By Ralf Dahrendorf
The essays assembled during this quantity are a considerate and full of life remark on Europe after the revolution of 1989. needs to revolutions fail? definitely, the open society has its personal difficulties, no longer least that of voters looking for that means. the great Society has to sq. the circle of prosperity, civility and liberty. Social technological know-how may help us comprehend what should be performed, and intellectuals have a accountability to start up and accompany switch. All this increases questions for Europe which expand some distance past the all too slender confines of the eu Union.
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Additional info for After 1989: Morals, Revolution and Civil Society
Walter Lippman's central point is that liberalism has to be freed from the errors of laissez-faire thinking. Liberalism is about rules, about the rule oflaw in the best and fullest sense. This has to be invoked to protect people not only from arbitrary dominion but also from vested interests, from cartels, and from distortions of the market by private power. In a key section of the chapter on 'The Agenda of Liberalism' Lippman surveys 'The Field of Reform'. Here he speaks of the importance of small businesses, the need for the conservation of land, of social insurance and other such matters.
Moreover, I appreciate the questions which Jilrgen Habermas puts persistently and plausibly, especially those for a 'reasonable identity' in modem societies. In a way the formation ofligatures is his theme. He seeks a social contract which is more than a legally sanctioned piece of paper. In this context, constitutional patriotism has its place. If one wonders where the older open societies of England and North America find their ligatures, one encounters some rarely discussed phenomena. England was dominated for a long time by a sense of being God's chosen democracy; there are still traces of that feeling.
But outrageous though it is, it is neither totally absurd nor is Mrs Kirkpatrick the only one who subscribes to it. Why did - and perhaps still does - democracy, the open society, the society of citizens work in Britain and the United States? What are the deep structures which appear to give meaning to people's choices? In the United States one is reminded of that civic religion, or perhaps the role of religion in civil society, which Tocqueville has pointed out to such effect. The social conformism of religious nonconformism is, or was, one of the bonds which held the country together.