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Tocqueville's Revenge : State, Society, and Economy in Contemporary France (Hardcover)

Author: Levy, Jonah D.

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"A vibrant civil society is often portrayed in the manner of a rich uncle: highly desirable, but the product of good fortune rather than one's own actions. Civil society emerges from the distant past, its features fashioned by the tectonic forces of history and culture. In the face of such powerful and quasi-immutable determinisms, state authorities are all but helpless: they can little more turn a 'bad' or 'weak' civil society into a 'good' or 'strong' one than transform lead into gold. Indeed, the process is far more likely to operate in the opposite direction, with state intervention crushing or displacing once-vibrant civic networks. To the extent that the state authorities can make any kind of positive contribution, it is primarily through acts of self-negation -- by rolling back the frontiers of the state, so that fledgling societal and local institutions may find their place in the sun".

"The state is not necessarily the enemy of civil society, however; nor is the absence of the state enough to foster the good civil society. Rather, the state can -- indeed, in many instances, must -- play an active role in forging and sustaining vibrant, effective societal and local institutions. Just as societal and local institutions can enhance the capacities of the state, supportive state intervention can enhance the capacities of civil society. Thus, the challenge is not to have more state or less state, but rather to connect the state and civil society in mutually beneficial ways -- to deploy state powers to create, sustain, regulate, and readjust the good civil society".


Publisher Harvard Univ Pr
Mfg Part# 9780674894327
SKU 202456760
Format Hardcover
ISBN10 0674894324
Release Date 8/13/2012
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