Given a just cause, capacity for endless suffering and avoidanceof violence, victory is a certainty. ”Subsequently, Gandhi abandoned the term ‘passive resistance’, and chose the term ‘satyagraha’. The concept of satyagraha is devoid of any feelings of hatred and violent means. It is basedon spiritual purity. Like Tolstoy, Gandhi was opposed to all forms of violence in his commitmentsto political actions. Arne Naess, a leading theoretician on Gandhi has stressed Gandhi’s“constructive imagination and uncommon ingenuity in finding and applying morally acceptableforms of political action. Satyagraha, the unique system of non-violent resistance to thegovernment’s arbitrary methods and actions is, indeed, his greatest gift to mankind. For Gandhi, Ahimsa (non-violence) and Truth were inseparable. He said that “Ahimsa is themeans; Truth is the end. ” Gandhi used satyagraha as a lever for social movements. In order to understand the Gandhian concept of civil disobedience and satyagraha, it is desirableto know Gandhi’s view on the subject in detail. Gandhi said, “Satyagraha largely appears to thepublic as Civil Disobedience or Civil Resistance. It is civil in the sense that it is not criminal.
The lawbreaker … openly and civily breaks ( unjust laws) and quietly suffers the penalty fortheir breach. And in order to register his protest against the action of the lawgivers, it is opento him to withdraw his cooperation from the state by disobeying such other laws whose breachdoes not constitute moral turpitude. In my opinion, the beauty and efficacy of Satyagraha areso great and doctrine so simple that it can be preached even to children. ”Gandhi strongly advocated that it was the birth right of every individual to offer civil disobedience in the face of unjust laws.
Mahatma Gandhis Satyagraha Satyagraha, a word coined by the late Mahatma Gandhi, is a combination of the words satya (truth-love) and agraha (firmness/force) or, unwavering search for the Truth. And, he believes that the only way to get the Truth is by Non-violence (or Love). Satyagraha implies a stanch, steadfast and unyielding search for the Truth using methods that do not include violence and ...
He wrote in 1920, “I wish I could persuade everybody that civildisobedience is the inherent right of a citizen, He does not give it up without ceasing to be aman. Civil disobedience, therefore, becomes a sacred duty. When the state has become lawless,or which is the same thing, corrupt. And a citizen that barters with such a state, shares incorruption or lawlessness. ”In his evidence before the Hunter Committee that was constituted by the Government of Indiato enquire into the disturbances in 1919, Gandhi argued that civil disobedience would be calledfor and is legitimate even in a democracy.
He highlighted its constitutional aspects. In his replyto the Hunter Committee as to what he would have done towards the breakers of laws if hewould have been a Governor himself, Gandhi replied, “If I were in charge of government andbrought face to face with a body who entirely in search of truth, were determined to seekredress from unjust laws without inflicting violence, I would welcome it and would consider thatthey were the best constitutionalists, and as a Governor I would take them by my side asadvisers who would keep me on the right path. ”Some people have questioned the efficacy of satyagraha as a universal philosophy.
Gandhi’svision was not confined to the attainment of independence from foreign rule, the control ofgovernment by the Indians. He struggled for the Indian soul, not merely for a visible polity. In the concept of ‘civil disobedience and satyagraha’ both ‘civil disobedience’ and ‘ satyagraha’are deeply interlinked as a theory of conflict resolution. Gandhi said, “Experience has taught methat civility is the most difficult part of satyagraha. Civility does not here mean the more outwardgentleness of speech, cultivated for the occasion but an inborn gentleness and desire to do theopponent good.
These should show themselves in every act of satyagraha. ”This new orientation of the concept has provided a visionary dimension to the very approachesof conflict resolution in statecraft. The present threat, indeed, to the very existence of mankindcould only be removed by the Gandhian approach of a revolutionary change of heart in individualhuman beings. The basic aim of every political system is to create a social, political and economic climate inwhich the individuals can fulfil inner requirements of their continuous moral growth.
Thoreau's Civil Disobedience espouses the need to prioritize one's conscience over the dictates of laws. It criticizes American social institutions and policies, most prominently slavery and the Mexican-American War. Thoreau begins his essay by arguing that government rarely proves itself useful and that it derives its power from the majority because they are the strongest group, not because they ...
