Cultivating Citizenship: On the Importance of Stakeholding
In T. Brooks (ed), Political Emotions (Palgrave, 2022).
19 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2022
Date Written: January 5, 2022
In The New Religious Intolerance, Martha C. Nussbaum examines the political culture of fear arising from our post-9/11 world characterised by increasing Islamophobia in countries often regarded as tolerant and open societies. This raises serious questions about how genuinely tolerant these states are given the unsatisfactory reasons offered in support of certain laws. She argues that this problem is worse for European governments than the United States. Examples include the calls for banning minarets and the veil which are more common in the former than the latter.
Nussbaum exposes this new religious intolerance as ethically inconsistent, lacking in good principles about religious liberty and failing to engage others in any satisfactory level of empathetic participation. She advocates a compelling new model of ‘civic friendship’—built on earlier work by Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island—as an important relationship citizens should share that can help us overcome intolerance in future. We should cultivate equality between citizens by securing equal freedoms and equal respect to safeguard our societies from a culture of fear. Civic friendship is important because it is a hallmark of tolerance. But is it enough?
In this chapter, I argue that civic friendship is vital, but insufficiently strong as a connection to secure the important role that it is meant to serve in overcoming intolerance. This is because the citizenship we require is more than an acceptance of shared institutions and a recognition of others as political equals: it is also our possessing a conviction about ourselves as what we might call ‘stakeholders’. If we lack this conviction, then we can have freedom and even reciprocity while suffering from social and political alienation. These senses of alienation feed into the many pathologies associated with the demonization of cultural minorities, such as irrational fears of subversion, contamination and threats. So if we aim to overcome intolerance, we must also seek to overcome alienation: civic friendship is one important step towards this, but it is insufficient.
Keywords: capabilities, multiculturalism, Nussbaum, stakeholding, religion, religious intolerance
JEL Classification: K00 K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation