Civic virtue

Civic virtue

Overview

Civic virtue is the cultivation of habits
Habit (psychology)
Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. Habitual behavior often goes unnoticed in persons exhibiting it, because a person does not need to engage in self-analysis when undertaking routine tasks...

 of personal living that are claimed to be important for the success of the community. The identification of the character traits that constitute civic virtue have been a major concern of political philosophy
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

. The term civility refers to behavior
Behavior
Behavior or behaviour refers to the actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with its environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment...

 between persons and groups that conforms to a social
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 mode (that is, in accordance with the civil society
Civil society
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

), as itself being a foundational principle
Principle
A principle is a law or rule that has to be, or usually is to be followed, or can be desirably followed, or is an inevitable consequence of something, such as the laws observed in nature or the way that a system is constructed...

 of society and law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

.

Civic virtues have historically been taught as a matter of chief concern in nations under republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

an forms of government, and societies with cities.
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Civic virtue is the cultivation of habits
Habit (psychology)
Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. Habitual behavior often goes unnoticed in persons exhibiting it, because a person does not need to engage in self-analysis when undertaking routine tasks...

 of personal living that are claimed to be important for the success of the community. The identification of the character traits that constitute civic virtue have been a major concern of political philosophy
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

. The term civility refers to behavior
Behavior
Behavior or behaviour refers to the actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with its environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment...

 between persons and groups that conforms to a social
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 mode (that is, in accordance with the civil society
Civil society
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

), as itself being a foundational principle
Principle
A principle is a law or rule that has to be, or usually is to be followed, or can be desirably followed, or is an inevitable consequence of something, such as the laws observed in nature or the way that a system is constructed...

 of society and law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

.

A republican virtue


Civic virtues have historically been taught as a matter of chief concern in nations under republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

an forms of government, and societies with cities. When final decisions on public matters are made by a monarch
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

, it is the monarch's virtues which influence those decisions. When a broader class of people become the decision-makers, it is then their virtues which characterize the types of decisions made. This form of decision-making is considered superior in determining what best protects the interests of the majority. Aristocratic
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 oligarchies may also develop traditions of public lists of virtues they believe appropriate in the governing class, but these virtues differ significantly from those generally identified under the category of civic virtue, stressing martial
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 courage
Courage
Courage is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation...

 over commercial
Commerce
While business refers to the value-creating activities of an organization for profit, commerce means the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural, and technological systems that are in operation in any...

 honesty
Honesty
Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and denotes positive, virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness along with the absence of lying, cheating, or theft....

. Constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

s became important in defining the public virtue of republics and constitutional monarchies. The earliest forms of constitutional development can be seen in late medieval Germany (see Communalism before 1800
Communalism before 1800
Communalism is a term used by the German historian Peter Blickle for a form of representative government in Europe before 1800. The concept is mainly based on Germany of the Holy Roman Empire where it describes the widespread communal institutionalization in villages and towns between the 14th and...

) and in the Dutch and English revolts of the 16th and 17th centuries.

In ancient Greece and Rome


In the classical
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 culture of Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 and those places that follow its political tradition, concern for civic virtue starts with the oldest republics of which we have extensive records, Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. Attempting to define the virtues needed to successfully govern the Athenian polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

was a matter of significant concern for Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 and Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

; a difference in civic vision ultimately was one of the factors that led to the trial of Socrates
Trial of Socrates
The Trial of Socrates refers to the trial and the subsequent execution of the classical Athenian philosopher Socrates in 399 BC. Socrates was tried on the basis of two notoriously ambiguous charges: corrupting the youth and impiety...

 and his conflict with the Athenian democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

. The Politics
Politics (Aristotle)
Aristotle's Politics is a work of political philosophy. The end of the Nicomachean Ethics declared that the inquiry into ethics necessarily follows into politics, and the two works are frequently considered to be parts of a larger treatise, or perhaps connected lectures, dealing with the...

of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 viewed citizenship
Citizenship
Citizenship is the state of being a citizen of a particular social, political, national, or human resource community. Citizenship status, under social contract theory, carries with it both rights and responsibilities...

 as consisting, not of political rights
Rights
Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory...

, but rather of political duties. Citizens were expected to put their private lives and interests aside and serve the state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 in accordance with duties defined by law.

Rome, even more than Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, produced a number of moralistic philosophers such as Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

, and moralistic historians
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

 such as Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

, Sallust
Sallust
Gaius Sallustius Crispus, generally known simply as Sallust , a Roman historian, belonged to a well-known plebeian family, and was born at Amiternum in the country of the Sabines...

, Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 and Livy
Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

. Many of these figures were either personally involved in power struggles that took place in the late Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

, or wrote elegies to liberty
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

 which was lost during their transition to the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. They tended to blame this loss of liberty on the perceived lack of civic virtue in their contemporaries, contrasting them with idealistic examples of virtue drawn from Roman history, and even non-Roman barbarian
Barbarian
Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage...

s.

During the Renaissance


Texts of antiquity became very popular during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. Scholars tried to gather as many of them as they could find, especially in monasteries, from Constantantinople, and from the Muslim world. Humanist
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

s wanted to reinstate the ancient ideal of civic virtue through education. Instead of punishing sinners, it was believed that sin could be prevented by raising virtuous children. Living in the city became important for the elite, because people in the city are forced to behave themselves when communicating with others. A problem was that the proletariatization of peasants created an environment in cities where such workers were hard to control. Cities tried to keep the proletarians out or tried to civilize them by forcing them to work in poor houses. Important aspects of civic virtue were: civic conversation (listening to others, trying to reach an agreement, keeping yourself informed so you can have a relevant contribution), civilized behavior (decent clothing, accent, containing feelings and needs), work (people had to make a useful contribution to the society). Religion changed. It became more focused on individual behavior instead of a communion of people. The people who believed in civic virtue belonged to a small majority surrounded by "barbarity". Parental authority was popular, especially the authority of the monarch and the state.

During the Enlightenment


Civic virtue was very popular during the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 but it had changed dramatically. Parental authority began to wane. Freedom became popular. But people can only be free by containing their emotions in order to keep some space for others. Trying to keep proletarians out or putting them in a poor house was not done anymore. The focus was now on educating. Work was an important virtue during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but the people who worked were treated with contempt by the non-working elite. The 18th century brought an end to this. The advancing rich merchants class emphasized the importance of work and contributing to society for all people including the elite. Science was popular. The government and the elites tried to change the world and humanity positively by expanding the bureaucracy. Leading thinkers thought that education and the breach of barriers would liberate everybody from stupidity and oppression. Civic conversations were held in societies and scientific journals.

In the republican revolutions of the 18th century


Civic virtue also became a matter of public interest and discussion during the 18th century, in part because of the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. An anecdote
Anecdote
An anecdote is a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. It may be as brief as the setting and provocation of a bon mot. An anecdote is always presented as based on a real incident involving actual persons, whether famous or not, usually in an identifiable place...

 first published in 1906 has Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

 answer a woman who asked him, "Well, Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?" He responded: "A Republic, if you can keep it." The current use for this quotation is to bolster with Franklin's authority the opinion that republics require the cultivation of specific political beliefs, interests, and habits among their citizens, and that if those habits are not cultivated, they are in danger of falling back into some sort of authoritarian rule, such as a monarchy.

The American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 historian Gordon S. Wood
Gordon S. Wood
Gordon S. Wood is Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University and the recipient of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for History for The Radicalism of the American Revolution. His book The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 won a 1970 Bancroft Prize...

 called it a universal 18th-century assumption that, while no form of government was more beautiful than a republic, monarchies had various advantages: the pomp and circumstances surrounding them cultivated a sense that the rulers were in fact superior to the ruled and entitled to their obedience, and maintained order by their presence. By contrast, in a republic, the rulers were the servants of the public, and there could therefore be no sustained coercion from them. Law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

s had to be obeyed for the sake of conscience, rather than fear of the ruler's wrath. In a monarchy, people might be restrained by force to submit their own interests to their government's. In a republic, by contrast, people must be persuaded to submit their own interests to the government, and this voluntary submission constituted the 18th century's notion of civic virtue. In the absence of such persuasion, the authority of the government would collapse, and tyranny or anarchy
Anomie
Anomie is a term meaning "without Law" to describe a lack of social norms; "normlessness". It describes the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and their community ties, with fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values. It was popularized by French...

 were imminent.

Authority for this ideal was found once more among the classical, and especially the Roman, political authors and historians. But since the Roman writers wrote during a time when the Roman republican ideal was fading away, its forms but not its spirit or substance being preserved in the Roman Empire, the 18th-century American and French revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

aries read them with a spirit to determine how the Roman republic failed, and how to avoid repeating that failure. In his Reflections on the Rise and Fall of the Antient Republicks, the English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 Whig
British Whig Party
The Whigs were a party in the Parliament of England, Parliament of Great Britain, and Parliament of the United Kingdom, who contested power with the rival Tories from the 1680s to the 1850s. The Whigs' origin lay in constitutional monarchism and opposition to absolute rule...

 historian
Whig history
Whig history is the approach to historiography which presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy. In general, Whig historians stress the rise of constitutional government,...

