Friday, June 24, 2016

Winston Churchill on European Integration

The following is the final paragraph of a speech by Churchill at Zurich University on September 19, 1946:

“I must now sum up the propositions which are before you. Our constant aim must be to build and fortify the strength of [the United Nations]. Under and within that world concept we must re-create the European family in a regional structure called, it may be, the United States of Europe. The first step is to form a Council of Europe. If at first all the states of Europe are not willing or able to join the union, we must nevertheless proceed to assemble and combine those who will and those who can. The salvation of the common people of every race and of every land from war or servitude must be established on solid foundations and must be guarded by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than submit to tyranny. In all this urgent work, France and Germany must take the lead together. Great Britain, the British Commonwealth of Nations, mighty America, and I trust Soviet Russia—for then indeed all would be well—must be the friends and sponsors of the new Europe and must champion its right to live and shine.”—Winston Churchill

Notice that Churchill seems to exclude Britain from this European project! Yet Churchill’s “efforts eventually led to the Hague Congress of May 1948 and the creation of the Council of Europe in 1949, both milestones in European integration.”*

* Brent F. Nelsen and Alexander Stubb, eds. The European Union: Readings on the Theory and Practice of European Integration (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 3rd ed., 2003). See too, Robert Rhodes James, ed. Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963, Vol. 7, 1943-1949 (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1974).

Further Reading: 
  • Arnull, Anthony and Damian Chalmers, eds. The Oxford Handbook of European Union Law. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2015. 
  • Bomberg, Elizabeth, John Peterson, and Richard Corbett, eds. The European Union: How Does it Work? New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. 
  • Corbett, Richard, Francis Jacobs, and Michael Shackleton. The European Parliament. London: John Harper Publishing, 8th ed., 2011. 
  • Jones, Erik, Anand Menon, and Stephen Weatherill, eds. The Oxford Handbook of the European Union. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2012.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Gandhi at the Aga Khan Palace

From a blog post by Vinay Lal with his characteristically thoughtful and informed reflections upon visiting the Aga Khan Palace in Pune, India:

“He may be the ‘Father of the Nation,’ but it is more than his reputation, lately under assault from all the wise ones, that lies in tatters. A plaque at the entrance to the Aga Khan Palace in Pune, where Gandhi was confined for two years after he issued a call to the British to ‘Quit India’ in August 1942, furnishes a brief introduction to this ‘monument of national importance.’

On my visit to this monument in March of this year, I found it in a state of utter dilapidation. This is far from being India’s only ‘national monument’ that has suffered from neglect and indifference; however, its association with Gandhi most likely ensures that it is not likely to see a revival of its fortunes. If the murder of Gandhi was a permissive assassination, one celebrated by those elites who were enraged at the thought that the old man would if alive continue to exert an influence upon the affairs of a young nation-state struggling to find its feet in an evil world, permissive neglect seems to be the modus operandi through which Gandhi is slowly being sent into oblivion. [….]

The hostility to Gandhi among the advocates of Hindu nationalism is palpable. Considerable segments of the RSS have thought nothing of glorifying his assassin, Nathuram Godse, who not coincidentally was born in Pune District. Whatever the culpability, which cannot be doubted, of previous local administrations, neither the present local nor the state government can be expected to have any interest in reviving an institution intended to celebrate the life of a man whom they view as guilty of appeasing the Muslims and weakening the Hindu nation. The Government of Maharashtra is securely in the hands of a BJP-Shiv Sena combine; the Shiv Sena’s former leader, the late Bal Thackeray, was often heard deriding Gandhi as a eunuch. [….]  

Nearly ten years ago, I wrote a piece in the Economic and Political Weekly entitled ‘The Gandhi Everyone Loves to Hate,’ arguing that every constituency in India had a grievance with him. In the intervening years, it has become almost obligatory to denounce Gandhi as a sexist and racist; and there are even websites that claim that he raped virgins and should have been jailed as a serial sex offender. Some of his critics had been long been convinced that he had prevented the possibility of a ‘real’ revolution—apparently, unless several million people have not been killed, or the enemy has not been exterminated in a calculated genocide, a genuine upheaval cannot be viewed as having taken place—in India, but lately we have also heard that his empathy for Dalits was nothing but a sham and that he even fortified the British empire in South Africa and India alike. Arundhati Roy is, of course, much too smart and sophisticated to write a book with a title akin to something like ‘The Gandhi You Never Knew,’ but the substance of her critique is effectively the same. And that critique is nothing other than the stupid idea that the ‘real’ Gandhi has been hidden from history. If the state of the exhibits at the Aga Khan Palace suggests anything, it will not be long before Gandhi disappears altogether from public view. Then India can celebrate its ‘real’ independence and manhood.”

