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Civil Society—From Hegel to World Bank and Beyond


Has our romance with civil society been coming to an end? Neera
Chandhoke the well-known Indian authority on civil society would
like to put it in its place: ‘The civil society argument has now been
around for about 25 years. The problems of the world remain as
intractable, even as the numbers of agents who seek to negotiate
the ills of human condition have expanded exponentially….. Is it
time that we begin to consider the role of civil society? Is it time to
once again put civil society in its place?’1

There is an illusion that developed purposefully around the concept

of civil society two decades ago. By the advent of globalization era
the concept of social capital has gained prominence and civil
society has been the terrain where the social capital is invested and
made as facilitator of the market economy. The initial attempt to
marginalize the nation-state by pitting the civil society against it has
made the latter category to come back into the discourse of social
sciences with all vigour. Much reliance has been placed on the
transformative capacity of civil society. Now the sojourn is coming
to an end as the limitations of civil society have been realized by the
theoreticians. In fact according to Zygmunt Bauman, the society
itself is becoming a zombie category and instead of citizen,
consumer is the stark reality.

^ Senior lawyer based in Guntur, AP, India, and Spl. Public Prosecutor, Tsundur Carnage Case.
Author of Sacco-Vanzetti and NGOla Katha (both in Telugu). Published several articles in Telugu
and English on human rights issues and philosophy and engaged in writing critique of the rights
discourse. This paper was presented in a national seminar at Dravidian University, Kuppam, AP in
August, 2010. Author’s mail ID:

Chandhoke, Neera. 2009. ‘Putting Civil Society in its Place’. Economic & Political Weekly February
14, 2009 Vol. XLIV No 7: 12-16.

The theoretical illusion woven by many leftist intellectuals around

the concept of civil society is partly a product of interpretation of
the civil society in Gramsci’s writings. The interpretative
transmogrification of the civil society since Gramsci had resulted in
the illusions that took away its economic essence of pivotal
importance and reducing it to the status of a superstructural
category. Most writers on civil society agree that civil society has an
institutional core constituted by voluntary associations outside the
sphere of the state and the economy. Such associations range from
churches, cultural associations, sport clubs and debating societies to
independent media, academics, groups of concerned citizens, grass-
roots initiatives and organizations of gender, race and sexuality, all
the way to occupational associations, political parties and labour
unions.2 The concept became handy for intellectuals and activists of
varied ideological persuasions: socialists opposed globalizing
corporate networks, global society theorists disenchanted with the
nation-state, critiques of the development state, protagonists of free
market economy, communitarians articulating concerns about
community life, leaders of people’s movements of various sorts and
even those critical of representative democracy itself.3

Correspondingly for the right and the left, for the World Bank and
the ‘ultra-left’ human rights discourse is very dear. It is the civil
society in which people are organized for rights and entitlements in
this rights-obsessed world in the process of which human rights
have been turned from a discourse of rebellion and dissent into that
of state legitimacy4. Political theorists and pundits of all stripes
repeatedly and almost automatically assert that at the root of all the
political/ social ailments of countries as diverse as Saudi Arabia,
Russia, and Zimbabwe is the absence (or the weakness) of civil

Flyvbjerg, Bent. 2008. “Habermas and Foucault: thinkers for civil society?”. Brit.Jnl. of
Sociology June 1998 Vol.49 No.2.
Jayaram, N. 2005. “Civil Society: An Introduction to the Discourse’ in N.Jayaram (ed.), On
Civil Society: Issues and Perspectives, pp. 15-42. New Delhi: SAGE Publications.
Douzinas, Costas. 2000. The End of Rights, pp.7. Oxford: Hart Publishing.

society5. The World Bank prescribes building civil society as a

solution to the ‘problems’ in/with ‘rogue’ countries. The NGO sector
with titles such as global civil society, global social movement, has
its cameo appearance in the international conferences. It is
considered as the third domain6, the two other being the nation-
state and the supra nation-state-UNO. Thus civil society has been
regarded as an aim to be achieved and an ideal to be
institutionalised with all our energies in our countries.

