Laski’s Theory of Rights:
Harold Laski—the most popular figure and prolific writer of political science, who authored about 20 books—has elaborated the theory of rights and it is in many respects a classic representation. He defines rights as “those conditions of social life without which no man can seek, in general, to be himself at his best”.
Several inferences can be drawn from this short and oft-quoted definition. Laski calls rights as conditions of social life. A stranger of outside world or a denizen of a solitary island cannot claim right. Rights are, in fact, social concept and deeply connected with social life. The essentiality of rights is established by the fact that individuals claim them for the development of their best self.
He places rights, individuals and state on the same plank in the sense that they cannot be separated from each other and there is no antagonism between them. Laski endorses the long-cherished .view that the state has a very important role to play in the realisation and, before that, recognition of human rights.
The point which he stresses here is that it is the primary duty of the state to help the individual in his efforts to achieve his best self and, if that be the case, the state has a very big responsibility in the field of realisation of rights.
Laski on Legal Theory of Rights:
Laski analyses the legal theory of state. The central theme of the legal theory of rights is that they completely depend upon the institutions and recognition of state. An individual cannot claim rights if those are not recognised by the state. Mere recognition, moreover, is not sufficient for the exercise of rights. The state must, through law and institutions, implement the rights.
If these two conditions, the legal theory asserts, are not fulfilled the individuals will have hardly any opportunity to enjoy rights. This legal theory of rights was propounded by many—chief among them are Hobbes and Bentham. Legal theory further states that the law, in fact, determines the character and implementation of rights.
Prof. Laski says that the legal theory is attractive. Various institutions, along with the individuals themselves, always take active interest in the matters of rights. But though attractive, this theory, according to Laski, is highly questionable.
He writes: “But so purely legalistic a view has nothing to contribute to an adequate political philosophy. A legal theory of rights will tell us what in fact the character of a state is; it will not tell us whether the rights there recognised are the rights which need recognition”.
The point to which Laski wants to draw our attention is that the legal theory of rights does not constitute everything of rights. Rights must be indispensable for the realisation of objectives which men cherish. The rights of the individuals must also aim at the general welfare of the society.
Laski raises his objection against the legal theory of rights on many grounds. First of all, it does not throw sufficient light on the idea of political philosophy. What does he mean? He has not explained it properly. As a citizen every individual has a claim for right, but the question is whether he ought to have a right. Again, the purposes of rights are to be properly investigated.
It is to be assessed or analysed in the background of social and political environment. Rights are to be viewed in economic terms also. These and many other questions need just treatment and when done so that will form the structure of political philosophy. Laski’s categorical assertion is that the legal theory of rights is quite silent on the above questions.
Legal theory, again, has committed a mistake by making rights upon the state. ‘State recognises rights’ does not mean that it creates rights. Rights existed prior to state. The validity of rights is not derived from the recognition.
There are many rights which are not recognised by many states. Does it mean that these rights are devoid of validity? At a particular conjuncture a state recognises certain rights or is forced to recognise them. It may be that people may place the demand for recognition of some rights, but these cannot be recognised because they ought not be recognised.
Functional Theory of Rights:
The most attractive part of Laski’s theory is functional aspect of rights. It is attractive not because of its novelty but because of its emphasis on the relation between right and duty. He says, “Rights are correlative to functions”.
He again comments: “He that will not perform functions cannot enjoy any more than he who will not work ought to enjoy bread”. These two famous comments can be taken up for consideration. In his criticism of the legal theory of rights he has said that it does not offer an “adequate philosophy”.
The functional theory of rights wants to stress that an individual is entitled to claim rights only when he performs duty Otherwise the claim or demand for right cannot be entertained. This definitely goes against the widely known theory of legal theory of rights. But today rights are recognised and protected mainly on political considerations.
Laski says that whether man will have rights and what or how many rights he will enjoy depends not upon the state but upon the person himself. Without doing any work a man cannot claim any bread.
Similarly, without doing any duty an individual cannot place any demand for right. Performance of duty automatically entitles a man to demand right and the state in that case is bound to grant right. Function is thus implicit in right. If an individual can contribute to the society that can be regarded as a ground for right.
