Stephen Andrew Kovach
Publication year: 2005

http://vision2010usa.com/?map Some liberals argue that liberal citizenship is in jeopardy because the process required for maintaining it is unnatural to humans; others believe that because it is the by-product of the moral power that developed from centuries of religious, ethnic, and class conflict, it is destined to flourish.  Notwithstanding those theoretical discrepancies, however, liberal democracy itself may be on the verge of collapse because liberalisms ambiguous theories, which primarily support Western ideologies, challenge the liberal doctrine of citizenship.  In order to prevent such a collapse, advocates of liberalism correctly believe that education is the key to the adequate development of citizenship.  However, the level of education required for adequate citizenship is impossible to maintain in many Arab governments, for example, because the oppressive nature of those governments makes it impossible to sustain a Western-style political and economic environment that is educationally conducive.  Moreover, liberal theories fail to acknowledge the necessity for using military force in order to remove oppressive governments as a means of implementing and maintaining an educationally conducive environment, thus placing the future of liberal citizenship in doubt.  This paper will argue that unless liberal theorists acknowledge the necessity of removing oppressive governments by military force as a means of establishing and maintaining an educationally conducive environment, the future of liberal citizenship will remain at risk, and liberal democracy might be a forsaken by non-Western nations for other versions of citizenship.

Liberal citizenship developed from the belief that individuals are entitled to certain rights because they are self-originating sources of valid claims, and because they are naturally capable of handling certain duties and responsibilities independently.[1]  According to certain liberal theories, the continued success of liberal citizenship lies heavily on whether or not individuals adopt the necessary frame of mind that will sufficiently motivate them to recognize and perform their duties as citizens.[2]  A high level of motivation, one that encourages individuals to achieve a fair and just political system, is the chief characteristic sought by liberal theories, and the, “solution is education.”  (Oldfield, 87)  Unquestionably, in Western-style liberal democracies, public education and political culture play a crucial role in inspiring individuals to create and maintain a political system that establishes their identities as individuals without creating a system that would succumb them to oppressive rule.[3]  In addition, public education in liberal democracies supports the creation of technical experts and skilled workers that are needed in a modern industrial economy.[4]  Furthermore, according to contemporary Western-style liberal theories, one of the most ambitious goals of public education is to, “prepare children to have knowledge of constitutional and civic rights.  (Rawls, 228)  Notwithstanding the benefits of an education that promotes liberal democratic citizenship; however, citizenship is a universal right shared by all humans, regardless of geographic location, and if individuals are to, “understand and apply the principle of justice,” (Rawls, 227) through adequate education, oppressive governments must be removed, forcefully if necessary, in order to allow that system of education to flourish.  Nevertheless, a chief characteristic of oppressive governments, one that is inconsistent with the previously mentioned educational requirements, is the implementation of strict censorship laws that make it impossible for any type of adequate educational system to exist.  Although liberal theories allude to the fact that, “abolition of censorship” (Marshall, 96) is necessary for liberal citizenship to thrive, it fails to address the necessity of removing oppressive leaders, which would end censorship and permit education to flourish.  Therefore, since individuals naturally seek rights and justice, it is illogical to suggest that liberal citizenship is, “an unnatural practice for human beings,”  (Oldfield, 80) or that any potential threat to liberal citizenship will result from that allegedly unnatural condition.  Rather, any potential threat to liberal citizenship is likely to emerge from liberalism’s failure to acknowledge the necessity of removing oppressive governments as a means of fostering an educationally conducive environment, thus sustaining the premise that unless liberal theorists change their views on intervention, the future of liberal citizenship will remain at risk

