Civility and Citizenship in Liberal Democratic Societiesby Edward C. Banfield
Professor Banfield states that
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How do civility and citizenship, aspects of the individual’s attachment to a liberal democratic society, affect the nature and future of that society? This book reminds us of the fragility of a good political order and the complexities of maintaining liberal democracy, even when actions of citizens are wise and virtuous.
Professor Banfield states that history and reflection tell us that a majority may tyrannize cruelly over a minority. What we want is not majority rule simply, but majority rule plus the protection of certain rights that pertain to individuals. This is the difference between democracy and liberal democracy; in the latter there is a private sphere into which the governing authority may not intrude.
Citizenship implies a sense of shared responsibility for the conduct of a regime; a regime is fully liberal but less than fully democratic if rights are protected but significant numbers of persons are denied, or decline to accept and exercise, the duties of citizenship. It will be found that by this test the number of nations that approach the ideal of liberal democracy–that are at once very liberal and democratic–is painfully small and that the most liberal are not those in which citizenship is most widely held and exercised.
If a liberal democratic society is to continue as such there must be widely respected institutions, practices, and modes of thought that encourage or demand the making of concessions where necessary to preserve the degree of harmony without which the society could not continue as a going concern. The obligation of the citizen to obey the law is one such safeguard of order. The idea of civic virtue is another. Civility, the culturally ingrained willingness to tolerate behavior that is offensive, is yet another.
Meet the Author
EDWARD C. BANFIELD was born in Bloomfield, Connecticut on November 19, 1916. He married Laura Fasano in 1938, who helped him produce the renowned book, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (1958). Banfield died in East Montpelier, Vermont on September 30, 1999. Banfield worked for the Farm Security Administration and other federal agencies during the New Deal before entering the University of Chicago, where he earned his Ph.D in political science. He taught there and at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania. He served as an advisor to President Richard M. Nixon and authored numerous studies on poverty, urban planning, policy, and politics, and American governance generally. Banfield’s scholarship drew upon many sources, including his employment with the federal government and his readings in philosophy, history, sociology, and economics. Written in clear and often blunt prose, Banfield’s works attracted attention both within and without academia. Though many years have passed since they were first written, readers still will find Banfield's books insightful and intellectually provocative. (from http://www.kevinrkosar.com/Edward-C-Banfield/ with permission.)
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