Is this the way to understand civil society and fall in love with it? Is it
an ideal to be built up or a target to be destroyed for the sake of
nature and mankind? This paper attempts to trace genealogy of the
concept of civil society right from Hegel down to the present day
and portrays the postmodern ‘society’ using Baumanian diagnosis.

One of the most important aspects of Hegel’s political theory is his
extensive treatment of civil society in the Philosophy of Right which
is his laborious and painstaking system of political and social
philosophy. Hegel was the first thinker of the modern German
tradition to recognize the importance of economics for social,
political and cultural life7. In the early modern era the term ‘civil
society’ had a very general meaning. It referred to society in so far
as it is governed by laws; civil society was therefore contrasted to
the state of nature. By the eighteenth century, however, the term
began to acquire its more narrow contemporary meaning. It now
refers to one aspect of modern society, namely a capitalist
economy, society in so far as it is based on private enterprise, free
markets and modern forms of production and exchange. It is in this

Fontana, Benedetto, 2006. ‘Liberty and Domination: civil society in Gramsci’ in boundary 2
2006 Vol.33 No.2: pp.57-74.
Chandhoke, Neera. 2003. Conceits of Civil Society, pp. 70-89. New Delhi: Oxford University
Press. This book gives a detailed account of the march of NGO sector along with the rise of the
global markets and the reappearance of the concept of civil society.
Beiser, Frederick, 2005. Hegel, pp.243. New York: Routledge.

more narrow and modern sense that Hegel uses the term 8 for the
first time in his last edition of Philosophy of Right in 1821. Up to his
immediate predecessors civil society was used to indicate political
society, to mean pre-political society, that is, the phase of human
society which up to that time was called natural society9.

According to Hegel’s system, civil society is subsumed under the

category of ethical life. Ethical life consists in three fundamental
moments: family (immediate unity); civil society (difference); and
the state (unity in difference), where all the differences of civil
society are retained within a more integrated and organized whole.

Hegel begins his treatment of civil society by baldly stating its two
leading principles. Firstly, the pursuit of self interest. In civil society
every one seeks their own good, regarding every one else simply as
a means for their own ends. Secondly, everyone satisfies his self-
interest only if he also works to satisfy the self-interest of others.
Hence people relate to one another strictly on the basis of mutual
self-interest. Since they see public life only as a means to satisfy
their own ends, Hegel describes civil society as the stage of ‘the
alienation of ethical life’.

Hegel placed great value on civil society chiefly because he

considered it a necessary stage in the development of freedom. He
saw civil society as another manifestation of the fundamental
principle of the modern world: the right of subjectivity and individual
freedom. Hence he praised its many liberties: equality of
opportunity, the right to pursue one’s self interest, and the freedom
to buy and sell goods in the market place…….. Still, the freedom of
civil society is not freedom in the full and positive sense; it is only a
form of negative liberty, i.e. the right to pursue my interests
independent of the interference of others10.
Ibid, pp.244.
Bobbio, Norberto. 1979. ‘Gramsci and the conception of civil society’ in Chantal Mouffe
(ed.), Gramsci & Marxist Theory, pp.21-47. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Beiser, Frederick, 2005. Hegel, pp.245. New York: Routledge

In defending his portrait of civil society, he was defiant of his old

master Jean-Jaques Rousseau for whom there is more freedom in life
of prescription which gives power to satisfy our natural need in
contrast to civil society which takes away that power and makes us
to be dependant on others to satisfy even our natural needs and
makes us to acquire new artificial needs.

