civil society

hans despain hgd9230 at
Thu Jun 6 14:45:08 MDT 1996

Jon is correct the term civil society as Marx's employs it is borrowed
>from Hegel.  But i am sure it has a much longer history than this.

In Hegel, civil society is close to Doug description.  Specifically Hegel
differentiates between civil society and the state (political society).
Against Rousseau, Hegel aruges that it is contractual relationships based
on civil society, not political society, that is the basis for the
"system of needs" (the economy).

Both Hegel and Marx use the term to denote a distinctive fragmentation
between realms of society itself.  For example in Feudalism there is no
distinction between political and civil society.

Thus, in this sense, civil society expresses the relationship between the
individual and society.

Importantly, both Hegel and Marx maintain that civil society in no small
part determines the "wants" (as differentiated from "needs") of individual,
i.e., wants are shaped by civil society, and not merely a reflection of
individual preferences (and free will).  This is in direct opposition to the
exterme liberalism of (quite often) Adam Smith, Jermey Bentham, James
Mill, and J.B. Say, whom Hegel (and of course Marx) were quite fimilar.

The significance being the Hegelian notion of freedom and the Marxian
notion of emancipation are quite different than the liberalist
individualistic notion freedom (where society is believed to have
virtually no influence, or should not have any influnece, over the

Hegel and Marx both understood that civil society very much determined
the practical activity of human being against their will.  Both
understood that civil society very much constrains free will.  While the
differs in the resolutions for absenting such (social) constraints
(created by human beings themselves).

hans despain

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