The Civil Society Bookshelf

Letter from the Editor

The International Journal
of Not-for-Profit Law

Volume 6, Issue 4, September 2004

Civil society, civic engagement, philanthropy, democracy–these concepts inspire attorneys, activists, aid organizations, and, not least, authors. In this issue, the International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law departs from our usual topical focus to provide critiques of several important new books.

In our opening review, Northwestern University’s Craig L. LaMay evaluates the latest volume from the prolific Thomas Carothers. LaMay steps back and offers a penetrating overview of civil society thinking today, a tour d’horizon that’s a tour de force. Michael Bisesi, director of the Center for Nonprofit and Social Enterprise Management at Seattle University, assesses a tough-love look at current American philanthropy and suggests directions for further research. Amani Kandil, executive director of the Arab Network for NGOs in Cairo, reviews a study of social welfare institutions in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen, stressing the role of middle-class networks. Micheline Ishay, a professor at the University of Denver and the author of the newly published book The History of Human Rights, considers a cautionary work on the dark side of civic engagement–the danger of lynch mobs instead of peace marches. Bill Landsberg, a Colorado attorney who directs the Pikes Peak Foundation for Mental Health, ponders the crucial but rarely discussed underpinnings of philanthropy, what determines whether a particular gift transaction will gratify both giver and recipient. And ICNL’s Patricia Lyons appraises a study of the international tax treatment of NGOs.

In our lead feature, J. Peter Pham, the author of the newly published Liberia: Portrait of a Failed State and a former diplomat in the region, summarizes the troubled history of civil society in Liberia and notes some obstacles to future development, including civil society leaders who blur the lines between Third Sector and government. Pippa Norris of Harvard University and Ronald Inglehart of the University of Michigan take an incisive, empirical look at the role played by religious institutions in creating and sustaining social capital. Nilda Bullain of the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law in Budapest provides a primer on an increasingly popular legal approach, percentage philanthropy. Finally, Milton Cerny, an attorney formerly with the Internal Revenue Service, summarizes legislative and regulatory matters of current concern to tax-exempt organizations in the United States.

The reviews and articles in this issue of IJNL address questions that are both timely and knotty: How do culture and history shape democratic development? What can academics teach practitioners, and vice-versa? How does religious participation affect civic engagement? Given current trends and auguries in civil society worldwide, is the glass half full or half empty? As always, we welcome your thoughts.

Stephen Bates
International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law

ICNL is grateful to those who are supporting or who have supported this publication in the past, including the United States Agency for International Development, the Catholic University of America, the World Bank, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Wallace Global Fund, the Helen Bader Foundation, the Compton Foundation, the American Express Foundation, the AT&T Foundation, the GE Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Alcoa Foundation, the Chevron Corporation, the Counterpart Foundation, the Aga Khan Foundation, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, the Asian Development Bank, and the Eurasia Foundation.