But function is not enough. Any type of function cannot make one demand right His work or performance must be socially useful. That is, what he does that will enhance welfare of the society. A man has no right to do whatever he likes.
The work must relate to the general welfare of the state. Here Laski views the duty of individual and rights in the perspective of the whole society. The recognition of rights is not dependent upon the mercy of the state. If the individual performs functions which are undoubtedly socially useful and if the state recognises that then the rights are to be recognised.
Hence, recognisiton of rights has a relation to the recognition of the services to the enrichment of state. If rights of certain individuals are not recognised by the state, in that case the general interests will be adversely affected and the state will do gross injustice not to the persons but to the public in general.
But to perform a duty which is socially necessary requires granting of some rights. A man cannot perform any duty if he has no right to do that considering this aspect of rights in their functional background he makes the following observation: “Rights, regardless of exact functions to which they relate, are at a minimum basis, identical. The state, at that level, must secure them for each of its citizens. Differentiation arises only when the elementary needs of each individual have been satisfied”.
In his analysis of justice Rawls raises this issue. All men in a society cannot claim identical or equal rights because the needs of all men are not supposed to be identical. But for the sake of justice granting of unequal rights to different persons shall be admitted. This contention has been supported by many.
Right to Resist:
Laski, in clear language, admits individual’s right to resist that is, he has right against the state and in-this regard Laski does not agree with Green’s views. Before discussing his views, in order to be clear, we must add few words about Green’s opinion. Green has said: a right against society as such, a right to act without reference to the needs or good of society, is an impossibility since every right depends on some social relation.
He has further observed that even if an authority adopts imperfect decisions, the individuals cannot resist them on the ground that he enjoys the right to resist. He can resist on the ground that his action aims at general welfare of the society. General welfare or common good, according to Green, is the supreme authority which none can violate.
Laski does not share fully the opinion of T. H. Green. He says that it is the responsibility of every citizen to consider the common good or the overall interests of all people. But that does not debar me from registering my objection against the performance of the state. Individual shall co-operate with the state in all matters, but where he finds that the function of the state is not in conformity with public interests he has right to resist.
“No claim of mine can be recognised by the state which involves the surrender by some other person of rights without which he cannot be his best self. The mutual claims of the state and of its citizens must be claims clearly justifiable by reference to a common good which includes the goods of all”.
By recognising individual’s right to resist Laski once again admits that liberal philosophy, though in amended form, is always active in his mind. The decision of the state cannot be accepted without any scrutiny. Every citizen has right to judge the function of the state in the light of its success. That is, to what extent it has been able to meet the requirements of the society as a whole.
An argument in favour of the state shall be backed by its ability or success to meet people’s demands. Laski, therefore, does not give unconditional power to state authority. Laski wants to see the state as a responsible and welfare institution. Individual to him is also responsible and reasonable.
If both do their allotted duties, he is sure, no problem of obligation, implementation of rights and realisation of general welfare will crop up. Viewing from this angle we can say that Laski’s conception of rights is more balanced and to some extent pragmatic than that of Thomas Hill Green.
Barker’s Theory of Right:
Rights Defined and Nature Explained:
So far as the theory of rights is concerned, Barker’s view is not conceptually different from that of Laski. Both are liberal philosophers, but Barker has a clear bias to idealism. The ultimate purpose of every political organisation called state is to see that the personality of the individual gets ample scope for development. It is the duty of the state to guarantee and secure the conditions essential for that objective.
These secured and guaranteed conditions are called rights. Individual’s personality cannot develop automatically or under most adverse or antagonistic environment. Development of personality requires favourable conditions and these are to be guaranteed by the state through the enactment of law.
So we find that the state, rights and the individual all have purpose. The purpose of the former two is to help the individual in the attainment of his purpose. It implies that the justification of the former two lies in how much they have been able to help the individual.
Barker endorses the views of Laski and Green when he says in his explanation of the nature of rights that the rights of an individual are embodied in him but these are parts of the whole system of rights and of justice.
The implication is that the rights of any particular individual are the parts of the rights which other persons exercise. Rights of one cannot be isolated from those of others. Attempts to segregate the rights of persons will lead to the nullification of rights to which other persons are entitled.
