The State Rebuilding Civil Society: Constitutionalism and the Post-Communist Paradox

Part I of this article provides an overview of trends in the intellectual history of civil society theory in the West. Since the rejection of the classical notion of a unified State and civil society, Western commentators have focused their analyses on State action’s effect upon modern civil society. In reaction to the dangers of State co-optation of civil society’s autonomy, social critics have proposed a range of solutions, such as limitations on State power to interfere in areas like property rights and the assumption of power by a universal class. Part II reviews Soviet bloc dissidents’ contributions to civil society theory. Part III examines the problem of attaining the goal of a dynamic, modem civil society after the change from communism to democracy in Eastern Europe. Part IV demonstrates how post-communist constitutionalism can function, and already has functioned in Hungary, to help resolve the crisis.