Citizenship: Concept and Consequences

Yves here. Given that (as Lambert agrees) there’s a bit of a dearth of breaking developments this week, it seemed timely to post a more general interest piece. Even though the debate over what citizenship means or ought to mean is not explicit in the US southern border debate, it’s well internalized. For instance, many opponents of unrestricted immigration vociferously object to new entrants getting benefits that they perceive as disproportionate to those of citizens, such as access to public schools and medical care (as in hospitals are supposed to, and generally do, treat anyone who shows up at an emergency room).

Even worse in the eyes of the critics, many object to the recent arrivals getting free housing (as they did for a while in New York City) or monetary support in the form of prepaid debit cards.

However and interestingly, these complaints are usually put in the “they are freeloaders” rather than the “they are not citizens” frame. Some classics: that recent as well as long-standing but undocumented immigrants don’t (or haven’t much) paid taxes, yet have access to social services similar to that of citizens. Some also object that non-citizens without visas can get a driver’s license in some states.

Now of course undocumented migrants do pay taxes: gas taxes, sales taxes, property taxes via their rents. Some even have payroll taxes withheld via employers re-using Social Security numbers. And they won’t get any Social Security or Medicare benefits from those deductions.

Another beef is that these immigrants are criminals. No doubt some are, but the threat of deportation if caught would make the consequences of misconduct more immediate than for native-born crooks and would serve as a big disincentive. Recent research bears that theory out. From a summary of study led by Stanford economist Ran Abramitzky:

The study reveals that first-generation immigrants have not been more likely to be imprisoned than people born in the United States since 1880.

Today, immigrants are 30 percent less likely to be incarcerated than are U.S.-born individuals who are white, the study finds. And when the analysis is expanded to include Black Americans — whose prison rates are higher than the general population — the likelihood of an immigrant being incarcerated is 60 percent lower than of people born in the United States.

A different set of anti-immigrant arguments are around labor and housing market effects: wage suppression and competition for rentals, particularly at the low end of the market. Again, these objections reflect the idea that a country should be in the business of preserving, or at least not lowering, the standard of living of its citizens. But now that companies are citizens, this case is not so straightforward.

Author Dr. Sotirović discusses how the ideas of what a nation amounts to can be defined as coming out of residence (and often meeting other tests) or ethnicity. I joke that “It’s called Thailand because it is for Thais.” Non-Thais can theoretically become citizens but I have yet to meet or even hear of one, and I have met many, most married to Thai women. The language requirement seems to be a show-stopper. Thai is extremely difficult. I have met only one farang who is fluent (and tellingly, farangs who have been here for decades marvel at him).

And the US melting pot was not often what it seemed to be:

As I suspect Aurelien would also point out, some French historians could be regarded as proto-sociologists, such as Jules Michelet and Edgar Quinet, and among other things, considered what it took to create citizens who identified with their nation. They were very concerned in the 1840s why France still had not had a durable democracy (and did not get one until the birth of the Third Republic, in 1870). Their discussion of how the Catholic Church used their influence over women, as in mothers, to thwart republican virtu, reads a lot more like sociological or anthropological than political analysis.

By Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović, Ex-University Professor, Vilnius, Lithuania and Research Fellow at the Center for Geostrategic Studies, Belgrade, Serbia

Citizenship as a Concept

The term “citizenship” is usually used either in academia or news as a synonym of nationality and national affiliation (from the Anglo-Saxon, West European perspective followed by the New World, in fact, as a synonym of state). However, “citizenship” as a concept is essentially a product of and used in political philosophy and jurisprudence. In practice, the majority of governments in the world concerned with giving or not giving citizenship to someone follow either the so-called:

  • The French model, based on the “right of soil” (ius soli) or
  • The German model, founded on the principle of “right of blood” (ius sanguinis).

Actually, “citizenship” is not part of the terminology established by sociology and anthropology as in these two academic fields of research the notion of citizenship has come up only recently, basically, with the research of Roger Brubaker, Louis Dumont, or Immanuel Todd. The notion of citizenship is particularly interesting for sociologists and anthropologists as a phenomenon that structures collective representations and social relations among individuals and groups (to have certain rights as well as certain duties).

