This part introduces the key themes and some of the main interpretations of what the Third Way is and the routes down which it may be going. Third way approaches to economic and social policy have become part of the political agenda of many countries, whoever is in power. Despite many opportunities to damage the Third Way New Labour Government, the opposition Conservative Party failed to make anything but the most marginal inroads into Labour's huge parliamentary majority. The Third Way offers an antidote to the individualist values of the New Right.
This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book introduces students to some of the main interpretations, pointing out their various strengths and weaknesses. Older texts on political concepts are sought to offer neutral definitions that should be accepted by everyone, regardless of their political commitments and values. The book considers the theoretical presuppositions of policies that are guided by a particular understanding of a concept. It compares how different conceptual underpinnings might generate different policy recommendations. The book includes a broad range of the main concepts employed in contemporary debates among both political theorists and ordinary citizens. It looks beyond the state to the issues of global concern and relations between states. The book describes the principal concepts employed to justify any policy or institution.
This introductory chapter sets out the purpose of the book, which is to re-open a dialogue with the classics. It attempts not only to see the masters in context—as has become popular among modern thinkers—but rather to seek inspiration from the great minds to deal with contemporary political problems. Rousseau—and indeed any other classic—is politically relevant only if he reveals timeless insights. If a classic cannot inspire he is nothing, and is better confined to the dustbin of failed political doctrines. This book is based on the premise that Rousseau speaks through the ages. It seeks to show that Rousseau, while he may not have the answers to contemporary problems, at the very least provides new angles and perspectives on the debate.
The idea of the just war is in danger of becoming one of the political clichés of the new century. From an object of neglect and indifference, just war has been transformed into the dominant image of war, in the post-cold war age. Realism is no solution to the problem of the restraint of war. The solution lies not in a rejection of the very idea of just war, but in a conception of just war that recognises its threat as well as its promise. The real choice is between two radically different concepts of just war, with opposing logical structures and divergent effects. The complex structure of just war theory embodies its 'negative' or restraining role. Ostensibly, the mechanisms of restraint in just war theory are the various principles or criteria that the theory articulates and upholds.
This chapter presents some conclusions and shows that there was an internal coherence in Rousseau's thought. As befits a classical thinker, Rousseau's contribution to Western philosophy was rich in detail and even broader in scope. Like other critics of modernity, his philosophy was a showdown with a society marred by Godless materialism, absurd social inequalities, and unnatural inter-human relations. Men, argued Rousseau, would not be set free if left to himself. Liberty, as understood by Rousseau, could only be acquired once man had reconciled his natural, spiritual, and social sides of himself with the requirements of living in an advanced civilisation. He further argued that men could only be free when—or if—they recognised the imperatives of living in a family, in a republic and in harmony with a universe created by God.
Max Weber approached legitimacy as a subcategory of 'domination', by which he meant 'the probability that certain specific commands (or all commands) will be obeyed by a given group of persons'. The ultimate source of legitimacy theories was probably the bias towards individualism that was introduced by Christianity. Because the objective of Christians was salvation, political activities were inessential to their self-conception, and it was possible to hold that earthly governments were something contingently willed by Providence. Thomas Hobbes was the first great thinker to face up to our political predicament. The Hobbesian detachment of a reflective self from the activities that it engaged in involving him in developing a picture of that self as holding beliefs supportive of his state's authority. John Lockean's legitimacy was founded on the memory of an uncoerced decision to put oneself into subjection, but such events were virtually unknown.
Liberalism has become the dominant ideology at the start of the third millennium. This chapter traces the origins of liberalism back to the late seventeenth century and the political turmoil in England that followed the civil wars of the middle of the century. It outlines and discusses the main themes of 'classical' and 'New' liberalism. The key themes include the individual and his/her rights; an optimistic view of human nature; a belief in progress; a commitment to freedom; limited government; the economy and liberalism; and a commitment to internationalism. The limitations of British liberalism began to become evident just before the First World War and it was almost eclipsed during the inter-war period. The chapter discusses the apparent renaissance of liberalism that followed the collapse of Soviet communism during the late 1980s and the apparent triumph of liberal capitalist democracy on a global scale.
Isaiah Berlin, the English philosopher and historian of ideas, called the two concepts of freedom 'negative' and 'positive'. One might be tempted to think that a political theorist should concentrate exclusively on negative freedom, but a concern with positive freedom should be more relevant to psychology or individual morality than to political theory. Freedom is therefore a 'triadic relation', that is, a relation between three things: an agent, certain preventing conditions, and certain doings or becomings of the agent. Critics of libertarianism, typically endorse a wider conception of 'constraints on freedom' that includes not only intentionally imposed obstacles but also unintended obstacles for which someone may nevertheless be held responsible. Socialists typically assume a broader notion than libertarians of what counts as a 'constraint on freedom' though without necessarily embracing anything like Berlin's 'positive' notion of freedom.
Starting with Marxism, this chapter examines Karl Marx's theories of history, economics and politics. It discusses the controversies within Marx-inspired political organisations in the nineteenth century, particularly the challenge mounted to orthodox Marxism by the 'revisionist' school. The chapter then analyses twentieth-century attempts to establish concrete political systems claiming 'Marxist' legitimacy, with particular attention to the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. It examines attempts to reinterpret Marxism to make it relevant to twenty-first-century social and economic conditions. Turning to the wide-ranging form of political thought known as anarchism, the chapter discusses anarchist views of human nature, the state, liberty and equality, and economic life. The chapter concludes with a critique of anarchism and some thoughts as to its relevance to modern politics.
This chapter explores what it means to move multiculturalism from the outskirts to the centre of our political thinking. It explains the range of multicultural rights and examines an important attempt to theorise them. The chapter considers Will Kymlicka's Multicultural Citizenship to defend cultural protection along liberal lines. Influenced by Inuit communities in the Canadian Northwest Territories, Kymlicka regards a culture as a civilisation, self-sufficient and with its own social institutions. The chapter explores the attempts to go beyond Kymlicka's largely liberal approach with a more radical 'politics of recognition', which says that we recognise cultures on their own terms. Charles Taylor's elegant essay 'The Politics of Recognition' has given the politics of recognition a rich philosophical background. Taylor's account of recognition seems to hover between endorsing the values a culture subscribes to and affirming a culture's specific identity, which need not require endorsing all its values.