[OPE-L:2300] Re: civil society

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Sun Jan 30 2000 - 12:21:22 EST

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Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2000 16:13:34 +0000
From: "C. J. Arthur" <cjarthur@pavilion.co.uk>

Reply to Jerry's 2298
Marx's last word on civil society was in The German Ideology (p.57 of my
edition) where he says CS developes with the bourgoisie as relations
between individuals underpinning the modern state; but has always been used
to designate the socail orgainisation of commerce. Probably it would be
best to translate as 'civil society' before this and as bourgeois society
after it.
The concept has nothing to do with democracy which many of the old civil
society theorists, including Hegel, would regard as a potential threat to
the integrity of CS. What is crucial is not who controls the state but that
th state keeps its nose out of everyday affairs including people's freedom
to dispose of their property.
As far as I can grasp it East Europeans used (civl) 'Society' in his
sense, not contesting the one party state but trying to push its borders
I agree capitalism only contingently arose along with democracy and does
not require it.
There is an excellent article on the subject in Socialism Feminsim and
Philosophy ed S. Sayers and P. Osborne.
Chris A

>Paul C wrote in [OPE-L:2283]:
>> Civil society is a euphemistic translation of the german, bourgeois
>> society is an equally valid one.
>Hmmm. What is the German word that you think can be equally translated
>as bourgeois society? (and, if this is correct, can "the economic law of
>motion of modern society" be equally translated into "the economic law of
>motion of civil society"???).
>Perhaps we should discuss whether the concept of civil society, especially
>in Hegel, has relevance for our (and Marx's) understanding of capitalism.
>On Hegel's conception of civil society, see Sub-section ii in the Third
>Part ("Ethical Life") of _Hegel's Philosophy of Right_ (Oxford University
>Press, 1952; pp. 122-155). Within Hegelian theory, civil society should
>not be confused with the state.
>And, of course, Marx incorporated an understanding of "civil society" in
>his early works (at least up until the _Economic and Philosophic
>Manuscripts of 1844_).
>Did it remain a component part of his theory in his later writings? It
>appears to have been used at least through the time that he wrote the
>_Grundrisse_ (Interestingly, Alan Oakley in _The Making of Marx's Critical
>Theory: A Bibliographic Analysis_ on p. 61 uses the term "civil society"
>in the "Third _Grundrisse_ plan" whereas it is translated as "bourgeois
>society" in the Penguin edition of the _Grundrisse_, p. 264, and _CW_, Vol
>28, p. 195).
>The question I have is: to what extent is a concept of civil society
>required (or not required) to conceptualize the state? Certainly it is
>important for the authors of VFS, for instance. When the subject of civil
>society is developed, though, how does this affect our conception of the
>state and related matters (e.g. bourgeois democracy)?
>I, for one, am very uncomfortable with the idea that there is some type
>of systematic necessity between capitalism and (bourgeois) democracy.
>While it is true that the freedom to buy and sell labour-power is required
>for the reproduction of capitalism, what other freedoms not directly
>related to the use of private property are integrally linked to the
>reproduction of capitalist social relations? It seems to me to be unwise
>and ahistorical to generalize the particular form of governance in certain
>countries into a systematic necessity for capitalism. In particular, I am
>very uncomfortable with the idea that bourgeois democracy, as outlined in
>VFS, pp. 181-182, is in some sense what capitalism is driven to attain.
>Any thoughts?
>In solidarity, Jerry

P. S. Please note that I have a new Email address,
but the old one will also run until next summer. (To be doubly sure load both!)

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