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 abjurespower. 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 irresponsiblegovernment 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 decentralizingpower acts as a facilitator and instrument of civil society: an entitythat 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 societyorganized for common action. It is civil society when it picks upits law code and straps on its pistol and, legitimized and authorizedby its popular mandate, becomes the sovereign. Government iscivil society's common arm, just as civil society is government'sanimating body.Above all, it is this critical relationship between participation andpower that leads me to favor the strong democratic idea of civilsociety over its two rivals. The strong democratic idea allows civilsociety to reemerge as a mediating, civic republican domain be-tween the overgrown governmental and the metastasizing privatesectors, between the thin liberal conception of citizenship (which"cannot inspire the sense of community and civic engagement thatliberty requires,"as Sandel puts it) and the thick but dense andsuffocating communitarian identity (which endangers liberty andequality). Moreover, strong democracy does this without furtheralienating citizens from their democratic governing institutions orassailing government as something wholly foreign to civil society.Critics of big government think the only way to shrink it is to cedepower and privilege to the private sector, but this abdication ofpower and public responsibility means either privatization, withheroic 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 valuesand social relations on everything. By the same token, critics ofthe market sector believe that the only way to regulate and containits corruptions is to expand government, but while this will cer-tainly help to regulate monopolies and to domesticate privatepower (worthy causes!), it can encroach on civic turf if too zealous.