Introduction to Political Theory

(Marvins-Underground-K-12) #1
privileges that make them ‘victors’, but patriarchy oppresses everyone (albeit in
different ways). Men have begun to realise that patriarchy not only strips them of
involvement in child-rearing, but subjects them in particular to the violence of war.
The idea that our ‘right’ to exploit or be violent has to be curbed is a problematic
use of the term right, since ultimately being exploitative or violent not only harms
others, but it also ultimately harms the perpetrator himself. No one, it could be
argued, can have a right to harm themselves.
A dramatically unequal world is a world in which large numbers of people will
move out of poorer countries in search of a ‘better’ life. It is in the interest of the
‘haves’ that they pay attention and work to rectify the deprivations of the ‘have
nots’. This is what is meant by a relational view of citizenship. Unless everyone is
a citizen, then no one is a citizen. It could be argued that if we want to work towards
a more inclusive view of citizenship, we need to isolate those who are staunchly
opposed to extending citizenship whether on misogynist (i.e. anti-female), racist,
nationalist grounds or because they are so privileged that they cannot identify with
others. The well-being of each depends upon the well-being of all.

Chapter 6 Citizenship 137

Citizenship as a momentum concept

Momentum concepts are those that are infinitely progressive and egalitarian: they have no
stopping point and cannot be ‘realised’. Static concepts, by way of contrast, are repressively
hierarchical and divisive. The latter must be discarded whereas the former have an historical
dynamic which means they must be built upon and continuously transcended. The state,
patriarchy and violence are examples of static concepts; freedom, autonomy, individuality,
citizenship and emancipation are examples of momentum concepts. Tocqueville famously
formulated democracy as a momentum concept – a concept that has no stopping point.
However, his account is marred by static features, like a traditional notion of God and a fatalist
view of ‘destiny’. Momentum concepts, as we formulate them, seek to avoid this inconsistency
by being infinite in their egalitarian scope. It is crucial to avoid the kind of scepticism and
relativism that makes it impossible to identify progress at all.
Citizenship is a momentum concept in three ways.

  1. The struggle for citizenship can be developed even by those who seek only limited steps
    forward and are oblivious of a more wide-ranging agenda.

  2. Citizenship involves a process of change that is both revolutionary and evolutionary – it is
    important that we do not privilege one over the other.

  3. Citizenship is an ongoing struggle with no stopping point.

It is not that the ends of an inclusive citizenship are not important: it is rather that achieving
one element of inclusion (for example, the enfranchisement of women) enables us to move to
the next – for example, the unfair allocation of tasks in the home. People do need to have the
right to vote, speak freely and stand for election: but they also need to think about those whose
conduct makes it necessary to put them in prison. This is why the case for an inclusive
citizenship makes it essential that we look beyond the state.


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