Nationalism Michael Lacewing firstname.lastname@example.org Nation v. state • State: political structure that is sovereign, defining the legal rights and obligations of citizens, and claiming a monopoly on the use of force • Nation: a group of people united in some way • States can contain more than one nation (UK?); one nation can exist in more than one state (Kurds) • Nationalism is not patriotism National identity • Nations involves ‘national identity’, normally understood in ethnic and/or cultural terms. • Members are born into and raised with a particular language, tradition, and culture. This creates a ‘national character’ and sense of unity. • Aspects of individual character come from national character. • National identity also connects to a geographical place and historical continuity. Nationalism • Nationalism claims (Miller): – that a national identity is a defensible source of personal identity, – that nations are ethical communities imposing reciprocal obligations on members which are not owed to outsiders, and – that nations have a good claim to be politically self-determining Nationalism • Nationalism leads to sense of unity and solidarity, which can support defence of common liberties and distributive justice. • Alternatives: individualism and cosmopolitanism • But is national sentiment irrational? – An evolutionary thought: groups that developed bonds of feeling and cooperation do better – Culture replaces ‘blood’ bonds Rights of nations • Do nations have a right to selfdetermination (e.g. their own state)? • Group rights: – Not the individual rights of members of a group, but the rights of the group, taken collectively – What groups can have rights? Need unity and identity; and a distinct moral status (e.g. irreducible duties or interests) Rights of nations • Rights give rise to duties – what are the duties, and who has them? – Others have the duty not to interfere with a nation’s self-determination – Do individuals have the duty to sacrifice their self-interest in the group interest (e.g. in war)? – Do individuals have the duty to preserve the distinct culture of the nation? Nationalism and rights • If we have these duties, then we have them only for our own nation. So the source of the duty must be national identity. – But other identities, e.g. being homosexual, don’t impose duties. • National identity is more fundamental: – It is political, not personal. – It is cultural, the basis of our values. Liberalism: The limits of a nation’s rights • They cannot override individual rights claims. • They are subordinate to the claims that a state has on its citizens. • False nationalist beliefs should only be tolerated if they are not harmful. • The legitimacy of nationalist claims derives from the choices of individuals. Is there a right to national self-determination? • Such claims have led to violence (e.g. the Balkans). • There is not enough land for every nation to have a state. • But what about national autonomy within a state?