Introduction to Political Theory

(Marvins-Underground-K-12) #1

  • A guaranteed income is in the interests of all. A basic income would (along with
    many other egalitarian measures) help to reduce crime and the consumption of
    drugs, and make society as a whole a more secure and safer place. Would not
    the rich benefit from such a measure? Capitalism’s beneficiaries, Adair Turner
    argues, should support investment in measures that promote social cohesion, out
    of their own self-interest (2002: 244). Gray argues that British public opinion
    wishes to see some goods – basic medical care, schooling, protection from crime

    • provided to all as a mark of citizenship (1999: 34). Is it not possible that given
      the right leadership and explanation, this could extend to the kind of economic
      security provided by a citizens’ income?
      Of course, it could be argued that a basic income will destroy incentives, just as
      it was said that a minimum wage would create unemployment and, in the nineteenth
      century, it was contended that a 10-hour day would undermine the labour process.
      But a government committed to such a dramatic victory of ‘the political economy
      of the working class’ (in Marx’s celebrated phrase) could find ways of presenting
      the case for a guaranteed income that would isolate diehard reactionaries.
      It is important to stress that while a basic income would do much to increase
      the quality of citizenship, it would still leave open the question of including people
      from other countries in a global citizenship. Such an innovation would initially be
      limited to people of a particular community (Faulks, 2000: 123). It would only
      really succeed if it was part and parcel of policies that addressed the problem of
      inequalities between societies.

Citizenship and women

Are women citizens in modern liberal states? Although women have been citizens
in a formal sense in Britain, for example, since 1928 (when they received the vote),
there are important senses in which women have yet to obtain real citizenship as
opposed to a more conventional, classically defined citizenship.
Women, even in developed liberal societies like Britain, are significantly under-
represented in decision-making, and this occurs because of structural and attitudinal
factors. The exclusion of women from political processes has been justified by a
liberal conception of a public/private divide.
It is true that with Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman(1792)
(see Chapter 14 on Feminism), the Enlightenment concepts of freedom and
autonomy are extended to women. At the same time Wollstonecraft does not
(explicitly at any rate) challenge the division of labour between the sexes or the
argument for a male-only franchise. Women, she contends, if they are recognised
as rational and autonomous beings, become better wives, mothers and domestic
workers as a result – ‘in a word, better citizens’ (Bryson, 1992: 22–7). Here the
term does not imply someone with voting rights, although it does suggest that the
citizen is an individual whose activity is both public and private in character. Of
course, when Wollstonecraft was writing most men could not vote, and there is
some evidence to suggest that Wollstonecraft was in favour of female suffrage, but
felt that it was not a demand worth raising at the time she wrote.

126 Part 1 Classical ideas

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