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Global Civil Society: strategic comments on the path ahead


Global Civil Society
Basis for following comments
Strategic metaphors
Descriptor vs Political movement
Who defines civil society?
Frameworks for disagreement: beyond polarization
Hard decisions
"Gated communities"
Exclusive appropriation
Gaian democracies
What next?
Related papers

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The document Global Civil Society: the path ahead (2002) by David Korten, Nicanor Perlas and Vandana Shiva, is much to be appreciated as presenting a coherent statement inviting discussion at a critical period in the evolution of understanding about civil society and the alternatives to the dominant worldview. It offers a valuable counterweight to the arguments in support of that worldview and the strategies that it supports. It could also be considered a convenient summary of the arguments of Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World Is Possible (2002) by the International Forum on Globalization.

The organization of these comments focuses first on the strategic metaphors which appear to frame the advocated approach. The use of "global civil society" by the authors to describe a political movement is then contrasted with its use as a descriptor of the diversity characteristic of the ecosystem of civil society bodies. Concern is then expressed regarding the need for frameworks of disagreement to move beyond the polarization which characterizes the authors' presentation. Questions are then raised as to whether the approach to governance provides for the capacity to make "hard decisions". The authors' recommendation for transitional protected zones for new kinds of socio-economic experiment is then disucssed in contrast to mainstream "gated communities". Finally concern is expressed regarding a disappointing tendency towards exclusive appropriation of positive attributes by the "global civil society" movement.