The development of self of all persons is a condition of the development of particular self. Naturally, rights are to be guaranteed to all persons and this task is to be done by the state through law. So law is a very important instrument for securing rights. This is the legal concept of rights, because if the state does not take initiative to secure rights through law individuals will be deprived of rights.
Here we find that Barker discusses the concept of right from the stand point of macro politics which means that the idea cannot be analysed treating individuals as separate from each other. Exercise of rights by each individual creates impact upon other individuals as well as on society as a whole. This must be remembered.
Barker also discusses the moral aspect of rights. He says, that law of the state helps me to secure rights. But rights are claims and the origin is the individual himself. The individual is a moral person and it is his determination that he will develop his moral personality through the rights. His purpose is not to inflict any harm upon the society. The implication of moral being is he releases his best efforts for the general welfare of society. There is another source of rights pointed out by Barker.
The state and its law are the sources of rights. This can be treated as a single source. The state recognises rights and makes law for its implementation. “Ideally a right will always be derived simultaneously from two sources and will possess double quality: source of the individual personality and the source of the state and its laws”.
Distribution of Rights:
Mere declaration of rights is not enough for any society. Care is to be taken as to the distribution of them. Barker stresses the point that in distributing rights utmost importance is to be given to the idea of justice. Maintenance of justice shall be the ultimate goal of any state and distribution of rights must see that. He has suggested that the distribution of rights shall be based on three principles—liberty, equality and fraternity.
The state will take measures for the distribution of rights remembering that all the individuals are free agents of the state and they have the abilities to develop their own personalities.
The freedom or liberty of the individual cannot be infringed. Taking this basic premise the state will proceed to distribute rights among the citizens. The implication, according to Barker, is the purpose of right will be to maximise liberty. Every citizen will have liberty to enjoy rights and he will allow others to follow him.
The second procedural rule of the distribution of rights is the equality which means that in the eye of state authority all individuals are equal. The state cannot give more rights to some and less to others. So far as the state activity is concerned all are equal. Outside the state there is inequality in economic status, political power and cultural background.
But these inequalities are not supposed to disturb or affect the procedural principle or rule. Speaking about this procedural principle Barker writes: “It does not involve or mean equality in the social or extra legal sphere: it is legal, and not social equality; it is equality in terms of capacity for the enjoyment and exercise of rights; but not in terms of capacity for the enjoyment and exercise of all the multitudinous forms of social activity”.
The final procedural rule of the distribution of rights is fraternity. The principle of fraternity was first enunciated by the leaders of the French Revolution. Goodwill, co-operation and friendship should be the basis of human relations. It is the duty of the state to see that these eternal principles are encouraged and flourished through the distribution of rights or, to put it in other words, the state will not recognise rights in such manner as to exacerbate the relationship among people.
In order to do this the state must take an unbiased approach to all its citizens. The development of personality shall be the chief motive of the recognition and implementation of rights. If the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity are strictly and scrupulously adhered to in the distribution of rights then that will undoubtedly ensure the maximisation of justice.
Marxist Theory Rights:
Marxist Analysis of Bourgeois Concept of Rights:
Marx and Engles have not allotted an exclusive place for the detailed analysis of rights, but they were quite conscious of the condition of various rights as it prevailed in bourgeois society. The liberal thinkers paid very little attention to the realisation of economic rights. To them political rights were of prime importance and if citizens get the opportunity to enjoy all the political rights, absence of economic rights will not pose any problem on the way of political rights.
Moreover, non-realisation of economic rights may finally result in the growing economic inequalities and according to liberal this theoreticians it is a good sign of freedom. But Marx and Engels denounced this approach to rights and they have stated in no uncertain terms that in the absence of economic rights there is practically no significance of political rights.
They have, of course, admitted that in a class society this is inevitable because economically powerful class will create an atmosphere in which the general public will not get any opportunity to have all sorts of rights.
The rights in bourgeois society are, therefore, partial in character, Partial in the sense that only a very limited number of persons get the freedom to have rights. The three organs of government are under the control of the powerful class and they work at its behest. Rights of the majority ate always suppressed the dominant class.
