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Civil society and democracy

The development of a healthy social society constitutes one of the basic criteria of democratization in all nations, remarks a VPDF-sponsored study titled “Democratization and People’s Power”.
 In its section on “Civil society and democracy”, the study writes notably:

It is a legitimate need of the people to get organized for the defence of their interests and participation in politics. Along with the processes of socio-economic development, people’s intellectual capacity enhancement and social structure shift, the development of different forms of people’s organization represents an inevitable trend and one of the major driving forces for democratizing society. The development of a healthy social society on the basis of socio-economic development level, historic, cultural and political conditions, and the people’s legitimate interests constitutes one of the basic criteria of democratization in all nations.

On the other hand, as reflections of societies, civil societies are utterly diverse in terms of interests, forms of organization, and linkages. Thus, any simplification or homogenization of civil society organizations would lead to serious mistakes.
Civil society organizations include those rallying different sections of the popular masses, and structured and operating under democratic principles, and also those conceived the bureaucratic way; certain are financially independent while others depend chiefly on donors.

In the present process of development of a civil society, attention should be given to the following problems:

 Absolutization of the role of NGOs by treating them as natural representatives of the popular masses, While the development of NGOs is an objective trend, reality has shown that quite a number of NGOs do not represent the people’s interests. In certain cases, NGOs have hijacked the role and position of social movements.
 Exclusive focus on isolated social issues, on symptoms rather than causes, which often reduces possibilities for NGOs to take part in the solution of fundamental issues of society.
 Efforts by certain Western countries to promote civil society development in developing countries regardless of local political, cultural and social needs and conditions. The NGOs thus established cannot represent the popular masses in Third World countries.
It is therefore necessary to have a sober look into the composition of a civil society in order to build a genuine and healthy one as a positive factor for the democratization of society.
Basic solutions should include the following:
 Along with ensuring freedom of association to all citizens, to develop the education and mass communication systems, and work intensively to raise the people’s intellectual level and political awareness, thereby enhancing the citizens’ political activeness.
 To develop and consolidate organizations which rally broad sections of the people, are democratically structured, really represent the aspirations and interests of different sections of the people, and operate independently from outside control or pressure.
 To promote the role of people-centered organizations; to expand and strengthen the linkage and coordination among them with a view to jointly promoting solutions benefiting the people.
 To promote mechanisms facilitating the participation of organizations and networks genuinely representing the interests of different sections of the people in counter-argumentation, thereby contributing to the elaboration of decisions affecting the people’s rights and interests./.






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