Main
Friday
May062011

  • A citizen can be a citizen at any time in any place.
  • A citizen’s status is not defined by government or derived from the state: it exists by virtue of society itself. His identity as a citizen transcends geography and gender, sexuality and ethnicity, profession and religion: citizenship regards him as a complete if imperfect individual, rather than an aspect of origin or affiliation.
  • A citizen evolves, and in the process enriches his society. His citizenship is never static but is realised in each action and interaction. A citizen renews his citizenship every day. 
  • A citizen values public space. He regards it not as a place of passing through but as a location to inhabit, exchange and create. He tends to it, and is attentive to its art and architecture.
  • A citizen protects and conserves the natural environment, and assesses his impact on local and global ecosystems. Citizens are conscious of the fragile nature of biodiversity: the loss of a species is irreversible and irreplaceable, and cannot be offset by the gains of growth, however large. A citizen is a steward – not the owner – of land, and regards the earth as a shared home rather than a resource to be exhausted. He works within his community to create a living landscape that is habitable, hospitable and sustainable, with minimal noise, air and light pollution.
  • A citizen has power. He exercises it every day, actively by choice and passively by neglect. A citizen considers how this power affects others, and does not abuse it: he respects his power and that of his fellow citizens.
  • A citizen is not a cynic. Cynicism is the refuge of the powerless.
  • A citizen creates the conditions in which citizenship may flourish. He works to combat alienation, apathy and social decay, and to foster a civic sense of self.
  • A citizen does not reject politics due to the shortcomings of politicians. A citizen is a political animal.
  • A citizen votes, and encourages his fellow citizens to do likewise. He follows election campaigns closely and takes the opportunity to challenge politicians on their record and their promises. Yet citizens also recognise the limits of elected office, and of election as a mode of expression, and look to facilitate change on a daily basis in less formal arenas, where votes are not courted and voices not heard.
  • A citizen is an internationalist, and works for the causes of liberty, equality and justice in every corner of the globe. Citizens never underestimate the importance of their choices: no action stands in isolation.
  • A citizen is aware of the ethical implications of his consumption; of its impact on labour rights, animal rights and the environment. Citizens assert that universal standards in these areas are integral to a just system of trade, and form part of the ‘level playing field’ for emerging economies.
  • A citizen understands how markets function and falter, and how government can mitigate against their failure. Citizens resist the privatisation of public amenities, and petition to ensure that core civic infrastructure operates under common ownership.
  • A citizen promotes democracy in the workplace, advancing collaborative models such as cooperatives and mutuals. Citizens support mechanisms that place them at the heart of decision-making, such as participatory budgeting and citizens’ juries, and champion sortition as a means of developing an engaged and knowledgeable citizenry.

  • A citizen is present, not represented; and in attendance by consent.
  • A citizen is attuned to the depiction of gender and sexuality in the media and the marketplace, and challenges the trend that commodifies and infantilises individuals.
  • A citizen upholds the integrity of public space, as a neutral location free of corporate branding. To this end, citizens support restrictions on advertising in environments where the individual cannot ‘opt-out’, as well as the regulation of stealth marketing aimed at children.
  • A citizen is a netizen, and regards the internet as a site for civic engagement. Citizens treat cyber-space as an extension of the public realm, and campaign for it to remain a commons, with equal treatment of traffic across content and platforms.

  • A citizen is sensitive to the presentation and prioritisation of news, and discerning in his consumption of it. He stays informed through a variety of sources with domestic and international developments, and challenges editors to foreground stories with long-term implications. Journalists understand that their influence is extraordinary and that they share a corresponding responsibility – one which is not diminished by commercial obligations. In turn, all citizens are watchful of erosions on the freedom of the press.
  • A citizen acknowledges that social and political problems are often complex, and does not seek easy answers to difficult questions.

  • A citizen confronts a culture of fear, as it is manifest on the street and manipulated in the media. Citizens protest the normalisation of surveillance as an everyday occurrence, along with any erosion of civil liberties, particularly on behalf of those unable to defend their rights.
  • A citizen respects the law and familiarises himself with its processes. He learns how law is conceived and developed, and how it may be challenged.

  • A citizen is vigilant of undemocratic influence in public life, and alert to the danger of monopolies for the growth of civil society. Citizens demand access to a plurality of voices in the media, on the basis that an open society is not necessarily democratic, but a democracy is – by its very nature – open. Citizens challenge politicians to be transparent about the role of lobbying in the formulation and implementation of policy.