Marxists have admitted that in a bourgeois society attempts are always made to expand the number of rights and in reality this is done. But the rise in the number of rights does not come to the benefit of common people.
The powerful class, through its efficient machinery bole; all the rights for its enjoyment. The deprived section of the population no benefit. Moreover, the separation between the two classes stands on the way of exercise of rights by the working class.
A recent analyst has offered the following comment: “Once citizens entered the factory gates their lives were fully determined by the dictates of the capital. The capitalist labour contract excludes the workers from formal rights over the control of the work place. This exclusion is not incidental to the capitalist state, but vital to it since the sphere of industry is specifically defined as being outside politics.
In substantial degree Marx was surely right”. So we find that almost all the rights of any bourgeois society are meant for the powerful section. These can be called bourgeois rights. Even few bourgeois theoreticians have admitted it. But some bourgeois thinkers have admitted that so far as the structure of capitalist society is concerned this situation is unavoidable and cannot be changed.
Rights, Citizenship and Obligation:
Political scientists, in recent years, have investigated the relationship between rights on the one hand and citizenship and obligations on the other hand. Before entering into the details we shall see what is meant by citizenship. Citizenship may be regarded as a status conferred by law with the help of which (citizenship) an individual can make contribution to the welfare of the society.
It is now obvious from this definition that once an individual attains this status he can claim certain rights which will enable to contribute to the development of society. If the individual gets no rights his ability to contribute to society will stand on nothing. Again, once an individual has been awarded the status of citizenship he has legal claims to right. So we find that both citizenship and rights are closely linked.
There is another aspect of this issue. Citizenship implies the involvement of men in the affairs of the community. It’s another implication is the title of citizenship entitles an individual to participate in the affairs of the community. Hence right citizenship and participation in the affairs of the community are all associated What about the obligation?
It is observed that if individuals (after having the status of citizenship) are not allowed to have rights and if they do not get the opportunities to participate in community affairs they can reasonably and logically withdraw their obligation to the authority or they may refuse to show obedience to the authority.
So, rights and citizenship are important concepts. The relationship may still be viewed from another context. To participate in the affairs of the state is an important political right and every citizen must have this right. Citizenship is generally defined as an ability to contribute to the progress of state. If the citizen is deprived of this right Ire is not supposed to show obligation to the state or authority.
Negative and Positive Rights:
We shall now turn to a new concept of rights briefly stated by Andrew Heywood (Political Theory). He says that there are two forms of rights-negative and positive rights. Traditional rights mainly elaborated by Locke and Jefferson are called negative rights these rights are right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.
It we scan these rights we shall find that they impose some restrictions upon the activities and power of the state authority. The state should not perform such acts or enact such laws as well prevent the individuals from exercising or enjoying the rights. These are also called forbearance rights. The implementation of rights requires the limitation upon the power of the state. Needless to say that both John Locke and Jefferson wanted this.
But in the twentieth century, specially after the Second World War, people demanded larger and comprehensive intervention in the affairs of society which means that the state must do something for the general welfare of the society and upliftment of the weaker sections of the community.
These activities of the state finally came to be regarded as rights which are called welfare rights, social and economic rights. These rights are known as positive rights. “These are positive rights in the sense that they demand not forbearance but active government intervention”. The right to health care, right to education etc. fall in this category.
Equality before Law and Equal Rights:
We shall now turn to what Marx and Engels have said about equality before law and equal rights. In liberal theory of rights large amount of space has been devoted to the utility of equality before law. All citizens, in liberal democratic countries, are equally treated. No sort of difference is counted.
The individuals claim it as their right and any authority or agency violating the right to equality before law will be subject to punishment. Scholars are of opinion that the concept of equality before law at first originated in the British political system and subsequently it found its place in many countries that followed, either partially or elaborately, Westminster model and today it is more or less found in all systems.
The Marxists challenge this right and their main ground is in a society where there are various sorts of inequalities such a right has no validity. The elites, bourgeois class and other powerful persons control the state administration and the judiciary interprets the constitution and laws always to safeguard the interests of these persons. Law is strict only where the poor people are involved.
