Introduction to Political Theory

(Marvins-Underground-K-12) #1
governmentally provided if the market cannot deliver. Perhaps the exceptions are
rather more prolific than Adair Turner – an advocate of socially responsible
capitalism – imagines, but it is only through demonstrating that the market cannot
deliver, that it is possible to transcend the market. Adair Turner is right to argue
that the demands for a cleaner environment, safer workplaces, safe food and the
right to be treated with respect in the workplace whatever one’s personal
characteristics, are just as much ‘consumer demands’ as the desire for more washing
machines, Internet usage or more restaurant meals (2002: 187).
Where the market cannot meet these kinds of consumer demands, regulation is
necessary. The need for public interventions is, Turner argues, increasing as well as
changing. This intervention is more explicit in the provision of services that deliver
equality of citizenship (2002: 238). Who can disagree with Turner’s proposition
that we cannot intervene too strongly against inequality in the labour market (2002:
240)? Indeed, for Turner, the key message of 11 September 2001 is the primacy of
politics – the need to offset the insecurities and inequalities which capitalism
undoubtedly creates (2002: 383). Here in a nutshell, is the case for transformation.
Transcending the market means that the objectives of the market – freedom of
choice, efficiency in delivery – can only be met through regulation and controls. It
is not a question of suppressing or rejecting the market but seeking to realise its
objectives through invoking standards ‘foreign to commodity production’. Adair
Turner argues that demands for public intervention are going to rise as our markets
become freer (2002: 191). Freedom of the market can only be justified when it
meets human need: this is the radical difference between suppressing the market
and going beyond it.
We are arguing that because markets abstract from differences, at some point
they will need to be transcended – but only at the point at which it is clear that
they cannot deliver the objectives which a society of citizens requires. Turner takes
the view that the market economy has the potential to ‘serve the full range of human
aspirations’ (2002: 290), but he himself acknowledges market failures (as he calls
them) in transport policies where there is a bias in favour of mobility and combating
environmental degradation (Turner, 2002: 300). It is these failures that make the
case for transformation.

Citizenship as a relational concept

Why can’t some be citizens while others are subject to force? This argument can
only be met if we adopt a ‘relational’ approach that means that we can only know
who we are, when we know the position of others. When these others are deprived
of their freedom, we have no freedom either. Although force particularly harms
those who are targeted, the perpetrators of force also lose their autonomy, so that
unless everyone is a citizen, then no one is a citizen.
It could be argued that the ‘market state’, as Williams describes it (2002: 7),
promotes an atomistic attitude, by which we mean an attitude that denies that
individuals must be seen in relationship to one another. For example, the critique
of patriarchy can be called relational because it argues that men cannot be free
while women are subordinated. It is true that in a patriarchal society, men enjoy

136 Part 1 Classical ideas

Free download pdf