NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 61, No. 2 (Summer 1994)
Arien Mack, Editor
The article discusses aspects of the civil society and its relation to tyranny, injustice and disorder. The idea of the state, traditionally associated with the notions of order and hierarchy, came to be seen as the major source of confusion, arbitrariness, and all kinds of tribulations. The idea of oppression takes shape only when people begin to suspect that abstract institutional rules are merely masking alien personal will. This is the elementary or core notion of tyranny or arbitrary rule. Civil society is conceived as a regulative idea that can be approached asymptotically by continuously reducing the power of the state, of tradition, and of economic necessity.
The article examines historian E. P. Thompson's legacy to social history by reviewing some of the studies that he pursued for the last thirty years of his life. Arguably the most important founder of the new social history, he was a transformative influence on and an inspiration for two generations of historians. His work held up to changing fashions, making sense as much to readers who grew up with the new cultural history of the late 1980s and 1990s as to those more concerned with labor and social organization twenty years before. Thompson helped to offer Marxism with a human face to a New Left anxious to break out of the orthodoxies.
The article examines the views of journalist Max Lerner about liberalism. The writings he published in the 1930s and 1940s are overwhelmingly the work of a critic of liberalism as an economic doctrine. They are an unrelenting critique of capitalism and of the US as the capitalist country par excellence. They are also, however, the work of someone who wanted to use the legacy of moral and political liberalism, the principles of civil liberty and self-government, to rescue the country from the consequences of unbridled capitalism.
The article examines the concept of time and its relation to the formation of states. The era of states made a profound difference to the world's experience. War, for example, reached previously unimaginable deadliness. Policing shifted from reactive to proactive, from the apprehension and exemplary punishment of some criminals after the fact to patrolling, surveillance, and other measures designed to prevent and channel illegal activity, including illegal collective action. Elections, plebiscites, politicized media, and political parties began to affect the distribution of power on a national scale. The texture of time as a medium for states, therefore, altered significantly during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The article examines the works of philosopher Jan Patocka in relation to Michel Foucault's works about the transformation of the self and its link to politics. The first thing Foucault and Patocka shared concerning their conduct of research was that it was personal. But, second, this does not mean opting for narrow professional research. Distance from current debates does not necessarily lead to distance from the concerns of the present. Access to its heart for Foucault and Patocka was provided, paradoxically, by the pursuit and then transcendence of two perspectives that seem opposite to an investigation seriously concerned with the social and political issues of the day.
The article clarifies the meaning of the term corruption, identifies a number of structural conditions that give rise to it, and underscores that the institutional framework of corrupt behavior necessarily encompasses not just the state and its key institutions but major sectors of civil society as well. As a working and generally recognized definition, corruption is behavior by a public servant which involves a deviation from his or her formal duties because of reasons of personal gain to himself or herself or to other private persons with whom the public servant is associated.
The article examines the social conditions of women in Europe after the fall of communism. During the first four years following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the issue of gender has been emerging as a response to the deteriorating legal and economic status of women. On the other hand, there is enormous sociocultural and political pressure coming from both men and women to disregard the issue and even to ridicule those involved in discussions of it. The whole situation is additionally complicated by the very complex attitudes toward feminism in this part of Europe.
The article examines issues concerning free trade from the left Keynesian view of the economy. A left Keynesian characterization of the economy involves three axiomatic principles. First, the level of employment and output depends on the level of demand for goods and services. Second, the level of demand depends importantly on the distribution of income between wages and profits. Third, the distribution of income between wages and profits depends on bargaining between workers and firms. The taxonomic structure suggested by a left Keynesian gaze distinguishes wage income versus profit income, and high wage/high employment economies versus low wage/surplus labor economies.
The article provides an overview of the middle classes in Poland. According to the generalized concept of a middle class, the middle class in a given society is the class that maintains a relative independence from government authorities. It is affirmed that certain sociological and historical middle classes in other societies had just such a character, and that the process of formation of civil society in Poland is dependent on the construction of the economic foundations for the stability of such middle classes. The middle classes of Polish socialism were indeed professors, teachers, clerks, engineers, foremen, skilled workers, people with high school diplomas, and people with university diplomas.
The article examines the psychological development of evil during the Jewish Holocaust. More generally, the Holocaust is not the story of the forcible abduction of an entire people but rather the tale of the self-seduction of a nation. In the light of history, the evil of the Holocaust can no longer be explained psychologically as the discharge of natural wickedness. Nazi psychology has commonly been described as a mobilization of murderous instincts, a discharge of pre-existing, deep-seated aggression following the lifting of inhibitions, or it is described as a split within a hollowed out individual such that the murderous tendencies coexist with and are disconnected from the rest of the personality.
The article examines the attitudes of Sigmund Freud and his nephew Edward Bernays toward the miseries of civilization. Like Freud's challenge to religion, Bernays's aim of engineering social harmony derived from the Enlightenment, and so it was, perhaps, that he saw himself as a co-worker with his uncle in the project of emancipation. Bernay's efforts were a determined imitation of Freud. In old age, Bernays's constant complaint was the cheapening of his thought by newcomers who cared nothing for his deeper concerns, never did he realize that he stood in approximately that relation to Freud.
The article examines political philosopher Judith Shklar's dystopic vision of liberalism. The sources of her antimetaphysical liberalism do not originate with the desire to base liberal constitutional government upon non-controversial public doctrines which also can be publicly endorsed. Shklar's anti-metaphysical view of liberalism derives from her own very distinctive version of anti-foundationalism in philosophy and politics. Shklar distinguished the Lockean liberalism of natural rights from the Rousseauian and Kantian tradition of a liberalism of autonomy and from the liberalism of self-perfection.