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PosthegemonyPolitical Theory and Latin America$
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Jon Beasley-Murray

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816647149

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816647149.001.0001

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Ayacucho 1982: Civil Society Theory and Neoliberalism

Ayacucho 1982: Civil Society Theory and Neoliberalism

(p.68) 2 Ayacucho 1982: Civil Society Theory and Neoliberalism

Jon Beasley-Murray

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines civil society theory and the practices it fosters within the context of neoliberalism. It begins with an overview of the various definitions of civil society and the reasons for the concept’s popularity. It then criticizes the way the term “civil society” is deployed through a close reading of political theorists Jean Cohen and Andrew Arato, whose theorization of civil society reveals the concept’s profound ambivalence: it is presented as a moderating, mediating force, but depends upon what Cohen and Arato call the “democratic fundamentalism” that drives the social movements that constitute civil society itself. The chapter asserts that the neoliberal state outflanks civil society theory with a cult of transparency that bypasses mediating institutions and breaks down the boundary between society and state. Neoliberalism and its diffuse sovereignty herald a revolution in reverse, a fundamentalism purged of affect. Finally, the chapter offers an account of Peru’s Sendero Luminoso and their relations with the neoliberal regime of Alberto Fujimori.

Keywords:   civil society, neoliberalism, Jean Cohen, Andrew Arato, democratic fundamentalism, social movements, transparency, Peru, Sendero Luminoso, Alberto Fujimori

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