Marx and his followers have asserted that for the proper implementation of equality before law there must be equality in the distribution of wealth. Gross economic inequalities are to be eradicated at first and then we shall think about equality before law. Unfortunately, the liberal philosophers have kept this issue outside their consideration. Their main concern is political rights, irrespective of economic problems.
Marx in his Critique of the Gotha Programme has strongly criticised the bourgeois concept of equal rights. Two labourers cannot have equal physical strength and mental capability. The work or contribution of two labourers in this particular situation cannot be equal, differences are bound to arise. So, equal right idea is pernicious or meaningless.
In the above-noted book Marx writes: “This equal right is an unequal right for unequal labour. It recognises no class differences, because everyone is only a worker like everyone else, but it tacitly recognises unequal individual endowment and thus productive capacity as natural privileges. It is, therefore, a right of inequality, in its content, like every right”.
Marx further maintains the equal right is still constantly stigmatised by a bourgeois limitation. “The right of the producers is proportional to the labour they supply, the equality consists in the fact that measurement is made with an equal standard of labour”.
Marx wants to stress that while considering the concept of equal right or anything like that the class differences of society and the productive power all are to be properly considered. Mere announcement of equal right idea cannot absolve capitalists of responsibility.
Concept of Right:
In the Critique of the Gotha Programme Marx makes the following observations regarding the theory of right:
Right by its very nature can consist only in the application of an equal standard.
How much or how many rights an individual will be allowed to enjoy that will be decided by the equal standard, but if we cannot place all the individuals at a particular level we cannot decide the standard which we want to call equal.
Marx suggests that there are unequal individuals everywhere and they are measurable only by an equal standard in so far as they are brought under an equal point of view. All are to be treated as workers and nothing more.
Marx apprehends that if this approach to right is taken there will arise discrepancies. Because one worker is married, another bachelor, one may have more children and the other none. With equal performance everybody’s share will be equal. Hence, one will get more than the other, one will be richer and another poorer.
Marx admits that this should never be the goal of the distribution of right. But he expresses his helplessness. Even after the establishment of proletarian rule immediately after the revolution this deficiency in the concept of right will prevail.
The establishment of communist society, Marx tells us, will drive away this deficiency. In the classless society the inequality or the superior and inferior ability of persons is to be recognised. That is why we find Marx to comment: “right instead of being equal would have unequal”.
The classic statement of Marx is “Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby”. In the first phase of communist society, bourgeois right is not abolished in its entirety, but only in part, only in proportion to the economic revolution so far attained, i.e. only in respect of the means of production. Bourgeois right recognises them as the private property of individuals.
Socialism converts them into common property. To that extent bourgeois right disappears. Only in a classless society—where the instruments of production are completely owned by the society as a whole—workers will have genuine opportunity to exercise proper rights. In the capitalist political system only the property-owners and elites had the rights in the true sense of the term and this was unavoidable.
The cultural, economic and political exploitation was part of the capitalist system. The rights which common people enjoyed were so called rights. Socialism will radically change both the notion and practice of rights. In other words, since socialism envisages an absence of gross inequalities among various groups and classes can there be a wider and better scope of the realisation of rights.
Many pseudo-socialists and bourgeois thinkers have said that right is not derived from economic relations, but from the concept of the will itself, of which the philosophy of law is only the development and exposition. This type of argument, Marx claims, has halted the growth of proper understanding about rights. “People forget that”, Marx continues, “their right derived from the economic conditions of life, just as they have forgotten that they themselves derive from the animal world”.
Marx further says that the concepts of natural rights and justice are abstract and, therefore, unrelated to real situation of society. There is no fixed and clear conception about justice. It varies from time to time and place to place. Such a concept which is highly volatile cannot be a reliable determiner of rights.
Some bourgeois philosophers even talk about eternal justice. Again, this idea is misleading. There is nothing eternal in this changing world. What is eternal to me may not have the same meaning to another person. These are the main points of Marx’s ideas about rights.
