Civil Society: Concepts and Critique from a Radical Democratic Perspective

Richard Brosio



Karl Marx and Adam Smith



This article was originally presented at the Rouge Forum's Summer Institute on Education and Society, June 2004, at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.

My intention is to present an initial/introductory framework for further study on how and why civil society and arguments about it are important for educators and their allies who favor education for: democratic empowerment, social justice, respect for "diversity," and the possibilities for developing further the opportunities to act altruistically -- if not "caringly" -- in schools and society. I address various rightist "wars on terrorism," globalization, privatization, commercialization, the plight of labor, standardization, commodification, neoliberal empire, surveillance, and capitalism itself. This article draws upon John Ehrenberg's Civil Society: The Critical History Of An Idea, New York University Press, (1999). The following is intended to help explain further what my interests, intentions, and suppositions are presently. The future long-term study seeks to shed light on whether or not "spaces" exist within contemporary society for radical democratic, anti-capitalist, and compatible "politics of identity" strategies and struggles to occur and succeed. The analyses of various oppressions, their origins and consequences will be used to suggest how best to contest and overcome them. Ehrenberg, Ellen Meiksins Wood,1 Carl Boggs,2 et al. have helped me to think about these issues. They have focused specifically on what liberals, conservatives, and others who see capitalism and democracy as compatible have done to and with the concepts of civil society that result in no longer viewing capitalism as a total system. Instead, their view is that the capitalist system is just another part of an "increasingly" complex and diversified civil society. The results of these interpretive claims makes capitalism's great nemesis, socialism, and especially Marxist socialism, unnecessary and even impossible! The liberal/bourgeois concept of civil society allegedly consists of spaces between the central state and the capitalist economy. However, Marx and many Marxists view civil society as a place that has been historically constructed by the triumphant bourgeoisie for their own regime of capitalism purposes. My hypothesis is that capitalists (and capitalism), as well as its allies, have so saturated US society and its various cultures with its practices and iron logic that the democratic Left(s) must conduct a sober and rigorous reassessment of the problems and possibilities that are connected to civil society issues -- including the roles of education within its confines.


     1. Kuttner has written the following: George W. Bush would not even have been in a position for the Supreme Court to "appoint" him president in 2000, through what was in fact a bloodless coup, if the voters had grasped the facts of how the candidate misrepresented himself and what he would do were he to become the chief executive. While it is true that presidential politics in the US usually feature candidate and party claims that are crafted to appeal to various constituencies with victory as the goal, Kuttner argues, "as an ideological fraud . . . W. Bush remains in a class by himself."3

     2. Moreover, he believes it was possible for voters to have looked carefully at Bush Jr.'s record before the 2000 campaign as well as earlier in his political career in order to see the deception. But Kuttner grants that information without political narrative is not easily understood in broad and deep ways. Too few have such necessary narratives on hand within which to place the "news." The failure of schools and society to provide more opportunities for becoming better at effective critical civil literacy is a factor in this sorry state we are in.

     3. Kuttner provides a service for authentic democrats with regard to seeing through what so many politicians and their operatives bombard us with, namely:

slogan, symbol, deception, and even systematic prevarication.  . . . . [A] disengaged politics is necessarily a conservative politics. Without the counterweight of a mobilized citizenry that has the motivation to pay attention and the institutions that can aggregate and express its concerns, the system defaults to its other sources of residual power: concentrated wealth. Institutions like the labor movement, which give ordinary people the mechanisms to effect political change and the motivation to take politics seriously, are diminished [by a relentless series of attacks by capitalism and its agents]. It's no accident that [organized] labor did most of the heavy lifting for Gore -- and that wasn't quite enough. [Organized labor is at its weakest in terms of percentage of the total labor force since the 1920s.] . . . [M]ost people of modest means no longer participate vigorously in politics -- not only because they don't believe politics make a difference, but also because the institutions that invite their participation are dwindling. Media are also culpable: Short-attention span TV and Internet gossip sites function as though politics were not about how a great democracy makes weighty choices; it's just another form of commerce and entertainment. . . . These trends, all of which debase politics, have been building for a long time; their full fruit is George W. Bush.4

     4. Ronald Reagan, who is praised by the mainstream media and many ordinary citizens, played a big part in the garden that provided the context and slippery slope for Bush XLIII.5


     5. Eric Boehme's review of Ehrenberg's book gets right to the heart of the book's analysis, reporting that it questions the "assumptions of liberal scholars working in the tradition of Tocqueville.6 Ehrenberg's critique of this tradition rests on the continuing historical and institutional ties between civil society and the market, a history that belies liberal faith in the ability of anti-statist and local institutions to mitigate the worst excesses of both the state and the market" (p. 175).

     6. Throughout ancient and medieval Western history, "the organization and enrichment of social life were generated by the political power of the state. With the advent of the modern era this all changes" (p.176). Bourgeois/liberal/capitalist writers theorized and their allies fought to establish the dominance of homo economicus and the capitalist system itself. Lockean and Smithian liberalism, German idealism articulated by Kant, Hegel et al., and Marxism all had to deal with the capitalist revolutions: moreover, each had to figure out what the role of the state should be. All three intellectual traditions began by admitting that civil society was organized in their time by the market political economy; however, their evaluations about this fact differed.

     7. Boehme relates how Ehrenberg addresses another strand of modern political philosophical thought, namely those who did not place the market economy first and foremost in their analyses. Instead, Montesquieu, Tocqueville, Rousseau, and Burke focused on the cultural side of the revolutionary things that were occurring. "Setting the stage for his critique of the way both Eastern European . . . and contemporary American . . . theorists appropriate the assumptions of [mostly] Tocqueville, Ehrenberg argues that . . . [the French thinker's] focus on the effects of culture in the constitution of civil society comes at the expense of a continuing analysis of the economy. This leads to an unwarranted fear of central power and a focus on locality and particularity where 'civil society could protect freedom [albeit] with inequality'"(Ibid.).

     8. Ehrenberg is praised for challenging the "scholarly hegemony of work [done] on civil society which assumes the autonomy of intermediate bodies" (pp. 176-7). I have argued similarly -- although not having used the exact term "civil society" -- in the sixth chapter, called "The Consequences of the Capitalist Imperative on Everyday Life," and chapter seven, "Capitalism's Mediated Influence within School Sites: Correspondence Theory and Empirical Description," in A Radical Democratic Critique of Capitalist Education (1994). I did use the term civil society in an article published in 1996 as I developed further my scholarly inquiry.

