Introduction to Political Theory

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process that has been taking place for some 250 years (1992: 7). He opens up the
prospect of the need to continue progress, given the fact that he later concedes that
at the end of the 1970s the welfare state is now in a precarious and battered
condition (1992: 71).
It is certainly true that Marshall ignores the position of women and ethnic
minorities; the sectarianism in Northern Ireland; and the peculiar conditions in the
immediate post-war period that made a new liberal compromise seem plausible –
to conservatives as well as to many social democrats. There were, as Bottomore has
noted (1992: 58), exceptionally high rates of economic growth, and the deterrent
example of the Communist Party states, the self-styled ‘real socialism’. Marshall
treats capitalism in terms of the income of the rich, rather than the property they
own. Our point is that Marshall demonstrates that a concern with the social rights
of the citizen challenges the class structure of a capitalist society.

Citizenship and the New Right

The expansion of social rights, it has been frequently noted, was checked in the
mid-1970s as the capitalist market economy became dominant over the welfare
state (Marshall and Bottomore, 1992: 73). New Right or neo-liberal thought seeks
to defend individualism and the market against what it sees as menacing inroads
created by a post-war consensus around reform. The New Right project, which
lasted until the 1990s, is indirectly related to the image of a citizen as a successful
entrepreneur who benefits from ‘free’ market forces.
The argument is that the concept of society is a dangerous abstraction – there
are only individuals – but although neo-liberals appear to return to the classical
liberal position, gone is the assumption that humans are free and equal individuals.
Free, yes, but equal no! Individuals radically differ according to ability, effort and
incentives and, therefore, it is a myth to imagine that they are in any sense equal.
New Rightists argue that any attempt to implement distributive or social justice can
only undermine the unfettered choices of the free market. ‘Nothing’, Hayek argues,
‘is more damaging to the demand for equal treatment than to base it on so obviously
untrue an assumption as that of the factual equality of all men’ (1960: 86; see also
Heater, 1999: 27). Equality before the law and material equality are seen to be in
conflict, and Hayek is in the curious philosophical position of arguing for an ‘ideal’
or ‘moral’ equality while denying that any basis for this equality exists in reality.
Both Hayek and Nozick, despite their differences in many theoretical respects,
agree that intervention in the market in the name of social justice is anathema. Both
link citizenship to inequality. New Right thinkers in trying to ‘roll back the state’
seek to confine it to its so-called negative activities – the protection of contracts.
Not surprisingly, New Right policies under Thatcher in Britain radically increased
the role of the state (in its traditional law and order functions), since weakening
the trade unions, cutting welfare benefits and utilising high unemployment as a
way of punishing the poor and the protestors involves a radical concentration of
state power. Both Thatcher and Hayek shared an admiration for General Pinochet,
who demonstrated in Chile that enhancing the power of the market may be bad
for democracy!

Chapter 6 Citizenship 123
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