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States Without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals. Jacqueline Stevensby Jacqueline Stevens
Synopses & Reviews
As citizens, we hold certain truths to be self-evident: that the right to own land, marry, inherit property, and especially to assume birthright citizenship should be guaranteed by the state. The laws promoting these rights appear not only to preserve our liberty but to guarantee that society remains just. Considering how much violence and inequality results from these four legal mandates, however, Jacqueline Stevens asks whether we might be making the wrong assumptions. Would a world without these laws be more just?
Arguing that rules of citizenship and ownership are more about a fear of death than a desire for freedom, Stevens imagines a world in which the laws establishing birthright citizenship, family inheritance, state-sanctioned marriage, and private land are eliminated. Would chaos be the result? Drawing on political theory and history and incorporating contemporary social and economic data, Stevens brilliantly critiques our sentimental attachments to birthright citizenship, inheritance, and marriage and highlights their harmful outcomes, including war, global apartheid, destitution, family misery, and environmental damage. It might be hard to imagine countries without the rules of membership and ownership that have come to define them, but conjuring new ways of reconciling our laws with the condition of mortality reveals the flaws of our present institutions and suggests hope for new ones.
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