 Edward Wortley Montagu
Edward Wortley Montagu
Edward Wortley Montagu was an English author and traveller.He was the son of Edward Wortley Montagu, MP and of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, whose talent and eccentricity he seems to have inherited....

 sought to describe "the principal causes of that degeneracy of manners, which reduc'd those once brave and free people into the most abject slavery." Following this reading of Roman ideals, the American revolutionary Charles Lee
Charles Lee (general)
Charles Lee was a British soldier who later served as a General of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence. Lee served in the British army during the Seven Years War. After the war he sold his commission and served for a time in the Polish army of King Stanislaus II...

 envisioned a Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

n, egalitarian society where every man was a soldier
Soldier
A soldier is a member of the land component of national armed forces; whereas a soldier hired for service in a foreign army would be termed a mercenary...

 and master of his own land, and where people were "instructed from early infancy to deem themselves property of the State. ... (and) were ever ready to sacrifice their concerns to her interests." The agrarianism
Agrarianism
Agrarianism has two common meanings. The first meaning refers to a social philosophy or political philosophy which values rural society as superior to urban society, the independent farmer as superior to the paid worker, and sees farming as a way of life that can shape the ideal social values...

 of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 represents a similar belief system; Jefferson believed that the ideal republic was composed of independent, rural
Rural
Rural areas or the country or countryside are areas that are not urbanized, though when large areas are described, country towns and smaller cities will be included. They have a low population density, and typically much of the land is devoted to agriculture...

 agriculturalists rather than urban
City
A city is a relatively large and permanent settlement. Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law.For example, in the U.S...

 tradesmen.


These widely held ideals led American revolutionaries to found institutions such as the Society of the Cincinnati
Society of the Cincinnati
The Society of the Cincinnati is a historical organization with branches in the United States and France founded in 1783 to preserve the ideals and fellowship of the American Revolutionary War officers and to pressure the government to honor pledges it had made to officers who fought for American...

, named after the Roman farmer
Farmer
A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture, who raises living organisms for food or raw materials, generally including livestock husbandry and growing crops, such as produce and grain...

 and dictator
Dictator
A dictator is a ruler who assumes sole and absolute power but without hereditary ascension such as an absolute monarch. When other states call the head of state of a particular state a dictator, that state is called a dictatorship...

 Cincinnatus
Cincinnatus
Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was an aristocrat and political figure of the Roman Republic, serving as consul in 460 BC and Roman dictator in 458 BC and 439 BC....

, who according to Livy left his farm to lead the army of the Roman republic during a crisis, and voluntarily returned to his plow once the crisis had passed. About Cincinnatus, Livy writes:

19th to mid-20th century



Civic virtues were especially important during the 19th and 20th century. Class and profession greatly affected the virtues of the individual, and there was a general division about what the best civic virtues were. Additionally several major ideologies came into being, each with their own ideas about civic virtues.

Conservatism
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 emphasized family values and obedience to the father and the state. Nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 carried by masses of people made patriotism
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

 an important civic virtue. Liberalism
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 combined republicanism with a belief in progress and liberalization based on capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

. Civic virtues focused on individual behavior and responsibility were very important. Many liberals turned into socialists or conservatives in the end of the 19th century and early 20th century. Others became social liberals, valuing capitalism with a strong government to protect the poor. A focus on agriculture and landed nobility
Landed nobility
Landed nobility is a category of nobility in various countries over the history, for which landownership was part of their noble privileges. Their character depends on the country.*Landed gentry is the landed nobility in the United Kingdom and Ireland....

 was supplanted by a focus on industry and civil society.

An important civic virtue for socialists was that people be conscious of oppression within society and the forces which uphold the status quo. This consciousness should result in action to change the world for the good, so that everybody can become respectful citizens in a modern society.

National Socialism, which claimed to be a nationalist variant on socialism, advocated the creation of a classless society, in which all members of society "pull together" to improve the society. National Socialism thus claimed to support class cooperation rather than class struggle
Class struggle
Class struggle is the active expression of a class conflict looked at from any kind of socialist perspective. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote "The [written] history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle"....

. However, National Socialism also embraced the idea that certain segments of society (such as Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Gypsies, and Communists, as well as most foreigners) were incapable of civic virtue and needed to be systematically oppressed or destroyed.

