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The Importance of Being Civil by John A. Hall

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Conclusion

The main tenets of the argument are clear. Anxiety and even hostility have been shown to the actions of states; when they put ideological dreams into effect, they become enemies of civility, and all too often politicize social actors so as to make them recalcitrant. Virtue should not be the business of states, and visions should remain private, the stuff of nightmares best forgotten when waking. This is not to say for a moment that states are not needed. Civil behavior by political elites can lead to the creation and maintenance of an inclusive and open frame within which people, blessed with negative resisting power, can experiment with their lives. Oscar Wilde was right to insist that “selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, ...

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