The idea in this chapter and the next is to explore the institutional possibility that the people in a polity might have such control over those who run the state that they are not individually dominated by the interference that the state practises in taxation, coercion and punishment. To the extent that they have a control that makes such interference non-dominating, the citizens will not lose out in freedom just by the fact of living within that state and, by republican criteria, the state will count as politically legitimate. A state that is legitimate in that sense may not achieve a great deal in guarding against private domination and achieving social justice, though it probably has to achieve some minimum threshold if citizens are going to be capable of exercising control over its doings.
Control, as we saw, depends on two distinct elements, influence and direction. Thus the people will achieve control over the state insofar as they attain influence, on the one side, and succeed on the other in using that influence to impose a suitable direction on government. Such popular control will be suited to republican purposes, guarding against domination, to the extent that it gives each citizen an equal share in the control, particularly an equal share in a form of control that is suitably unconditioned and efficacious. People must enjoy an equally accessible form of unconditioned and efficacious influence that imposes an equally acceptable direction on the state. In this chapter I look at how people might enjoy the required influence and I turn in the next chapter to how this influence might impose the required direction. In this chapter’s discussion of the institutional means whereby people might come to enjoy the required influence I shall anticipate the discussion in the next and assume that the influence they enjoy can support a popular direction and not merely be wayward in character.
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