Commenting on the Marxist theory of rights Norman Barry observes: the Marxists are hostile of natural rights. It is due to the fact that rights cannot be separated from the economic relations of society. The apologists of the theory of natural rights have endeavoured to trace the origin of natural rights to something outside the materials or economic basis of society.
But the Marxist view of right suffers from ambivalence. Marx and his followers have advised common and oppressed people to wage a revolutionary struggle against colonialism and the purpose of the struggle would be to establish political and economic rights propagated by liberal philosophers. Even these rights include natural rights which they cannot support.
Barry has discovered another lacuna in Marxist theory of right. In On the Jewish Question “Marx saw the rise of human rights in historical content. The liberation of man from the oppressive and restrictive feudal economic and social structure was a stupendous achievement which realised the major aims of natural rights thinkers.
However, he was insistent that the so-called rights of man are nothing but the rights of the member of civil society i.e. egoistic man”. Egoistic man is self-centred. In civil society and alienation automatically develops between the property-owners and wage-earners. In Marxist concept of rights there is no place of universal theory of rights.
In Marx’s classless society there will be no individual rights which will limit the freedom of others. It is presumably because the sources of production will be socialised and economic relations will be on cooperative basis. But the success of such a conception of rights depends on to what extent human nature has undergone changes.
There is no guarantee or scientific evidence that with the change of economic structure of society people have thrown away their previous motives, outlooks and mentality. Marxian materialism is quite silent on this. So how can we conclude that a cooperative society based on Marxian principle will create an Eden for people’s perfect and ideal rights system?
Marx castigated the human rights as simply the expressions of bourgeois capitalism. But his portrayal of a future society is out and out a Utopia. “But if the coercion-less cooperative society fails to materialise and the legal system which could, in principle, embody positive expressions of human rights is abolished, there is little prospect that the individual will be protected against the invasions of the state”.
Though Marx recommended the abolition of bourgeois legal system, in practice it is not possible. There must be an organ or agency where the people can lodge their complaints against authority for violation of rights. We do not argue that the capitalist legal system which is authorised to safeguard individuals’ rights is impartial and efficient. But we argue in the same breath that the socialist system is not above suspicion. The collapse of the Soviet system is a proof of its inefficiency to protect people’s rights.
Marxists have squarely objected to the capitalist system of rights. But it is an irony that the erstwhile Soviet constitution and the present Chinese constitution embodied all the human rights propagated by bourgeois theoreticians. The only difference is that while the bourgeois thinkers have stressed the political rights the Marxists have given greatest importance to economic rights. But this is a different issue. Marx would perhaps be horrified by the deplorable condition of rights, in various forms, in the socialist countries.
If Marx and Engels were alive today they would have amended their views about rights in bourgeois society. Today, the workers and common people have, through their protracted struggle and agitation, forced the bourgeois authority to make concession regarding basic rights and privileges.
This is really a great success of the workers. Common people of the present capitalist society are enjoying more rights than their counterparts enjoyed in the past. This is a great achievement which Marx and Engels failed to foresee. However, the common people of capitalist systems are deprived of many rights and for this they will have to fight against the capitalists and their henchmen.
Neither liberal theory nor Marxist theory of rights depicts the correct picture of rights.
Defects of the liberal views are:
(a) Too much emphasis on individuals’ freedom and his ability to look after his own interests,
(b) Guarantee of political rights can cure all the evils, and
(c) Negligence of economic rights.
These shortcomings of liberal theory of rights have ultimately deprived a majority of people to enjoy rights. Rights have become the privileged opportunities of the property owners and have not been utilised for the development of the best qualities of all men which is the chief objective of rights.
On the contrary, the Marxists have seen rights from economic perspectives. To them these are to be economic first-and then political and by declaring this the Marxists have relegated political rights to absolute insignificance. But both political and economic rights, any sensible man will admit, are essential for the overall flourish of individual’s good qualities. How to effect a balance between political and economic rights is perhaps the most vexed problem of political science.
Elimination of exploitation and injustice in economic field should be declared the leitmotif of any government determined to achieve welfare objectives Mere declaration; it is to be noted here, is not enough. Through its sincere activities the government must prove its good intention. Government’s control over means of production and property-owners has been suggested as a powerful weapon of eliminating injustice and exploitation from the surface of society. Laski has argued that there shall be special provision for awarding additional privileges to deserving persons. But this can be granted on two conditions.
