As a political identity, citizens first appeared in the political structure of Greek city states.
The Greek word “citizens” is derived from the word “polis”, which originally means “people belonging to the city”.
The so-called civic concept mainly refers to citizens’ cognition of their own identity and political role and the resulting rights and obligations, their views on the relationship between them and civil groups, that is, city states, and their political value orientation.
The Greek concept of citizenship is the original form of the concept of citizenship.
However, the modern questionnaire survey method cannot be used to study the concept of citizens 2000 years ago.
We can only find their political concept according to the political behavior of Greek citizens recorded in historical materials, the political system they created and its operation mode, and the political philosophy expounded by their ideological representatives.
The political behavior of citizens is the external expression of the concept of citizens, the city-state democratic system is its materialized form, and the Greek political philosophy is the refinement and sublimation of its rationality.
1、 Citizens’ recognition of their political role Greek city-state is a very unique form of state.
Its appearance is characterized by its small country and few people, and its essential feature is its social and political structure, that is, it is an autonomous group of citizens and a political system in which citizens share common life, rights and obligations under common law.
Aristotle made a classical generalization of Greek city states.
He pointed out that judging a city-state is not based on population and city walls, but on whether it is composed of citizens.
“The city-state is a combination of several citizens.
” “When several citizens gather within a political group, they become a city-state”.
(1) therefore, citizens are the basic elements of the city-state, and they are “people belonging to the city-state”.
The subjects under the monarchy also belong to the state, but because the state belongs to the monarch, they are in the final analysis the servants of the monarch, and the country to which citizens belong is the citizen community.
They are members of the community rather than the servants of any individual.
This is the original meaning of the concept of citizen.
However, Greek citizens are only a special identity group among city-state residents.
Generally speaking, only adult men of pure national origin can become citizens.
Thus, slaves, Gentiles and women, the majority of the population, were excluded from civil society.
However, in the process of city-state evolution, citizenship has also changed.
At the beginning of the formation of the city-state, only nobles or people with certain property qualifications can become citizens, and the lower class civilians can obtain citizenship in the era of more developed city-state democracy.
Sometimes, those who cannot fulfill their civic obligations due to poverty and other reasons will lose their citizenship.
When the war crisis or the number of citizens is insufficient, foreigners and released slaves are often recruited to join civil groups.
However, these changes do not affect the substantive significance of citizens.
The city-state is a community of citizens, and only citizens belong to the city-state.
To obtain citizenship means to become a member of the city-state.
Although residents without citizenship live in the city-state, they do not belong to the city-state.
When the Greeks called “Athenians” and “Spartans”, they only meant citizens of Athens or Sparta, not other residents.
Foreigners are regarded as expatriates, and women and slaves belong only to family members.
In his life, a citizen becomes a member of his family and village community in turn.
When he becomes an adult, he obtains citizenship through a solemn ceremony.
At this time, he enters the field of public life of the city-state and becomes a person belonging to the city-state.
The core content of the concept of citizenship is citizens’ recognition of their political role of “belonging to the city-state”.
Greek citizenship is only a privilege of a few people.
In contrast with other residents without civil rights, the identity and status of citizens are clearly highlighted.
Compared with other residents in the state, they feel that they belong to the city-state.
Compared with foreign citizens, only this city-state belongs to them.
This feeling is very real.
Their personal safety, honor and disgrace first depend on the fate of the city-state.
When the city-state perished, the primary victims were them.
Slaves were still slaves and foreigners were still foreigners, but they lost their civil privileges.
When they lost the city-state, they became slaves or foreigners, and sometimes were slaughtered collectively.
They are the first to benefit from the prosperity of the city-state.
Apart from other benefits, their most cherished freedom can only be obtained in their own city-state.
Therefore, the concept of citizenship is first and foremost a concept of privilege.
This special identity of citizens is a “historical right” reserved by tribal members in the process of evolution from tribe to city-state.
Before the formation of the city-state, the blood ties between tribal members were regarded as sacred, and the boundary between blood tribes and outsiders was very strict.
People in the same blood group regard themselves as a “natural” whole.
This whole of “nature” was strengthened by the Greek concept of religious belief and religious life.
The tribe has its own God, its own altar, sacred fire and priests.
Only the people of the tribe can enter the Shenyuan, and only they can participate in the public meal (divine meal) and festivals.
Tribal gods absolutely exclude outsiders, and there are strict taboos in this regard.
God does not accept the sacrifice of outsiders, and even it is ominous for outsiders to see the sacrifice.
⑵ all this forms a deep boundary between tribal members and outsiders, and virtually makes tribal members feel integrated with the tribe.
The Republican politics of the city-state originated from blood relationship, which is the union of primitive families and tribes with common ancestors.
The tribe evolved into a city-state, and the members of the tribe became citizens of the city-state, while the religion of the city-state was still exclusive.
People still look at the city-state with the concept of blood and religious community in the tribal era.
The relationship between individuals and the whole society in the tribal era still affects the concept of citizens.
As mein, an expert in legal history, said: “in the early Republican politics, all citizens believed that all groups of which they were members were based on common blood”.
(3) although in the process of the formation and evolution of the city-state, the blood relationship gradually disintegrates, and foreigners are constantly absorbed and assimilated into the same people, the blood relationship has become mixed, and the city-state is far from “natural”, even so, it is still regarded as a “natural”, that is, a blood group.
People still treat the internal relations of citizens with the concept of blood relationship.
This is called “the earliest and most extensive legal fiction” by Maine, that is, it is legally assumed that these outsiders also come from their same ancestors, and all “people belonging to the city-state”, that is, citizens, are assumed to belong to the same blood and the same primitive family.
On the one hand, citizen groups are self closed and extreme.