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By Gideon Baker

This e-book addresses the debates round civil society, utilizing democratic conception and case reports drawn from jap Europe and Latin the United States. It strikes past the exclusively theoretical to ascertain the connection among the assumption of civil society as democratic concept and democratic perform.

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They permit the defence of … society, its customs, mentalities, its national and local identities. The reconstruction of society is possible because the foundations are there. Only more complete social ties have to be reconstructed. (1981: 29) The politics of civil society The issue that dominated the Polish opposition’s debate during the years 1976–81 concerned the relationship of the new thinking on civil society to the socialist tradition. How, if at all, was it possible to reconcile socialist solidarity and self-management with pluralist interest representation and formal–legal political democracy?

In Havel’s words, violent revolution would ‘fatally stigmatise … the very means used to secure it’. However: this attitude should not be mistaken for political conservatism or moderation. The ‘dissident movements’ do not shy away from the idea of violent political overthrow because the idea seems too radical, but on the contrary, because it does not seem radical enough. (Havel 1985: 71) 36 The parallel polis Other Chartists emphasised their commitment to non-violence in different ways. Echoing the Polish concern with a sustainable evolutionary strategy in which gradual pressure from below is preferred to direct confrontation, Cern´ y, for example, wrote that ‘the Charter is not a resistance movement, it is a pressure group’ (1985: 129).

I seek to demonstrate as much in this chapter by reconstructing the Charter 77 ‘model’ of civil society from an analysis of the collection of eighteen essays – with Havel’s The Power of the Powerless forming the centrepiece – which were published in 1979, in samizdat, under the title On Freedom and Power. The Chartists do not yet, except in a few instances (see Hejdánek 1985: 149; Battek 1985: 101; and Kus´y 1985: 155), use the term civil society, which reemerges fully only during the Solidarity period in Poland.

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