By Gideon Baker
This booklet addresses the debates round civil society, utilizing democratic concept and case reviews drawn from japanese Europe and Latin the United States. It strikes past the completely theoretical to ascertain the connection among the assumption of civil society as democratic conception and democratic perform.
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28 The parallel polis Elements of the then unique Solidarity strategy were undoubtedly influenced by KOR thinking. The most striking of these influences can be seen in Solidarity’s explicit denial of any interest in ‘political’ power (by which they meant power in the state). Lech Walesa, Solidarity’s leader, went so far as to call Solidarity an apolitical movement in order to reinforce this point, as would the Czechoslovakian dissidents who also took inspiration from the KOR. Here the strategy of self-limitation, first outlined in Michnik’s A New Evolutionism, is taken on board.
Marx’s utopia of a state-free, communist future is employed here against that approach to socialism seen as destroying social self-management. In other words, Kus´ y’s argument is similar to that made by many of the Chartists, who see civil society positively, only the Marxist antipathy to the term is not ‘The independent life of society’ 39 yet abandoned in Kus´ y’s account. This basic affinity can be seen by comparing Kus´y ’s antistatist vision to one provided by Uhl. Uhl has the same revolutionary (though non-violently so) ends in mind as Kus´y, only he has stopped using Marxist language to express them: It is utopian to assume that society will ‘merge’ with the parallel polis, thus causing the withering away of the state and its bureaucratic machinery … It is only during the revolutionary process that [this polis] will rapidly ‘absorb’ society, which will create, on islands of alternative associations and activities, a polis which is no longer parallel, but an authentic polis of free people.
It was the contribution of the Polish theorists of civil society to bring this analysis of totalitarianism to bear on traditional left-socialist categories. For them, civil society did not constitute the realm of unfreedom and inequality to be 32 The parallel polis abolished by a proletarian state, as Marx had originally described it. Turning Marx on his head, civil society came instead to represent the realm of freedom which the very annexation of civil society by the state, and the subsequent ‘totalisation’ of power, had precluded.
Civil Society and Democratic Theory: Alternative Voices by Gideon Baker