  • A citizen studies how institutions on a local, national and international level affect the life of every citizen, and how they may be made more democratic and accountable.
  • A citizen has a cosmopolitan outlook: he combines a universal approach to ethics with an appreciation of particular ways of seeing. Citizens reject parochialism and cultural relativism, and oppose the segregation of public space – whether as a ghetto or a gated community.
  • A citizen regards inequality as a barrier to social cohesion, and highlights disparities in opportunity for individuals everywhere.

  • A citizen helps create an environment in which individuals are conscious of – and attentive to – their physical and mental health, and where treatment is universally accessible and free at the point of delivery. Citizens educate themselves in protection and prevention, in both a personal and public capacity, and contribute where possible with blood and organ donation. A citizen is aware of the challenges facing disabled citizens, and lobbies for greater access in public areas: a citizen alleviates the hardship of his fellow citizens.
  • A citizen challenges a culture of low expectations. Citizens are ambitious – for their personal growth, for the welfare of their community, and for the development of their society.
  • A citizen is a teacher and a student, and an advocate of life-long learning. Citizens oppose the marketisation of education, and instead emphasise its importance in developing critical and creative thinking.
  • A citizen studies human achievement, so he may know the potential of his fellow citizens.
  • A citizen studies human cruelty, so he may know the potential of his fellow citizens.
  • A citizen studies the life in between.
  • A citizen is curious about other cultures and civilisations, and takes the opportunity to travel and learn different languages.

  • A citizen treats a stranger as a fellow citizen. He regards other individuals as citizens in perpetuity, but his own citizenship as contingent on his commitment.
  • A citizen’s conscience is his compass. Citizens always empathise, and regard empathy as a precondition of judgement, not a substitute for it.

  • A citizen entertains ideas from every religious tradition, and (in so doing) rejects dogma. He is open to wonder and reason, and to the power of the imagination.
  • A citizen looks to space for a fuller understanding of where and who we are. Citizens regard the exploration of the universe as the ultimate expression of human ambition, as well as an opportunity for global collaboration. In addition, these endeavours may enhance our knowledge of the earth’s biosphere, and act as a catalyst for technological and scientific innovations.
  • A citizen does not treat all activity as a transaction. He knows that what is valuable cannot always be understood in terms of what is useful, and that many profitable pursuits render no material gain.
  • A citizen takes an interest in the arts, and values their insight into the universal condition. He acknowledges that the arts equip citizens with a grammar for engaging with the world, and recognises their ability to distil beauty, inspire empathy, and illuminate human dignity. He ensures that citizens are introduced to the arts at an early age, and are encouraged to enquire and experiment.
  • A citizen takes an interest in the sciences, and values their insight into the universal condition. He acknowledges that the sciences equip citizens with a vocabulary for comprehending the world, and recognises their ability to reveal nature, advance culture, and enhance quality of life. He ensures that citizens are introduced to the sciences at an early age, and are encouraged to enquire and experiment.
  • A citizen challenges himself to be independent of mind, and recognises that maintaining this independence is an ongoing challenge. He dares to break new ground, in the knowledge that exploration is the path to invention.

  • A citizen examines the issues arising from advances in biomedical technology, and petitions to keep universal genetic information in the public domain. Citizens broaden ethical debates to encompass questions of autonomy and non-conformity, and take steps – if necessary through legislation – to secure the right of individuals to an independent identity.

  • A citizen reflects on what it means to be a citizen. He discusses citizenship with his peers and proposes ways in which it may be developed.

  • A citizen is a role model, and considers his influence on younger citizens in particular. He is conscious of the power of example, and of how his society defines and rewards achievement. Citizens provide a caring and safe environment for children, taking a close interest in their development and communicating to them the concept of citizenship.

  • A citizen values the contribution of earlier generations. He studies their struggles and commemorates their sacrifices, mindful of the responsibility of each generation to the next. He works to establish the conditions that enable senior citizens to live in dignity, and regards these efforts as acts of reciprocity, not charity.

  • A citizen recognises the importance of recognition. He acknowledges the civic contributions of his fellow citizens, even as he does not seek reward for every act of virtue.

  • A citizen demands more of himself than he does of his fellow citizens.

  • A citizen nurtures the spirit of citizenship. He understands that the exercise of civic virtue is habitual, and that fluency comes with practice.
  • A citizen aspires, above all, to be a citizen.

Benjamin Ramm
London
Spring 2011

 

Note on Gender  I regret not being able to present the manifesto in gender neutral language. In place of s/he, the term “one would have been preferable, but in modern English it feels archaic and impersonal. While the document assumes the ‘normative’ masculine form, it acknowledges the shortcomings of this approach and readers are invited to substitute gender when quoting the text. Translators are requested to adopt the neutral pronoun where it is in contemporary use. 

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