After 1989: Morals, Revolution and Civil Society by Ralf Dahrendorf

By Ralf Dahrendorf

The essays assembled during this quantity are a considerate and full of life statement on Europe after the revolution of 1989. needs to revolutions fail? definitely, the open society has its personal difficulties, no longer least that of electorate looking for which means. the nice Society has to sq. the circle of prosperity, civility and liberty. Social technological know-how may also 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 a ways past the all too slim confines of the eu Union.

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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. The thrust of all this is to tum the Great Society in Graham Wallas' s sense, that is the interdependent world society based on the modern division oflabour, into a - and perhaps, the - Good Society.

Citizens in Search of Meaning 27 No doubt some will become independent states, the Baltic States among them. However, while the growing number of potential members of the United Nations, of countries, may be a nuisance and lead to extensive refurbishments on the East River, it is not the central problem. There is more cause for concern as one thinks back to the history of some of these new and not-so-new countries. People have conveniently forgotten the internal dimension of interwar independence, for example in the Baltics.

Opposition parties have tried in vain to gain a foothold in parliament, and the banning of the Far Eastern Economic Review is only the most visible part of a censorship which tends to accompany governments which try, or perhaps pretend, to be moral. Soon after the red-light district had been pulled down, the government of Singapore hired 'love boats' to send young couples out to sea for purposes which, in the 1920s and 1930s, would have been called Eugenics. Citizens' Charters are harmless instruments by comparison; but there is a tendency both in the United States and in Britain to emphasize not the rights but the obligations of citizens which is never far from telling people what to do even if it travels under the title, Encouraging Citizenship.

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