The status of being a citizen is decided by the law. In the traditions linked to republican political features, qualifications to have or not citizenship have been linked to particular rights and duties of citizens as well as to a commitment to equality between citizens is compatible with considerable exclusivity in the qualifying conditions (Ancient Greece, Rome, and Italian republics excluded women followed by some certain classes of labor men from the concept of citizenship).

During the last decades, basically since the end of the Cold War 1.0 in 1989, there are three crucial reasons for the popularity of dealing with the issue of citizenship:

  • Re-establishment of national states in East-Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe;
  • Re-emerging the problem of the status of historical, ethnic, and territorial minorities;
  • The problem of immigrants’ condition (for instance, in West Europe).

In principle, social science is concerned with the concept of citizenship mainly as an “imagined construction” that is applied in social life. According to a short definition and understanding of citizenship, it is juridical status, granting a sum of rights and duties to members of a specific political entity (state). Concerning the issue of legal rights and duties, one can possess 1) citizenship (participating in state elections for the president and parliament); 2) permanent residence permission (participation in only local elections for the assembly); and 3) temporal resident permission (no electoral rights).

Historically, during the time of feudalism, for instance, full citizenship possessed only aristocracy having political rights followed by certain duties to the state. In modern times, citizenship is understood as a pillar of a modern/contemporary state resembling, in fact, loyalty to the political unity that grants citizenship (it includes above all mandatory military service/conscription to defend the “motherland” – a country of citizenship). Nevertheless, in the past, there was a commonly accepted notion of citizenship that is very similar to the contemporary one (like the polis in ancient Greece, republican Rome, or in Italian medieval comuni/communities).

Today, there are notions of even supranational/transnational citizenship as it was, for instance, in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (double citizenship: of the republic and Yugoslav federation but a single passport) or the EU (double citizenship: of the national state and the EU with a single passport). Nevertheless, there were/are problems of supranational identity and transnational citizenship like in socialist Yugoslavia, USSR, or today in the EU where an overwhelming minority of inhabitants support supranational identity (of being Yugoslav, Soviet, or European) but have transnational citizenship (of Yugoslavia, USSR, or the EU).

What is very important to stress, the notion of (modern) citizenship is unlike the notion of (feudal) subjection. In other words, to possess citizenship means to be a member of a political entity having certain rights but to be a subject means being subjected to sovereignty (ruler) without rights having only heavy obligations. The notion of citizenship involves a relation of reciprocal loyalty between an impersonal institution (state) and its members (but not subjects). The notion of subjection, in fact, implies a personalized relation of obedience and submission of subjects to the sovereign. However, since the modern (anti-feudal) times, different types of rights (civil, social, political, minority…etc.) have differentiated citizenship from subjection which was historically founded on privileges (for aristocracy) and obligations (for taxpayers).

What Weberians (followers of Maximilian Karl Emil Weber, 1864−1920) would say is that citizenship is a typical phenomenon of legal-bureaucratic political systems. According to them, subjection belongs to traditional (feudal) and charismatic political systems and social relations. In addition, the concept of citizenship fits to “institutionalized state” while subjection fits to “personalized state”.

Rights of Citizenship


The concept of citizenship understands four rights for the citizenship holders:

  • Civil rights concerning individual freedoms (personal freedom, freedom of thought, and freedom of religion) and the right to fair and equal justice for all. They stemmed from the ascent of the middle class in the 18thcentury;
  • In the 19th century, political rights concerning the exercise and control of political power, to vote, and to create political parties were established;
  • Social rights (rights ensuring a degree of welfare and safety through welfare and education services) were guaranteed in the 20th century;
  • Cultural rights (rights to maintain and hand down to one’s descendant’s cultural identity, ethnic affiliation, and religious background) are introduced in the 1970s.

Dealing with the concept of citizenship, the relations between citizenship, politics of recognition, and multiculturalism is essential. Citizenship is a social process that takes place under specific historical conditions. We have to keep in mind that the concept of citizenship involves both the rights and the duties.

Citizenship as a concept is in the Western world very much founded on the principle of staatsnation (ein sprache, ein nation, ein staat), a German term of French origin. This principle has characterized the old content’s history from the 19th century on. According to the principle of staatsnation = each nation (ethnocultural-linguistic group) must have its state with its territory and each state must comprise one nation. According to common sense and most theoretical representations, a staatsnation is, in fact, kulturnation which is a community whose members share the same cultural traits.