The Gandhianmethod of civil disobedience and satyagraha alone helps in creating conditions in civil societywhereby all spiritual values and methods could be appreciated in the state system as a vitalnecessity for progress and prosperity. Dr. King very successfully implemented this Gandhianmethod during the civil rights movement. He said, “A just law is a man-made code that squareswith the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with themoral law. ” In the language of Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rootedin eternal and natural law.
Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degradeshuman personality is unjust. All segregation statues are unjust because segregation distorts thesoul and damages the personality. it implies ‘ non-injury’ to any living being. In its positive form, it means, ‘the greatest love’ and‘the greatest charity’. In Buddhist literature, it is highlighted as an attitude of creative coexistence. According to Henry Thoreau, if there is a conflict between ‘higher values’ and ‘lower values’,then the citizen in no way should resign his conscience to the legislation of the state.
He saidthat “legislators, politicians serve the state chiefly with their heads; and as they rarely make anymoral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very fewserve the state with conscience also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part…, no unduerespect for law is required as it will commit one to do many unjust things. Where ‘immorality’and ‘legality’ come into conflict, the only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do atany time what I think right, what I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myselfto the wrong which I condemn”.
The Congress Party organised the Civil Disobedience Movement in pursuance of the resolutionon independence passed in the Lahore session of the Congress in December 1929. It was theresult of British refusal to accept the Congress demand for Dominion Status. Factors such asthe Lahore Conspiracy Case, the tragic death of Jatin Das in jail in 1929, the Meerut ConspiracyCase also forced the Congress to demand independence. The civil disobedience movement gotmanifested in various forms such as the widespread defiance of law, boycott of British goods,withdrawal of support by the army and the police, and non-co-operation with the government.
One commentator has argued in 'Antigone' that Antigone's 'view of what is right is as twisted as that of Creon.' Although I do not believe that either Antigone's or Creon's view is 'twisted,' I do believe that their fate is a direct result of their extreme pride and stubbornness. In 'Antigone,' Sophocles examines the conflict between the requirements of human and divine law that is centered on the ...
Gandhi highlighted all these demands in his letter to the government in 1930 to break the saltlaw. Gandhi started his satyagraha movement in South Africa. Subsequently, on his return to Indiato lead the non-co-operation movement against the British administration, he used it to removethe grievances of the oppressed workers and peasants of Champaran, Kheda, and Bardoli. Toquote Gandhi, “… to speak of satyagraha is to speak of a weapon… a weapon which refusesto be limited by legality. Challenge, illegality, and action – there are so many keys with whichsatyagraha is equipped ….
For though satyagraha rejects violence, it does not renounce illegality. ”Gandhi always emphasised the value of proper means. To him, “Improper means result in animpure end…. One cannot reach truth by untruthfulness. Truthful conduct alone can reach truth. Non-violence is embedded in truth. ”Often Gandhi has been taken to task for his emphasis on self-suffering and satyagraha. Sometrace it to the streak of masochism in the character of Gandhi, while others have gone over toHindu scriptures to emphasise Indian spirituality. But the Gandhian approach to self-sufferingand satyagraha has little to do with individual self-mortification.
It is a simple condition for thesuccess of a cause. It does not imply that there would not be any suffering in the struggle forsatyagraha. It simply means the assertion of one’s freedom and one’s right to dissent. Thismethod often works as a psychological way to change the minds of an opponent. Gandhi said,“While in passive resistance, there is a scope for the use of arms when a suitable occasionarrives, in satyagraha physical force is forbidden even in the most favourable circumstances. Passive resistance may be offered side by side with the use of arms.
Satyagraha and bruteforce being each a negation of the other can never go together. ”The Gandhian concept of satyagraha is the product of his faith in religion and spiritual values. He was convinced that the supreme law that governs all living beings and universe is nothingbut love and non-violence, and Gita carried this message of non-violence as ‘ soul force’. The Gandhian concept of satyagraha is not merely an instrument of conflict resolution or nonviolentresistance to injustice. It is an integrated concept, covering the whole life process of asatyagrahi. It includes : truth, non-violence, hastity, non-stealing, swadeshi, fearlessness, breadlabour,removal of untouchability, and so on. Civil disobedience is a ‘branch’ of ‘satyagraha’. All ‘satyagrahas’ can never be civil disobedience, whereas all cases of civil disobedience arecases of satyagraha. Gandhi said, “Its root meaning is holding on to truth, hence truth force. I have called it Love Force or Soul Force. ”The legal view, also called the monistic view or traditional view of sovereignty, was propoundedby John Austin (1779-1859), a great jurist, in his book, Lectures on Jurisprudence (1832).
