chapter  7
23 Pages

Opening Up a Public Space

ByAlain Touraine

The liberal idea is quite convincing when it combines a definition of basic rights with recognition of the social obstacles and forms of domination that destroy them, which it has often done. Democracy becomes corrupt and loses its sense of direction both when the political system invades civil society and the state, and when the political system is destroyed by a state that claims to be in direct contact with the people or to be a direct expression of social demands. The corporatist or totalitarian state is a threat to democracy; but a different threat emerges when the political system invades either the domain of the state or that of civil society. The direct social criticisms of the welfare state are less serious. The central importance of the personal subject's liberty and an awareness of the public preconditions for private liberty are the two elementary principles of democracy.