     9. The following is a sample from this work's introduction:

My assumption is that the goals of progressive educators who value diversity and insist on democratic empowerment and social justice can be realized only if our school projects are linked to broader and more inclusive coalitions. The coalitions I favor must seek to transform radically the regime of capital, the class-State, and injustices experienced and articulated by all of us who occupy multiple sites and are characterized by multiple identities.  . . . In the work before you the emphasis is upon the idea of civil society. The institutional school is obviously part of civil society; furthermore, it is widely recognized that education in general occurs within its contexts [including within the family]. Civil society has been defined by many as a safety zone between citizens and the potential Leviathan-State. Furthermore, most Western writers have insisted that a healthy civil society must include a market economy as well as a liberal political system. The possibility that the greatest contemporary threat to freedom and authentic democracy is attributable to the regime of capital's successful drive to make market outcomes the fate of every person is not often discussed by the mainstream media, hegemonic scholars, and educators whose practice is commendably progressive but who may lack important political insights. Many people who work with pen, computer, and voice belong to a privilegentsia that is comparatively well-protected within civil societies that feature capitalism and formally democratic political systems. Those who are most oppressed within these societies -- especially those who have been declared superfluous and have to manage living in free-fire zones -- may not agree that the civil society praised by hegemonists is an adequate buffer against those forces that make their lives difficult and dangerous.7

     10. According to Boehme, Ehrenberg critically presents work done by writers who addressed communism, totalitarianism, and "actually existing socialism" in reference to the growing civil society movements in the former Soviet Bloc during the period after the 1968 "Prague Spring." Ehrenberg accuses these writers of taking a "deeply anti-political and anti-statist turn. Using Hayek's critique of central planning and Arendt's fear of 'mass society' in [allegedly] totalitarian states as intellectual precursors . . . [he] argues that the notions of civil society and democracy which dissident movements developed, ultimately could not help but embrace the market" (p. 177). Unfortunately, the critique of state power was so assiduously pursued that the post-communist regimes in central and east Europe viewed democracy as a situation where the state -- perhaps any state -- was virtually powerless to interfere with "actually emerging marketization." This applies also to the European parts of the former Soviet Union!8

     11. Ehrenberg thinks a parallel phenomenon was occurring in the US. Pluralism, interest-group politics, and Tocquevillean intermediate associations were the focus of many civil society political philosophers. Their contention was that the components of civil society are mostly neutral and open to one and all with regard to participation. Ehrenberg argues that they and we must look to the work of Marx and the Marxists in order to realize the naiveté and possible misleadingness of such an over emphasis on "culture" and "small" with regard to good and best civil societies.

     12. The capitalist market economy and the system itself were too often portrayed as just another part of a complex society, instead of the totalizing system it was and is -- at least according to radical democrats, Marxists, et al. Boehme conveys Ehrenberg's contention, that: "Ultimately, the 'intimacy, localism, and moralism' . . . which neo-Tocquevilleans9 look to for a resurgence of democracy pale in comparison to the [continuing] power of states and deeply invasive markets" (Ibid.). According to Boehme, Ehrenberg's own normative claims about civil society and democratic theory challenge the neo-Tocquevilleans, et al. to reintegrate "actually existing capitalism (and empire)" into any serious work concerning "deep democracy," social justice, respect for diversity, and other characteristics that take us far beyond what our forbears called "bourgeois democracy."

     13. Ehrenberg warns us that the neoliberal projects seeks to dismantle the parts of the state that have answered to the imperatives of democracy instead of just those demanded by capitalist operatives and their allies who oppose progressive changes in socio-economic areas. Ehrenberg resuscitates the idea that the state can be divorced from its sycophantic marriage to the nongovernmental powers that be! In the absence of this intellectual accomplishment, as well as radical collective actions based on it, we may remain immersed in "shallow theory where 'good feelings, voluntarism, nostalgia, and [all kinds of] community constitute civil society in an antipolitical period'" (p. 178).

     14. It is frightening to think that capitalist civil societies in the US and elsewhere do not include enough institutions, practices, traditions, and people who can overcome "'already-existing distributions of power' generated from 'the effects of structural economic inequity'" (Ibid.). One of my goals as I continue studying civil societies is to examine carefully Ehrenberg's argument -- a pessimistic one that I sometimes share. I intend to keep a close focus on theoretical ideas as well as what is -- or is not -- occurring on the ground.

     15. For epistemological and ethical reasons, we must realize that the number of us who struggle with these kinds of questions must be multiplied enormously. What is to be done about the working and life conditions of so many people who will have to become more politically aware and engaged? Obviously, the difficult working conditions themselves that all too many endure must be recognized as one of the key factors with regard to experiencing capitalism in concrete terms.

     16. Marx believed that these conditions could help the proletariat understand the origins and contemporary realities that made their lives so difficult, as well as prompting them to begin the struggle to overcome the system itself. However, this is not inevitable because the historic struggle was, and continues to be, fiercely resisted by those who benefit most from capitalism as well as their allies who are paid off mainly by support for the latter's cultural conservatism and reactionary project. Both components of this alliance rely on certainty and/or the need for it. The myth that selfish interest is magically turned into the common good is paralleled by the fundamentalist belief in "inerrant" holy texts.


     17. Now that I have finished commenting on Boehme's review, I will continue with the results of my own close reading of Ehrenberg's book itself. Perhaps some of you who read what has been written here will join in the discussions to help make sense of these issues -- including ideas of what is to be done! In his introduction to Civil Society: The Critical History Of An Idea Ehrenberg begins with providing explanatory contexts drawn from the US in the 1990s. In the wake of the reactionary politics of both major parties in terms of reducing the role of the federal government's responsibilities and actions toward those who did not do well within the realm of market outcomes alone -- obviously related to class, race, ethnic, gender, and other "differences" -- the government emphasized instead volunteer possibilities to cover its retreat from its New Deal/social democratic role. These historic accomplishments mitigated some of the worst consequences of radical capitalism and its lock on the class-state.

     18. The elder Bush spoke of a "thousand points of light" when he became president. He intimated that the obviousness and crassness of the Reagan presidency with regard to its abandoning earlier Republican commitment to the New Deal, specifically the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations, would be replaced by what his son was to call "compassionate conservatism." Perhaps the Bushes were suggesting that their comparative old wealth and "old school ties" would allow them to usher in a form of US noblesse oblige!