The full post, with Lal's recent photographs, is here. My bibliography on the life, work and legacy of Gandhi, is here.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Senator McCain’s batshit crazy account of historical and political causation (hence, responsibility)

In the news: 
“Republican Sen. John McCain said Thursday that President Barack Obama is ‘directly responsible’ for the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, because of the rise of the Islamic State group on the president’s watch. But he later issued a statement saying that he ‘misspoke.’

‘I did not mean to imply that the president was personally responsible. I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the president himself,’ McCain said in his statement, issued as his initial comments were drawing heated criticism from Democrats. [….]

‘Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaida went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq,’ a visibly angry McCain said as the Senate debated a spending bill.” 

Senator McCain here displays an appalling measure of historical amnesia in his construction of a compact and fanciful chain of causation and responsibility. Setting aside for now events intrinsic in the first instance to Syria, he’s implausibly forgotten or deliberately ignored the U.S.—dominated coalition’s invasion of Iraq, which of course preceded and eventually led to the need for withdrawal of troops from the country, a withdrawal that had the endorsement of the American electorate. Congress initiated calls for withdrawal of troops, which then began under President Bush, while it was President Obama who, rightly or wrongly, later saw fit to extend the date of withdrawal! As C.A.J. (‘Tony’) Coady reminds us in his book Messy Morality: The Challenge of Politics (Clarendon Press, 2008), it was this invasion that brought Iraq close to civil war, as well as “unleashed the religious and tribal enmities that had been subdued by the brutal Hussein regime. It has also given opportunities for hitherto non-existent sub-state terrorism in the country as well as the depredations of criminal gangs, and created resentments and rage against the invaders amongst many in the population at large by the arrogant and often racist treatment meted out to Iraqis by troops made edgy and wary by the constant pressure of insurgent war that shows little sign of abating. Abu Ghraib and reported raping and killing by occupying troops are only the tip of the iceberg of this aspect of the disaster.”

Coady further notes that “It is indeed a good thing that the murderous tyrant Saddam is gone, and that he has no further opportunity to kill and despoil on the massive scale that he did [on occasion, with the assistance and blessings of the U.S., as during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88)]. The evil acts of his regime must be acknowledged, and they legitimately had weight in thinking about an international response to Iraq. But the destabilizing of the Middle East, the greatly increased impetus to terrorism, the benefits of power to Iran, and the descent of Iraq into civic chaos are colossal prices to pay. Indeed, according to one reputable estimate, published in 2006, there has been an increase of 655,000 Iraqi deaths directly attributable to the invasion of 2003 and its aftermath. In addition, there has been a massive exodus of Iraqi people to other countries, although recently some refugees have returned.”

In short, McCain’s self-righteous anger is misplaced because misdirected, as it is President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair who should be held primarily responsible for the chain of consequences and “utter failures” he invokes, all of which began under the duplicitous ideological guise of a quest “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.” In addition to the arrogance, condescension, and impudent moralism of the messianic complex (or militant humanitarianism’), recall that no such weapons ever existed, nor was there compelling evidence that Hussein consistently or reliably aided or supported terrorism outside Iraq. [Lest the wrong inference be made from the foregoing, I should note that I do not believe ISIS had anything whatsoever to do with the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, save for the subsidiary and fantasized role it played in the severely disturbed mind of Omar Mateen.]

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Light and Shadow Cast by Philosophy on Political Praxis (revolutionary or otherwise)

Both “Kantian moral freedom and the rhetoric of prophetic nationalism emerged from Rousseau’s effort to internalize Hobbesian sovereignty….” This apparently “puzzling feature of Rousseau’s political thought has in fact “inspired two projects that seem different and opposed to one another. John Rawls finds in Rousseau the basic framework for the Kantian-liberal project of constructing a legitimate state around the [hypothetical] consent of morally autonomous individuals united in a conception of public reason. But others find in the same political theory arguments for a more romantic politics in which strong and prerational passions –patriotic and nationalistic—sentiments of belonging—play a central role.” — Bryan Garsten in Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment (Harvard University Press, 2006)

