and privatizes power it turns away from accountability and re sponsibility

And privatizes power it turns away from

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and privatizes power, it turns away from accountability and re- sponsibility altogether, trusting in market forces defined by self- interest to take good care of the public interests it has abandoned. In the first instance, it shares power ; in the second, it abjures power . It is a robust government devoted to federalism that decen- tralizes power and forges government—civil society partnerships, asking volunteers to act as citizens who share with their govern- ment the responsibility for solving public local problems and forg- ing common neighborhood interests . It is a slack and irresponsible government that privatizes power, asking volunteers to do by them- selves all the things governments are elected to do and that indi- viduals, however good-willed, lack the resources to do. A government that shares responsibility through decentralizing power acts as a facilitator and instrument of civil society : an entity that nourishes, protects, and encourages robust civic activity and, when the central character of power and the national or global - character of problems demand it, acts on behalf of the citizenry. Democratic central government is, in other words, civil society organized for common action . It is civil society when it picks up its law code and straps on its pistol and, legitimized and authorized by its popular mandate, becomes the sovereign . Government is civil society's common arm, just as civil society is government's animating body . Above all, it is this critical relationship between participation and power that leads me to favor the strong democratic idea of civil society over its two rivals . The strong democratic idea allows civil society to reemerge as a mediating, civic republican domain be- tween the overgrown governmental and the metastasizing private sectors, between the thin liberal conception of citizenship (which " cannot inspire the sense of community and civic engagement that liberty requires, " as Sandel puts it) and the thick but dense and suffocating communitarian identity (which endangers liberty and equality) . Moreover, strong democracy does this without further alienating citizens from their democratic governing institutions or assailing government as something wholly foreign to civil society. Critics of big government think the only way to shrink it is to cede power and privilege to the private sector, but this abdication of power and public responsibility means either privatization, with heroic individuals and responsible corporations taking on the en- tire burden of the public weal, or a surrender to hegemonic com- munitarian parochialism, with communities inflicting their values and social relations on everything . By the same token, critics of the market sector believe that the only way to regulate and contain its corruptions is to expand government, but while this will cer- tainly help to regulate monopolies and to domesticate private power (worthy causes!), it can encroach on civic turf if too zealous.

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