Territorialisation of Citizenship Rights


Working people have historically fought against various forms of oppression, including feudalism, capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, and religious fundamentalism, to advance democracy and secure citizenship rights. The anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Arab world significantly contributed to the realisation and expansion of citizenship rights beyond the narrow ideology of the Westphalian framework, while also strengthening democratic systems of governance within Western Europe. These movements not only challenged the political and economic dominance of imperial powers but also inspired global solidarity among oppressed people across continents. The successes of these struggles underscored the interconnectedness of global movements for justice and highlighted the importance of collective action in achieving democratic ideals beyond narrow territorial borders. Consequently, the influence of these liberation movements extended beyond their regions, prompting reforms and progressive changes in political systems worldwide. This global ripple effect emphasised the universal quest for equality, justice, and democratic governance, reshaping political landscapes and encouraging a more inclusive approach to citizenship and human rights.

However, in recent times, democratic and citizenship rights are under threat from reactionary and anti-democratic forces who wish to continue and revive their hegemony over people to control resources by expanding the project of territorialisation. These forces aim to roll back the progress made by previous generations in securing democratic freedoms and rights. By undermining democratic institutions and spreading disinformation, the reactionary ruling classes seek to weaken public trust and erode the foundations of participatory and democratic governance. The resurgence of these authoritarian tendencies poses a significant challenge to the principles of equality, justice, and freedom that underpin democratic societies.

There are consistent attempts to spread the venom of territorial nationalism to weaken the universal approach to citizenship rights. These efforts aim to divide people along narrow sectarian lines, categorizing them as natives or foreigners, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, rich, poor, urban, rural, educated, illiterate, skilled, unskilled, migrants, and various racial and territorial nationalities. This strategy seeks to weaken unity and solidarity among the working masses. By fostering these divisions, reactionary forces create an environment of distrust and conflict, undermining collective efforts to achieve social and economic justice.

The division among and between people on territorial grounds weakens the collective and democratic foundations of citizenship rights. Our citizenship rights are interconnected, meaning that the weakening of one person’s citizenship rights inherently weakens everyone’s citizenship rights. When individuals are divided along territorial, racial, religious, or economic lines, the unity and solidarity necessary for a strong, democratic society are undermined. This fragmentation makes it easier for reactionary forces to erode democratic institutions and infringe upon individual freedoms. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize and protect the interconnected nature of our rights, ensuring that all citizens, regardless of their background, are afforded the same protections and opportunities beyond territorial lines.

Furthermore, territorialization often aligns with the interests of those in power, who use it as a tool to maintain control over resources and populations. Both the processes of territorialisation and deterritorialisation of citizenship rights are exclusionary and detrimental. Both the processes follow the requirements of capitalism and its various forms. They not only weaken citizenship rights but also dismantle people’s abilities to reclaim these rights by fostering divisions along narrow, reactionary lines. Territorialisation imposes rigid boundaries that prioritise the rights of certain groups over others, leading to discrimination and inequality. On the other hand, deterritorialisation can create a sense of statelessness and disenfranchisement, leaving many without a clear claim to rights or protections. These processes spread division by categorising people based on arbitrary distinctions, such as nationality, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic status. This fragmentation undermines collective action and solidarity, essential components for defending and advancing citizenship rights.

It is time to reclaim the legacies of various mass movements throughout history to reassert our citizenship rights beyond narrow and reactionary frameworks of the Westphalian ideology. By doing so, we can put an end to so-called nationalist wars that primarily serve to protect the power and interests of corporate capital. Historical mass movements have shown that collective action and solidarity can achieve significant advancements in democracy, equality, and justice. These movements have fought against various forms of oppression, from feudalism to imperialism, and their successes offer valuable lessons for today’s struggles to reclaim the inalienability and universality of citizenship rights. By learning from these historical examples, we can work towards the deepening of global democracy based on the interests of people and the planet.

The triumphs of past movements demonstrate the power of collective action and solidarity in overcoming systemic injustices. These movements have shown that it is possible to challenge and dismantle oppressive structures through unified efforts. In the contemporary context, this means advocating for citizenship rights that are inclusive and universal, transcending narrow, reactionary frameworks that divide us. Reclaiming these rights involves resisting the forces that seek to undermine democratic principles and promoting policies that prioritise human well-being over corporate interests. By fostering global solidarity and inclusivity, masses can build a democratic system that reflects the interconnectedness of our world and addresses the needs of all people, regardless of their background. Ultimately, the lessons from historical mass movements remind us that the fight for citizenship rights and global democracy is ongoing. It requires continuous effort, vigilance, and a commitment to justice and equality for all. By embracing these principles, people can only create a more equitable and sustainable future for generations to come.

Bhabani Shankar Nayak, London Metropolitan University, UK

Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News