Hegel insists that freedom involves the power to liberate ourselves

from our natural needs and to act according to rational principles. In
civil society we begin to liberate ourselves from nature through
work, which gives us the power to form objects according to our own
concepts. Since we have to make ourselves useful to others to
satisfy our own needs, we are forced to develop talents and skills.
Rousseau condemned artificial needs because they undermine our
natural independence; but Hegel celebrated them because they are
the product of our own free activity rather than nature11. Given the
natural inequalities in skills and resources what people receive from
civil society is in direct proportion to what they bring into the
market. In Hegel’s writings it becomes clear that the individual need
for recognition (and hence existence) is attained through the
recognition of property. Indeed, for Hegel property in the realm of
civil society takes the place of love in the realm of family 12. Thus
civil society for Hegel, apart from other less important things, is
predominantly area of operation of self seeking atoms -- homo
aeconomicus connected merely by ties of self-interest and their
economic transactions. The political for them is the state which is
the generalized community since communitarian beingness has
been alienated to form the state. Hegel was not too uncritical about

Thus, the movement of mankind from nature to human has been heralded by modernity and
the human reason has been installed in the sovereign epicenter of the world. Hegel celebrates the
same. Of course, Marx also follows the suit.
Selingam, Adam B. 1998. ‘Between Public and Private: Towards a sociology of Civil Society’
in Robert W. Hefner (ed.), Democratic Civility: The History and Cross-Cultural Possibility of a
Modern Political Ideal, pp.79-112. New Brunswick, N.J: Transaction Publishers.

such civil society. He proposed that the state should control it. For
him civil society was ‘a wild beast that needs a constant and strict
taming and mastery’, and the master-the state could, apart from
taking up several social welfare measures, go to the extent of
creating new markets for industry through colonization13

Like Hegel, for Karl Marx civil society is the realm of economic
relations. But, unlike Hegel, Marx had a definite conception that civil
society is part of the structure but not superstructure. Instead of the
state taming the forces of civil society, the vice versa is true as the
state is, for Marx, part of the superstructure. Referring to the
Hegel’s analysis of civil society Marx in his Critique of political
economy specifies that ‘the anatomy of civil society is to be sought
in political economy’. ‘Civil society embraces the whole material
intercourse of individuals within a definite stage of the development
of productive forces. It embraces the whole commercial and
industrial life of a given stage and, in so far, transcends the State
and the nation, though, on the other hand again, it must assert itself
in its foreign relations as nationality and inwardly must organize
itself as State’. The latter is the guarantor of security to the
individual. The concept of security, wrote Marx in On the Jewish
Question,14 does not raise the civil society above its egoism. On the
contrary, security is the insurance of its egoism. ‘None of the so-
called rights of man, therefore, go beyond egoistic man, beyond
man as a member of civil society, that is an individual withdrawn
into himself, into the confines of his private interests and private
caprice, and separated from the community. In the rights of man, he
is far from being conceived as a species-being; on the contrary,

Beiser, Frederick, 2005. Hegel, pp.250. New York: Routledge.
Collected Works, 1975. Vol.3 pp.164. Moscow:Progress Publishers. Marx uses the concept of
civil society in his critique of Hegel and German idealism, in such writings as ‘ On Jewish
Question’, ‘Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction’, and
‘Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts’.

species-life itself, society, appears as a frame work external to

individuals, as a restriction of their original independence. The sole
bond holding them together is the natural necessity, need and
private interest, the preservation of their property and their egoistic
selves’15. Marx elaborated the distinction between the citizen and
the man. The former is the political man relevant to the state and
the latter is an apolitical man pervading the civil society. Marx sees
the civil society an arena of the non-political. ‘The political
emancipation is at the same time the dissolution of the old society
on which the state alienated from the people, the sovereign power,
is based’ (166). For him the political revolution abolished the
political character of civil society. It broke up civil society in to its
simple components parts; on the one hand, the individuals; on the
other hand, the material and spiritual elements constituting the
content of life and social position of these individuals. It set free the
political spirit, which had been, as it were, split up, partitioned and
dispersed in the various blind alleys of feudal society. It gathered
the dispersed parts of the political spirit, freed it from its
intermixture with civil life, and established it as a sphere of the
community, the general concern of the nation, ideally independent
of the particular elements of civil life.(166)

But the completion of idealism of the state was at the same time the
completion of materialism of the civil society. Throwing off the
political yoke meant at the same time throwing off the bonds which
restrained the egoistic spirit of the civil society. Political
emancipation was at the same time the emancipation of civil society
from politics, from having even the semblance of a universal

