A summary of the book by Dr Avia Pasternak (UCL) with responses from Professor Jeff King (UCL) and Professor David Miller (Oxford).
States are often asked to pay compensation for their unjust wars, historical wrongs and international crimes. But when they turn to pay for their wrongdoings, it is the citizens who end up paying the price, even if they protested against the state’s policies, did not know about them, or had little political influence. So why should citizens pay for their state’s wrongdoings?
Responsible Citizens, Irresponsible States develops an answer to this question. It argues that citizenship can be a type of massive collective action, where citizens willingly take part in their state, and where state policies are the product of this collective action. While most ordinary citizens are not to blame for their participation in their state, they nevertheless ought to accept a share of the remedial obligations that flow from their state’s wrongful policies. But the book also shows that this is not true for all states. In some non-democratic states most citizens are not participating and should not pay for their state’s wrongdoings. The book’s findings call for a revision of the way we hold states responsible at the domestic and international levels.