     19. The administrations of Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. verbally promoted local associations and voluntary actions -- as well as devolution of some powers and responsibilities to the states. As we know, there are various and many ruses within these reactionary moves. For example, the No Child Left Behind gimmick appears to promote state and local control; however, upon closer investigation this does not hold.10 These political "adjustments" to the capitalist demands upon government and civil society -- driven by the "gales of creative destruction" that epitomize capital's historic responses to accumulation crises -- are highlighted by Ehrenberg via Clinton's "Summit for America's Future" in 1997. "Clinton gathered Bush [Sr.], Carter, Nancy Reagan, Colin Powell, thirty governors, dozens of corporate executives, and Oprah Winfrey to urge Americans to volunteer for community services.  . . . The Philadelphia summit's emphasis on local action and voluntary associations captured an important moment in a period marked by rapid economic change, sweeping attacks on the welfare state ["ending welfare as we know it"], and general withdrawal from political engagement. It articulated a distinctively American way of thinking about 'civil society,' a notion that has figured prominently in academic and political discourse for most of the . . . [1990s]" (p. ix).

     20. As has been indicated above, Ehrenberg explains how what occurred in the US has parallels with what had been and is still occurring in the former Soviet Bloc countries -- including Russia. "Liberal [in the sense of politics in support of capitalism] political theory was revived in demands for 'law-governed states' that would protect private life [property] and public activity from the intrusive hand of meddling bureaucracies. It was not surprising that Eastern Europe should conceptualize civil society in terms of limiting state power, or that Americans should express it in neo-Tocquevillean language of intermediate organizations.

     21. If civil society meant constitutional republicanism in one area and local voluntarism supported by informal norms of solidarity and mutual aid in another, both bodies of thought sought to theorize it as a democratic sphere of public action that limits the thrust of state power" (p. x). Of course there were critics who saw through this reliance on caritas -- charity by religious and other private organizations for the poor "buggars" who just could not seem to make it in the market and its wonderful opportunities for one and all. As Bush Sr. fatuously said, social class is a European thing! His mentally and ethically challenged son might think that class is something he was entitled to skip, whereas the "little people" better buckle-down or be left behind. I offer a complement to what has just been presented about the US by Ehrenberg and my commentary on it. In 1990 I attended an International Network of Philosophers of Education conference in London. It was the first time many of us had been able to talk to colleagues from the former Soviet Bloc. Those of us on the Left -- persons who believed that capitalism and authentic democracy were and are incompatible -- were met by assertions that the civil society advocates and activists from behind the erstwhile "Iron Curtain" would take only what was good from capitalism!

     22. Ehrenberg says that his book "examines the historical, political, and theoretical evolution of the way civil society has been theorized over two and half millennia of Western political theory" (p. xi). He claims that it is possible to figure out where people are "coming from" -- and/or where they are "headed for" -- as we study critically the ideas and implementations of civil society vis-à-vis political economy, the state, and other factors.

     23. Ehrenberg organizes his book according to:

three rather distinct bodies of thought that have marked its development, though considerable cross-fertilization has always enriched each tradition.  . . . [C]lassical and medieval thought generally equated civil society with politically organized commonwealths. Whether its final source of authority was secular or religious, civil society [was believed to make] civilization possible because people lived in law-governed associations [e.g., the Greek polis and Roman republic] protected by the coercive power of the state. Such conceptions shaped the way civil society was understood for many centuries. As the forces of modernity began to undermine the embedded economies and universal knowledge of the Middle Ages, the gradual formation of national markets and national states gave rise to a second tradition that began to conceptualize civil society as a civilization made possible by production, individual interest, competition, and need. For some thinkers, the Enlightenment opened unprecedented opportunities for freedom in a secular world of commerce, science, and culture. For others, civil society's disorder, inequality, and conflict falsified its emancipatory potential and required a measure of public supervision. However civil society was perceived, it was clear that the world could no longer be understood as a system of fused commonwealths. Civil society developed in tandem with the centralizing and leveling tendencies of the [royal] modern state, and an influential third body of thought conceptualized it as the now-familiar sphere of intermediate association that serves liberty and limits the power of central institutions. (Ibid.).

     24. Furthermore, the book includes these topics. Section one is called The Origins of Civil Society and includes chapters on the Classical Heritage, the Christian Commonwealth, and the Transition to Modernity. Section two is named Civil Society and Modernity, characterized by The Rise of Economic Man (sic), Civil Society and the State, as well as Civil Society and Intermediate Organizations. The last section is concerned with Civil Society and Contemporary Life. It is divided into Civil Society and Communism, Civil Society and Capitalism, in addition to Civil Society and Democratic Politics. Quite a bill of fare!


     25. The cast of characters is impressive and well known as political philosophers -- among other things. Plato and Aristotle head the list as the theoreticians of the Greek polis. They were both suspicious of the divisive acids of commercial interests and other temptations that placed self-interest in the top spot rather than what is good for all the city-state's citizens. They tried in various ways to balance unity with certain forms of plurality. Cicero was the champion of the Roman republic, a system that could not withstand the imperatives of empire and the pressures from those who benefited least from the republic even during its acme. Augustine and Aquinas are the main Christian actors featured. They had to deal with civil society (the city of man) within the contexts of the faith based "city of god," causing difficulties with regard to solving the conflicting demands made upon theorists and those who experienced the contradictions on a daily basis.

     26. Dante Alighieri and Marsilio of Padua anticipated the recovery of secular power within the Italian city-states. As a result, they serve as precursors to Niccolò Machiavelli's classic work, The Prince (1513). Machiavelli looked back to the Roman republic and its civicness as a model he hoped would be reenacted by the warring Italian city-states of his time. Martin Luther's "discovery of the individual" resulted in driving conscience inward and allowing the princess to organize civil society including which form of religion would be dominant.

     27. Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan (1651) was a response to the English Civil Wars of his time. He tried to theorize a civil society that was beginning to become very commercial -- providing the soil for the birth of capitalism in England. He too dealt with the divisiveness characteristic of a commercial society and how this war-of-all-against-all version could be policed. With John Locke we come upon one of the main characters who helped "solve" relations between increasing bourgeois ascendancy and the need to have a government that supported this rising class. The English monarch and parliament were to provide the governmental support needed for safety and optimum conditions so that commerce could flourish. Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations (1776) is deservedly known as the great apologia for the domination by English capitalists over the political economy and its workers (proletariat). The liberal/capitalist renaissance during the late twentieth century and today features concepts of civil society that owe much to Locke and Smith.

     28. Ehrenberg features the German philosophers, Immanuel Kant and Georg Hegel, as having to come to terms with what the English and Scottish theorists had written about civil society and capitalist political economy. They were both critical of Adam Smith's "radicalness" and tried to provide support for at least an idealist philosophical model that would protect their versions of the public good against a greedy, divisive, predatory business system that threatened the Germans' sense of heimat and gemeinschaft. Marx enters the theater at this point. In my view, just in time!

