David Miller’s concept of nationality means that the citizens should not only abide by the legal and ethical standards adopted by the State, but also participate actively in the economic and social development. …
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In this essay, I intend to discuss the implications of the concept of nationality as espoused by David Miller, and how it affects the modern economic and social environment of a country. I will use evidence as well as theories and opinions of other scholars to establish that David Miller’s concept of nationality cannot be acceptable in its entirety in the modern times.
According to Miller, the idea of nationality comprises of a state that has claim to political determination and which is also ethical in nature1. The concept of an ethical nation is based on Miller’s presumption that justice is a pluralistic concept and it should be understood and practiced in the context of the situation. For an ethical nation, it is believed that social solidarity is the underlying justice principle, as this emulates the justice system of community level living, only on a much larger scale2. A community is tasked with ensuring that all members’ needs are met and that there is fairness in distribution of resources according to each individual’s need. Similarly, an ethical nation is the one that has a social welfare system aimed at providing facilities and resources to people who need it and cannot afford it otherwise owing to economic inequalities. In addition, Miller also contends that there is a need for affirmative action and active income redistribution to bring down the social and income disparities. According to him, nationality would mean that people should have a greater sympathy and willingness to help their co-nationals than they are with respect to the general humanity3. The concept of Miller’s nationality is an idealistic one as he seems to have over-simplified both the theoretical underpinnings as well as the practical implications of his theory. He uses the concept of nationality to mean support for a welfare state on the premise that a welfare state is the apt solution to ensuring justice. According to him, this justice is pluralistic and varied and depends on what is the context of the situation. His conclusion that a welfare state is the ultimate manifestation of justice is not supported by any empirical or factual information. He does not elaborate why any other approach to justice is not suitable for a nation, or how the welfare state metes out justice to the numerous and diverse sections of the society4. The fact that pluralistic justice is given importance by Miller himself further traps him into detailing why he proposes only a welfare state as an ethical state, and why nationality should require a support for such a state alone. Next, the concept of nationality as envisioned by Miller is also contrary to the dynamics of a free market and freedom of opportunity – ideals that are incorporated in democratic states in the free world. For example, the notion of welfare state is based on the premise that the rich and the well-off people need to compensate for the poor who do not have the means or opportunities5. In order to maintain a welfare state, a differential tax system is employed which can be akin to penalizing the achievers and the rich people for their growth and progress. This inherently appears to be at cross-purposes to the free market concepts and the individual freedom to earn and self-determination. Also, it is also debatable that to what extent the concept of nationality should be used to support the welfare state. It is proposed by Miller that nationalism and citizenship should bring the onus of welfare and support to
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