It is the latter interpretation of Rousseau’s “transformation of Hobbesian sovereignty” that Jonathan Israel* attributes to the authoritarian populism (which culminated in ‘the Terror’) of Marat and Robespierre, as it subordinated reason to popular will and the common man’s feelings. This raises a topic broached by one of my former teachers: “It is … one thing to stress the impact of ideas and opinions on policies and actions. It is quite another matter to single out certain thinkers or theories or concepts as responsible for what they could neither have visualized nor intended in all its implications.” In brief, yes, aspects of Rousseau’s thought had a pernicious influence on the likes of Marat and Robespierre, but we cannot place “the entire burden of blame” on Rousseau’s political philosophy for the ruthless repression of Montagnard rule (save the Dantonists), thereby condemning Rousseau by Robespierre, any more than we should condemn Marx by Stalin. It is no doubt true that “Robespierrisme—in religious policy just as in education, in its views on women, black emancipation, constitutional theory, press freedom, and individual rights—everywhere clashed with the Revolution’s essential principles and, above all, the Rights of Man,” but that should not mean we reduce Rousseau’s political thought to its influence on Robespierrisme: “In pleading against the tyrannical and tragic consequence of isms and systems, we may foist too easily the entire burden of blame upon those very thinkers whose theories were most vulnerable to distortion as well as exploitation.”**

* See his “veritable tour de force,” Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French Revolution from the Rights of Man to Robespierre (Princeton University Press, 2014).
** Raghavan Iyer, Utilitarianism and All That (Chatto & Windus, 1960).

Sunday, April 03, 2016

J.S. Mill, John Rawls, and G.A. Cohen: The Contingent Nature of Capitalist Incentives

A Cuban doctor in Haiti
“While we repudiated with the greatest energy that tyranny of society over the individual which most Socialistic systems are supposed to involve, we yet looked forward to a time when society will no longer be divided into the idle and the industrious; when the rule that they who do not work shall not eat, will be applied not to paupers only, but impartially to all; when the division of the produce of labour, instead of depending, as in so great a degree it now does, on the accident of birth, will be made by concert on an acknowledged principle of justice; and when it will no longer either be, or be thought to be, impossible for human beings to exert themselves strenuously in procuring benefits which are not to be exclusively their own, but to be shared with the society they belong to. The social problem of the future we considered to be, how to unite the greatest individual liberty of action, with a common ownership in the raw material of the globe, and an equal participation of all in the benefits of combined labour. We had not the presumption to suppose that we could already foresee, by what precise form of institutions these objects could most effectually be attained, or at how near or how distant a period they would become practicable. We saw clearly that to render any such social transformation either possible or desirable, an equivalent change of character must take place both in the uncultivated herd who now compose the labouring masses, and in the immense majority of their employers. Both these classes must learn by practice to labour and combine for generous, or at all events for public and social purposes, and not, as hitherto, solely for narrowly interested ones. But the capacity to do this has always existed in mankind, and is not, nor is ever likely to be, extinct. Education, habit, and the cultivation of the sentiments, will make a common man dig or weave for his country, as readily as fight for his country. True enough, it is only by slow degrees, and a system of culture prolonged through successive generations, that men in general can be brought up to this point. But the hindrance is not in the essential constitution of human nature. Interest in the common good is at present so weak a motive in the generality not because it can never be otherwise, but because the mind is not accustomed to dwell on it as it dwells from morning till night on things which tend only to personal advantage. When called into activity, as only self-interest now is, by the daily course of life, and spurred from behind by the love of distinction and the fear of shame, it is capable of producing, even in common men, the most strenuous exertions as well as the most heroic sacrifices. The deep-rooted selfishness which forms the general character of the existing state of society, is so deeply rooted, only because the whole course of existing institutions tends to foster it; and modern institutions in some respects more than ancient, since the occasions on which the individual is called on to do anything for the public without receiving its pay, are far less frequent in modern life, than the smaller commonwealths of antiquity. These considerations did not make us overlook the folly of premature attempts to dispense with the inducements of private interest in social affairs, while no substitute for them has been or can be provided: but we regarded all existing institutions and social arrangements as being (in a phrase I once heard from Austin) ‘merely provisional,’ and we welcomed with the greatest pleasure and interest all socialistic experiments by select individuals (such as the Co-operative Societies), which, whether they succeeded or failed, could not but operate as a most useful education of those who took part in them, by cultivating their capacity of acting upon motives pointing directly to the general good, or making them aware of the defects which render them and others incapable of doing so.”