     29. Ehrenberg informs us of Marx's recognition that bourgeois/capitalist civil society was not an autonomous sphere of democracy; consequently it must be described, analyzed, and criticized as an adjunct of capitalist political economy -- both of which were backed by the power of the class-states of Britain and other European countries that were also succumbing to capitalism as a system. Marx realized that the new political economy of capitalism was totalizing in its logic, appetite, and designs.

     30. I think it is warranted to assert that were one to compare Smith's generative theorizing of capitalist civil society with Marx's explosive, socialist-communist critique it would assist us in understanding that the kinds of schooling-education most progressives claim they seek to enact, as well as the teaching-learning they endorse as good practice, can occur best within the analysis and critique provided by Marx.

     31. Those who are most powerful in the US today with regard to K-12 schooling seem to be Smithian in underlying assumptions and policy making. This does not mean they have studied Smith. They really do not need to be students of their own their philosophical scaffolding because capitalism and its unyielding imperatives on schools and society are part of the hegemonic realities in these (somewhat) United States.

     32. Before I present the ideas of John Locke, Smith, and a bit of Marx's critique let us return to Plato's and Aristotle's ancient classical views on civil society as they relate to the polis. Once again, I am drawing from and interacting with Ehrenberg's book. The classical understanding of civil society included a realization that people lived their lives in different spheres and roles. Both Plato and Aristotle insisted, however, that these differences should be viewed and studied in terms of their commonalities and generalities, i.e., holistically. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that political power/government was the sine qua non for making civilization itself possible. In contrast, Ronald Reagan told us that "gum'mint" is the problem.

     33. It is ironic that this man saw the US federal government as answering more to the democratic imperative, which could have weakened some of the privileges enjoyed by his supporters, instead of recognizing and/or admitting that the capitalist imperative had always been much more powerful than its historic rival. Reagan wanted it all!11 He was a reactionary seeking to return the US to what it was before the great eruptions of democracy, especially the ones beginning in the 1930s and continuing through the early '70s, that helped mitigate the oppressive class, race, ethnic, and gender conditions prevailing earlier.12

     34. The theorists of ancient civil societies saw politics as enabling human beings to rise above immediate familial and personal concerns. The public places were the ones where citizens could most effectively discuss issues concerned with the public good. Obviously there were flaws theoretically and especially in practice. The most serious one is the lack of inclusivity in both Athens and Rome; however, Marx was right to use the term idiotes to describe one who lived solitarily outside of civic life -- driven only by his/her individual desires and concerns.

     35. As Ehrenberg states it: "[C]lassical Greek political philosophy insisted that the common good could be discovered through public debate and . . . action. It followed that decay was the inevitable consequence of private calculation and individual interest" (p. 4). Plato lived during the fall of Athens and the putting to death of his teacher, Socrates. It is not surprising that his political philosophy of civil society includes what Ehrenberg describes: "The Republic was organized around Plato's attempt to contain all centrifugal tendencies that constituted the city's crises. The unity he sought required that private interests and passions be brought under conscious control. The desire for wealth caused conflict, and Plato's ascetic sense of stability required that all 'luxurious excess' be eliminated" (p. 6).

     36. Although one can sense a threat to healthy pluralism and difference in Plato, his warning that unfettered individual interest can never provide a sufficient foundation for a just civil society is perennially relevant. The tyranny and exploitation experienced under the regime of capitalism by many people during modern (and post-modern) times indicates that Plato was no fool.

     37. Both Plato and Aristotle believed that they were theorizing a civil society within which it was possible for all to be "happy," instead of seeking to provide the well being of the few. The Achilles' heel of classical city-states was the failure to include the workers who enabled the philosophers to roam around the city and talk about the common and greatest good. In spite of these serious limitations, Ellen Meiksins Wood has provided us with a brilliant analysis of how the rudiments of authentic democracy existed in Athens at one time. This was due to the fact that the principal providers, namely independent peasant workers, were citizens and served in the armed forces of Athens. The aristocrats and their allies acted to snuff out this precocious phenomenon.13

     38. Plato attempted to construct an "invariant center for public life" in response and opposition to what he considered to be the fleetingness of problems and realities embedded in daily life. Obviously, he never achieved this theoretically or in reality. Aristotle, Plato's great student, continued his teacher's work on civil society. The prize student's great work, Politics (and others), presented a more nuanced analysis and suggestions for civil society. He recognized and accepted more willingly the need to give more space to inevitable plurality and differences; however; he held to Plato's belief that politics was the "master science of the Good."

     39. The powers that be have always distrusted any politics they could not control. Democracy, from the time of ancient Greece, has always been a phenomenon of working people who need numbers and strength, through politics and (sometimes) arms, to crack open doors behind which decisions are made that are almost never in the primary producers' interests. This struggle continues with obvious examples brought to us regularly by the aggressive secrecy of the Bush Jr. administration.

     40. Ehrenberg explains: "Aristotle shared Plato's [and Marx's] understanding that human bonds are rooted in material needs, and that the division of labor rests at the heart of civil society. Since it was the basic productive unit of the ancient world, the household was the foundation of Aristotle's state" (p. 10). It was upon the family and village -- the zones of necessity and "mere life" -- that the polis was located, a place where it was possible to live the "good life."

     41. Aristotle understood that life depends on bread but that roses are possible and necessary also. This idea has informed the historical Left until this day. As it became possible to produce surpluses within the Greek oikonomia, Aristotle shared Plato's concern that accumulation far beyond subsistence and need posed serious troubles for their concept of civil society. Private profit had the potential to subvert the necessary politics for a good and just republic. The economies of the Greek city-states were "embedded" in all the rest of social life. Economic affairs were not recognized as distinguishable from other activities.

     42. Furthermore, economic activity was not carried on for its own sake, as it is within a capitalist system. Marx and Engels addressed this fact in The Communist Manifesto (1848). We learn from them that all relations in capitalist society were "torn apart" and trumped by the "cash nexus." Economic activities qua economics per se did not "acquire their apparent independence and visibility until capitalism gave rise to the distinctly modern disposition to pursue economic gain for its own sake. Until then, neither the material development of civil society nor the associated corpus of theoretical work about it permitted a sharp distinction between 'economic' and other institutions or values. This is why the classical theories of civil society understood it as a commonwealth organized by political power" (p. 12).