One major difference between contemporary Western citizenship and ancient versions of citizenship is who may lawfully claim citizenship status.[5]  In ancient Greece or Rome, for example, citizenship was, for the most part, confined to select male property owners.  However, according to certain contemporary theories, the, “moral priority” (Oldfield, 76) of citizenship puts forth the notion that all individuals ought to be in control of their own destiny, thereby alluding to the fact that the, “universal rights of man” (Marx, 242) is shared by all individuals, not just Western citizens.  Based on that interpretation of universal rights, it seems logical to surmise that ever since the concepts of citizenship first developed in ancient Greece and Rome, “the three parts of citizenship, civil, political, and social” (Marshall, 94) would have merged to form one internationally accepted version of citizenship that is applicable in all nations.  However, differences in political and economic systems between Western and non-Western nations have caused a slow but steady separation of the civil, political, and social aspects of citizenship from one another over the years, thus resulting in a strong Western, but a weak Eastern opinion of liberal citizenship.  Nevertheless, political liberal theorists ought to consider that the effects of globalization (enhanced communication, technological, economic, and transportation capabilities that result in the disappearance of traditional boundaries and customs) will sooner-than-later bring those civil, political, and social aspects of citizenship together to form one international culture.  By refusing to acknowledge that fact, liberal theories place liberal citizenship at risk of being forgone for other versions of citizenship, such as communism, for example, which still remains active in certain regions, such as China and Cuba, and could theoretically see a revival if, for no other reason, other underdeveloped nations deem Marxism more appealing because of its consistency with certain Islamic gender and human rights policies.  Considering that liberal philosophy alludes to the fact that citizenship is a universal right, it would make sense for liberal theorists to address the needs of liberal-minded citizens that live in oppressed nations.  Unfortunately, contemporary political liberalism primarily focuses its efforts on restoring and maintaining Western-style liberalism, thereby avoiding adopting a truly international theme in their political rhetoric.  Instead of focusing on the importance of removing oppressive governments, certain liberal theories suggest that, “the economic aspect of basic civil rights has been denied by both statute and custom,” (Oldfield, 96) thus insinuating that the economic gap that exists between Western and non-Western nations results from laws and tradition.[6]  However, statute and custom contribute to economic repression secondarily; the primary cause of such repression is the creation of unfair laws by oppressive governments that repress those statutes and customs, thereby making economic prosperity impossible.  Consequently, when those statutes and customs remain repressed, and individuals are unable to develop and maintain an adequate educational system, and liberal theorists refuse to condone the use of military force to remove that oppressive government, individuals with an international, rather than a Western perspective on citizenship find little cause for motivation.  It could be argued that, “potential citizens lack the resources for engaging in the practice of citizenship, lack the opportunities, and lack the appropriate attitudes of mind …they lack motivation,”  (Oldfield, 86) however, that lack of motivation does not exist simply because citizens lack resources, or opportunities, but rather, because those characteristics simply cannot thrive under oppressive rule.  Therefore, because an environment that is conducive to education, opportunity, and the fair and equitable usage of resources cannot be realized in a nation that is oppressed, the premise that liberal theories must accept the importance of military intervention as a means of fostering an educationally conducive environment is sustained.

Exactly how contemporary liberal theory threatens the continuation of liberal citizenship is best exemplified by analyzing the inconsistencies between Western and Middle Eastern philosophies.  For example, Western ideals of citizenship place heavy emphasis on the rights of women and minority groups who conceive themselves as autonomous individuals that possess rights.[7]  By contrast, women are subordinate in Muslim states, and human rights are not highly regarded.  Moreover, Middle Eastern women generally, “oppose the culture of the modern world and wish to lead their common life apart from its foreign influences.”  (Rawls, 229)  Those inconsistencies bode poorly for the future of international liberal citizenship because contemporary liberal theories naïvely put forth the notion that, “justice as fairness” (Rawls, 230) honors a persons desire to withdraw from the modern world for religious purposes, yet makes no accommodation for gender purposes, thus insinuating that Muslims must accept Western-style policies in order to accept liberal citizenship.[8]  In addition, political liberalism directly conflicts with Shari`a, the code of law derived from the Koran, and from the teachings of Mohammed, whereby under Islamic law there is no separation of church and state.  Because Shari`a is deeply embedded within Islamic beliefs, Muslims are not convinced that their societies can be democratic and simultaneously retain its religion.  However, one of political liberalisms staunchest points is that liberal citizenship stands alone, “and does not require further support from religious, philosophical, or moral teachings.”  (Rawls, 229)  Therefore, based on the discrepancy between the, “political concepts of justice” (Rawls, 229) and the beliefs put forth by Shari`a, there is no reason to assume that Arab individuals would be motivated to accept liberal citizenship, which is synonymous with democracy and Western politics.  As a result, and despite the negative characteristics normally associated with communism, such as its discriminatory stance on gender and human rights issues, it is reasonable to suggest that Muslim states might gravitate towards a Stalinist-like, rather than a Western-style, form of citizenship because it is comparatively more consistent with their own position on gender and human rights issues.

The fact that Shari’a, a fundamental aspect of Islamic culture, is diametrically opposed to the basic tenets of political liberalism, along with the knowledge that communistic policies are more consistent with Muslim beliefs, jointly sustains the theory that liberal democracy might be a forsaken by non-Western nations for other versions of citizenship unless oppressive governments are forcefully removed http://nor-techboats.com/map .

