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| The idea or ideal of a Civil Society has a very wide, and
rather varied, body of committed supporters in the contemporary
world. These supporters, who variously live in post repressive
situations (South America, the Phillipines, Africa), post
communist situations (the Czech Republic, Poland and more widely
in eastern Europe), and in "postmodern" liberal democratic
situations, ALL tend to see a marked advantage to the existence
of "a dense network of civil associations" in their own
The various governments in the European Union and North America can be numbered amongst the strong supporters of the cultivation of a vibrant Civil Society!!!
Why is this?
What significant benefits do so many interest groups see as being associated with the promotion of the activity of civil associations?
These questions are not simply answered because the principle reasons for support vary according to the circumstances in which individual supporters find themselves. Those supporters who live in post repressive situations tend to prize active and widespread involvement in civil associations as having contributed to the overthrow of repressive regimes. An otherwised socially atomised population could coalesce in various civil associations giving rise to broadly based movements that were effective in winning change.
The situation is similar in several post communistic societies such as Poland where the Solidarity trades union did much to undermine the locally most unpopular Communist regime - likewise the Czech "Velvet Revolution."
The situation of those supporters who live in "postmodern" liberal democracies tends to be somewhat different. There is perceived to be something of a crisis of aspiration and direction in "postmodern" liberal democracies.
The formerly accepted values, stemming from the European Enlightenment, where the application of scientific knowledge was expected to beneficially transform society have been called into question. The increasing Globalisation of the world economy together with the Multiculturalisation of society tends to distance many citizens from close identification with their states and indeed to undermine the perceived relevance and legitimacy of the state.
Given these realities the supporters of the existence of "a dense network of civil associations" see such associations as tending to increase social engagement, connectedness, trust, and solidarity. A great benefit that may arise from this is that a vibrant Civil Society will tend to inhibit the significant division of society along lines of "Salient Social Cleavage". Such potential cleavages being Ideological, Economic, Confessional, Ethnic etc. in nature.
Where a vibrant, inclusive, and connected Civil Society peopled with citizens who are used to enjoying rights as citizens under responsive governments is already established anyone who suggests radical change is more or less obliged to make it evident that the changes they seek will not involve any significant negative effects.
It may be that a vibrant Civil Society can contribute to underpinning a more humane future allowing people, in our increasingly Globalised and Multicultural world, more opportunity to seek to live meaningful, dignified, and socially engaged lives with less possibility of social disruptions.
The model of an Open Society that the above image depicts is
supported by a number of Awesomely profound quotations from
several major World Religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism,
Buddhism), several major Philosophers (Plato, Socrates,
Pythagoras) and by Shakespeare!!!
These quotations can be found on our Spirituality & the wider world page.
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