     43. John Locke and Adam Smith return to the main stage at this point. These two men were convinced that the material processes of social life were rapidly becoming the constitutive forces of civil society in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is interesting and ironic that many critics of Marx claim that they dislike him because he was a "materialist"! Locke understood that economic forces could organize civil society with the support of a central government -- a constitutional, parliamentary system, with a monarch much more limited than Hobbes's Leviathan.

     44. Obviously, this state would operate in the interests of the propertied classes, from which the pioneers of capitalism came. Locke argued that an "economically determined sphere of property rights and private desire . . . could be theorized apart from the enforcement power of the [friendly] state" (p. 84). His "bottom line" goal was to anchor civil society within a "natural right to private property and individual appropriation" (Ibid.). Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, and Marx did not agree that people have "natural" rights to property ownership before and/or without the existence of a state. This Lockean belief is still alive and rather well with many people in the US.

     45. This position makes it difficult for progressive government to act on behalf of those who have not fared well under capitalism. With regard to the importance of equitable school finance, Lockeans can and do say that what's theirs is theirs and that progressive taxation is, in fact, an act of violence against their sacred property rights. Adam Smith did speak of workers, the emerging proletariat, as having only the property of their labor, which he believed should be "freely" available to whomever wanted to buy it. Marx understood this but explained that the selling of one's labor occurred in almost every case within contexts and contracts enormously unfavorable to the worker. Those who do not own "property" beyond their heads and hands are at the mercy of their "betters" who do! Persons who are interested in fairness and justice should ask whether this applies to contemporary "America" and the capitalist globalization that is spearheaded by our neo-imperialist government and its armed forces. Locke and Smith were philosophers of and for their class -- as were their forbears who wrote about political philosophy and civil society.14 Were we to include this history of arbitrariness and violence underlying the claims of sacred property rights, it could lead to better understandings with regard to the problematic claim of sacrosanctness. Perhaps this would weaken the arguments of those who oppose even mild forms of progressive taxation to support public schools.

     46. Ehrenberg provides a descriptive analysis of what was at stake when capitalism emerged victorious in England. It is true that "freedom from" and "freedom to do" were attractive to some -- especially when viewed within the confines of what feudalism became. However, as in most cases, much was lost that benefited those who did not become bourgeoisie and/or ultimately capitalists.

The decline of the embedded [sometimes referred to as the moral] economy eroded the limits on the pursuit of interests that had protected precapitalist civil societies for centuries. Ancient principles of solidarity, justice, and morality had organized distribution in natural economies where production had been driven by the needs of immediate consumption and markets played only a marginal role. [Not all markets are capitalist ones.] The development of production for exchange drove toward the disappearance of the embedded economy, the primacy of individual judgment, the reduction of social life to economic considerations, and a conception of politics as a protective network of individual [mainly bourgeois and capitalist] rights whose sum total was [allegedly translated into] the common good . . . Public welfare no longer came from action intended to advance it. Natural law was subordinated to the logic of property and the market" (p. 88).15

     47. Building upon Locke's idea of property, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations (1776) offers effective arguments and justifications for the "untrammeled" pursuit of self-interest. A new civil society was organized around "economic man." As we know, those who came before were profoundly concerned that such concentrated and even manic attempts to secure individual and/or selfish economic advantage and success were threatening to a moral and just civil society.

     48. Throughout Western history, there occurred many attempts to provide balances that would serve to promote the public good. Smith circumvented this need for older forms of balance by claiming that a market-driven civil society would automatically result in the common good. This was referred to the "invisible hand," the magical transformer of selfishness into "unintended" benefits for everyone. The economy would operate according to its own logic and rules; furthermore it would be (mostly) harmonious and even self-correcting. Many critics have accused Smith of wheeling in a form of deus ex machina for this part of his production.16

     49. Capitalists view workers and their wages as costs that should and can be as low as possible. The job numbers mentioned in the newspaper represent ones that neither provide a "family wage" nor the necessary benefits. This seemingly good news for "postmodern" proletarians occurred during an overall "jobless recovery" beginning only during the fourth year of the second Bush administration.

     50. As has been alluded to above, when one deconstructs the myth of the "invisible hand" and the raising of all boats, it becomes more obvious why certain believers in so-called inerrant, organized religions also "believe" in capitalism as a system that allegedly benefits everyone. And these "true believers" insist that one attains this happy status only if s/he accepts its logic, realities, and compulsions.

     51. The other caveat is that those who fail in this wonderful fair system are obviously lacking in some ways; therefore, even if they join in, they may fail, due to their own shortcomings. The defenders of the capitalist system, who have used race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and other "identities" in order to facilitate the decisions concerning who should go where on the class-stratified scale that is endemic to the system, have employed many justifiers and propagandists whose task it is to articulate the specifics of why some fail -- and deserve to fail -- within the system. This is true of both school and society. In fact, the old Marxist terms "correspondence" and "reproduction" may still be relevant.

     52. Let us recall that the division of labor has been central to political philosophy and civil society throughout history. Smith's views and interpretations are telling in terms of his place on the political spectrum. Marx realized it and much of his work in political philosophy was aimed at discrediting how Smith used the brute facts of this unjust division and stratification to his class's advantage. Ehrenberg states that Smith's "great achievement" was to link the already existing division of labor to the emerging capitalist market and then to place it at the center of his version of civil society. It sounded good to those who grew tired of the (good and bad) restrictions that characterized the embedded or moral economy in England.

     53. Smith argued that the division of labor meant that no one could be self-subsistent. As the productivity of the capitalist economy increased dramatically, more goods of various kinds became available. Then Smith tells us that a person is "'rich or poor according to the quantity of . . . labor which he can command, or which he can afford to purchase'" (p. 99). He insists that workers must be "liberated" within the context of (bastardized) Enlightenment versions of individual freedom. "No arbitrary restrictions should prevent anyone from working as he chooses [many women were restricted to unpaid labor at home], and Smith understood that markets require that labor stand on its own without being connected to or conditioned [i.e., informed and/or supported] by anything else" (Ibid.). This enables capitalist apologists to argue that even labor unions -- most of which have helped its members -- were to be judged as interference with the person's "right to work." Relatedly, governmental "interference" into the quasi-sacrosanct "free" contract between labor and management is to be opposed relentlessly.

     54. The record of most "capitalist democracies" demonstrate how assiduously the powers that be have focused on this opposition. Very few political leaders in the capitalist West have sided with organized labor when the going got tough!

     55. Marx referred to the propertyless proletariat as wage slaves. The workers signed away their rights over working conditions and the product itself in part because they were the ones who could not afford to wait and bargain with the capitalist over the contract between them. In most cases, the bosses can wait much longer and be very "picky and choosy."