—From John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography (1873). Part of this passage was quoted at the end of G.A. Cohen’s chapter on “The Incentives Argument,” in his book, Rescuing Justice and Equality (Harvard University Press, 2008). I was reading afresh the section on the “lax” and “strict” interpretations of Rawls’s “difference principle,”[1] which has to do with the incentives of market-maximizing “high fliers” (like doctors in the U.S., say, in contrast with Cuban doctors, a salient comparison highlighted by the fact that Cuba provides ‘more medical personnel to the developing world than all the G8 countries combined[2]). As Cohen writes in the conclusion to his chapter, “Rawls’s lax application of his difference principle [which is nonetheless justified in some policy contexts] means ‘giving to those who have.’ He presents the incentive policy as a feature of the just society, whereas it is in fact, and as Mill says, just ‘highly expedient’ in society as we know it, a sober ‘compromise with the selfish type of character’ formed by capitalism. Philosophers in search of justice should not be content with an expedient compromise. To call expediency justice goes against the regeneration to which Mill looked forward at the end of this fine passage.” In other words: “high fliers would forgo incentives properly so-called in a full compliance society governed by the difference principle [i.e., on a strict reading thereof] and characterized by fraternity and universal dignity.” 

[1] In one of its formulations, the principle states “that inequalities are just if and only if they are necessary to make the worst off people in society better than they would otherwise be.” Cohen “disagree[s] sharply with Rawls on the matter of which inequalities pass the test for justifying inequality it sets and, therefore, about how much inequality passes the test.” The kernel of Cohen’s critique of Rawls on this score is that he does not apply the difference principle “in censure of the self-seeking choices of high-flying marketeers, choices which induce an inequality harmful to the badly off.” See, in addition to the more thorough treatment in Rescuing Justice and Equality (2008), the (rhetorically) accessible analysis provided in Cohens Gifford Lectures (1996) and published in his book, If You’re an Egalitarian, How Come You’re So Rich? (Harvard University Press, 2000): 117-133. 
[2] See, for example, John M. Kirk and H. Michael Erisman, Cuban Medical Internationalism: Origins, Evolution, and Goals (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), and Steve Brouwer, “The Cuban Revolutionary Doctor: The Ultimate Weapon of Solidarity,” Monthly Review, January 2009 (Vol. 60, No. 8). 

Sierra Leone’s government welcomes the 165 Cuban health-care workers who came to fight Ebola. (Glenna Gordon for The Wall Street Journal)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Reading: Toward Enlightenment & Emancipation

Reading a salvage book by one of the Salvage men on the truck of the A.T.S. salvage office. St. Nazaire. c1919. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Yes, I know, that is a rather pretentious title, but I believe it to be true (or at least could be true). Here is a list of the bibliographies available at my Academia page. (If you can’t access any of these let me know and I will send a PDF copy or copies to you.) Some, if not many of these will be occasionally updated. I also have published and unpublished writings on motley topics (and some teaching material) there as well if you are interested

43. Judaism

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Human Rights & International Law

I think the philosophical enterprise of developing a “moral theory” of human rights is important, one fine example of which (and there are others) is James Griffin’s On Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2008). Michael J. Perry argues, in turn, for a religious ground of the morality of human rights (owing to the fundamental nature of the notion of inherent human dignity), which I do not believe is necessary to a liberal democratic polity’s constitutional commitment to a sound and persuasive conception of human dignity, as well as the corresponding moral theory of human rights. However, I do think it is important, in the spirit if not letter of Rawls’s notion of an “overlapping consensus,” that members of religious traditions be capable of endorsing this constitutionally entrenched notion of human dignity and the theory of human rights with (more or less) arguments generated from within their respective (theistic and non-theistic) worldviews, so Perry’s book is centrally important to that endeavor (if they cannot, that speaks more to the problematic nature of their religious beliefs than it does to the indispensable value of dignity and human rights). Which brings us back to the question of the relative role of a moral theory of human rights: in which case it may be equally true and perhaps more urgent and significant in consequence that, with Allen Buchanan, we “take into account a crucial fact:”

“International human rights law is central to human rights practice. Therefore, any assessment of the moral status of human rights practice must acknowledge the importance of international human rights law in the practice.” 

