Citizenship Reimagined: Four Classes of Citizenship

One of the key concepts in Codist Philosophy is that of the community and citizenship or membership of it. The community should be understood as it is defined in Chapter 13 of the Code as “a group of families/citizens who recognise mutual standards of behaviour and the reciprocal obligations to each other. Membership of the community is, therefore, predicated on three conditions: “exclusivity, affirmation, and mutual recognition of members”. These conditions are fundamental to what it means to be part of i.e., a citizen of a community, yet in the Anglophone nations, they form no part of the citizenship process for the offspring of citizens and only a limited role in that of immigrants.

In most nations, citizenship is granted automatically (on application) to those who have at least one parent who is a citizen at the time of their birth, or in the case of Canada and the United States, if you are born in the nation. These systems ensure that the offspring of citizens do not become stateless persons, yet they fail to ensure that citizens are willing to assume the responsibilities of membership in the national community. This problem is compounded by the institution of dual citizenships, which allow an individual to possess the right of citizenship in multiple and sometimes hostile nations. What is needed is a more robust system that both protects the rights of the individual resident as well as arguments the vital role of the citizen in the national life.

Why is this Necessary?

In the Codist conception of citizenship, a citizen of a community is expected to assume a general and reciprocal responsibility for all other members of their communities’ welfare. There is a recognition that the community exists for no other reason except to promote the survival and long-term welfare of the members and families of their community. The citizen thus is obligated to assume risks and make personal sacrifices in order to ensure the collective welfare of the community/nation. This is done on the proviso that the burden will be shared, that what they do for a fellow citizen, a fellow citizen will do for them.

Where citizenship is not exclusive (such as with dual citizenship), this relationship is doubtful. This is probably shown at its clearest if we consider a war between two nations. If a citizen has citizenship of both nations, which side do they choose and can they be relied on by their fellow citizens? Their loyalty is necessarily divided as their interests are divided. They may benefit in a defeat while their fellow citizens may suffer. Where citizenship is exclusive, this conflict of interest is much reduced and citizens are more able to be confident that their sacrifices will be reciprocated.

In the same way, the other elements of community, affirmation and mutual recognition further strengthen the role of the community in supporting the welfare and survival of the individual members. Affirmation, i.e., the voluntary assumption of the duties and responsibilities of citizenship, ensures that members actively buy into the community as opposed to having the burdens foisted on to them unwillingly. While mutual recognition and, in particular, the revocation of that recognition helps to regulate the behaviour of the citizens to ensure that they are not acting in a way that is prejudicial to the public good. Thus, what is needed is a root and branch reform of the institution of citizenship and residency, to better align these institutions with the real purpose of the community.

The Reforms

To account for the three essential elements of citizenship, what it means to be a citizen or a resident should change. First of all, the current classes of residency (citizenship, permanent residency, temporary visa) should be expanded to include a fourth class of resident between citizen and permanent resident that of the national subject. Each of the four classes of resident should possess different rights that correspond to their commitment to the community/nation. It is important to note here that the right of equality before the law would be maintained between each class of resident.

4th Class - Visitors

The fourth class of resident, temporary visa holders, which are made up of peoples such as holidaymakers, refugees, guest workers, etc. would find their position unchanged. These people are visitors to the nation/community. They possess no rights in of themselves but are given gratis equal protection under the law. Now their only responsibility to the nation is to obey the laws and not harm the interests of the nation/community while in the territory of the community.

3rd Class – Permanent Residents

The third class of resident would be citizens of other nations/communities who wish to remain as residents of the nation permanently. This class would include those individuals who are eligible for citizenship but choose not to affirm it provided that they have citizenship of another nation. They as now would possess:

  • Full legal rights

  • The right to reside where they wish

  • The right to apply for citizenship

  • The right to work (excepting in restricted fields)

  • The right to buy property.

These rights would extend to any of their children born inside the country while they possessed permanent residency.

In return for these privileges, permanent residents would have the duty to:

  1. Obey the laws

  2. Take no action, which is detrimental to the welfare of the community or nation inside or outside of the territory of the nation/community.

Failing in these duties as now would result in deportation and exclusion from the territory of the nation/community.

2nd Class – National Subjects

The second class of resident would be a new creation under this system, consisting of those individuals who:

  1. Neither possess nor are eligible for citizenship of any other nation, and

  2. Choose to not affirm their citizenship of the community or are deprived of their citizenship by the community.

This class of residents would possess the same rights as permanent residents, except that:

  • Their residency would be considered to be inalienable provided they do not acquire citizenship of another nation.

  • Their children would also be automatically entitled to national subject status no matter where they were born.

  • They would possess the guaranteed right to affirm their citizenship (provided they have committed no crimes, which would normally result in the repudiation of citizenship).

In return for these rights and protections, the National Resident would have the duty to:

  • Obey the laws

  • Take no action, which is detrimental to the welfare of the community or nation inside or outside of the territory of the nation/community.

1st Class - Citizen

The final class of resident would be the citizen. The citizen would be those individuals who:

  1. Have no other citizenship

  2. Have affirmed their citizenship after reaching their 18th year

  3. Have completed their communal/national service

  4. Are recognised by their fellow citizens.

They would have full legal and political rights, including:

  • The right to vote and govern (preferably in a reformed democratic system see ‘Democracy of The Hundreds’)

  • The right to engage in political activity

  • The right to work in all fields without restriction

  • The right to possess restricted weapons.

In return for these greater rights, the citizen would assume a greater share of the burden of governing and defending the state. As such, they would automatically take on the duty of:

  • Making and obeying the laws

  • Deciding on and defending the interests of the nation/community both at home and abroad

· Actively contributing to the general welfare of the community/nation.

In future posts, we will examine each of these classes of resident in greater detail and discuss how this system would work. However, it is important that the reader understands that this system is not intended to be a stand-alone reform. Instead, the reform of residency and citizenship proposed in this series is to be understood as part of a greater reform of society, legal, political and social with the enhancement of the communal welfare of the community as its goal.

To simply reform residency without enhancing the rights of the citizen or substantially increasing their say in the government of the nation/community would be, in effect, to simply advocate the disenfranchisement of up to 50% of the population (including the author), with no benefit to either society or individuals. However, if this proposition is understood to be part of a wider project, which would give the reins of government over to the citizens, then the necessity of undivided loyalty amongst the citizen body can more easily be understood. As can the justice of requiring a higher cost to the individual (the renouncement of dual citizenship and national service) wishing to acquire that more valuable citizenship.

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