy" is a complex (and perhaps not fully coherent) mixture of liberal and socialist elements.
Madison, G.B. (2001). Reinterpreting civil society, in The politics of postmodernity, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 215-239.
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