Transactions of the Japan Academy
Online ISSN : 2424-1903
Print ISSN : 0388-0036
ISSN-L : 0388-0036
Volume 53 , Issue 2
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  • Kan'ichi FUKUDA
    1999 Volume 53 Issue 2 Pages 89-101
    Published: 1999
    Released: June 22, 2007
    JOURNALS FREE ACCESS
    Since Polish Solidarity, which had struggled against the Communist state power on the basis of voluntary associations and independent communication among the governed, proved political success, the term“civil society”came to have a new usage quite different from Hegelian bürgerliche Gesellschaft i. e. bourgeois society. Jurgen Habermas used the new term Zivilgesellschaft in his preface to the 1990 edition of his Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. And since the East European Revolution dissolved Soviet rule, this new usage has been welcome by the suffering peoples from dictatorial powers of e. g. Latin America. It was also in Western Europe as well as North America. Now many scholars there are busy to theorizing this new usage. In the United States, the very matrix of voluntary associations, Cohen and Arato proposed to define the civil society as the public space not only against the state system but also against the market system. I personally take this trend as an effort to break through the predicament of radical democratic theory at present, and want to reexamine of this new usage in the context of the conceptual history.
    Nobody denies that the social contract theory replaced the modern sovereign state, which had been the patrimony of some dynasty by the civil or political society composed of free and equal citizens on the model of the voluntary association. But the class structure of the industrial state led Hegel to define the civil society as the system of Bedürfnisse quite different from the political society, and gave Marx the vision of the classless society by the abolition of this bourgeois one. Radical democratic movement originally pursued to solve this class problem within multi-party system on the basis of universal suffrage. But simple state-citizens relationship which public law presupposed under the influence of the social contract theory was not enough to carry out this scheme. Therefore the utilization of corps intermédiaires has been raised from time to time. Tocqueville highly esteemed the voluntary associations under Jacksonian democracy in America. The pluralistic theory of the state challenged the sovereignty of the state and defended the rights of the Church, universities and trade unions. And now that the Welfare State realized only the client democracy in the mass society, and people came to be aware the reality of neocorporatism, the recent usage of the civil society naturally has a powerfull appeal to the radical democrats of the West.
    At the end of this century it is evident that the market economy has been more and more global, and at the same time serious problems which voluntary associations had tuckled e. g. of environment, information and population have turned also to be solved globally. There would be many difficulties on the way of radical democratic movements. Especially in Japan where so many corporations under bureacratic government has assumed the name of associations, the problems would be more serious than in the West. Now that the NPO Act was promulgated this year, 1998, I cannot help hoping the theorist's revisit the Christian sects which gave the model of the civil society on the basis of voluntary individuals.
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