Sociology, civil society and state


The concepts of the civil society and state are under the pressure of various practical doctrines and ideologies. "Civil society", as an eminent Polish sociologist, Jerzy Szacki, remarks, lost in the former "real socialist" countries the character of theoretical category. It became an element of the democratic Newspeak. It began to describe exclusively positive and desirable phenomena of social life. A Chinese Wall has been erected between the civil society, economy, labour-ownership differentiation and state. One of the reasons of this state of affairs is severing the ties of contemporary sociology with the classic sociology and social philosophy.

This whole book has been inspired by the Hegelian conception of die burgerliche Gesell-schaft (the burgess society, civil society). However, the theoretical form and empirical content of the book go much beyond Hegel's thought and are an attempt at the Hegelian Aufliebung (positive overcoming) of Hegel. On its pages no cult of ancestors is practised. But we do not bring to knees of contemporary sociology those ideas from which founding fathers of sociology constructed the substructure of modern social sciences. This study is an attempt to modernise, make part of the present and "apparent past" Hegel's opinion that theory of labour and ownership, labour - property differentiation amongst people, causes and consequences of this differentiation is an irremovable element of both the theory of civil society and the theory of state and the legal—[political system. In the book is revealed the significance of the theories of division of labour and ownership for the theory of modern nations and the global human community. Hegel's idea that "labour" and "ownership" can be made epistemological categories is taken up again. These categories are transformed into tools of forming the neo-classical paradigm of sociological thought. By means of new labour and new appropriation sociological neo-classicism tries to produce new objects of intellectual property from thoughts of the old and today's classics of sociology, philosophy and other social sciences. Hegel is a great, but not the only one, and even not the main mover of the neo-classical paradigm of sociology. This paradigm owes particularly much to the insights and research practice of Max Weber, Karl Marx and Georg Simmel. In it, are contained inspirations of Comte, Spencer, Durkheim and Znaniecki.

In Chapter I there is an attempt made at proving that Hegel is fully entitled to the name of founding father of modem sociology. In the chapter is made a neo-classical analysis and transformation of the Hegelian theory of estates (Stande) of civil society and of state. In the centre of research interest is included the estate of state officials. The analysis of the estate of state officials that has been passed on to us as a heritage, is being transformed into an outline of the theory of modern bureaucratic and state organisation. Hegel's categories have been developed by means of [365] their confrontation with modern sociology and empirical reality. Officialdom is regarded in the book as a part of modern estate structure which differs in quality from the estates in the archaic sense and from social classes of modern society. The criticism of panclassism i.e. reducing the main kinds of socio-economic differentiation to social class, is begun. This criticism is also present in the whole book. The basic features of labour and ownership position, proper to modern estates, is analysed. State official's ethos is discussed. The role of this estate is emphasised in the protection of civil society against a distinctly class and non-democratic state and in overcoming the real hired labour. The author transforms into an outline of a systematic theory Hegelian concepts of "non-real state officials": fahrende Ritter - knights errant and Staatsbedienten - lackeys of the state. K. R. Popper's opinion is doubted that Hegel was a theoretician of totalitarianism and an enemy of open society. Young Marx' valuable remarks on bureaucracy can not be considered as an apt criticism of Hegelian approach to the problem of rationality of bureaucratic organisation. Marx did not notice that Hegelian categories and theses are a set of ideal types or ideas. 

Chapters II, III and IV contain a systematic presentation of fundamental categories and theses of sociological understanding of ownership. They are confronted with the formal-legal thinking about ownership relation. Sociological conception of ownership is used for the analysis of the newest phenomena and tendencies of the contemporary world. In Chapter II these objects of ownership understood economically and sociologically are indicated which are expressed and screened by legal thought fiction - res corporales, tangible things. Positive overcoming of formal-legal fiction of res incorporates, intangible things allows to show the variety of theoretical problems which are connected with modem intellectual property. Positive overcoming is a radical opposite of all the refutation of any theory. Chapter II gives an attempt at revealing of these objects of economic ownership which express, and at the same time veil Pierre Bourdieu's concepts of cultural, social and political capital. Also the economic-sociological sense of M. Weber's analysis of such objects of appropriation and ownership as work places and offices, managerial positions and political and administrative power is revealed.

Chapter III is dedicated to sociological-economic analysis of these subjects of ownership which are expressed and screened by legal thought fiction: a legal person. Here is resolved ownership of such legal persons and super-individual beings as state, corporation, local community, class, social estate, nation, the whole mankind to the ownership or co-ownership of concrete human individuals. Much attention is given to processes of expropriation and affranchisement of members of particular classes and estates which are carried out by means of taxes, subsidies, and other types of influence of state and law on the economic and social life.

Chapter IV presents the main categories and theses of donative understanding of ownership. It is differentiated not only from the formal-legal, but also from the utilitarian and dominational concepts of ownership. Ownership as a gratis obtaining of material and spiritual goods is treated as an agent of production and wealth of human individuals and nation, relatively or absolutely independent of work. The main subject of studies are economic-social relations and processes in which the donative nature of ownership is revealed. The wealth of nations and human individuals is co-created by the gifts which are provided, among others, by 1) extra-human nature, 2) modem and post-modem human nature (the industrial and post-industrial means of production and labour). 3) modem and old natural and social sciences, 4) labour of previous generations, 5) labour of physically absent foreigners, 6) labour of the employed people. The gratis obtaining of goods should not be identified with exploitation. This does not mean that the conception of exploitation, present in the law of the majority of countries, can not be the object of economic-sociological transformation and development. Donative understanding of ownership has been present in both [366]scientific and extra-scientific thought for centuries. Its elements may be also perceived in the, comprehension of property by the Chicago Property Rights School, which is criticised in this book.

