Essay: Civil Society is an old term. It originated in the writings of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke



Civil Society is an old term. It originated in the writings of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. The former did not use the term. He, however, meant by civil society, the area wherein the liberty of a subject means the liberty to buy and sell and otherwise contract with one another, to choose their own abode, their own diet, their own trade of life, and instruct their children as they themselves think fit and the like, without however, limiting the sovereign is power over life and death.

John Locke's concept of civil society provides redress against the arbitrariness of the state of nature. According to him men enter into civil society and place themselvs under the government to protect themselves from the inconveniences and shortcomings of the state of nature. Civil society also protects men from the arbitrariness of the government.

Hegel's concept of civil society embraces the realm of economic interests, private property etc. It refers to the totality of the material conditions of life.

Marx and Engels gave civil society an independent identity and refused to concede the fundamental identity of the state and the civil society, According to them, the terms civil society emerged in the 18th century when property relations had already evolved from the community of antiquity and medieval times.

The concept of political society is different from that of civil society. Whereas John Locke talked about society and its continuance despite dissolution of government, Hegel conceded the duality of political society and civil society and Marx wanted abolition of the antithesis between political society and civil society.

In the contemporary era, Gramsci talks about civil society as an ensemble of organism commonly called private. The other can be called political society or the state.