The liberty of the egoistic man and the recognition of this liberty,
however, is rather the recognition of the unrestrained movement of

Ibid, pp.164

the spiritual and material elements which form the content of his
life. (167)

Political emancipation is the reduction of man, on the one hand, to a

member of civil society, to an egoistic, independent individual, and
on the other hand, to a citizen, a juristic person. (168)

Only when the real, individual man re-absorbs in himself the

abstract citizen, and as an individual human being has become a
species-being16 in his every day life, in his particular work, and in his
particular situation, only when man has recognized and organized
his “own powers” as social forces, and consequently no longer
separates social power from himself in the shape of political power,
only then will human emancipation have been accomplished (169).
The realization of what Marx calls ‘true democracy’ entails,
according to his analysis, overcoming the alienation between the
individual and the political community, through resolving the
dichotomy between the ‘egoistic’ interests of individuals in civil
society and the ‘social’ character of political life. This can only be
achieved by effecting concrete changes in the relations between
state and society, such that what at present only ideal (universal
political participation) becomes actual17.

Hence in Marx’s analysis the civil society was a Hobbesian

nightmare of isolated and aggressive individuals, bound together
precariously by cash nexus18, and unlike in Hegel who celebrated it,
it is to be targeted and destroyed. It is a problem to be solved. In it
there can not be any basking for the human. But this civil society

Loss of species being is the problem identified by many modern philosophers from Marx to
the contemporary communitarians who began their career in 1960s in USA. But the thing is that
none of these thinkers and movements could realize that the species-being of human being is not
just within itself and the communitarian beingness that existed hitherto was a communitarian
beingness of the whole cosmos in which human was a part and an unconscious part.
Giddens. Anthony, 1998. Capitalism & Modern Social Theory, pp.6. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Femia, Joseph. 2001. ‘Civil society and Marxist Tradition’ in Kaviraj, Sudipta & Sunil
Khilnani, Civil Society: History and Possibilities, pp.131-146. Cambridge: Cambridge University

has slowly become heart throb of the sociologists and rights

activists and identiticians. At the same time the world market forces
have grasped the real content of it and proposing building up of civil
society in Hegelian terms as a panacea to the ailments of the third
world. Along the civil society Social capital (the ensemble of self
centered individuals yearning for enrichment), an idea that was
virtually unheard of outside a small circle of academic social
scientists until 1995, has gained currency worldwide. It has come to
be described by Grootaert, a World Bank expert as ‘the missing link
in the development’.19. The micro credit organized among the folk
women is the best example of making dents into the rural society to
spin out economic humans out of the rural masses. Identititicians
are the other best example to pursue self interests of the atomistic
individuals whose sole aim is self aggrandizement. Civil society is
celebrated term for the progressivisms of all kind. The root of the
problem lies with Gramsci.

Gramsci bypassed Marx and hijacked civil society from the domain
of the structure to that of the superstructure. According to Chantel
Mouffe, he was one with Hegel in this regard and Bobbio attributes
the deviance to his Hegelian upbringing20. Gramsci revised Marx’s
concept of civil society as a structure of individuated persons and
their self centered commercial transactions to that of superstructure
consisting of ideological and cultural domain. Although Gramsci
continues to use the term to refer to the private or non-state
sphere, including the economy, his picture of civil society is very
different from that of Marx. It is not simply a sphere of individual
needs but of organizations, and has the potential of rational self-
regulation and freedom. Gramsci insists on its complex organization,
Harris. John, 2001. Depoliticising Development, pp.1. New Delhi:Leftword.
Ibid, pp.141.

as the organizations commonly called ‘private’ where hegemony

and ‘spontaneous consent’ are organized21.

