Throughout the text, Macpherson singles out two dimensions of a well-formed society, both prerequisites of a viable political community, both culminating for him and for Hobbes in the institution of the state: (I) social cohesion; and (II), a common enough recognition of a fundamental equality spanning over the entire commonwealth so as to include each and every one. Both are deemed necessary ingredients of that quality of mind and spirit we call loyalty, a sentiment which typically expresses itself in a political obligation of sorts, an obligation to the sovereign, the state, whatever the sovereign’s form; an obligation, besides, which must be shared by all, if not most, of the citizens in order to sustain the state as a viable political entity it was designed to be, an entity one could believe in. Each, if found wanting, spells out a potential disaster, the state’s fall from grace. This much, I’m certain, is on the right track; I find no fault whatever here with Macpherson’s reasoning.
The problem of social cohesion arises for Macpherson as a direct consequence of a development which corresponds to extending universal franchise to include most everybody: Negroes, freemen, women and urban dwellers. Prior to the completion of this democratization process, the agrarian, propertied class held a virtual monopoly when it came to political/economic decision-making. Naturally, the kind of cohesion associated with such a society was limited to cohesion which revolved mostly if not solely around the common interests of the ruling class: no other kind mattered because those who were disenfranchised didn’t count as full-fledged members of the political community. Since universal suffrage had changed all that, the problem of social cohesion had become the perennial problem for any mature, fully-developed liberal democracy, laboring, besides, under the auspices of market relations which, routinely, trumped all other relations, political relations included. Hence Macpherson’s ultimate solution to the problem of social cohesion: full-scale socialism. In the event “...that market society could be abandoned [my emphasis], the problem of cohesion would be resolved...” is the direct quote.
Let’s turn our attention now to how Macpherson proposes to deal with the problem of fundamental equality to be accorded to each and every member of the commonwealth. On what grounds could a polity, whatever its form, survive, let alone prosper, against all manner of challenges and counterclaims?