This book provides a critical account of contemporary egalitarian theories. It challenges their focus on issues of choice and personal responsibility, and questions their ability to address the major inequalities that characterise the contemporary world, before presenting an alternative vision of egalitarian politics based on the challenge of a genuinely inclusive form of citizenship. This vision is defended through a critical discussion of four key issues in political theory: the recognition/redistribution debate, the connection between equality and responsibility, the ideal of equal opportunities, and the significance of ‘globalisation’ for the politics of equal citizenship. The book provides a critical account of the most important contemporary egalitarian theories, including the work of John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin and the luck egalitarians, Anne Phillips, Iris Young and Nancy Fraser. It also relates these theories to contemporary political (and especially citizenship) practice, assessing them in relation to the impact of neoliberalism on contemporary welfare states, and the shift from ‘social’ to ‘active’ forms of citizenship.
How do we think about radical politics today, in the wake of the collapse of Marxist-Leninism and the triumph of neo-liberal capitalism? How should radical political theory respond to new challenges posed by globalisation, postmodernity, the ‘war on terror’ and the rise of religious fundamentalism? How are we to take account of the new social movements and political struggles appearing on the global horizon? In addressing these questions, this book explores the theme of universality and its place in radical political theory. It argues that both Marxist politics of class struggle and the postmodern politics of difference have reached their historical and political limits, and that what is needed is a new approach to universality, a new way of thinking about collective politics. By exploring various themes and ideas within poststructuralist and post-Marxist theory, the book develops a new approach to universality — one that has implications for politics today, particularly on questions of power, subjectivity, ethics and democracy. In so doing, it engages in debates with thinkers such as Laclau, Žižek, Badiou and Rancière over the future of radical politics. The book also applies theoretical insights to contemporary events such as the emergence of the anti-globalisation movement, the ‘war on terrorism’, the rise of anti-immigrant racism and the nihilistic violence that lurks at the margins of the political.