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Liberty, equality, fraternity

Liberty, equality, fraternity

Paul Spicker
Copyright Date: 2006
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  • Book Info
    Liberty, equality, fraternity
    Book Description:

    Paul Spicker's new book takes the three founding principles of the French Revolution - Liberty, Equality, Fraternity - and examines how they relate to social policy today. The book considers the political and moral dimensions of a wide range of social policies, and offers a different way of thinking about each subject from the way it is usually analysed. The book is in three main parts, one part devoted to Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in turn. Each part explores the elements and dimensions of the key concept, its application to policy, its interrelationship with the other two principles, and how policies have developed to promote the principle in society. The conclusion outlines three models of radical politics, based on the main concepts. Liberty, equality, fraternity is an original, thought-provoking book, addressing perennial themes with many topical examples drawn from policy in practice, and offering distinctive insights into socialist and radical thinking.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-164-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Preface
    (pp. v-viii)
    Paul Spicker
  4. Notes on the author
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-2)

    The discussion of liberty, equality and fraternity has been a major influence on political thought since the time of the French Revolution. The case can be made for a much longer historical perspective on each – the libertarianism of religious dissenters, the egalitarianism of the Levellers, and the fraternity of the guilds – but the effect of the Revolution was to make these principles central to radical approaches. The French Revolution marked the triumph of ‘the people’. It pronounced, in 1789, theDeclaration of the rights of man and of the citizen.⁷ In theoretical terms, many of the ideas were ill worked...

  6. Part One: Liberty

    • ONE Liberty
      (pp. 5-42)

      Liberty is commonly represented in terms of ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ approaches. Negative freedom refers mainly to freedom from restraint. People are free if no one is interfering with them, or preventing them from doing what they are able to do. Positive freedom can refer to the freedom to act, or to self–determination. In the first sense, positive freedom is about power; people who are unable to do things are not free to do them. In the second sense, positive freedom is about being able to make decisions, and to choose.

      Although the distinction is widely used, it does not...

    • TWO Towards a free society
      (pp. 43-62)

      The idea of liberty is a guide to action, rather than a specific prescription, and there is no single policy which is demanded by it. In a seminal essay, Charles Taylor makes the important point that all freedoms are not equal. He gives the example of two countries, one of which limits freedom of religion but does not have many traffic controls (his example was Albania), while the other, like the UK, has freedom of religion but a lot of traffic lights.⁹⁶ These are not equivalent. Freedom matters because it protects the things we value, like religion, education or the...

  7. Part Two: Equality

    • THREE Equality
      (pp. 65-98)

      Social inequality is about disadvantage. People are unequal when one has an advantage over another. Advantage and disadvantage are social relationships. People are not said to be disadvantaged because they are worse off, or in a less desirable state than others,¹²² but because their social relationships make them worse off. For example, if one person has cancer and another does not, that is not inequality; it is a difference in need. The very extensive literature on ‘inequalities in health’ is not about the fact that some people are healthy while others are not: it is rather concerned with the relationship...

    • FOUR Towards equality
      (pp. 99-116)

      In Chapter Two I considered some of the elements of a ‘free society’. It is more difficult to represent the elements of an ‘equal society’, because the range of understandings is much wider. Equality covers a range of different concerns and aspirations; it embraces several discrete approaches, such as equality of persons, equality of rights and equality of welfare; and different forms of equality are achievable through a wide range of different methods.

      There are five main types of policy for equality. Firstly, there is equality of treatment. People are not treated equally by treated uniformly: equality before the law...

  8. Part Three: Fraternity

    • FIVE Fraternity and solidarity
      (pp. 119-142)

      The idea of fraternity is based in the idea that people have responsibilities to each other. Fraternity was defined after the French Revolution, in the constitution of year III, in the following terms:

      Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you; do constantly to others the good which you would wish to receive from them.²³⁸

      The vagueness of the definition suggests that, despite its place in the revolutionary slogan, the idea of fraternity was not clearly understood. This is a version of the ‘golden rule’, ‘do as you would be done by’, rather...

    • SIX The inclusive society
      (pp. 143-158)

      Solidarity has long been established in the political lexicon of European countries, and with its widespread use comes a degree of ambiguity. For practical purposes, there are very different understandings of solidarity. One model of solidarity bases it in rational cooperation and mutual aid. In developing countries, the primary strategy has been to facilitate the integration of people into the formal economy, an approach which has the decided advantages of increasing their income, and giving them access to formal patterns of exchange, but the disadvantage of requiring specialisation and making people vulnerable to economic forces. In developed economies, and in...

  9. Conclusion: radical politics
    (pp. 159-166)

    It commonly happens, where ideas are widely used, that they come to have many meanings, not all of them consistent. Liberty, equality and fraternity can be understood in many ways, and much of this book has been concerned with drawing out the implications of different interpretations. In this concluding section, I want to take a narrower, more specific, focus on the concepts. Any simplification runs the risk of misrepresenting the situation, and there is always the danger that selective consideration will hide as much as it reveals. It seems to me, though, that these ideas still have a special place...

  10. References
    (pp. 167-188)
  11. Subject index
    (pp. 189-192)
  12. Index of names
    (pp. 193-194)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 195-196)