The concept of kulturnation corresponds to both:

  • The Herderian idea of “volk”/people (whose main characteristic is a shared language for all its members); and to
  • The original French concept of nation, in which the linguistic criteria is also a major feature.

The original French concept of nation was defined in 1694 by the Académie Française. In essence, the German romanticist model is based on the formula of language-nation-state, while the modern French model after the 1789−1794 Revolution is founded on the opposite formula of state-nation-language (this formula, however, in the practice in many cases results in the assimilation and even ethnic cleansing of the minorities).

The staatsnation principle postulates the formation of politically sovereign monocultural and/or monoethnic territorial spaces. This principle is based on cultural and/or ethnic purity. From the 19th century on, i.e. since the staatsnation principle was applied in Europe, there have been repeated efforts to make the single national territories both ethnically and culturally more homogeneous. The politics of ethnocultural re-composition in the name of staatsnation principle influenced both in some cases 1) ethnic cleansing, 2) boundary revisions, 3) forced assimilation, 4) banishments, 5) planned immigration, 6) deportations, etc.

Dealing with the question of citizenship, today has to deal with minority rights and minority protection (regarding in many cases with civic state and society). Globally, human rights were accepted after 1945 while minority rights after 1989. The fact is that the national state has far too often been understood exclusively as a geographic expression. In addition, the national state is a political association of citizens who belong to it even because of their cultural traits are often disregarded.

We and the Rest

Not everyone can indiscriminately belong to a specific national state. According to Max Weber, the national state is an association partially open to the outside. In many cases, historically, there were examples of limited opening towards the “others” or the foreigners (like Japan up to 1867). Such a view entails the creation of institutional mechanisms of social selection that regulate affiliation and exclusion. It has to be stressed that both citizenship and nationality represent the fundamental tools that define who has the complete right to belong to a national state and who is excluded from it.

A drastic example of the policy of ethic-based citizenship can be mentioned in the case of Estonia and Latvia (to eliminate the influence on domestic politics of the local Russian minority) immediately after the dismemberment of the USSR but contrary to the case of Lithuania (in Lithuanian case just for the reason that Russian minority was not so numerous compared to Estonian and Latvian cases). In other words, in 1991 Estonia and Latvia introduced a model of citizenship following the staatsnation doctrine that tends to stamp out any form of cultural difference within its national territory. However, neighboring Lithuania after the Soviet time or Malaysia after the end of the British colonial domination in 1956, has given itself a model of multicultural citizenship, which is based upon differences amongst the country’s various ethnic components.

Specific institutions are established in order to support a strict logic of either inclusion or exclusion from the national state according to the principle of staatsnation. For instance, according to the post-Soviet constitution of Lithuania, in fact, only ethnic Lithuanians can be elected as the president of the country (The 78 paragraph: “Respublikos prezidentu gali būti renkamas lietuvos pilietis pagal kilmę…“ [For the President of the Republic can be elected only Lithuanian citizen according to the origin…]).

Nevertheless, these restrictive institutions are:

  • Naturalization;
  • Assimilation;
  • Entitled nation;

Practically, a foreigner can obtain citizenship through naturalization and assimilation. We have, however, to keep in mind that in many countries around the world double citizenship is not allowed (like in Germany or Austria). The acculturation process results in a cultural affiliation change. This is a more or less voluntary process. Usually, the foreigner has to forsake his previous citizenship. However, today, dual citizenship is becoming juridically more widespread as a more democratic option. However, it is still in major cases regarded as dangerous for the preservation of national identities (for instance, controversial debate in Germany).

Practically, in the majority of states exists the problem of the citizenship of the minorities based on the difference between the entitled nation and the rest of the population (minorities) (cases of Slovenia and Croatia). Such attitude implies a structural asymmetry and it conceals a partial exclusion and a demarcation between first and second-class citizenships with their minority rights (example of the Socialist Yugoslavia). In many cases, the citizenship is ethnocentrically oriented which raises the question of citizenship and cultural plurality. Another connected question is the relationship between citizenship and the right to difference.

To focal questions concerning citizenship:

  • Does citizenship have a unifying and inclusive function?
  • Citizenship as the expression of a harmonious political community?

