Liberal Nationalism

Liberal Nationalism

Yael Tamir
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 206
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7sbx9
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    Liberal Nationalism
    Book Description:

    "This is a most timely, intelligent, well-written, and absorbing essay on a central and painful social and political problem of out time."--Sir Isaiah Berlin

    "The major achievement of this remarkable book is a critical theory of nationalism, worked through historical and contemporary examples, explaining the value of national commitments and defining their moral limits. Tamir explores a set of problems that philosophers have been notably reluctant to take on, and leaves us all in her debt."--Michael Walzer

    In this provocative work, Yael Tamir urges liberals not to surrender the concept of nationalism to conservative, chauvinist, or racist ideologies. In her view, liberalism, with its respect for personal autonomy, reflection, and choice, and nationalism, with its emphasis on belonging, loyalty, and solidarity are not irreconcilable. Here she offers a new theory, "liberal nationalism," which allows each set of values to accommodate the other. Tamir sees nationalism as an affirmation of communal and cultural memberships and as a quest for recognition and self-respect. Persuasively she argues that national groups can enjoy these benefits through political arrangements other than the nation-state. While acknowledging that nationalism places members of national minorities at a disadvantage, the author offers guidelines for alleviating the problems involved using examples from currents conflicts in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe.

    Liberal Nationalismis an impressive attempt to tie together a wide range of issues often kept apart: personal autonomy, cultural membership, political obligations, particularity versus impartiality in moral duties, and global justice. Drawing on material from disparate fields--including political philosophy, ethics, law, and sociology--Tamir brings out important and previously unnoticed interconnections between them, offering a new perspective on the influence of nationalism on modern political philosophy.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2084-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-12)

    As we entered the final quarter of the twentieth century, there was a widespread assumption that the age of nationalism was over, that we were on the threshold of a postnational era. It is now clear that this assumption was wrong. National movements are regaining popularity, and nations that had once assimilated and “vanished” have now reappeared. Estonians, Latvians, Corsicans, and Lombards awake from the long slumber that communist regimes or Western European nation-states had forced upon them, flex their muscles, and set out to march under the banner of national independence. These attempts to turn back the historical clock...

  5. ONE. THE IDEA OF THE PERSON
    (pp. 13-34)

    What is the essence of human nature? This question is a central methodological issue lying at the foundation of every political philosophy, as well as a very personal matter. To think about human nature is to think about ourselves as individuals, as members of certain communities and associations, as political and moral agents. When thinking of human nature we venture inwards and reflect on what we are, what we ought to be, and what we could potentially become. We expect a plausible description of human nature to reflect, at least in some sense, the way in which we perceive ourselves....

  6. TWO. NATIONAL CHOICES AND THE RIGHT TO CULTURE
    (pp. 35-56)

    This chapter goes a step farther in the attempt to delineate the parameters of liberal nationalism. Liberal nationalism attempts to capture what is essential to both schools of thought, drawing from liberalism a commitment to personal autonomy and individual rights, and from nationalism an appreciation of the importance of membership in human communities in general, and in national communities in particular. These are the two main concerns of the discussion on national choices and the right to culture, which is the focus of this chapter.

    Why should the wishes of individuals to preserve their national identity and adhere to their...

  7. THREE. THE RIGHT TO NATIONAL SELF-DETERMINATION
    (pp. 57-77)

    Although the right to national self-determination has often been at the heart of modern political discourse, theoretical analyses of this right are rather rare. Mainly the work of international lawyers, these analyses are heavily influenced by legal and political precedent. Political philosophers have also tended to infer the contents of the right from past and present political arrangements, and have thus suggested that the core of national self-determination is the right to determine whether “a certain territory shall become, or remain, a separate state.”¹ The thrust of this right, in the interpretation that has become prevalent in the postcolonial era,...

  8. FOUR. PARTICULAR NARRATIVES AND GENERAL CLAIMS
    (pp. 78-94)

    The present national awakening began in Europe, for a long time the hearth of all nationalist fires. The nations of Eastern Europe have taken to the streets waving their flags, singing their hymns, and unearthing national heroes buried in the shadows during the long years of communism. In Great Britain, claims raised by the Irish, the Welsh, and the Scots threaten the 400-year alliance among the nations of the British isles. At the same time, the Basques and the Corsicans stake claims for national autonomy, tensions escalate between Flemish and Walloons, and signs of xenophobia appear wherever immigrants concentrate. It...

  9. FIVE. THE MAGIC PRONOUN “MY”
    (pp. 95-116)

    The reputation of nationalism has been most notorious in the ethical sphere. Nationalism has been blamed for promoting intolerance, communal egoism, arrogant patriotism, racist tyranny, and genocide. Dunn argues that nationalism is the

    starkest political shame of the twentieth century, the deepest, most intractable and yet most unanticipated blot on the political history of the world since the year 1900. . . . Nationalism does violate so directly the official conceptual categories of modern ethics, the universalist heritage of a natural law conceived either in terms of Christianity or of secular rationalism.¹

    In this chapter, the pervasive view of the...

  10. SIX. THE HIDDEN AGENDA: NATIONAL VALUES AND LIBERAL BELIEFS
    (pp. 117-139)

    Recent versions of nationalism seem to lend little credence to the liberal nationalist position offered in previous chapters. Witness the bloody struggles in Yugoslavia, the violent clashes between Sikhs and Hindus in India, and the frequent outbursts of ethnic hatred within and between the new republics of Eastern Europe. A cursory glance at the surrounding reality could easily lead to the conclusion that liberal nationalism is a rather esoteric approach.

    Nevertheless, there is a long-standing though much denied, alliance between liberal and national ideas that might explain the inconsistencies pervading modern liberal theory: Why is citizenship in a liberal state...

  11. SEVEN. MAKING A VIRTUE OUT OF NECESSITY
    (pp. 140-168)

    The modern concept of the state draws inspiration from both liberal and national ideas. These two schools of thought could have joined in an ideal marriage: Nationalism could have supplied parameters for demarcating state boundaries, buttressing the view of the state as a community characterised by the mutual responsibility and the internal cohesion required by a welfare state, while liberalism could have provided the moral principles needed to guide personal and institutional behaviour. Indeed, many nineteenth-century liberals believed that “individual liberty and national independence or unity would go together,”¹ and that liberal principles could best be implemented within a homogeneous...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 169-176)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 177-188)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 189-194)