Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society & Its Rivals
jeu. 11 octobre à 01:00
Déja vu? In August we were treated to a watershed presentation of a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading: Karl Popper's "Open Society & Its Enemies" by Patrick. In October Patrick returns with Ernest Geller's "Civil Society & its Rivals" (Okay, more correctly, less poetically... Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society & its Rivals). Although I had heard of Popper's "Open Society" before reading it, I have to admit that I had not heard of Gellner's "Conditions of Liberty" before Patrick nominated it for the 2018 TBC Reading List. This is one of the many advantages of the "Thinkers Book Club": It exposes us not only to classical literature we have long wished to read or re-read but to books we never heard of before (including to modern classics). And because I have no familiarity with the book at all, I have had to look for assistance in the secondary literature in order to introduce it. This is what Google Books says about Ernest Gellner's "Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society & its Rivals": "Gellner shows in this path-breaking book, the most significant difference between communism (and other totalitarian ideologies) and Western liberalism is the existence of the civil society - the intermediary institutions like trade unions, political parties, religions, pressure groups, and clubs which fill the gap between the family and the state. Under communism, the civil society was suppressed. In liberal democracy, it thrives. If life is to improve in Eastern Europe, the civil society must be encouraged to grow and prosper: the early signs - as observed by the doyen of British social anthropology - are good. The contrast with militant Islam is extraordinary: while Marxism as a faith has collapsed, Islam has been growing ever stronger. In fundamentalist states like Iran, there is little civil society and apparently not much pressure for one, either. Why is there so little resistance or opposition? How can this be understood? This is an extremely important book and a major contribution to the 'end of history' debate by one of the most distinguished scholars working in Europe today." It will be interesting to see how Gellner's thesis aligns with Popper's "tour-de-force" in this "post-truth" age of Donald Trump and so-called "fake news". And for those of you who were at the meeting in August, it will not take much convincing to assure you that we will be in good hands with Patrick leading the dialogue. Join us. Robaire
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