     56. My father, who was a bricklayer by trade, and one who was attracted to the Marxist and other socialist ideas he was aware of, told me about how an older (than he) immigrant co-worker told him: "Never enter into a contract with the padrone!" This politically conscious worker had worked in various European countries and South America before settling in Northern Michigan. Smith claimed that the division of labor characteristic of the capitalist market "transforms the voluntary exchanges of free individuals into . . . fully civilized life" (p. 100). He should have been able to read Charles Dickens, let alone Marx! Smith wrote that only the employer can and should decide who qualifies for a particular job. Conservatives, reactionaries, capitalists, fascists, and all too many bosses around the world still believe this and use almost every weapon in their arsenal to enforce this so-called right.

     57. The Smithian attempt to theorize the state as separate from bourgeois/capitalist civil society was not accepted as accurate by everyone. It was obvious to some that the British government was clearly on the side of those with property, namely those who owned of the means of production. Smith's admission that the state had certain responsibilities is well known; however, these governmental actions are actually ones that keep the putative self-regulating capitalist system going.

     58. Smith is smarter than many of those who claim him for hyper-capitalist projects, e.g., the former Regan and Thatcher administration members. It was reported that many members of the Reagan administrations and their allies in the Congress wore Adam Smith pins on their lapels. Perhaps it decorated the right lapel, with the US flag being relegated to the left side. According to Ehrenberg, "for all his faith in natural freedom and Markets, Smith knew that 'every improved and civilized society' was built on the debasement of the direct producers" (p. 107).

     59. Smith's political economy did not need as much overt political direction as its predecessors, because the power was within the capitalist system, that is, its employment contracts and other features. It could be said that Smith made it possible to have a less obvious "strong" state because the society was "strong" in terms of capitalist advantages built right into how daily life was conducted.

     60. The enforcement of capital's power was endemic to a hegemonic civil society in ways that came to seem the natural order of things to most people. Of course there were incarcerations, hangings, poor houses, and other instances of naked power in the civil society derived from Smith's theorizing; however, those who were its victims had not yet figured out clearly what was occurring, and certainly not what could or should be done.

     61. Ehrenberg ends his chapter five with a "sneak preview," one that serves to tempt the reader into reading on -- as s/he hopes that what is "to be continued" will portray how the proletariat come to "catch on" and start making plans to overcome the system that Smith et al. claimed was in their interests as well as for their "masters."17 "It would take the shattering effects of the French Revolution and the new world of industrial production in the nineteenth century to generate a theory of civil society fully appropriate to modern economics and politics" (p. 108).

     62. I am reminded of the old trade union song whose opening lyrics are: "Hold the fort for we are coming, union men [and women] be strong". Marx and the Marxists are coming!


     63. Peter Hallward's "Option Zero In Haiti" provides a poignant exclamation point to what I have presented thus far in this initial/introductory framework for further study on how and why civil society and arguments about it are important for educators and their allies who favor schooling-education for empowerment, justice, diversity, and altruism. The author explains how the Haitian crisis of early 2004 developed and the manner in which the so-called great powers dealt with it.

     64. In a section called "Return of the Old Guard" Hallward writes: "The Security Council resolution that mandated the invading Franco-American troops as a UN Multinational Interim Force on 29 February 2004 called for a follow-up UN Stabilization Force to take over three months later. In March, Kofi Annan duly sent his Special Advisor, John Reginald Dumas, and Hocine Medili, to assess the situation on the ground.

     65. The "Report of the Secretary-General on Haiti," published in April, took the obfuscatory euphemism of UN discourse to new levels. "It is unfortunate that, in its bicentennial year [of Haiti's independence after its war against the colonial power], Haiti had to call again on the international community to help it overcome a serious political and security situation," wrote Annan. The circumstances of the elected President's [Aristide] overthrow were decorously skirted. The Secretary-General merely noted that "Early on February 29, Mr. Aristide left the country." The toppling of the constitutional government was deemed to offer Haitians the opportunity of "a peaceful, democratic and locally owned future" (p. 45).18

     66. We must keep in mind that these powerful states all feature some forms of presidential or parliamentary democracies in which people do enjoy the franchise. Moreover, they are all capitalist countries featuring civil society characteristics celebrated by almost all of the enemies of radical socialism and its ideas about bona fide democracy.

     67. I remember what Jean-Paul Sartre had to say about Western imperialism during the Cold War when almost all the scribes in the West unremittingly criticized the Soviet Bloc and other communist countries for their lack of democracies and attendant freedoms. Sartre acknowledged that the criticisms had merit and that living in France was better for most than living in the USSR: however, when great power colonial policies and actions were taken into consideration, the latter did not look spectacularly more just than the various communist regimes.19

     68. Maurice Merleau-Ponty provides arguments that have common and supportive aspects with Sartre's views. Communism is criticized by its many opponents in terms of its "opposition between political realism and liberal values." However, Merleau-Ponty continues:

Communists reply that in democracies cunning, violence, propaganda, and realpolitik in the guise of liberal principles are the substance of foreign or colonial politics and even of domestic politics. Respect for law and liberty has served to justify police suppression of strikes in America; today [1947] it serves even to justify military suppression in Indochina or in Palestine and the development of an American empire in the Middle East. The material and moral culture of England presupposes the exploitation of the colonies. Thus there is a mystification in liberalism. Judging from history and by everyday events, liberal ideas belong to a system of violence of which, as Marx said, they are the "spiritual point d'honneur,' the 'solemn complement' and the 'general basis of justification and consolation."20

     69. It is frightening to realize that the Bush Jr. administration is so far to the hard right that it sought to make war in Iraq and elsewhere without the interference of a "left-leaning" UN. This in the wake of Annan's coming to office because the US insisted that Boutrous Galli was too independent and inimical to US interests. It appears now that the Bush administration is seeking some fig leaf to be provided by the UN because of the disaster the war on Iraq has become.



     70. Drawing from the abstract, this is the place to reiterate my hypothesis: capitalism has so saturated US civil society and its various cultures that the democratic Left(s) must conduct a sober and rigorous reassessment of the problems and possibilities as well as speak specifically to societal, educational, and schooling issues. I shall divide school and society for pragmatic reasons; however, I believe that these two are inextricably and organically related.

     71. The roles we play can be also conveniently generalized into a dualism, namely workers and citizens. However, because not everyone who lives in the US polity is a citizen it is necessary to clarify that people still must relate to both the economic and government entities that come together within the concept and reality called political economy. Therefore we must act in solidarity as workers who have some political/civil rights that can be used to make our overall lives better.