From the very sociological viewpoint, citizenship must be perceived as an agonistic process with competition, tensions, conflicts, permanent negotiations, and compromises between the groups involved in the struggle for the recognition of their rights.

Final words


The concept of citizenship is in most cases understood as a research issue within the political science framework. Therefore, the usual definition of citizenship is provided in political terms as referring to the terms of membership of the nation-state which secure certain rights and privileges to those who fulfill particular obligations. Citizenship is a political concept but not developed and academically as such recognized theory. It, nevertheless, is formalizing the conditions for full participation in a certain community (in fact, a nation-state). Originally, the political definition of citizenship stresses the inclusive nature of the term (concept) as it implies that anyone within the territory of a nation-state who meets certain obligations can be included as a citizen, with corresponding rights and privileges.

Qualifications for citizenship, in fact, reflect a conception of the purposes of the political community and a view about which persons are allowed to enjoy the benefits of rights (and duties) of the political unity (state). Shortly, the concept of citizenship applied certain moral and legal rights and obligations to those who possess it. We have all the time to keep in mind that citizenship on the one hand gives certain rights but on the other hand, requires as well as certain obligations.


Personal disclaimer: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.

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  1. Joe Well

    Regarding undocumented immigrants paying taxes:

    1. You don’t need a Social Security number to pay taxes and millions of people, presumably working without authorization, are paying taxes without one.


    2. While the media like to claim that everyone who shows up at the border without a visa is “illegal” or “undocumented”, many (most?) of them have some kind of provisional status while their cases are waiting to be heard (in theory, and somewhat in practice, it’s a mess). Many of them have work authorization or would have it if the system weren’t such a mess.

    Also, a bit of common sense:

    Since immigrants tend to be younger and healthy, their usage of healthcare is unlikely to be as high as for the native born population. Here in Massachusetts, many are on either Medicaid or a private health plan so they are not just going to the emergency room for every health issue.

    There are very good reasons to oppose the current state of mass immigration (housing and the disproportionate impact on the non-credentialed) but the amount of misinformation on this subject is insane.

    1. Socal Rhino

      Both political parties demagogue on border issues, it’s a target rich environment for exaggerated claims. That said, here in Socal we have had criminal issues with some immigrants from certain countries that were granted waivers by the Biden administration, most notably Chile. People with criminal records that would have been flagged in normal processes.

      One objection I don’t think I’ve seen here: among my personal acquaintances, naturalized citizens who came via formal documented processes are the strongest opponents of undocumented immigration.

      My own ancestors were immigrants who came to New England when things got hot back home, and were reportedly tolerated pretty well by the locals before more arrivals started showing up in big numbers and got grabby.

  2. TomW

    Proponents of equality object to unfettered immigration of impoverished economic migrants into the US because it increases inequality. It stresses the social safety net of government. It increases the cost of equalitarian goals like single payer medical insurance. It may be referred to as the Brazilification of the US.
    Importing and self importation of people with highly patriarchal attitudes toward women promotes values that I find objectionable…and the fact that many American’s have a problem with making distinctions like this in immigration decisions itself is a problem.
    Highly developed economies exist in countries that are considered “high trust”. Immigrants from “low trust” societies can be a problem. Watch Godfather 2 to illustrate this inadvertent importation of organized crime into the US from Sicily.
    Citizenship is a social construct? So are human rights. Nation states. Money. They are also social facts per Durkheim. We spend trillions on national defense, defending our sovereign border from organized attacks. An unorganized invasion of an alien population is similar enough to at least notice.

    “The Zeroth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as inscribed on the Statue of Liberty by Founding Father Emma Lazarus, is that everybody in the world has the right to immigrate to America and your so-called First Amendment doesn’t give you any right to object.”

    1. Albe Vado

      One of the great delusions among modern woke Liberals is that minorities all essentially agree with them. So by all means, bring in all the immigrants because they’ll all agree with us, because obviously only white people can be bigots or socially retrograde. Belatedly they start to gradually realize that in fact many Catholic or Muslim immigrants in fact are very socially conservative and could be inclined to ‘jump ship’ to the GOP. Oops.

