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Universal Citizenship and Political Participation Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jun 14th, 2020

Summary of the Readings

The document entitled “Combahee River Collective Statement” composed by the society of the black feminists and lesbians in Boston is peculiar for the open and unapologetic communication of their sexual orientations to the wide public. This is the first document of this kind in history. The main argument of these women in their literary work is that they would no longer trade their silence for the chance to participate in the political process (Eisenstein 93). Special attention is also paid to the arguments encouraging better organization and unity among the black lesbians who appear to be separated and disorganized (Eisenstein 94).

In “Polity and Group Difference: A Critique of the Ideal of Universal Citizenship”, Young argues that despite any personal circumstances including the socially and economically advantaged or disadvantages situation, gender status, and race, citizenship guarantees “everyone the same status as peers in the political

public» (250). The overall idea of this paper is that citizenship is the guarantee for the right to express their political will for the people of all kinds despite their status in society. At that, the author is aware that the representatives from the different layers of society may have their own interests and deferent’s people’s interests do not coincide. For this reason, Young makes the following comment in the conclusion of her paper, “I do not believe that challenging the ideal of a unified public or the claim that rules should always be formally universal subverts the possibility of making rational normative claims” (274).

Evaluation of the Strengths and Weakness of the Authors’ Arguments

Addressing the arguments provided in “Combahee River Collective Statement”, it is important to note that the authors have utilized an effective argument to prove their right to participate in political process. As for the weak points in the course of their ideas promotion, their ideas on uniting the black lesbians around one common purpose seems underdeveloped. They do not provide the specific details on how to unite such diverse groups with considerable ideological differences. In addition, evaluation of their position suggests that they do not fully understand the variance between different stakeholders among the black lesbians.

Evaluating the arguments provided in Young’s work, the statement that citizenship is enough to guarantee each person having it the right to participate in the political process is quite strong. Moreover, this argument is supported by the values promoted by the U. S. Constitution, as well as the human rights activists beginning from the era of the Enlightenment and reaching our days. It is thus very difficult to find faults in Young’s reasoning and for this reason, many readers cannot help but agree with the author’s very statements.

Still, speaking about the weaker arguments used by the author, some minor issues can be found. For instance, Young believes that the impact of laws on the individual is the very measurement that can identify whether they are just. However, since all different groups of citizens have their different and complex interests, it is impossible to develop the laws that would best meet the interests of all groups, and thus, it is impossible to create the just laws then. Still, from prominent works by the philosophers and enlighteners, the public is aware of the fact that the universally just law exists.

References

Eisenstein, Zillah. “The Combahee River Collective Statement.” (1978): 93-98. Print.

Young, Iris Marion. “Polity and Group Difference: A Critique of the Ideal of Universal Citizenship”. Ethics 99.2 (1989): 250–274. Print.

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