One is, before doing that, all the persons in society are provided with minimum privileges and the other condition is the granting of special privileges will augment the general interests or welfare of the society. The materialisation of basic rights of all citizens irrespective of race, sex, caste and religion is the urgent task of any government embedded with welfare objectives.
What are the basic rights? There is a difference of opinion on this question. But we should not ponder over the various aspects of the matter. Food, drink, health, home—these are basic necessities.
Along with these, citizens will have the right to express their own views and will be allowed to lead a social and peaceful life. If we just look at these wants or requirements we shall find that these include both political and economic rights. Cultural rights are also included.
It is wrong to assume that the liberal theory of rights has argued against the fulfilment of these basic wants. So far as the philosophy of this theory is concerned we have nothing to say against it. But its attempt to incapacitate a state fails to receive any acclaim from the ordinary people seeking redress from wants.
The state has a positive role to play. It must come to the aid and advice of the millions. Its apparatus is not for few property-owners and elites who are sufficiently equipped with weapons to fight against the odds. The majority people have not that weapon and it is the primary duty of the state to supply that. Laski in his Introduction to Politics has said that if the state fails to satisfy the effective demand of citizens they are not legally and ethically bound to show obligation to it and these demands can be met by creating an environment in which every individual will get the opportunity of developing qualities.
Hence the declaration of rights and the efforts for their implementation is the basic task of the state. If we think over the matter seriously we shall find that this approach is neither liberal nor socialist, but combines the elements of both. It is absolutely humanitarian. Progress of civilisation is of prime necessity and this is possible if maximum human progress is achieved. Rights are indispensable for the progress of civilisation and man and the state has something to do.
Government and the Extension of Rights:
We shall now briefly discuss how an expansion of state activity extends the rights of the individuals. We hold the view that a state can easily play an expanded role— particularly in economic sphere—and this helps the individuals to have more rights.
For example, if right to personal security is extended individuals will get a number of rights. There are various forms of security such as security from hunger, security from unemployment, security from hazards of life, security from drudgery of monotonous life.
Many countries of the West have introduced social insurance schemes and these have considerably extended the rights of citizens. Britain is the pioneer in this field. In 1942, Sir William Beveridge produced the Report on the Social Insurance and Allied Services and it is call Beveridge Report. This Report calls upon the government to adopt a comprehensive policy to attack Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.
The Report also stresses that the; state should provide security to all its citizens. The change in outlook has impelled the government to take a number of measures which have extended various rights of the individuals. The individuals of today’s world enjoy the rights to be protected from unemployment and age. Many countries have introduced unemployment allowances.
Restrictions on the right of factory owners to retrench workers have been imposed. There is a system of old age pension in many countries of the world. This is a right to live comfortably in old age. Laws have been enacted to save the workers from the hazards of job.
The state, factories and other organisations provide medical benefits to its citizens and these have alleviated the risks of sickness. This is the right against diseases or the right to protect himself. Workers’ rights to protection have been broadened by a new method called Joint Venture. A fund is built up with the contributions of employers and workers. This is compulsory and strengthens the social security of the employee.
The recreation is also an essential part of employee’s life and we find several states to open recreation centres which are also called social service centres. This enables employees the right to enjoy. The right to form or join organisation has been recognised by state. The trade union right is also a very important right which is found in every state.
The employees or workers have got right to freedom of speech and also to bargain with the employer. Thus, it is both a political and economic right. The general result is the expansion of various rights and this has been possible because of the increased role of the state.
It is now universally believed that the state is the most powerful, effective as well as the proper institution (the state is sometimes so called) to guarantee and protect rights and all the individuals irrespective of their cast, creed, religion, language and sex lay faith on the state. The issue of the protection of rights is too important to be left to the private person or agencies.
If we want a comprehensive system of rights and its realisation, it is argued, the responsibility shall be vested in the state. It is a fact that the role of the state is not above suspicion and criticism but on this account it should not be debarred from playing its role. Attempts be made to involve the state.