Problems of social differentiation and inequality, conditioned by social division of labour and economic ownership are present in the whole book. Chapter V brings a systematic presentation of fundamental categories and theses of neo-classical microsociology and macrosociology of social differentiation. They arose under specific intellectual and social-political conditions in the system whose nature is still the subject of basic controversies. It is pointed out in this chapter that in study of social system which existed in the USSR, Poland and other countries of Eastern Europe before 1990 the concept of formal socialism can have a greater theoretical value than the terms "real socialism" and "state socialism". For decades problems of social differentiation and class inequality in these societies were part and parcel of state - party doctrine and official ideology. The doctrine was based on Stalin's thesis that Soviet-type socialism had nearly become a classless society. In such a socialism the structure of class differentiation was reduced to one working class, one class of peasants and one stratum of working intelligentsia. Almost all pre-Stalinist and post-Stalinist theories of class differentiation and inequality worked out by Marxist and Neo-Marxist scholars had become enemies of the socialist classless society. But the three elements scheme of class-stratum differentiation in formal socialism was in obvious contradiction with all theories of class which had been products of the classic extra-Marxist thought. Thus it was possible to regard L. Trotsky and N. Bukharin, A. Gouldner and J. Roemer, G. Konrad and I. Szelenyi, E. O. Wright and R. Dahrendorf, M. Weber and T.Veblen, W. Thomas and F. Znaniecki, W. L. Warner and Ch. Wright Mills as enemies of the classless formal socialist society. Even Karl Marx became a great enemy of classless society. It was only necessary to liberate his ideas from current Marxist and anti-Marxist stereotypes. But a few of Marx's general statements on classes and his whole research praxis had to be also introduced to a new theoretical and methodological structure. 

The book includes an outline of a new approach to problems of classes and other kinds of socio-economic differentiation and inequality. It is based on rules of sociological neo-classicism. Neo-classical analysis of socio-economic differentiation and inequality has been mainly inspired by theoretical insight, research praxis and mode of thought of modem sociology classics: K. Marx, M. Weber and G. Simmel.

The following features distinguish the outline of neo-classical theory of social differentiation from approaches to problem of class typical for contemporary social sciences:

1) The theory of class regains its historically formed research subject: differences and inequality between human individuals determined by social division of labour and ownership of basic factors of production and labour.

2) Four elements and research fields of the theory of class have been differentiated. They are represented by 1) a concept of microclass, 2) a concept of macroclass, 3) a heuristic concept of class, 4) an idiographical concept of class or a concept of class in the panempirical sense.

3) The outline is an attempt to overcome class reductionism, panclassism in theories of labour-ownership differentiation of society. Not every human individual is regarded as a member of a certain class. It points out that in modern societies there are not only classes, but also social estates (functionaries of state, teachers, scholars, clergy, artists, doctors), quasi-classes and quasi-estates (pensioners, the unemployed) and underclasses (the world of crime and lawlessness).

4) The donative understanding of ownership of basic factors of production, labour and life has been introduced to a research on labour-ownership differentiation of society.

5) A tendency to reduce objects of ownership to material means of production has been overcome. Ownership of the means of procurement (Weber) mediated by ownership of money, owner-[367] ship of stock capital, is regarded as a characteristic feature of modern economic and social relations.

6) Objects of economic ownership have been enriched to include the means of extra-pro-ductional labour, the intellectual means of production and labour and intellectual property.

7) A fundamental significance for determining class and estate position has been attached to ownership of ergodynamis (ownership of one's own and alien labour power). There are similarities and dissimilarities between the concept of ownership of ergodynamis and Gary Becker's notion of human capital and Pierre Bourdieu's notion of cultural capital.

8) The labour-ownership theory of social differentiation includes an attempt at positive overcoming the three popular modes of thinking about social class. They are represented by a) a collec-tivist concept of class, b) an antagonistic concept of class and c) an economic-monadic concept of class.

The book ends with the neo-classical approach to the problems, posed by M. Weber, which concern mutual relations between classes, social estates and political parties. This kind of relations appeared in the Polish parliamentary elections of 1991 and 1993. Taking up Weberian problems has required development of modern concepts of elite and people. A distinction between the absolute and relative concepts of people is introduced. The concept of masses as an opposite of elites has been rejected. "Class", "social estate" and "nation" have ceased to be enemies of "people". An attempt has been made to introduce to modern sociology Max Stirner's category of idea - spectre. The category has been forgotten under influence of Marx's and Engels' critique of Stirner's social philosophy which is included in their famous theoretical pamphlet The German Ideology. In Chapter VI an attempt is made to overcome positively categories used by the INFAS and the Polish institutions of public opinion poll. These categories both express and veil the real structure of labour-ownership differentiation and inequality of the country. The author formulates research hypotheses and conjectures concerning elections and social-political situation in Poland, in the years 1989-1993. The empirical material serves him, first of all, to work out new theoretical-methodological tools. 

This book owes to a great extent its empirical stratum and many theoretical ideas to the personally unknown friends: editors and collaborators of the British liberal weekly The Economist. Especially to the reports systematically published in its columns. Probably this is not the question of pure coincidence. The sub-editor of the Economist was in his own time Herbert Spencer, one of the masters of sociological neo-classicism.