      1. TomDority

        What if your not Woke? what are you then? My guess is that would make you asleep!!!
        If you are for society then that makes you a socialist…. so if you are not for society .. does that make you anti-social?
        It can go on … seems the more catchy or simple minded a meme is the more effect it has.
        What other opposites offer more clarity.
        Why is it that the finance guys are always the one’s who jump up and down and tantrum like spoiled selfish children who had their toys taken away for behaving badly – Why is trump such a spoiled little -poor is me – its so unfair crybaby…. big little tough boy all sad he has to be told to calm down

        1. Albe Vado

          Can we talk about jobs, or pronouns? I certainly know which one I care about. Seems the Vichy Left has other priorities this decade though.

  3. TomDority

    Back in the 1920s – this was written

    “In the United States, people are wont to talk feverishly and vindictively about the “non-taxpayer”, for it is here that our brother from Mexico, our cousin from over the Canadian Border, our friends from India and the Middle East come to escape the rigors of their respective locations
    They proceed to use our highways and our libraries, our water systems and our police protection. If they have children old enough and stay long enough, they use our public schools etc., whereupon there is a great cry about non-taxpayers taking advantage of our benefits of government. Because these visitors and temporary residents don’t own property and are not listed with the tax man, the general supposition is that they pay no taxes.
    A itemized account of the money spent by these “guests” over a period of time would yield some surprises. Naturally, the itemization includes practically everything permanent residents would buy, food, clothing, housing, luxuries and the usual necessities.
    A little thought will show clearly that while the guest owned no property here, the hotel proprietor, the restaurateur, the merchant, the grocer, the druggist, everyone in fact, from whom he made purchases did own property, and that property was subject to taxation. The tax on the buildings and merchandize was simply added to the other overhead expenses in the bill of the proprietor and merchant.
    The property owner acted as a collector and ultimate consumer, whether a native son or a wandering guest, paid the tax. The guest who owned no property himself in the United States paid a tax whenever he slept with a roof over his head, paid taxes every time he bought a cigar or steak. A man could no more pass through the United States and purchase a meal or a night’s lodging without paying taxes than he could buy a gallon of gasoline for his car without paying the gasoline tax.
    The “non-taxpayer”? He belongs to the class of griffins and unicorns and other fabulous animals. There is no such creature.”

  4. ciroc

    Inheritances received simply because your parents were rich are taxed and eventually (indirectly) distributed to the poor. Few people, other than billionaires, would argue that this process is unfair. So why shouldn’t the citizenship you get just because your parents are citizens of a rich country also be “distributed” to people in a poor country?

    1. Carla

      I wish inheritances were taxed. In the US most inheritance taxes have been vastly reduced or eliminated & the ultra-wealthy support the finance & legal professions getting around the rest.

  5. Albe Vado

    I’m less interested in debating who pays what taxes and more interested in the issue of labor arbitrage. Borders are good and necessary things, and the first responsibility of any government should be to its own born, legal, registered citizens.

    Immigrants do drive down wages, this is objective fact. An argument will be ‘oh, well Americans won’t do those jobs anyway’. No, they won’t do them for that pathetic level of pay, and businesses get away with that pay because they have a ready supply of desperate immigrants who will do it instead. This isn’t the immigrants fault; they’re just trying to get by.

    But this is a sort of zero-sum game. Barring the glorious international workers revolution, which hasn’t happened and probably never will, things are decided on a nation by nation basis. Having large numbers of undocumented workers doing scab labor makes things worse for the legal citizens of a country. Start prosecuting the bosses who knowingly hire illegal workers. But of course that will never happened, because those bosses fund our politicians, and so the illegal workers will continue to be allowed in and hired, because they’re a key part of the war against labor.

    Particular, specific shoutout to the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have over the last year abandoned their homeland to flee thousands of miles north to the hostile nation currently sanctioning their own country, many of whom have ended up in my county where they siphon support resources out of homeless relief programs that still can’t cope with the needs of people actually from here. Amazing.

    1. TomW

      Agree totally. Any argument about economic benefits of economic migration of unskilled workers ignores their impact on a per capita basis. When a national goal should be improving the economic welfare of their existing population. And, the argument, “Americans won’t do those jobs anyway” ignores what sorts of things Americans actually do for enough pay. Ice Road Truckers, for example. .

    2. Polar Socialist

      Immigrants do drive down wages, this is objective fact.

      Not in countries with functional minimum wage legislation, relatively strong unions and collective bargaining. When wages are agreed on a national level and enforced by union lawyers and courts, it doesn’t leave much room for employers to underpay.

