Civil society


Many readers ask us ‘what is civil society and why do you go on about it so much’?

    Civil society comprises the relationships and activities that make up our life at grass-roots
    levels of society, in families, communities and voluntary associations, independent of both
    government and the commercial world.

    It comprises eight key segments:

    Family, kinship and friendship networks
    Household or domestic economies
    Neighbourhoods and informal social supports
    Voluntary associations, self-help and support groups
    NGOs and charities
    Social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals
    Family farms, family enterprises, small businesses
    Religion, faith and spirituality 

      
  
    These diverse social forms have three features in common:

    Relational – they are defined by relationships
    Associational – they are shaped by formal or informal bonds
    Voluntary – they are formed without compulsion 

    The term ‘civil society’ does not refer to ‘politeness’ or ‘civility’ in public life, as important  as this is. It refers to that part of society that is not part of the state, hence the term ‘civilian’ when used to distinguish a person in civil society from military personnel or state officials, or a civil offence in law which is an offence between persons in civil society rather than a criminal matter. Civil society is made up of the things we do as civilians, freely and voluntarily, outside the state and the market.

    For two reasons, civil society has been steadily marginalised over the last century. As both states and markets have expanded, they have intruded upon the relationships and activities of civil society – sometimes colonising them, sometimes corroding them. At the same time, the ideologies of Left and Right have increasingly emptied themselves of any recognition or conceptual acknowledgement of the existence of civil society. The result of these two    simultaneous processes has been a squeezing of civil society from two sides – from states and markets, and from Left and Right.

    Why is the conceptual recognition of civil society important? Because without it, we can’t see past the commodification of life wrought by market transactions, nor its depersonalisation by state bureaucracies.

    Without it, we get a distorted, dehumanised understanding of life, in which we are at the mercy of two relentlessly hostile invading forces – with no boundaries and no protection.

    Conservatism, historically and in the 21st century, is best understood as a political movement to curb the impact on civil society of these two hostile invading forces.

    www.conservativeparty.org.au/charter/ 

    Send your comments to [email protected]    
        The Conservative
   
    The Conservative is published by The Conservative Party every Wednesday.
    It is edited by Vern Hughes.

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Pat Mac
Pat Mac
July 15, 2023 5:28 pm

What you call “civil society” is what I call courtesy.
Pat

Damon
Damon
July 15, 2023 6:17 pm

Primitive. aboriginal culture satisfies none of these criteria, so why is it so extolled in Australian society?

Roger
Roger
July 15, 2023 7:38 pm

The churches belong in the realm of civil society, but in recent years they have made the crucial mistake of becoming a de facto arm of government in the provision of education and social services, induced into doing so by the amount of money on offer.

Consequently, they are discovering the truth of the old saying, “If you’re going to sup with the devil, best take a long spoon.”*

* Calvary Hospital in Canberra in the first instance.

bespoke
bespoke
July 16, 2023 9:24 am

Family, kinship and friendship networks
Household or domestic economies
Neighbourhoods and informal social supports
Voluntary associations, self-help and support groups
NGOs and charities
Social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals
Family farms, family enterprises, small businesses
Religion, faith and spirituality

These things still exist. The problem as I see it. Is conservatives or ‘right thinking’ have voluntarily vacated those spaces and more content bitching about it online. Nothing is stopping you from joining and creating changes within.

Roger
Roger
July 16, 2023 10:09 am

Nothing is stopping you from joining and creating changes within.

You’ll find that the more institutionalised the pillars of civil society are – the NGOS, charities & churches – the more likely they’ve been colonised by progressives who see nothing wrong with being an arm of the state.

In such instances conservatives would be better off staring afresh rather than wasting energy.

Roger
Roger
July 16, 2023 10:31 am

When Roger Scruton was asked by a young person what her cohort could do to promote conservatism, he responded, “Get married, have children and start a small business.”

thefrollickingmole
thefrollickingmole
July 16, 2023 2:10 pm

Footy is a great example of a civil society institution hollowed our from both ends.
The moment it went AFL it was doomed to become a vehicle for thousands of grifters and pollies to lampray themselves to it .

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