However, in the political context or in modern society where individuals and citizens do not know each other, political friendship can manifestly not mean personal relational friendship, as in the case of generalized trust with regard to personal trust. Politics, at least in a democratized context, is about strategies to access power and to influence political decisions by building up winning coalitions and negotiating acceptable solutions. As a matter of fact, the political theory on civic friendship, in either aspect of its civil society of collective action or as political community, is a critique of authoritarian and even totalitarian conceptions of society, of homogeneity, hierarchy, and conceptions of unity. Therefore, we may once more underline that depersonalized relations and the public realm are ideally expected to coincide in modern society. It is no longer vital to have friends and relatives in order to survive, although they may still be important in certain regions of the world.
At first glance, such a perspective does not seem to fit well with the historical change of the relationship between friendship and the political society in modern society. The risk of the abuse of power is continuously evoked by this political theory, but it is not really integrated in a more general or classic conception of the countervailing powers in the political system. Additionally, Jurgen Gebhardt It would not be an exaggeration to state that autocracies are aiming at personalizing politics and other social spheres, for their obsession is control of plurality, and the control of deviation. In this regard, see the map presented by Transparency International with bribery rates across Europe and Eurasia www. Politics, at least in a democratized context, is about strategies to access power and to influence political decisions by building up winning coalitions and negotiating acceptable solutions. When the political is disappearing or when even a distorted version public space is no longer visible, then the space for collective action and for civic political friendship is also fading away. If this meaning of political friendship as a utility-oriented relationship focuses on politics, the second one relates political friendship to the political order as such, to the political as the core of political order. In relation with theories of trust, civil society, civic, and political culture, it is much more about the practices and expectations in society about how to live, to work together or how to communicate politically in order to influence politics, or to change things. In this perspective, the world is populated by people who are a part of your networks of contacts and friendship, and those who are not. Theorien und Poetiken Hrsg. On the other hand, it is also a world of people who are either with you or against you. Generalized trust is about norms of reciprocity, and about the expectation of reciprocity. Obviously, trust is only possible within certain boundaries which are also the boundaries of citizenship Hartmann The political theory of civic friendship is also a warning against the destructive consequences of exclusive populist political discourses and ideologies for democratic politics. In the systemic perspective of a more complex sociological perspective, friendship as a personal relationship based on sympathy and trust is no longer a structuring principle for social relations as in traditional aristocratic societies. University of Notre Dame Press, pp. This is, in fact, part of a definition of social capital, which points to these specific values shared by the members of a community allowing them to cooperate. In other terms, they produce political theories about the conditions of democracy, or imagine themselves as political communities based on shared values as expressed through civic friendship. Theorizing Personal Relations with Alexis de Tocqueville. The Resurrection of Political Friendship: However, sympathy and particularity cannot be used any longer as basic values of friendship, at least not without difficulties when used as a resource to get access to privileges, and possibly considered as corruption or nepotism in western democracies. The Oxford Handbook of Cultural Sociology eds. Princeton University Press Derrida J. Democracies run into difficulties when the radius of trust and the common good orientation are no longer convincing criteria in explaining to the citizens of a political community what holds them together, or why they should live together as a nation.
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