      There’s a plethora of studies done on European labor market on this topic. When workforce behaves like a class and protects itself and all it’s members, it’s harder for employers to create a race to the bottom.

      1. Felix_47

        As a businessman I just move my operaton overseas so I hire Indian radiologists, Filipino phone workers and help lines, Nigerian security surveillance and Chinese manufacturing. If we had open borders or no borders the question is whether pay would go down in the US and the pay in India would go up. Or would Americans simply see their pay drop to the level of Pakistan. Or would Pakistan and India equilibrate to the US level. Since there is so much excess labor in the world it might be that all wages would drop worldwide.

    3. JohnnyGL

      I’m glad you pointed this out, because the whole controversy stems from an attempt by the Biden administration to break labor power with a flood of migrants.

      That is the WHOLE ballgame.

      Normal people sort of instinctively get it, but it doesn’t seem to get articulated very clearly.

      The PMC objections are always, “but immigration can and should be designed to function better, we need better programs and laws”. That’s maybe plausible, but mass migration is only being pushed because elites WILL NOT give us those things.

      Mass migration has always been a ruling class project in the US.

  6. David in Friday Harbor

    Thanks for posting Sotirović — he’s got a very different perspective having come of age in Belgrade during the collapse of Yugoslavia and the often brutal ethnic cleansings that accompanied its political reorganization into statelets; he then fled to Lithuania during the period during which that region’s 150 years as a territorial football gelled into EU and NATO membership. He’s now back in Serbia.

    Sotirović has written many worthwhile historical discourses on the meaning of nationhood, citizenship, and politics — including on Palestine-Israel and European Zionism. He provides a useful lens through which to view what it means to be a “nation” as state legitimacy appears to be collapsing in North America and Western Europe in the face of globalization and the population bomb.

    A thoughtful frame of reference but unfortunately he provides no easy answers to the question of who gets to be a “nation” and who gets to have individual “security” in the post-1990 world. As Mao reminded us: political power grows out of the barrel of a gun…

  7. TomW

    I’m especially offended by “experts” who claim that defending our southern border is technically impossible. Anyone saying walls don’t work has never visited Istanbul formerly Constantinople, where it preserved the Eastern Roman Empire for 1000 years.
    Or building such a structure would be impossible. More difficult or expensive than an interstate highway?
    Or that a government that has no trouble finding and tracking everyone that resides here lawfully couldn’t keep track of people here illegally. Or that the same degree of force applied to travelers at our airports who cross boundaries can’t be applied to unauthorized border crossings. Or that somehow our military can’t be used today ‘because’ ignores the fact all US military leaders in the two 20th century world wars had been deployed there earlier in their careers. In fact, Southern border enforcement was long considered a primary job of the military. Normal countries enforce their borders unapologetically.

    1. Belle

      The Border Patrol is about to turn 100. DHS is not even 25 years old. Until the Chinese Exclusion Act, with the exception of a short term under John Adams, the USA had a border that was open to people.
      The Constitution mentions immigration in only one place- a line which mentions that the immigration power belonged to the states, and the the Federal government had no power over any action related to it until 1808. That was how Jefferson and Madison described it in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.

  8. El Slobbo

    When I lived in the United States for 5 years, very few people that I met had any serious concept of citizenship as opposed to residence (permanent or otherwise). Try to explain to the average American that you can be born in many places and live there all your life without being a citizen, and further, without that status being a major problem. Total incomprehension.
    And I can see here, an article about citizenship followed by a bunch of comments about residence.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, I ran into this often when I relocated to Australia for 2 years and now with my move to Asia. Even many members of the PMC operated under the misapprehension, bordering on delusion, that of course you could pick up and move to another country. They did not recognize that the fact that people they knew first or second hand that had lived overseas were employees of multinational companies, posted on a gig, and their right to remain was entirely dependent on having their employment as sponsor.

  9. ДжММ

    The unmentioned context to this article is the referendum coming up next month. Having failed their first attempt a few years back, our foreign masters are pushing again to change our constitution so that a second citizenship (provided the second is a ‘friendly nation’, as determined by whoever happens to be president at the time) does not mandate giving up lithuanian citizenship.

