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(Ehrenberg, 191) The same idea is conveyed by Kaldor (203) – “global rules based on consent”, but current affairs remain way behind this ideal.More precisely, the universal civil society is an ideal system of civic participation and governance, yet not applicable to contemporary politics.Hence, a global civil society presents a more feasible design due to 4 reasons: (1) it involves a “supraterritorial” (Scholte, 2001:8) organization of the citizenry without relying on universal moral principles; (2) still, the principle of equality at supra-state level is already an underlying rule in international arena and does not affect domestic politics; (3) it enables the creation of a social geography (Scholte, 2001:9) without disrupting the territorial borders of nation-states and (4) is founded in cosmopolitanism which “accepts and embraces the fact of human diversity that exists within and across communities that expands ultimately to the widest circle of humankind” (Hayden, 20).
Yet, Immanuel Kant remains the pillar of the universal civil society based on the moral foundation that moral duty brings together all individuals.
In his view, only in a civil society based on universal categories of right, a man can enjoy a moral life.
The 19 century, especially, marked the beginning of this distinction by introducing the market in its conception. Civil society, as it stands now, is not apprehended as the interplay between the two agents – family and the state -; but is, indeed, the sphere in which individuals become public persons who bring the particular (usually expressed through beliefs, interests, skills) into the universal (the social) through self-organized associations and/or institutions.
Hegel filled in the gap between the family and the state with the notion of civil society “where the individual becomes public person and through membership in various institutions, is able to reconcile the particular and the universal” (Kaldor, 204). Therefore, Kaldor’s (205) own appreciation of civil society as “the process though which individuals negotiate, argue, struggle against or agree with each other and with the centres of political and economic authority”, perfectly explains the relation between the particular and the universal presented above.
Although contemporary Confucianists tend to view Western liberalism as pitting the individual against society, recent liberal scholarship has vigorously claimed that liberal polity is indeed grounded in the self-transformation that produces “liberal virtues.” To meet this challenge, this essay presents a sophisticated Confucian critique of liberalism by arguing that there is an appreciable contrast between liberal and Confucian self-transformation and between liberal and Confucian virtues.
By contrasting Locke and Confucius, key representatives of each tradition, this essay shows that both liberalism and Confucianism aim to reconstruct a society freed from antisocial passions entailing a vicious politics of resentment, and yet come to differing ethical and political resolutions.
From Aristotle’s comprehension of a civil society based on face-to-face relations between friends who articulate the public good (Ehrenberg, 1999:xii), civil society evolved into a global phenomenon whose core function is to influence the decision-making process. As Mary Kaldor (2003) rightfully explains, the concept of a civil society has witnessed radical transformations.
So, who are the agents that create a civil society, moreover, a global civil society? If Cicero envisioned the civil society more or less in terms of a legal realm, while Hobbes thought it as “an artificial creation for the purposes of survival” (Ehrenberg, 1999:xiii), nowadays, civil society departed from any correlation with the state.
Consequently, appealing to Kaldor’s (2003) identification of the three meanings of civil society – the activist, neoliberal and postmodern version -, the actors range from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ethnic movements and bazaars.
Sharing both the idea that not only good movements can be included in the concept of a civil society and the belief that such a creation should not be exclusive, a global civil society must extend beyond NGOs.