In liberal democracies there is a belief that citizens ought to take an active interest in what is happening in the political world. Political debate in modern Western democracies is a complex and often rowdy affair. There are three fundamental political issues: 'politics', 'power' and 'justice', which feature in almost all political discussions and conflicts. The book assesses the degree to which the state and state sovereignty are disappearing in the modern world of 'globalised' politics, economics and culture and new international institutions. The main features of the nation and the problems of defining it are outlined: population, culture, history, language, religion, and race. Different types of democracy and their most important features are discussed. 'Freedom' is usually claimed to be the prime objective of political activity. The book discusses equality of human rights, distributional equality, equality before the law, the claims for group equality on the grounds of race, gender, class. Rights, obligations and citizenship are closely associated. Ideology is the driving force of political discourse. The book also discusses nationalism's growth and development over the last two centuries with particular reference to its main features and assumptions. It outlines the development of conservatism as a political ideology and movement in Britain during the last two centuries. An overview of liberalism, socialism, Marxism, anarchism, and Fascism follows. Environmentalism and feminism are also discussed. Finally, the book talks about how ideological change occurs and stresses the importance of rationality in politics.
‘distributionalequality’ as they involve some degree of equalising wealth and power
in society. The egalitarian principle, however, is relevant here and is
quite straightforward. All citizens pay taxes to support health,
educational and welfare systems provided by the state. All citizens,
therefore, whatever their personal wealth, have an equal right to a range of
benefits constituting a ‘citizenship package’. This package
element in modern
political discourse. We discuss equality and its value in politics: equality
of human rights, distributionalequality, equality before the law, the
claims for group equality on the grounds of race, gender, class. It is
important to be aware of the challenges to equality as a principle,
especially when it is seen to conflict with a greater value, liberty.
6 Rights, obligations and citizenship