Introduction to Political Theory

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saying that the vote is a knife and fork question: the demand for citizenship must
be a demand for resources which make individuality not simply a condition to be
protected, but a reality to be attained. J.S. Mill presents a developmental view of
human nature when he argues that women and workers could become ‘individuals’.
T.H. Green and Hobhouse, as social liberals, argue the case for more security for
T.H. Marshall (1893–1981), a British sociologist, wrote a much-cited essay on
Citizenship and Social Classin 1950. He presents a classic argument that civil and
political rights do not, on their own, create a meaningful citizenship. Social rights
are also crucial. For Marshall, ‘taming market forces was an essential precondition
for a just society’ (Marshall and Bottomore, 1992: vi). Marshall is concerned,
despite the inadequacies of an argument which have been extensively commented
upon, to try and give white male workers a human rather than a purely market
identity. He cites with approval the nineteenth-century economist Alfred Marshall’s
notion of a ‘gentleman’ in contrast to a mere ‘producing machine’ (1992: 5) and
he uses the terms civilisation and citizenship to denote people who are, he argues,
‘full members of society’ (1992: 6). As T.H. (not Alfred!) Marshall sees things, the
right to property, like the right of free speech, is undermined for the poor by a lack
of social rights (1992: 21).
It is true that Marshall does not see himself as a critic of capitalism. His concern
is to make a case for a basic human equality that is not inconsistent with the
inequalities that distinguish the various economic levels in a capitalist society, and
he even argues that citizenship has become the architect of legitimate social
inequality (1992: 6–7). But the point is that he does perceive citizenship in tension
with capitalism. In a famous passage he sees capitalism and citizenship at war,
although (as Bottomore tartly comments), Marshall does not develop this argument
(1992: 18, 56). It is important not to overlook the extent to which his new liberal
reformism unwittingly challenges a class-divided society.
As a social liberal, Marshall believes that a pragmatic compromise between
capitalism and citizenship is possible, even though he can argue that the attitude of
mind which inspired reforms like legal aid grew out of a conception of equality
which oversteps the narrow limits of a competitive market economy. Underlying
the concept of social welfare is the conception of equal social worth and not merely
equal natural rights (1992: 24). He notes – as part of his critique – early liberal
arguments against universal male suffrage. The political rights of citizenship, unlike
civil rights, are a potential danger to the capitalist system, although those cautiously
extending them did not realise how great the danger was (1992: 25) (see Chapter
5 on Democracy).
Citizenship has imposed modifications upon the capitalist class system on the
grounds that the obligations of contract are brushed aside by an appeal to the rights
of citizenship (1992: 40–2). In place of the incentive to personal gain is the incentive
of public duty – an incentive that corresponds to social rights. Marshall believes
that both incentives can be served – capitalism can be reconciled to citizenship since
these paradoxes are inherent in our contemporary social system (1992: 43).
The preservation of economic inequalities has been made more difficult, Marshall
concedes, by the expansion of the status of citizenship. To concede that individuals
are citizens is to invite them to challenge the need for class divisions. The great
strength of Marshall’s argument is that he depicts the drive for social equality as a

122 Part 1 Classical ideas

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