福利国家的脆弱基础

自从现代民主将公民权力作为其政治合法性的立足之本以来,自由和平等之间的紧张局面就一直存在。在任何一个民主社会,全体的自由总是和全体的平等相互冲突。但不论我们如何老生常谈所有人"生来自由并享有平等的尊严和权力",也无法缓解这两项原则之间的冲突。的确,由于经济和技术的进步-和由此带来的财富的增加-以及我们试图减轻这种冲突的努力,它只是换了新的表现形式而已。

公民、法律和政治权利上的平等与事实上的经济和社会权利上的不平等之间的冲突早在法国大革命时期就有所表现。现在,公民们必然运用他们的公民、法律和政治权利来要求经济和社会权利方面的平等-或至少减轻不平等。按照这一逻辑,平等权利-正如社会主义思想所强调的那样-意味着公共政策的目的在于缩小所有公民在实际生活条件上的不平等。

确实,当代民主政体的一个明显特征就是将对自由和形式上的权利平等与公共政策结合起来的雄心。这样的公共政策就是《1946年法国宪法导言》所阐述的为所有公民提供"足够的生活条件"的政策。保证政治和社会权利是当代民主政体的立身之本。

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