Working Paper

Victims of Citizenship: Feudal Statuses for Sale in the Hypocrisy Republic

Published 2 December 2021 / By Dimitry Kochenov

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This contribution introduces the concept of ‘victims of citizenship’, encompassing the majority of the world’s population for whom citizenship is a set of liabilities and obstacles rather than a bundle of rights, who are caged in spaces of no opportunity by border-crossing and visa rules designed to keep them out of the ‘First World’, and who thus find themselves on the ‘other side’ of the concept of citizenship, behind its Western façade of equality, political self-determination and rights. The global status quo that citizenship is there to perpetuate does not work in their favour: they are kept out for others to be ‘free’. The whole point of citizenship is to perpetuate the victims’ of citizenship exclusion from dignity and rights without any justification defensible in terms of the values officially underpinning any modern constitutional system. In the majority of cases, the status of citizenship worldwide is conferred by blood: dividing the world into a global aristocracy and the rest. Citizenship is sold to those among its victims who can afford it; and for the absolute majority of those not victimised by it, there is no need to buy. The path to the sale of citizenship is thus paved with the status’s conflicted nature. This includes: the hypocrisy and randomness underpinning contemporary citizenship as a legal carte blanche for the exclusion of its victims, rich and poor; citizenship’s consequential nature in terms of the unequal random distribution of rights and liabilities in the world based on the pre-modern principle of blood aristocracy; and the ongoing rights transformation leading to the rise in the prestige of personhood in constitutional parlance, as citizenship’s double and rival. Marketisation is helped by the uneven pace in the growth of global wealth when compared to the dynamics of the quality of particular citizenship statuses. Simultaneously, the same processes allow the normative compatibility of citizenship with the ideals alleged to underpin contemporary constitutionalism to be called into question as such.


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