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 great Society has to sq. the circle of prosperity, civility and liberty. Social technology may help us comprehend what should be performed, and intellectuals have a accountability to begin 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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Additional resources for After 1989: Morals, Revolution and Civil Society
But I can see that my personal experience must not be generalized. Moreover, I appreciate the questions which Jilrgen Habermas puts persistently and plausibly, especially those for a 'reasonable identity' in modem societies. In a way the formation ofligatures is his theme. He seeks a social contract which is more than a legally sanctioned piece of paper. In this context, constitutional patriotism has its place. If one wonders where the older open societies of England and North America find their ligatures, one encounters some rarely discussed phenomena.
Let me return, for a serious if not a simple answer, to the quotations with which this analysis began. It is a striking fact that those who speak about the good society tend to think oflocal communities, and fairly small communities at that. Both Lippman and Havel refer to 'life in towns and villages', but Lippman's Norwegian town is not Oslo, and Havel's Czechoslovak town is not Prague. Some venture a little further. David Donnison has taken his heart into his hands and described what he regards as The Good City: To sum up, a city which provides both good opportunities for the less skilled and more vulnerable, and a distribution of opportunities between socioeconomic groups which is not too unequal may typically be a/airly large town with varied, prosperous and expanding enterprises demanding some training and a wide range of middle grade skills, operating in an equilibrium with a housing market, an education system and other sectors of the urban economy and without major discontinuities within sectors or disjunctions between sectors.
The question is still open. It will not be answered by elections or governmental declarations. Ligatures can be created, but then they have to take root and begin to grow. If I had been offered an honorarium for these remarks, to whom would I give the money in the light of such conclusions? In the end to Catholic charities after all? No, but perhaps to a German Civic Foundation which does not yet exist but which might be set up in order to fill the structures of the open society with the lifeblood of civil society.