Of course to do this one must first appreciate the skeptical if not “eliminativist” nonsense incarnate in arguments like that of Jack Goldsmith and Richard Posner in which international human rights law is not law but merely moral exhortation or aspiration, or simply a kind of politics. Posner’s recent book is apropos: The Twilight of Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2014). * 

And thus our book of the day: Allen Buchanan, The Heart of Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2013). 

* See, for example, Robert Hockett’s critique of such arguments in “Promise against Peril: Of Power, Principle, and Purpose in International Law” as well as his review essay, “The Limits of Their World.” 

My bibliography for international law is here. And the compilation for human rights, here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Pan-Africanism, Black Internationalism, & Black Cosmopolitanism: A Bibliography

As today is International Women’s Day, I thought I would post these two photos of Claudia Jones (née Claudia Vera Cumberbatch: 21 February 1915 - 24 December 1964) in conjunction with notice of my latest bibliography on Pan-Africanism, Black Internationalism, and Black Cosmopolitanism.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

J.S. Mill’s pamphlet, The Subjection of Women (1869)

There is an absolutely exquisite and powerfully compelling analysis of J.S. Mill’s political pamphlet, The Subjection of Women (London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1869) by Nadia Urbinati near the end of Mill on Democracy: From the Athenian Polis to Representative Government (University of Chicago Press, 2002): 175-189. I happen to have a “new impression” of Mill’s text published in 1909 by Longmans, Green and Co. (London, New York, Bombay, and Calcutta!) that I bought many years ago for $2.00 (hence the image from a book that was printed three years prior to mine but is otherwise the same). It has an introduction with a detailed outline of the argument not found in the first edition.

In any case, Urbinati describes it as a political work that goes beyond “liberal politics.” She notes that “since the 1980s,” scholars have in several important respects corrected earlier liberal readings, thereby recovering a “radicalized” feminism, although these later interpretations transformed The Subjection of Women into a “moral text that was a target of his contemporaries.” According to Urbinati, however, while it is indeed a “radical text,” this is “not because it translates gender inequality into a moral issue, but rather because it uses political categories to analyze interpersonal relations that are not intrinsically political. The radicalism of Mill’s feminism is normative because it stems from an analysis of human relations as power relations.”

Urbinati reminds us that Mill’s “political-rhetorical text” “was conceived, written, and published as a pamphlet that addressed a specific audience, not a hypothetical humanity, and not even the république des lettres or a neutral or impartial reader.” Moreover, “[a]lthough he was convinced of the urgency of women’s emancipation, [Mill] waited eight years to publish The Subjection of Women because he thought in 1861, when he wrote it, the political and cultural climate was not ready for his ideas about emancipation. [….] Mill was not an academic, nor was his feminism academic: ‘It is necessary on such subject [women’s equality] to be as far as possible invulnerable.’” Urbinati details Mill’s rhetorical “strategies,” the style being “forensic for deliberative purposes.” And while he “set up his adversarial strategy by stating the liberal principles of equality and liberty up front, he did not limit himself to liberal arguments.” Mill displays a mastery of Aristotle’s The Art of Rhetoric, invoking liberal principles as self-evident or a priori and widely shared by way of “ground[ing] [his] ‘demonstration of the actual conditions of injustice women suffer, allowing him to challenge his adversaries to justify their biased views publicly and daring them to oppose them with reasoned arguments, rather than ‘preferences’ or dogmatic assumptions. So from the very beginning, Mill presented The Subjection of Women as a text of advocacy.”

Mill’s evidentiary “proofs” were sundry: “psychological, historical, logical, and moral.”

“He vividly described the oppressive character of Victorian marriage laws, and the mental and physical violence women suffered as a consequence of male domination. Drawing on historical examples of women’s excellence, and employing the empirical rule that forbids any evaluation of women’s capabilities until they have been given the chance and instruments to express themselves freely, he refuted the common view of women’s intellectual inferiority. He claimed, finally, that women’s emancipation will lead to moral progress and the general improvement of the whole society, and that such progress is consistent with the institution of representative government which actually assume the existence of and requires independent citizens.”