In later times



A number of institutions and organizations promote the idea of civic virtue in the older democracies. Among such organizations are the Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with over 4.5 million youth members in its age-related divisions...

, and Civil Air Patrol
Civil Air Patrol
Civil Air Patrol is a Congressionally chartered, federally supported, non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force . CAP is a volunteer organization with an aviation-minded membership that includes people from all backgrounds, lifestyles, and...

 whose U.S. oath
Oath
An oath is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow...

, Cadet Oath and Cadet Honor Code reflect a goal to foster habits aimed at serving a larger community:

Boy Scouts of America Scout Oath:
Cadet Oath:
Air Force Academy Cadet Honor Code:
Institutions that might be said to encourage civic virtue include the school
School
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

, particularly with social studies
Social studies
Social studies is the "integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence," as defined by the American National Council for the Social Studies...

 courses, and the prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

, namely in its rehabilitative
Penology
Penology is a section of criminology that deals with the philosophy and practice of various societies in their attempts to repress criminal activities, and satisfy public opinion via an appropriate treatment regime for persons convicted of criminal offenses.The Oxford English Dictionary defines...

 function.

Other, later phenomena associated with the concept of civic virtue include McGuffey's Eclectic Readers
McGuffey Readers
McGuffey Readers were a series of graded primers that were widely used as textbooks in American schools from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, and are still used today in some private schools and in homeschooling....

, a series of primary school
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 textbook
Textbook
A textbook or coursebook is a manual of instruction in any branch of study. Textbooks are produced according to the demands of educational institutions...

s whose compiler, William Holmes McGuffey
William Holmes McGuffey
William Holmes McGuffey was an American professor and college president who is best known for writing the McGuffey Readers, one of the nation's first and most widely used series of textbooks...

, deliberately sought out patriotic and religious sentiments to instill these values in the children who read them. William Bennett
William Bennett
William John "Bill" Bennett is an American conservative pundit, politician, and political theorist. He served as United States Secretary of Education from 1985 to 1988. He also held the post of Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under George H. W...

, a Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 administration cabinet member turned conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 commentator, produced The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories
The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories
The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories, sometimes just called The Book of Virtues , is an anthology edited by William Bennett...

in 1993, another anthology
Anthology
An anthology is a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler. It may be a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts...

 of literary materials that might be considered an attempt to update McGuffey's concept.

Comparable ideas in non-Western societies


Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

, which specifies cultural virtues and traditions which all members of society are to observe, in particular the heads of households and those who govern, was the basis of Chinese society for more than 2000 years and is still influential in modern China. Its related concepts can be compared to the Western idea of civic virtue.

Incivility



Incivility is a general term for social behavior lacking in civic virtue or good manners
Manners
In sociology, manners are the unenforced standards of conduct which demonstrate that a person is proper, polite, and refined. They are like laws in that they codify or set a standard for human behavior, but they are unlike laws in that there is no formal system for punishing transgressions, the...

, on a scale from rude
Rude
Rude has many meanings:Behavior*Rudeness, disrespect for and failure to behave within the context of a society or a group of people's social laws or etiquettePeople*François Rude , a French sculptor...

ness or lack of respect
Respect
Respect denotes both a positive feeling of esteem for a person or other entity , and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected...

 for elders, to vandalism
Vandalism
Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...

 and hooliganism
Hooliganism
Hooliganism refers to unruly, destructive, aggressive and bullying behaviour. Such behaviour is commonly associated with sports fans. The term can also apply to general rowdy behaviour and vandalism, often under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs....

, through public drunkenness
Public intoxication
Public intoxication, also known as "drunk and disorderly", is a summary offense in many countries rated to public cases or displays of drunkenness...

 and threatening behavior. The word incivility is derived from the Latin incivilis, meaning "not of a citizen."

The distinction between plain rudeness, and perceived incivility as threat, will depend on some notion of "civility" as structural to society; incivility as anything more ominous than bad manners is therefore dependent on appeal to notions like its antagonism to the complex concepts of civic virtue or civil society. It has become a contemporary political issue in a number of countries.

See also


  • Civic engagement
    Civic engagement
    Civic engagement or civic participation has been defined as "Individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern."-Forms:...

  • Civil religion
    Civil religion
    The intended meaning of the term civil religion often varies according to whether one is a sociologist of religion or a professional political commentator...

  • Classical republic
    Classical republic
    A classical republic, according to certain modern political theorists, is a state of Classical Antiquity that is considered to have a republican form of government, a state where sovereignty rested with the people rather than a ruler or monarch. These include states like Sparta, Athens, and the...