     72. Because I value Marx's work, it should not be surprising that I think we should always see ourselves in this way. Central to Marxist views and hopes is that an enlightened proletariat will use our leverage everywhere in order to overcome the regime of capital, including its imperative on our schools.

     73. My studies suggest that educators who believe in broadly inclusive and deep democracy would be well served to think through whether or not capitalism is compatible with authentic democracy. If it is not, perhaps the tradition of democratic Marxism is the best place to find ways to understand better this incompatibility so that teachers can develop strategies to infuse this recognition throughout their curriculum and practice. I am not speaking of crass indoctrination.

     74. Arguments about the fine line between enlightening and indoctrinating have been going on for many years, so there are precedents to rely on while facing the difficulties presented by the fine line. The reaction to George Counts, as a radical progressive during the 1930s, is a rich lode of ore to begin with in order to benefit from precedents. The Marxist tradition, including Freire, admits up front that all education is political. The ancient Greeks agreed.

     75. Because capitalism is a totalizing system it is warranted to argue that this system affects every part of daily life. It follows that curricula can be organized around students' needs -- if the current regime of destructive testing can be overcome. Furthermore, it is logical to assume that all of the various components of the curriculum, and its logically following pedagogy, can remain true to the various modes of inquiry that comprise the historical "subject matters."

     76. However, these powerful tools must be used directly on the problems and possibilities facing our students -- just as a radicalized Dewey would advise. The examples are plentiful about how this can be -- and already is being -- done. Rethinking Schools (<>), The Rouge Forum (<>), and the latter's website are good places where one can learn more about these progressive teaching practices.

     77. Many of my own students have questioned me, over the last forty-two years, about how these laudatory actions can be taken outside of social studies and literature classes. They have asked: What about math? Elementary reading and writing? Science? Physical education? Music? Art? I believe that were you to learn about my responses, none of them would be surprising.

     78. For example, let us apply rigorous mathematics to Bush Jr.'s "voodoo" economics. Enlightened science instruction could help students understand the differences between atoms for peace and for war. Music and art are rich in potential with regard to addressing the imperatives of capital and democracy on our schools.

     79. What I have written thus far may seem to be overly focused on social class and the economy. However, I do take the "politics of identity" seriously. Perhaps the following passage will help clarify what I claim:

     Nancy Fraser has been of assistance as I work conceptually on the dangerous divisions among democratic Leftists. Her analysis of the different injuries done to raced, classed, and gendered actors, as well as different remedies required, is helpful in order to construct a more realistic/complex citizen-worker -- the kind that I champion as the key to successful radical democratic agency . . . [S]he endeavors to unite the bases of identity politics with the universalist tradition of class-based democratic socialism.

     More specifically, she contrasts the logic of redistribution with that of civic and cultural recognition. She argues that whereas socialism aimed to abolish the proletarian condition, the new movements based on ethnicity [race], gender or sexual orientation often wish to maintain and assert a distinctive identity. In Fraser's view there are bound to be tensions between the politics of "difference" and the politics of equality. Yet . . . each needs the other. . . . Fraser realizes that the political economy and culture are inextricably related, therefore justice requires both redistribution and recognition. . . . [She] realizes that cultural recognition is, in fact, a form of redistribution; furthermore, redistributive remedies presuppose a conception of recognition, namely, the equal moral worth of everyone.21

     81. There can be no stone tablets, plays on the quarterback's wrist-band, specific marching orders from headquarters -- and no simplistic "lesson plans" for those of us who endeavor to help make revolutionary changes (for the better) in our civil society and its schools.

     82. What we require is an epistemological, philosophical, and political democracy comprised of the many who gather and sit around innumerable democratic round tables -- situated in ubiquitous Café(s) Pro Bono Publico -- places where we can make good talk that is aimed at effective praxis, namely collective actions that can put an end to the capitalist system as well its many forms of bossism.


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1 According to Meiksins Wood: "At a time when a critique of capitalism is more urgent than ever, the dominant theoretical trends on the left are busy conceptualizing away the very idea of capitalism. The 'post-modern' world, we are told, is a pastiche of fragments and 'difference'. The systemic unity of capitalism, its 'objective structures' and totalizing imperatives, have given way . . . to a bricolage of multiple social realities, a pluralistic structure so diverse and flexible that it can be rearranged by discursive construction. The traditional capitalist economy has been replaced by a 'post-Fordist' fragmentation, where every fragment [allegedly] opens up a space for emancipatory struggles. The constitutive class relations of capitalism represent only one personal 'identity' among others, no longer 'privileged' by its historic centrality. And so on. However diverse the methods of conceptually dissolving capitalism -- including everything from the theory of post-Fordism to post-modern 'cultural studies' and the 'politics of identity' -- they often share one especially serviceable concept: 'civil society'. After a long and somewhat torturous history, after a series of milestones in the work of Hegel, Marx and Gramsci, this versatile idea has become an all-purpose catchword for the left, embracing a wide range of emancipatory aspirations, as well -- it must be said -- as a whole set of reasons for political retreat. However constructive this idea may be in defending human liberties against state oppression, or in marking out a terrain of social practices, institutions and relations [supposedly] neglected by the 'old' Marxist left, 'civil society' is now in danger of becoming an alibi for capitalism." Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 238.

2 Carl Boggs has written: "Under the transformed and highly fluid conditions of post-Fordism . . . repoliticization demands a rethinking of some familiar dualisms -- between the social and political realms, between movements and parties, between community and governance, between local and global. Any effort to ignore or downplay the reality of new social movements and identity politics [in contrast to social class based politics alone] overlooks some unique transformative elements in the post-Fordist context and thus fails to grasp the essence of a revitalized politics for the future. Conversely, the glib celebration of "civil society" as an emancipatory realm directed against bureaucratic state power not only sidesteps the issue of corporate colonization but also oversimplifies the nature of both state and civil society insofar as the boundaries that now presumably exist between the two are increasingly blurred.  . . . Only through general popular engagements in the public sphere, leading to democratic transformation of both civil society and the state, can we imagine the kind of political renewal needed to sustain 'deep citizenship' and confront major social problems." The End of Politics: Corporate Power and the Decline of the Public Sphere (New York London: The Guilford Press, 2000), p. 255.

3 Robert Kuttner, "The Ideological Imposter," in The Best Political Writing 2003, ed. Royce Flippin (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2003), p. 63.

