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In our crowded, noisy worldtoo many people, too much crime, too many wars, not enough timeit seems almost impossible to locate and preserve the common ground where a civil society might flourish. Whatever happened to the civic virtue and community life that nourished true democracy?
In this provocative, hard-hitting book, political scientist Benjamin Barber tackles these questions head-on and, in answering them, retrieves the ideals of "civil society" from the nostalgists who want to re-create old-fashioned (and discriminatory) small communities and from the free-marketeers who associate it with unfettered commercial activity. Commentators have been making a fashion of civil society, but they tend to mean many different things by the phrase: this bracingly clear book shows how diverse the various notions are and how best to think about them.
Barber proposes practical strategies for making civil society real, for civilizing public discourse and promoting civic debate, and for affirming values beyond those of work and leisure, commerce and bureaucracy.