The Pluralist Model 1. Classical pluralism Pluralism has changed partly as a response to theoretical criticism, and partly because it is clear that liberal democracies don't correspond very well with the pluralists rather idealistic view of their operation. The classical pluralist position argues: 1. Power is diffuse rather than concentrated. 2. In society a large number of groups represent all ...
According to Austin, “If a determinate human superior, not in the habit of obedience to a like superior, receives habitual obedience from the bulk of a given society, that determinate superioris sovereign in that society; and the society (including the superior) is a society, political andindependent”. According to Austin, following are the characteristics of sovereignty:i) Sovereignty is necessary for the state. Sovereignty is one of the four elements of the state. There cannot be a state without sovereignty. If state is the body, sovereignty is its spirit. Thestate cannot alienate itself from the power of sovereignty.
The end of sovereignty means theend of state. ii) Sovereignty has to be determinate . It resides in a person or a body of persons. To Austin, Stateis a legal order in which the sovereignty can be located very clearly. It cannot be the people orthe electorate or the General Will since all of these are vague expressions. It is not vested inGod also. Sovereign must be a human being or a body of human beings who can be identified. iii) Sovereign is the supreme power in the state. He is the source of all authority in the state. Hisauthority is unlimited and absolute.
He does not take commands from any one as nobody hasa right to command him. But he commands every one within the state. His authority is universaland all comprehensive. Sovereignty is independent from any internal or external control. iv) The Sovereign receives habitual obedience from the people. Thus, the authority of the sovereignis not casual. It is continuous, regular, undisturbed and uninterrupted. If a significant part of thepopulation refuses to accept him and renders disobedience, then he is no longer a sovereign. Similarly, a short term obedience is not an attribute of sovereignty.
Political Theories of Locke and Hobbes John Locke influenced Western political thought immensely. He lived during the age of political upheaval, the Glorious Revolution. During this time, the Tories and the Whigs, England?s first two political parties, joined together to rid their country of the tyrannical James II and welcomed as their new co-rulers his daughter, Mary, and her Dutch husband, ...
The power of the sovereignhas to be permanent in society. v) Law is the will and the command of the sovereign. He is the source of law. Law is a commandgiven by a superior to the inferiors who are in a state of subjection or dependence. Sovereignis above the customs and traditions of society. They exist with his permission. Whatever thesovereign permits, that alone can exist. The rights and liberties of the individual also emanatefrom the sovereign and do restrict the operation of the individuals’ sovereignty. vi) Sovereignty has the legitimate physical force to exert command and obedience and enforce itslaws. ii) The power of sovereignty is exclusive and indivisible. It is a unit in itself that cannot be divided between two or more persons. Division of sovereignty means its destruction. Thus according to Austin, sovereignty is the supreme power of the state that is absolute,permanent, universal, inalienable, exclusive and indivisible. However, these characteristics arenot acceptable to the pluralists who reject the entire thesis of Austin in toto. 9. 6 PLURALISTIC ATTACK ON AUSTIN’S CONCEPT OFSOVEREIGNTY The prominent pluralist writers are Dr. J.
Neville Figgis, Paul Boncour, Durkheim, MacIver, Laski,Barker, Duguit, Krabbe, G. D. H. Cole and Miss Follet. Here we will study the pluralist attack onAustin’s concept of sovereignty with special reference to Laski and MacIver. The pluralists do not believe that the sovereign is determinate. According to them, the determinationwas possible in old days when the king ruled with absolute powers. But in modern times the political system is based upon the concept of popular sovereignty in which the government isresponsible to the people who can make or unmake the government.
The constitutions clearlyproclaim the sovereignty of the people, but Austin will not accept people as sovereign. Similarly,the electorate cannot be termed as sovereign because both the terms- “people” and “electorate”are vague and do not constitute determinate human being in the Austinian sense. The task oflocating sovereignty becomes more difficult in case of a federation in which the powers aredivided between the centre and the units and both are supposed to be sovereign in theirrespective fields. In such a system, the constitution is supposed to be supreme but it is not ahuman being and hence, cannot be sovereign.
Personally, I subscribe to the opinion that what we have in this world is a necessary connection between things. Technically, something can not come out of nothing. Actions are interrelated and whether we accept it or not, they overlap. Thus, I accept George Modelski’s position in his cyclical political theory. However for me, this principle is not only limited to only political events but all ...