  • Classical republicanism
    Classical republicanism
    Classical republicanism is a form of republicanism developed in the Renaissance inspired by the governmental forms and writings of classical antiquity. The earliest examples of the school were classical writers such as Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero...

  • Commonwealthmen
  • Courtesy
    Courtesy
    Courtesy comes from old french 'courteis' is gentle politeness and courtly manners. In the Middle Ages in Europe, the behaviour expected of the gentry was compiled in courtesy books...

  • England expects that every man will do his duty
    England expects that every man will do his duty
    "England expects that every man will do his duty" was a signal sent by Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson from his flagship HMS Victory as the Battle of Trafalgar was about to commence on 21 October 1805. Trafalgar was the decisive naval engagement of the Napoleonic Wars...

  • Public good
    Public good
    In economics, a public good is a good that is non-rival and non-excludable. Non-rivalry means that consumption of the good by one individual does not reduce availability of the good for consumption by others; and non-excludability means that no one can be effectively excluded from using the good...

  • Republicanism
    Republicanism
    Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

  • Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation
    Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation
    Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation is the name of a list best known as a school writing exercise of George Washington, who became the first president of the United States of America...

  • Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
    Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
    Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

  • Whig history
    Whig history
    Whig history is the approach to historiography which presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy. In general, Whig historians stress the rise of constitutional government,...


Quotes

  • "Candor, far from being the enemy of civility, is one of its preconditions." Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, May 29, 2009
  • "I don't believe in confrontation. That seems to me outside civil discourse and we all have to find way to be civil to one another." Condolisa Rice, NPR interview, March 4, 2009.
  • "... people shouldn't underestimate the value of civility." President Barack Obama
  • "There is a toxic nature to Washington that thrives on food fights and thrives on controversy and thrives on people not getting along." Matthew Dowd, Bush's pollster and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign.
  • "On both sides of any issue, I'd like to see us increasingly wage ideological battles with words and ideas and not with volume and antics." Mark DeMoss, NPR interview, August 12, 2009.
  • "Civility costs nothing and buys everything." Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, 1689–1766
  • "It's too much to expect in an academic setting that we should all agree, but it's not too much to expect discipline and unvarying civility." John Howard, Australian statesman
  • "Teaching civility is an obligation of the family." Stephen Carter
  • "The greatest challenge facing contemporary civilization is to bring some peace between our competitive spirit and our need for communal well-being." Benet Davetian

Movements and organizations promoting civility

  • Dr. P.M. Forni, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, co-founded the Johns Hopkins Civility Project in 1997. An aggregation of academic and community outreach activities, the JHCP aimed at assessing the significance of civility, manners and politeness in contemporary society. The JHCP has been reconstituted as The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins, which Dr. Forni now directs. This Web site is designed to introduce Dr. Forni's work on civility and to offer links to related material (http://sites.jhu.edu/civility/index.html).
  • The Civility Project is a voluntary, grassroots movement of people from diverse backgrounds who agree that, at this critical time in America's history, solutions to our most pressing problems will be found only through a more civil exchange of ideas. A web-based organization, CivilityProject.org hopes to promote more civility in public discourse. Mark DeMoss and long-time Clinton advisor Lanny Davis launched The Civility Project (http://www.CivilityProject.org) earlier 2009.
  • Choose Civility is an ongoing community-wide initiative, led by Howard County Library, to position Howard County as a model of civility. The project intends to enhance respect, empathy, consideration and tolerance in Howard County (http://www.choosecivility.org).
  • The National Civility Center is a not-for-profit organization established in 2000 to help people make their communities better places to live. They believe that a comprehensive approach to community improvement—one that engages all local stakeholders around shared ideas and a unified plan for action—can help community members and organizations become more effective at solving tough social issues (http://www.civilitycenter.org).
  • The Institute for Civility believes there are two key threats to the effectiveness and efficiency of our governing process today. A nation experiencing both polarization and citizen apathy is a nation at risk. The institute works to reduce polarization in society by focusing on the very public civility (or lack of it!) in the governing process by facilitating dialogue, teaching respect, and building civility (http://www.instituteforcivility.org/ and http://www.civilityblog.org/).
  • "The Civility Institute" (http://www.civilityinstitute.com), founded by Dr. Benet Davetian (author of Civility-A Cultural History), conducts research on civility and provides consultations for institutions, schools, corporations. The goal of the institute is to offer beneficiaries with a practical understanding of the social psychology of civility and how civility can be increased without interfering with the mandates of a competitive society.