THE MEANING OF CITIZENSHIP / Vol. 41, No. 4 (Winter 1974)
Arien Mack, Editor
Decline and fall is the most common historical perception, even among intellectuals. Here in the United States it is frequently said that our citizens' commitment to the political community is less profound than it once was. One way of examining this idea is to ask what it is we expect of citizens—of citizens in general but also of American citizens in particular. What do we expect of one another? I am going to suggest a list of common expectations; I shall try to make it an exhaustive list. Working our way through it, we shall see that we are the citizens we ought to be, given the social and political order in which we live. And if critics of our citizenship remain dissatisfied, then it will be time to ask how that order might be changed.
I am not proposing revival of any word that grates on the ear as does "citizenize'" and that, at least in transitive form, carries unwanted implications of mass processing of human beings. But the verb does have this merit: It reminds us that citizenship in the West is more than simply a condition or status; it is a process, with identifiable phases in time and with contexts in history which unite it in some degree with other processes such as individualism and seculctrism. And it is as process in time, I suggest, that citizenship looms up as one of the decisive differences between the Western state and the traditional state of Asia.
I have to admit that I found it a little difficult to understand the question which was put to me and which serves as the title for this essay. How could a citizen possibly belong to several political entities at once? Even the big companies called "multinationals" reflect the nationalities of the countries where their home offices are located. Surely, too, one cannot claim the rights of citizenship without accepting its duties, such as military service. After much thought I continue to believe that my initial reaction—that the idea of multinational citizenship is a contradiction in terms—was correct. Yet I admit that the question can arise: the various rights of citizenship are not all of a piece, and do not all relate to the state in the same way.
Where does one find a legitimate base for the power of corporate managements to take actions that affect the peoples of foreign states? How do multinational corporations as economic institutions fit into the antiquated framework by which political power is now organized? I say antiquated, for no longer does the nation-state even remotely approach an adequate institutional structure to define the activities of a modern corporate enterprise, the small nation-states are, as economic units, ridiculous. Yet, since the problem could be tackled frontally only by revolution—which is repugnant to businessmen—resourceful entrepreneurs sought an easier answer. Always impatient with politics, they have, from the earliest dynastic periods, paid little heed to national boundaries, reaching out with their caravan routes to buy or sell at the earth's farthest corners.
There is no more dynamic social figure in modern history than The Citizen. For centuries now, he has been member and motor of rising social groups. In inspiring and often leading these groups, The Citizen has moved fast and far, so far indeed that we may be approaching a point at which he is in danger of overreaching himself by destroying through his activity the very conditions which he needs to breathe and work. The dynamics of citizenship might upset in the end that equilibrium of equality and liberty for the creation of which it seemed uniquely suited.
Studies of the international corporation ought to relate to some broader theory of modern society. Without such a philosophical and institutional context, economic policy studies not only tend to give excessively academic interpretations to economic events but easily fall prey to a certain political and moral obtuseness. Much current writing on international corporations does, moreover, reflect underdeveloped notions of society, and in particular of the political state. A remedy, however, is available. Traditional political philosophy provides a rich theory of the state, full of insight from centuries of painful experience. A few broad points about that traditional theory, and its implications for the study of business corporations, may perhaps suggest some useful lines for orienting futures studies.
In this paper I wish to reverse the perspective usually employed by the anthropologist. I will not assume a dichotomy between the primitive, preindustrial world and the industrial world in which anthropology itself has developed. Instead, I will examine the ideological, intellectual, and historical factors that have governed the anthropologist's relationship with his own society and with the primitive world which was his subject matter. I will assume that modernizing tendencies have eroded many of anthropology's basic assumptions about itself and its subject matter, and I will try to indicate some implications that follow for the future of the craft.
The nation-state is a system of government allocating values in a certain way. In this regard, citizenship can be measured in terms of the number of values reaching down to the single citizen compared to his contribution in producing them. This is a two-fold yardstick, measuring the capability of the nation-state to generate values and its system of distributing them. Accordingly, the concept of citizenship has these two dimensions by which to be assessed. What size state is sufficient to produce the necessary economic, military, and political values for its citizens? What type of state distributes the most values to most of its citizens? Whether or not to enlarge the concept of citizenship depends primarily on the answers to these two questions.