Excerpted from the NYT (Sept. 18, 2004):
Writing in defense of Britain's emerging welfare state in the aftermath of World War II, the sociologist T. H. Marshall divided the claims of citizenship, like Gaul, into three parts: civil, political and social. The first was composed of personal rights, including freedom of speech and religion. The second consisted in ''the right to participate in the exercise of political power.'' The first set of rights enabled the second; democracy depended on the personal liberty of individual citizens.
Those concepts and their relationship to one another would have been easily comprehensible to the American founders. But the third, or social, citizenship Marshall rightly identified as an artifact of modernity, European modernity in particular. It included ''the whole range from the right to a modicum of economic welfare and security to the right to share to the full in the social heritage and to live the life of a civilized being according to the standards prevailing in the society.'' The celebrated intellectual historian Isaiah Berlin concurred: ''To offer political rights, or safeguards against intervention by the state, to men who are half-naked, illiterate, underfed and diseased is to mock their condition. . . . What is freedom to those who cannot make use of it? Without adequate conditions for the use of freedom, what is the value of freedom?''
The crucial importance of the links between social rights and effective citizenship is the theme of Cass R. Sunstein's provocative new book. He boldly addresses the central question vexing democracies for the last century or more: what is the legitimate role of the state in providing for social and economic welfare? Writers like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman have loudly denounced the exercise of state power for those ends. ''The Second Bill of Rights'' is meant as a rebuttal to their libertarian ideas.