Liberalismen och privat/offentligt-distinktionen

I artikeln European Liberalisms: An Essay in Comparative Political Thought (en inte alltför upphetsande text) skriver Michael Freeden [s. 25–26]:

The other issue relating to civil society is the identification of what is public and what is private. Hegel understood better than most that civil society has features of both. If the public is the domain of the state, then civil society is private, in the sense of voluntary and non-regulated. If the family is the domain of the private, then civil society is public, in the sense of interacting networks between any number of individuals whose affairs become socially visible. The acuteness of the public–private distinction is hence somewhat misleading and that has significant repercussions for liberalism. As Mill already knew, the crucial issue is that of harm, not of the mere impact on others. And harm can occur within all spheres of human activity; hence the state as regulator of the general good requires access to all spheres, even to the family, a site where the abuse of power may occur. What liberals value is the construction of screens against the public gaze; what they also need to appreciate – as liberal feminists have – is that any screen can be an invitation to commit misdeeds behind it.

European Journal of Political Theory, Vol. 7, No. 1, p. 9-30 (2008).


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