Even in Britain where the supremacy of theparliament is the basic law of the land, the parliament cannot be termed as totally sovereign asit also works under limitations. Laski rightly points out that the real rulers of a society are notdiscoverable. The pluralists believe that Austin’s concept of sovereignty cannot be verified from history. According to Laski, historically, sovereignty has always been subjected to limitations except fora very small period when we really had a sovereign in Austin’s sense. This was the period whenthe nation-state arose and the kings asserted their authority.
This nation-state was the result ofthe religious struggle of the 16th century and the emergence of the sovereign state was avindication of the primacy of the secular order over religion. Thus, there were certain historicalfactors which were responsible for the creation of absolute sovereignty of the state. And if we leave this brief period, we do not find any example of absolute sovereignty. In modern times,sovereignty is limited. political theory is not only a theory of/about politics, it is also the science of politics, thephilosophy of politics at that.
As a theory, Bluhen explains, political theory “stands for anabstract model of the political order… a guide to the systematic collection and analysis ofpolitical data” (Theories of Political System, 1981).
Andrew Hacker, enlarging the point ofview, says that political theory as a “theory, in ideal terms, is dispassionate and disinterested. As science, it will describe political reality without trying to pass judgement on what is beingdepicted, either implicitly or explicitly. As philosophy, it will describe rules of conduct which willsecure good life for all of society…” (Political Theory: Philosophy, Ideology, Science, 1961).
Political theory is not fantasy, though it may contain an element of political vision. It is notpoliticking, though it does take into account political realities for its study and analysis. It is notall scientism, though it seeks to reach the roots of all political activity analytically and systematically. It is not ideology, though it attempts to justify a political system and condemns another. It istheoretical, scientific, philosophical and at the same time dynamic with a clear objective ofattaining a better social order. It thus, has in varying degrees, elements of ‘theory’, ‘science’,‘philosophy’ and ‘ideology’.
Political theory is a theory about what is “political”, the science and philosophy of what ispolitical. George Sabine says, “It is anything about politics or relevant to politics”. This beingthe broader meaning, he refers to its narrow meaning, saying that it is “the disciplined investigationof political problems” (A History of Political Theory, 1973).
David Held defines political theoryas “a network of concepts and generalizations about political life involving ideas, assumptionsand statements about the nature, purpose and key features of government, state and society andabout the political capabilities of human beings”. Political Theory Today, 1991) A very elaboratedefinition of political theory has been given in Political Science Dictionary, describing it as “abody of thought that seeks to evaluate, explain and predict political phenomena. As a sub-fieldof Political Science, it is concerned with political ideas, values and concepts, and the explanationof prediction of political behaviour. In its broad sense, it has two main branches: one is politicalphilosophy or normative theory, with its value, analytic, historical and speculative concerns.
Theother is empirical theory, with its efforts to explain, predict, guide, research and organizeknowledge through the formulation of abstract models, and scientifically testable propositions. ”Political theory is all about politics. It is an overview of what the political order is about. It isa symbolic representation of what is “political”. In its nature, it is a formal, logical and systematic analysis of processes and consequences of political activity. It is, in its method, analytical,expository, and explanatory.
It is, in its objective, an attempt to give order, coherence andmeaning to what may be referred to as “political”. i) Classical political theory aimed at acquiring reliable knowledge about matters concerning thepeople, a philosophical pursuit to establish a rational basis for belief; a politically inspired pursuitto establish a rational basis for action. (ii) It sought to identify the political with the public, the common: the Greek polis, the Roman respublica, and the medieval age usage of commonweal – all denoted a sharing of what wascommon among the people as partners. iii) Its basic unit of analysis was always the political whole, the body-politic, the inter-relatedstructure denoting activity, relationship, and belief: activity relating to ruling, warfare, education,religious practices;relationships involving those between social classes, between the rulersand the ruled, between the superiors and the inferiors; belief, such as justice, equality, naturallaw and the like. (iv) Relating itself to the political whole, the classical political theory laid emphasis on order, balance,equilibrium, stability and harmony.
That is why, it, in the process, dwelt on terms such asconflicts, anarchy, instability and revolution. (v) Classical political theory laid stress on comparative studies for supplying a more comprehensiveexplanation of political phenomena and a wider range of alternatives. That was the reason thatclassical political theory developed a classification of political forms (e. g. , monarchy, aristocracy,democracy, and their variants) and a set of concepts such as law, citizenship, justice andparticipation so as to explain differences and similarities between them. (vi) Classical political theory had been, largely, ethical in perspective.