In order to motivate Arab nations to choose liberal citizenship over Marxism, or any other version of citizenship, what can Western-style political liberalism offer to Arab individuals in the Middle East whose society is, “awash in cash,” (Glain, 2004) yet are unmotivated to invest because they have lost their confidence in corrupt governments?  Surely, those individuals will be unable to appreciate Rawls’ list of primary goods, which include basic rights and liberties, the freedom to move and choose ones own occupation, the right to hold political office, the right to income and wealth, and the social bases of self-respect that all individuals are entitled too.[9]  And even though the Lebanese, “crave…democracy and transparency,” (Glain, 2004) will they be able to achieve it without the removal of its corrupt government, which has failed to establish an effective tax system, and instead, “encourages outright extortion?”  (Glain, 2004)  Clearly, those individuals will be unable to enjoy, “the good of a well-ordered society” (Rawls, 225) that all individuals are entitled too, regardless of their geographic location.  And how can Palestinians, whose society has been decaying internally, and controlled externally by Israeli forces that, “strangulate the small economy devoid of significant natural resources” (Glain, 2004) appreciate the benefits of Western-style liberal citizenship?  Undoubtedly, those international citizens could not even begin to comprehend the, “goodness of rationality,” (Rawls, 225) which assumes that democratic citizens have a rational plan of life, that they allocate their resources, and that they have taken into account their needs and requirements.  And what sort of moral power will be forthcoming in Egypt, whose leaders, “lead by not leading,” (Glain, 2004) thereby creating a troubled society that is, “utterly demoralized.”  (Glain, 2004)  Unquestionably, a moral power similar to the type that developed from the centuries of religious, ethnic, and class conflict that began with the Enlightenment will not develop in that Muslim state.  And finally, despite that Iraq is well endowed with oil and water, its past regime transformed it into a, “Stalinist dictatorship,” (Glain, 2004) consequently reducing the possibility for prosperity, until its leader, Saddam Hussein and his cronies, were forcefully removed by the U.S. military.  Before U.S. intervention, Iraqi leaders claimed that its citizens were experiencing, “all the blessings of democracy” (Black, 2004) similar to those of Western nations.  In reality, however, nothing could have been more undemocratic than the truth, and the Iraqi people were in fact the victims of a sham democracy.[10]  Despite years of negotiations, (liberalisms only method of conflict resolution) the Iraqi government continued to oppress its people, and showed no signs of relenting until U.S. military intervention removed its government, thus empowering the Iraqi people to being the process of establishing and maintaining a democratic system that is more consistent with the above-mentioned characteristics of liberal citizenship and education.  Based on the fact that contemporary political liberalisms current nonintervention stance is inconsistent with the requirements of establishing and maintaining an educationally conducive environment in an otherwise oppressed government, it has very little to offer those Arab nations; consequently, the future of international liberal citizenship at risk.  That is not to suggest that all liberal theories completely disregard the rights of non-Western citizens.  For example, Rawls alludes to the fact that all citizens own certain rights and liberties.[11]  However, Rawls, and most other liberal theorists, stop short of providing specific methods, other than negotiation, (which is only minimally effective) that would assist individuals living in oppressed regions to obtain those rights.  Moreover, merely stating that political liberalism, “does not try to estimate the extent with which individuals succeed in advancing their way of life” (Rawls, 230) merely dismisses its shortcomings vis-à-vis intervention, exemplifies political liberalisms ambiguity, and sustains the notion military intervention is necessary in order to establish and maintain educationally conducive environment that will foster the development of liberal citizenship.

The above-mentioned conditions in the Arab world may very well be the ultimate test to liberal citizenship.  Certainly, the preferred method of removing oppressed governments is negotiation, however, when negotiations fail, liberals must deem military force as a necessary means of providing oppressed individuals with the same benefits of liberal citizenship shared by Westerners, thereby empowering the citizens to develop and maintain an educationally conducive environment, one that will further the development of liberal citizenship.  However, because contemporary liberal theorists refuse to acknowledge the necessity of removing oppressive rule through military means, it is likely that as the unifying affects of globalization spreads, non-Western citizens will succumb to other forms of citizenship because they will deem liberal citizenship less consistent with their own way of life click to see more .

continue reading            References

Black, E. (2004). Banking on Baghdad – Inside Iraq’s 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Bridges, T.. The Culture of Citizenship: Inventing Postmodern Civic Culture. continue reading

Glain, S. J. (2004). Mullahs, Merchants, and Militants: The Economic Collapse of the Arab World. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Marx, K., & Ed. Tucker, R.. R. Ed. Tucker (Ed.), Marx-Engels Reader.

Oldfield, A., & Shafir, G. (1998). G. Shafir (Ed.), The Citizenship Debates. 111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520: University of Minnesota Press.

Marshall, T. H., & Shafir, G. (1998). G. Shafir (Ed.), The Citizenship Debates. 111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520: University of Minnesota Press.

Rawls, J. (1988). The Priority of Right and Ideas of the Good. Princeton University Press.

[1] Oldfield, A., & Shafir, G. (1998). G. Shafir (Ed.), The Citizenship Debates. 111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520: University of Minnesota Press.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Bridges, T.. The Culture of Citizenship: Inventing Postmodern Civic Culture

[4] Ibid.

[5] Oldfield, A., & Shafir, G. (1998). G. Shafir (Ed.), The Citizenship Debates. 111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520: University of Minnesota Press. p.76

[6] Oldfield, A., & Shafir, G. (1998). G. Shafir (Ed.), The Citizenship Debates. 111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520: University of Minnesota Press. p. 96

[7] Oldfield, A., & Shafir, G. (1998). G. Shafir (Ed.), The Citizenship Debates. 111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520: University of Minnesota Press. p.77

[8] Rawls, J. (1988). The Priority of Right and Ideas of the Good. Princeton University Press.

[9] Rawls, J. (1988). The Priority of Right and Ideas of the Good. Princeton University Press.

[10] Black, E. (2004). Banking on Baghdad – Inside Iraq’s 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

[11] Rawls, J. (1988). The Priority of Right and Ideas of the Good. Princeton University Press.