    Of course, since there are only like 3 million of us, this would mean that our country afterwards can be managed directly from Chicago. But sure, let’s talk about all the inconsequential aspects of nations and cultures, to obfuscate the only one that really matters.

    To be a citizen is to be responsible for deciding the path a state will take, as one who will be bound to the consequences of those decisions. The concept of dual citizenship is absurd. If “your” two states go to war with each other, who would you fight for?

  10. Aurelien

    Late to this, but, since Yves was kind enough to mention me, I’ll just make one point.
    Citizenship is fundamentally not the same thing as residence, although neoliberal institutions like the EU are doing their best to destroy citizenship as a concept, and replace it with a purely transactional arrangement where “residents” receive “services” in return for payments of taxes and obedience to local rules. The closest analogy is the transformation of countries into limited companies (some owned by others of course) and citizens into shareholders. But citizens, at that point, will have no more loyalty to each other than shareholders have to a company, or to each other. Indeed, there will be no more citizens, but just collections of people who happen to be living at the same time in a defined political space. At which point, all forms of solidarity, loyalty and collective effort will go out of the window. It would be unfortunate if there were a major political crisis of some kind …

    1. Trees&Trunks

      Glad you posted, Aurelien. I was about to refer to your articles about the will to defend your country. Which is very low among the PMC since you don’t really have anything to defend except yourself.
      Citizenship, as opposed to residency, would do well to be attached to some sort of rootedness in the future of the country where you are a cititzen, to the extent that you are actually willing to die for it.
      I guess this went away a long time ago as described in Laschs The Revolt of the Elites.

  11. Iris

    “In a libertarian society, there is no commons or public space. There are property lines, not borders. When it comes to real property and physical movement across such real property, there are owners, guests, licensees, business invitees, and trespassers — not legal and illegal immigrants.”
    ~ Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute

    No borders means no citizenship, no human rights of any kind, no environmental protections, no say about anything.

    40 Years of the Reagan Revolution’s Libertarian Experiment Have Brought Us Crisis & Chaos

    “Please name one country, anywhere in the world, any time in the last 7000 years, where libertarianism has succeeded and produced general peace and prosperity?”

  12. JW

    Speaking personally, as an immigrant to France by choice some years ago, there is only one real difference between permanent residence and citizenship. The right to vote in national elections. Yes there are passports, but with a titre de sejour and UK passport, there is only one hurdle, which is staying in any EU country ( ex France) for more than 3 months. But I/we have just jumped that hurdle(x)
    Indeed because of a seldom mentioned component of Brexit, I/we are financially better staying as residents, as retirees our health costs in France continue to be paid by UK, and that leads to lower social charges on investments etc.
    I can’t think of anything else affected by our non-citizenship.
    (x) My wife has successfully applied and obtained Irish citizenship by virtue of grandmother’s birth place. This gives her Irish passport which means , due to helpful EU legislation , we can now move around or settle elsewhere in the EU unencumbered by 90 day issues.
    This is of course a tale of ‘ rich white folk’ not exactly common to the majority of immigrants worldwide. But I give it as an example because there is no such thing as an ‘average’ immigrant. Every situation is different even if they look the same from afar.
    I do agree with Aurelien ( on this and many matters), that whilst the EU legislation is helpful to our particular position, its design is for centralism which I oppose. We moved to France, not a homogeneous ‘blob’.

  13. Revenant

    This post sees only the modern bureaucratic state and a single restrictive view of citizenship.

    It ignores empire and monarchy and it dismisses subjecthood as pre-modern. Unfortunately that means that there is no place in this analysis for either the European history of citizenship / subjecthood of the Holy Roman and Austro-Hungarian empires nor further back of the Roman empire, nor the Anglosaxon experience of the British empire.

    In the Roman and British empire, the package of rights and responsibilities of a subject were renegotiated several times with a gradual widening of the class as the “barons” and then the merchant class acquired power. British subjects today have rights and responsibilities to the Crown, not (except in very specialised circumstances) a collection of personal feudal dues to King Charles III. But there is no overarching concept of citizenship by birthplace or by blood in the UK. You acquire British nationality in many ways and in parallel with other citizenships, and it entitles you and Britain to very little whereas (legitimate) residence entitles you the British welfare state and residence can be obtained in other ways.

    I like our pragmatic and nebulous subjecthood.

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