Thus Gramsci transformed the civil society from the domain of

target in Marx to that of a domain where in hegemony can be
exercised by the forces destined to have power. Thus he made the
target of attack into a malleable domain of manipulation by
ideological indoctrination and confrontation. Cohen and Arato in a
well known definition, refer to a ‘third realm’ differentiated from the
economy and the state as ‘civil society’22. Seeking to distinguish civil
from political associations, some have argued that the goal of
organizations in civil society should be seen as the generation of
influence, not the conquest of power23. But, even scholar like Neera
Chandhoke in her maiden book on the civil society in 1995 argued
with all passion that armed with these weapons--- rights, rule of law,
freedom and citizenship---civil society becomes a site for the
production of a critical rational discourse which possesses the
potential to interrogate the state.24 Even the left along with the right
eulogized civil society and thus rights discourse and identity
movements within the sphere of Marxism. Invoked at the same time
as the diagnosis and as the cure for current ills, deployed by
conservatives, liberals, and radical utopians alike by oppositional
movements and by international aid donors, civil society has
become an ideological rendezvous for erstwhile antagonists. It is
championed across the globe as ‘the idea of the late twentieth
century’25.The activity around civil society in the third world
contributed to the dismantling of communitarian/state of nature
Gramsci, A. 1971. Selections from Prison Notebooks, pp.12-13. London: Lawrence and
Cohen, Jean L. 1992. Civil Society and Political Theory, pp.18. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Elliot, Carolyn M. 2003. ‘Civil Society and Democracy: A Comparative Review Essay’, in
Carolyn M. Elliot (ed.), Civil Society and Democracy: A Reader, pp.83-105. New Delhi: Oxford
University Press.
Chandhoke, Neera. 1995, State and Civil Society: Explorations in Political Theory, pp.9. New
delhi: SAGE Publications. Later, being disillusioned she argued differently.
National Humanities Center,1992, pp.1. North Corolina: Humanities Research Center,
Research Triangle Park. Quoted in Khilnani, Sunil. 2001, ‘The development of civil society’ in
Kaviraj, Sudipta & Sunil Khilnani, Civil Society: History and Possibilities, pp.11-32. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.

existence in the third world and fall pray to the jargon of democratic
politics and marketise peoples’ lives and shattering human bonds to
spin out atomistic and self centered individuals. Disempowerment of
the communities and corporatisation of the individual has ensued.
The artificial juristic person—corporation, has become the ideal he
and the guiding rationale of the individual. And marketisation of
human relations with outsourcing of parenting and
commercialization of old-age welfare are few examples of this
squalor of postmodern condition.

None lent their ears to the pertinent question posed by some

scholars26: Is the civil society discourse a part of the neo-liberal
politics of globalization? Why there is no discourse ‘to emancipate
people from the instrumental rationality of the market’ though the
Habermasian emancipation of ‘life world’ from the instrumental
rationality of the state is yet again on the card. For intrinsic to the
civil society argument was the demand for property rights and the
free market27. Hence, the biggest gainer of the civil society
discourse is the world market forces under the leadership of the
World Bank --its political actor as ‘in the “earthly” existence of civil
society, he acts as a private individual, treating other human beings
as a means to his own end, and even reducing himself to a means,
the plaything of “alien”, market forces28 and ‘fall pray to the
unsocial nature of civil life, of private property, trade, industry, and
the mutual plundering of different civil groups… this debasement,
this slavery of civil society is the natural foundation on which the
modern state rests’29. ‘Social Capital’ and the closely related idea of

Ibid. See also Chandhoke, Neera. 2003. ‘A Critique of the Notion of Civil Society’ in Rajesh
Tandon and Ranjit Mohanty (ed.), ‘Does Civil Society Matter?: Governance in Contemporary
India’, New Delhi: SAGE Publications
Chandhoke, Neera. 2003. ‘A Critique of the Notion of Civil Society’ in Rajesh Tandon and
Ranjit Mohanty (ed.), ‘Does Civil Society Matter?: Governance in Contemporary India’, pp 27-
58. New Delhi: SAGE Publications.
Marx, Karl. 1844. “Critical Notes on “The King of Prussia and Social Reform”’ in Writings of
Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, pp.348. Quoted in Femia, Joseph. 2001. ‘Civil society
and Marxist Tradition’ in Kaviraj, Sudipta & Sunil Khilnani, Civil Society: History and
Possibilities, pp.131-146. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

‘trust’, and the ideas and activities around ‘civil society’,

‘participation’, and non-governmental organizations(NGOs) have
come to constitute new weapons in the armoury of ‘the anti-politics
machine’ that is constituted by the practices of ‘international
development’30. The result is no real politics but only, to use the
phrase of Zygmunt Bauman, life-politics.