4 Ibid., 65.

5 Readers may be interested in two books by Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, who provide more context for what is presented above. The New Class War: Reagan's Attack on The Welfare State and Its Consequences (1982) and Why Americans Don't Vote (1988). It would be interesting to learn what Piven and Cloward would write about the egregious destruction of votes that were actually cast in Florida, especially in the presidential "election" of 2000.

6 "What Is Civil Society?," New Politics (Summer 2001, Volume 8, Number 3, pp. 175-179).

7 "Civil Society, The Class State, Radical Agency, And Our Schools," Philosophical Studies In Education (Atlanta, GA: The Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society, 1996), pp. 47-8.

8 Michael Parenti addresses the attempts to "marketize" the former Soviet Bloc in Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1997). See especially chapters 6, "The Free-Market Paradise Goes East (I), and 7, the sequel numbered (II). These chapters demonstrate the repression unleashed by reactionaries on people who have lived behind the "Iron Curtain." All of this in the name of "democratic reforms." Privileges for those who enjoyed them before communist rule have been restored. Moreover, the "East" has been opened up for Western investors to "plunder" what had been the public sectors in these countries. Parenti describes "free market rapacity and growing inequality, widespread crime, social maladies, and victimization, especially of women, children, the elderly, and the poor" (p. xiv).

9 For more about neo-Tocquevilleans and insightful critiques in the form of review essays, see: 1. Daniel Lazare, "L'Amérique, Mon Amour," The Nation, April 26, 2004, Vol. 278, No. 16, pp. 24-31. 2. Garry Wills, "Did Tocqueville 'Get' America?", The New York Review, April 29, 2004, Vol. 51, No. 7, pp. 52-56.

10 For an exposé of NCLB, see Alexander Sidorkin, "Panopticon of a Second Kind: Self-Reforming During the Era of Excellence," Journal of Thought, Summer 2004, Vol. 39, No. 2, pp. 17-33. My own Marxist analysis of the high stakes tests that are being pushed by the Bush Jr. administration and all too many Democrats is entitled: "High Stakes Tests: Reasons To Strive For Better Marx." It appears in: 1. Notes & Abstracts in American and International Education, Fall 2003, number 96, pp. 1-22, and 2. The Journal For Critical Educational Policy Studies, Vol. 1 No. 2, October 2003, <>.

11 1. Garry Wills' Reagan's America (New York: Penguin, 1985) provides a fascinating look at the fortieth president. This includes his life, politics, and the consequences of Reaganism. 2. The Nation, June 28, 2004, Volume 278, Number 25, pp. 3-9, features evaluations by writers of what the journal's editors call "The Real Reagan Legacy."

12 Chapter nine, "Eruptions of the Democratic Imperative: Europe and the US Before 1932," and chapter ten, "The US After 1932: Democratic Eruptions, Reaction and the Power of the Status Quo," in my book, A Radical Democratic Critique of Capitalist Education (1994), may be helpful for understanding better these phenomena.

13 Meiksins Wood explains in Democracy Against Capitalism that the polis was distinct because a union between laborer and citizen existed in the peasant citizen -- a person who had his own land and the protection of citizenship. She contrasts this with conditions under capitalism. The protections of contemporary citizenship, while undoubtedly important, do not alter the fact that the proletariat -- all of us who have nothing but our labor to offer-must enter into a contract with the capitalist, one that is disadvantantageous and exploitative for the laborer. The proletariat has no property/land to fall back on!

Nowhere . . . was the typical pattern of division between rulers and producers broken as completely as it was in Athenian democracy. No explanation of Athenian political and cultural development can be complete that fails to take account of this distinctive formation. Although political conflicts between democrats and oligarchs in Athens never neatly coincided with a division between appropriating and producing classes, a tension remained between citizens who had an interest in restoring an aristocratic monopoly of political status and those who had an interest in resisting it, a division between citizens for whom the state would serve as a means of appropriation [of the fruits of others' labor] and those for whom it served as a protection from exploitation. There remainedan opposition between those who were interested in restoring the division between rulers and producers and those who were not. The opposition is nowhere more visible than in the classics of Greek philosophy. To put the point baldly: the division between rulers and producers is the fundamental principle of Plato's philosophy, not just his political thought but also his epistemology (pp. 190-191).

In modern times a less radical idea of democracy was established. The foundation of the US is perhaps the prime example of this turn. "The achievement of formal democracy and [almost] universal suffrage certainly represented tremendous historical advances, but it turned out that capitalism offered a new solution to the age-old problem of rulers and producers. It was no longer necessary to embody the division between privilege and labor in political division between appropriating rulers and laboring subjects, now democracy could be confined to a formally separate 'political' sphere while the 'economy' followed rules of its own. If the extent of the citizen body could no longer be restricted, the scope of citizenship could now be narrowly contained, even without constitutional limits" (p. 203). I cannot resist the temptation to ask how Bush Jr.'s pronouncement of 'giving "democracy" to Iraq would play to those who understand what Meiksins Wood provides in her work.

14 I have analyzed some of the issues that were and are contested between the political philosophers of capitalism and Marxism in A Radial Democratic Critique of Capitalist Education. The most relevant chapters are: three, "Adam Smith's Theory of Capitalism: The Critique of Rousseau and Marx," four, "The Regime of Capital: Myth and Reality," and five, "Schumpeter's Apologia Contrasted to Rousseau's and Marx's Radical Democracy." For an analysis of the central state's role in relation to political economy and civil society, see chapter two.

15 Harvey J. Kaye has written two books that provide important contexts for what Ehrenberg has written above. See his The British Marxist Historians (1984) and The Education of Desire (1992). I have written an essay review of the second book in Educational Studies (Spring 1994, volume 25, number 1, pp. 50-55).

16 As I was studying in preparation for this work, I read a headline in the Milwaukee Journal- Sentinel: "Stocks Spiral Downward As Job Numbers Climb."

17 For a clear helpful analysis of how capitalism must be recognized for what it is by the primary producers et al. in order to overcome it, see: Michael A. Lebowitz, "What Keeps Capitalism Going?" Monthly Review, June 2004, Vol. 56, No. 2, pp. 19-25. This article is a sequel to his "Ideology and Economic Development" in the same journal, May 2004, Vol. 56, No. 1, pp. 14-24.

18 This article appeared in the New Left Review, 27 May/June 2004, pp. 23-47.

19 For example, see Sartre's preface to Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of The Earth (1961).

20 Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Humanism and Terror, Boston: Beacon Press, 1947, pp. xiii-xiv.

21 See my "Issues and Arguments Concerning Class, Gender, Race, and Other 'Identities,'" Educational Studies, Winter 2000, Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 394-406. The passage cited appears on 396-397.



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