The rhetorical strategies employed are essential to proper appreciation of the political context and corresponding arguments employed in Mill’s “book,” which have often been insufficiently grasped or ill-understood. Urbinati elaborates:

“It is interesting that the two elements that make The Subjection of Women a rhetorical text—the eclecticism of its arguments and the kind of demonstrations it adduces—have been the main targets of criticism. On the one hand, critics complain that Mill’s book is a ‘mixture’ of different approaches and, as such, a betrayal of theoretical consistency. On the other, they question the evidence he used to justify his claim, that is, the demonstrations he used to capture his audience’s attention and sympathy. Indeed, the most common objection concentrates on the final pages of the second chapter, where Mill tried to assure his Victorian readers that giving women freedom of choice would not necessarily imply destroying the family since, presumably, women would choose to raise children instead of looking for a job.

I believe, though, that it is inappropriate to analyze this argument in terms of its theoretical consistency with the a priori principles of equality and liberty. Clearly, Mill was not trying to build a general theory of justice, but to make a radical principle palatable to an audience that was not radical at all, as the furious reactions to his book show. Like other feminists of his time, he had to be prudent in order to be radical.”

In fine Aristotelian fashion, Mill’s rhetoric is keenly sensitive to “the passions, habits, and tastes of its audience.” Mill had to reassure his readers that the means and ends of the emancipation of women would not tear asunder the social fabric (to stick with the metaphor: it should rather, in time, strengthen its warp and weft). In fairness to Mill,

“to point out that some of Mill’s opinions are weak and moderated is simply to say that, as a political pamphlet, his text is the product of a specific time and place. Nevertheless, its theoretical value does not lie in the kinds of demonstration he uses, but in the core argument of his vindication. It is this argument that makes The Subjection of Women a radical and still powerful text.”

Mill characterizes the institution of marriage in his time and place as one of “despotism,” and thus freedom from subjection and movement toward a society conspicuous for the cooperation of self-dependent citizens (as in the Athenian polis) would not be attained by simply calling upon “arguments for individual free choice,” or invoking the model of “marriage as a contractual relation” [in which case the terms would meet the conditions of an unconscionable adhesion contract*], or merely proposing a “policy of opportunity.” Rather, legal reform would have to be complemented and reinforced by reformation of education, profound changes in social norms and opinions, in the manner and substance of habits and social inculcation generally, and of course in the nature of family life itself. As Urbinati explains, Mill conceived of the ideal marriage alone the lines of a “miniaturized polis,” which implies

“a form of freedom wherein each participates according to competence and character. In the polis, the rule of law allows equal enjoyment of liberty and therefore the expression of individual variety. Whereas despotism generates and requires atomistic homogenous subjects devoid of individuality, the polis is based on individual specificity and voluntary commitment, and fosters civic friendship. Here, equality refers to a condition of reciprocity in power relations, to a plurality of roles and ways to contribute to the common good.”

Finally, it was Mill’s notion of despotism that “allowed [him] to politicize all facets of women’s lives within the family, and gave his feminism a radical twist.” And the lens of radicalism can be said to permit us a vision beyond the social and political geography of liberalism proper (or at least its often dominant libertarian topography):

“The cause of women’s freedom became a cause of freedom for the entire society, just like the cause of the slaves in abolitionist writings and of the working class in Marx’s theory. This represented a decisive break with the normative principle of the directly responsible individual agent that underpins the theory of negative liberty. The marital system, like slavery in America and the capitalist system of production, constituted an objective system of relations that operated independently of the will and the intention of the actors. The husband in Mill’s theory, like the capitalist in Marx’s, was driven, as it were, to act according to the logic of domination. Patriarchal relations shaped and determined his identity just as they did his wife’s. So just as a ‘good’ capitalist could not change the exploitative nature of capitalism, a few ‘good’ and humane husbands couldn’t change the patriarchal nature of marriage. By the same token, a husband’s respect for his wife’s negative freedom could not in itself guarantee her security or recognition as an equal. Mill used the same argument to support women’s enfranchisement.”

* Urbinati proceeds to point out that William Godwin’s Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793) “castigated the existing marital ‘contract’ as a ‘fraud,’ and the worst of all monopolies, since it institutionalized a relation of slavery,” an argument “anticipated” by the woman he married, Mary Wollstonecraft. It was this English writer, philosopher, and pioneering feminist who “made equality a prerequisite for the dignity of man as well as women: the subjection of women precludes men themselves from achieving recognition as the bearers of the highest human qualities, such as virtue and intelligence.”