Post-modernity is a life of disjointedness and fragmentation. The
isolation is completing with all its local ills. The society has
disintegrated into its components and each component is crusading
for its share in the alienation. The existential void is coming to our
experience slowly. Today’s life is caustically depicted by Michael
Schultz and David Lee in the following passage31: ‘The home itself
has grown lean and mean, wider families being broken up into
nuclear and single-parent units where the individual’s desires and
interests characteristically take precedence over those of the group
unable to stop treading on each other’s toes in the mega
community, we have stepped into our separate houses and closed
the door, and then stepped into our separate rooms and closed the
door. The home becomes a multi-purpose leisure centre where
household members can live, as it were, separately side by side. Not
just the gas industry but life in general has been privatized.
Globalisation and privatisation have brought many liberations. The
more we are free the more we are impotent. They have eroded our
capacity to think in terms of common interests and fates,
contributing to the decay of an active political argument and action.

The escape from the constraints and impositions of community has

been the dominant story of the last 200 years32. Now the question of
disappearance of the society, as it was known to us, is under
Harris. John, 2001. Depoliticising Development, pp.1. New Delhi:Leftword.
Quoted by Bauman, Zygmunt, Alone Again, pp.18.

consideration. By the end of 20th century, speaking in the British

parliament, Margaret Thatcher declared that there is no society and
that there were only individuals. From the Enlightenment on, it has
been seen as a commonsensical truth that human emancipation,
the releasing of genuine human potential, required that the bounds
of communities should be broken and individuals set free from the
circumstances of their birth.

With the advent of Globalisation there is liquidity in the Modernity

that was hitherto a solid one. Concrete structures and photographic
film are the symbols, according to Bauman, of solid modernity
whereas cyber space and erasable video tape are of liquid
modernity. By liquid phase of modernity Bauman meant a condition
in which social forms (structures that limit individual choices,
institutions that guard repetition of routines, patterns of acceptable
behaviour) can no longer (and are not expected to) keep their shape
for long, because they decompose and melt faster than the time it
takes to cast them33. Apart from liquidity, in the present times some
other seminal and closely interconnected departures have
happened. Bauman explains graphically in his Liquid Times. Second
one, ‘the separation and pending divorce of power and politics’.
Politics have been moving away from the nation-state to the
uncontrolled global space and the state organs are encouraged to
drop and transfer away and to contract out growing volume of the
functions they previously performed. ‘Abandoned by the state,
those functions become a play ground for the notoriously capricious
and inherently unpredictable market forces and/or left to the private
initiative and care of individuals’. Third, lack of collective action as
“community“, as a way of referring to the totality of the population
inhabiting the sovereign territory of the state, sounds increasingly
hollow. ‘“Society” is increasingly viewed and treated as a”network’”
rather than a structure (let alone a solid totality): it is perceived and

Bauman, Zygmunt. 2007. Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty, pp.1. Cambridge:

treated as a matrix of random connections and disconnections and

of an essentially infinite volume of possible permutations. Fourth,
‘the collapse of long-term thinking, planning and acting, and the
disappearance or weakening of social structures in which thinking,
planning and acting could be inscribed for a long time to come,
leads to a slicing of both political history and individual lives into a
series of short-term projects and episodes’. ‘A life so fragmented
stimulates ‘lateral’ rather than ‘vertical’ orientations. Each next step
needs to be responsive to a different set of opportunities and a
different distribution of odds, and so it calls for a different set of
skills and a different arrangement of assets’. Fifth, the responsibility
for resolving the quandaries generated by vexingly volatile and
constantly changing circumstances is shifted onto the shoulders of
individuals who are now expected to be “free choosers”’ and to bear
in full the consequences of their choices. The forces that produce
risks are beyond the comprehension of the individual sufferer. The
virtue is not conformity with rules but flexibility: a readiness to
change tactics and style at short notice, to abandon commitments
and loyalties without regret – and to pursue opportunities according
to their current availability. In this situation ‘instead of great
expectations and sweet dreams, “progress” evokes an insomnia full
of nightmares of ‘being left behind’ –of missing train, or falling out of
the window of a fast accelerating vehicle. A constant existential
insecurity haunts the individuated self.

