After 1989: Morals, Revolution and Civil Society by Ralf Dahrendorf

By Ralf Dahrendorf

The essays assembled during this quantity are a considerate and energetic observation on Europe after the revolution of 1989. needs to revolutions fail? definitely, the open society has its personal difficulties, no longer least that of voters looking for which means. the great Society has to sq. the circle of prosperity, civility and liberty. Social technological know-how might help us comprehend what has to 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 ecu Union.

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Extra resources for After 1989: Morals, Revolution and Civil Society

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More than that, they are bent on improving themselves without wanting to do others down; they even accept minorities and newcomers happily as fellow citizens. Leaving doubts and irony on one side, there is a serious point to all this. It is that the good society has to offer more than the Great Society or even the Open Society. The Great Society is the modern world, division oflabour, interdependence and all. The Open Society is the world of democracy and the market economy, the constitution of liberty.

Wars and revolutions suspend all normal assumptions. Wars take us to the raw bones of human relations in more senses than one, and I for one believe that there is little to be gained by seeing them exposed. Revolutions raise fundamental issues of the social contract. What is the cement that holds human societies together? How do we go about building constitutions, and constitutions of liberty at that? Today I am not going to speak about the war in which we may find ourselves entangled in the Middle East before the anniversary of the breach of the Berlin Wall, or at any rate that of Vaclav Havel's surprising translation from the Magic Lantern theatre to the Hradshin.

At the very least, these things are changing. In Britain, what is arguably the most anti-traditional government in its history has gone out of its way to crush traditions which had already begun to crumble. In the United States, we increasingly find heterogeneity without community. Americans have all become hyphenated; now they have to be Italian-Americans, Chinese-Americans, African-Americans. As a result, Britain and America are increasingly faced with the self-same issue which bewitches the new democracies and others in the world: how can we have an open society of citizens which captures the hearts as well as the minds of people without destroying by emotion what it has created by reason?

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