Its response was rooted in amoral outlook: Plato advocated the ideal state; Aristotle, a state that can achieve the bestpossible; St. Augustine, the city of god. Classical political theory undertook to appraise thevarious constitutional forms, to determine the form most suitable for a particular set of circumstances, and to decide, if any, absolutely the best form possible. (vii)Classical political theory, by projecting the best form of polity as the ideal, revealed the boldnessand radicalism of classical theorising, though some dismissed such an attempt as merely utopianand visionary. . 4. 2 Modern Political Theory Modern political theory encompasses in itself a hostModern political theory with its western liberal-democratic shade attemptedto build a science of politics; objective, empirical, observational, measurable, operational andvalue-free. Its features can be summed up as under:(i) Facts and data constitute the bases of study. These are accumulated, explained and then usedfor testing hypothesis. (ii) Human behaviour can be studied, and regularities of human behaviour can be expressed ingeneralisations. iii) Subjectivity gives way to objectivity; philosophical interpretation to analytical explanation;purpose to procedure; descriptive to observational; normative to scientific.
(iv) Facts and values are separated; values are so arranged that the facts become relevant. (v) Methodology has to be self-conscious, explicit and quantitative. (vi) Inter-disciplinary synthesis is to be achieved. (vii)“What it is” is regarded as more important than either “what it was” or “what it ought to be orcould be”. viii) Values are to supportfacts, substance to form, and theory to research, and status quo tosocial changeAt the other end of modern political theory stands the Marxist political theory, also called the‘dialectical-materialist’ or the ‘scientific-socialist’ theory. It describes the general laws of motionin the development of all phenomena. Its importance lies in change through the struggle betweenopposites; between relations of production and productive forces with a view to have a bettermode of production; development from the lower stage to the higher one; from, say, capitalisticto socialistic and from socialistic to communistic.
It is a theory which provides a systematic andscientific framework of analysing and explaining social and political change. It is a method ofinterpreting the past, understanding the present, and projecting the future. 1. 4. 3 Contemporary Political Theory (i) Contemporary political theory has been viewed as the history of political thought, involving anattempt to examine the significance of text in their historical context. ii) It has sought to revitalise the discipline as a form of conceptual analysis, and in the process,finding political theory as a systematic reflection upon, and classification of, the meanings ofthe key forms and concepts such as sovereignty, democracy, justice and the like. (iii) It has been developed as the systematic elaboration of the underlying structure of our moraland political activities; the disclosure, examination and reconstruction of the foundations ofpolitical value. vi) It has been revitalised as a form of argument concerned with abstract theoretical questionsand particular political issues. (v) It has been championed as a critique of all forms of foundationalism, either the post-modernistsor the liberal defenders. It, accordingly, presents itself as a stimulant to dialogue and toconversation among human beings. (vi) It has been elaborated as a form of systematic model building influenced by theoreticaleconomics, rational choice theory and game theory; it aims to construct formal models ofpolitical processes. vii)It has developed as the theoretical enterprise of the discipline of Political Science. As such itattempts to construct theory on the basis of observation and modest empirical generalisations. Contemporary political theory is mainly concerned with the explanation, investigation and ultimately,with the comprehension of what relates to politics: concepts, principles and institutions. BrianBarry (Political Argument, 1965) says that political theory attempts to “study the relationbetweenprinciples&institutions”.
According to Rawls, a stable, reasonably well-off society is “a cooperative venture for mutualadvantage. ” Along with cooperation, there is also conflict among its members regarding theirshare of the burdens and benefits of social living. The purpose of principles of social justice isto ensure that the distribution of the benefits and burdens of society is just or fair to all itsmembers. The basic institutions of society should, according to Rawls, be so constructed as toensure the continuous distribution of “social primary goods” to all the members of society in a fair or just manner. Social primary goods” are goods, which are distributed by the basicstructure of a society. They include rights and liberties, powers and opportunities, and incomeand wealth. Rawls argues that the distribution of these social primary goods among the membersof a society is just, if that distribution is made in accordance with the following principles ofjustice:Principle 1 (Principle of Equal Basic Liberties) Each person has the same indefeasible claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties,scheme which is compatible with the same scheme of liberties for all.
