Society vs. The State

In his essay The Texture of Society, written in 1977, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“Society refers to an interrelation­ship or association between human beings. In its true sense, the con­cept postulates a sharing, exchang­ing, voluntary kind of fraternity, although in a convoluted sense the term has been employed as synonymous with the coercive force of the state. Yet the state differs marked­ly from society: the former remains forceful, all-inclusive, difficult to leave, involuntary, as compared to the peaceful, dynamic, mobile and voluntary structure of society. The state encompasses a society; it does not form one.

Society exists by reason of the need for, and desirability of, human intercourse and exchange—exchange of goods, exchange of ideas, exchange of values, exchange of warmth and understanding. It de­veloped because of the nature of man, not in spite of his essence. Man, by nature, exhibits a need for relationships with other human be­ings; he does not tolerate alienation well. To be certain, civilization bears witness to an occasional her­mit, to the self-reliant mountain men of the American west, but by and large mankind produces crea­tures who interact with their fellows in such a manner as to pro­duce a higher, more creative life.”

Read the entire essay here,


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