When the real powers that shape the conditions under which we all
act these days floe in global space, while our institutions of political
action remain by and large tied to the ground: they are, as before,
local and afflicted with a grave insufficiency of power to act in a
sovereign manner. After much enunciation of the life in liquid
modernity, Bauman, in his book, introduces three attitudes that
explain the premodern, solid modern and the liquid modern. ‘ We
may say that if the premodern posture toward the world was akin to

that a gamekeeper, it was the gardener’s attitude that would best

serve as a metaphor for the modern world view and practice’. The
liquid modern posture towards the world is that a hunter. He goes
on explaining the three. ‘The main task of the game keeper is to
defend the land assigned to his wardenship and to preserve its
‘natural balance’, that the incarnation of God’s or nature’s infinite
wisdom’. He would ward off the trespassers. The attitude was that
things are at best if they are not tinkered with and not meddled with
to disturb the Gods orderliness. Gardner’s attitude is that there was
no order in the world at all. So ‘he works on the desirable
arrangement in his mind’. He forces his design on the nature to
grow plants of his choice in the pre arranged fashion and destroys
other plants now renamed weeds. He is an expert utopia-maker.
Now he is fading away and so also his utopia about human society
giving way to that of the hunter. Unlike the two types that happened
to prevail before his tenure started, the hunter could not care less
about the overall ‘balance of things’, whether ‘natural’ or designed
and contrived. The sole task the hunters pursue is another ‘kill’, big
enough to fill their bags game-bags to capacity’ irrespective of the
danger of emptying of forest. They will move to different location to
repeat the same exercise. Bauman says that ‘we are all hunters
now, or told to be hunters and called and compelled to act as
hunters. ‘The prospect of hunting is not tempting but frightening in
a society of hunters – since such an end may arrive only In the form
of a personal defeat and exclusion. Either we must be hunters or
being hunted, so we must run, Bauman elsewhere quotes from Alice
in the Wonderland, in order to be at the place where we are and we
must run twice faster than we are in order to move forward, this is
the world that is created in the era of globalization. Being mobile is
the mantra and the satiating tool.

There can not be any solid bonds between persons who are running.
There can only be floating coalitions and fleeting bonds, the

freedom is a myth and the rights are only in the service of the
liquidity. The society, thus, has been transformed into a society of
consumption departing from that of production and we are homo
consumens who can be compared with a virtual species which
thrives in the market-driven atmosphere of capitalism The problem
is that a life spent consuming is essentially an incomplete life;
incomplete in its ability to recognize alternative forms of
emancipation. The market is perceived as the freedom giver.
Bauman perceived commercialization of freedom. Increasing
freedom in liquid modernity should be consider as ‘to a large extent
illusory’34. Under the heading “how Free is Freedom?” Bauman
writes in the same book: ‘To be an individual does not necessarily
mean to be free. The form of individuality on offer in late-modern or
postmodern society…. –privatised individuality – means essentially,
unfreedom’. It is through consumption people perceive that they are
best able to exert their individuality. The existential tremors find
their solution in a longing for belongingness and the carnival
communities where for a brief period people will be in a mass of

Can we now discard the illusions that we nurtured around the

concept of civil society and destroy it to resuscitate our species-
being—not the one envisaged by modern communitarian and
communists including Marx which is limited to human community,
but, the one that is related to a cosmic community.


Bauman, Zygmunt 1999, In search of Politics, Cambridge: Polity Press.