Principle 2(2-i: Fair Equality of Opportunity; 2-ii: Difference Principle)Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions : first, they are to be attached tooffices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and second, theyare to be to the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of societyThese principles are listed here in the order of their lexical priority. By “lexical priority”, Rawlsmeans that the first principle must be fully satisfied before the next principle is applied.
It means,for instance, that “liberty can be restricted only for the sake of liberty”, and not, say, for thesake of income or wealth. It must, however, be noted in this context that Rawls assumes thatsociety (his own society, in fact) to which his principles of social justice are to be applied is onewhich is reasonably well-off and in which the basic material needs of all are provided for. The main purpose of the rule of priority is to assign greater importance to equal basic libertiesthan to other primary social goods.
In “basic liberties,” Rawls includes freedom of conscience,freedom of thought, freedom of the person along with the right to hold personal property,freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention or, in other words, the freedom of the rule of law,freedom of speech and assembly and political freedoms. According to Rawls, these basic rights and liberties enable us to exercise and realise our “twohighest-order moral powers,” namely, (i) the capacity to understand, apply and act according tothe principles of justice and (ii) the capacity to form, revise and pursue conceptions of the good.
In Rawls’s view, every member of a just society must be viewed as having these two moralcapacities. These make them free and equal citizens. The moral equality of citizens means that“they each have, and view themselves as having, a right to equal respect and consideration indetermining the principles by which the basic arrangements of their society are to be regulated”. The freedom of the citizens includes their freedom to realise their capacity to pursue their ownconception of the good life. Since the distribution of social primary goods will have to respect the equality and freedom and“fraternity” and welfare, etc. f all the members of society, it cannot strictly be an equaldistribution across the board. According to Rawls, once the basic material needs of the peopleare met, their right to basic liberties is to be accorded priority over their right to the other socialprimary goods, which are covered by the principle of equal opportunities and the differenceprinciple. While he is opposed to any unequal distribution of basic liberties, he assumes thatsome inequalities in income and wealth are inevitable and perhaps not undesirable.
Accordingly,the main purpose of his second principle of social justice is to keep inequalities within the boundsof justice-as-fairness. Obviously, the distinction between just or fair inequalities and unjust orunfair inequalities is of crucial importance in Rawls’s theory of social justice. Rawls thinks that excessive equality in income and wealth would destroy the economic incentivesrequired for greater creativity and productivity. This would be harmful to both the rich and thepoor.
From the standpoint of the poor (as well as of the rich), justice does not require thecomplete elimination of economic inequality. Rawls believes that certain inequalities, whichserve as incentives for the greater creativity and productivity of the talented and the gifted, arenot unjust if that greater creativity and productivity are integrated into a social-structural orinstitutional arrangement for distribution to the benefit of all, especially the least advantagedmembers of the society. He also thinks that giving advantage to the least advantaged wouldinvariably entail giving benefits to everyone else.
Rawls maintains that a society can so structure or re-structure its basic institutions as to makeinequalities in income and wealth yield maximum benefits to the least advantaged – maximumin comparison to any reasonable, alternative social re-structuring. His Difference Principle ismeant not to replace inequality with equality in income and wealth, but to transform unfair orunjust degrees or kinds of economic inequalities into a fair or just kind or degree by maximisingthe benefits of the least advantaged.
According to the Difference Principle, inequalities whichare advantageous to the better off but not to the least advantaged are unjust. Rawls’s principle of fair equality of opportunity stipulates that the state should ensure fairequality of opportunity in the educational, cultural and economic spheres as well as provideunemployment and sickness benefits. These require an interventionist, welfare state to run oraid schools, to regulate the economy, etc.
The principles of justice, which we have discussed so far, have been described by Rawls as“special” formulations of a “general” conception of justice. This general conception is stated as:All social primary goods – liberty and opportunity, income and wealth and the bases of selfrespect– are to be distributed equally, unless an unequal distribution of any or all of these goodsis to the advantage of the least favoured.
What Rawls means by this general conception of justice is that only those inequalities are unjustwhich, as in the case of utilitarianism, put some members or the society at a disadvantage. This “general” conception of justice, however, does not differentiate between the different social primary goods. It does not say, for instance, how to resolve the conflict, if any, between thedistribution of income and the distribution of liberty. It is to meet this difficulty that Rawls dividesthe general conception into a “special conception” of the two principles, which we have discussedabove.