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La comunità liberale

Anno XXII, n. 98, luglio-settembre 1987
Centro Einaudi


The liberal community

While definitions of liberalism may be many and various, some have characteristics than can, in no way, be given up: for example, the definition which postulates the distinction between state and civil society. The defence of the autonomy of the economic sphere from state intervention stems from this separation (although liberalism has progressively abandoned its minimum state hypothesis which, despite Nozick's ideas, is no longer feasible). Moreover, if it is true that civil society has less and less scope, this does not mean automatically that the state should have more. New structures, such as the 'technological universe', are emerging: albeit not belonging to the state, they counter civil society in that they are not determined by the activity of citizens as a whole and also use their own particular languages which are not easily accessible to the outsider. All this represents a danger to the liberal community which is instead based upon dialogue open to all citizens, and upon the willingness of such citizens to agree upon the presuppositions and scope of the discussion, according to Ackerman's formulation. The liberal community, therefore, is feasible not by virtue of certain institutions but by virtue of the characteristics of the individuals which go together to create it.