Podium: Not All Nationalism Is an Unconditional Evil ; Podium: From a Lecture to the Forum for European Philosophy by the Reader in Moral Philosophy at St Andrews University
Archard, David, The Independent (London, England)
PHILOSOPHERS WRITING in the shadow of the French and American revolutions saw a clear relationship between democracy and nationalism. For they recognised that the very possibility of a democratic expression of collective will, the self-government of a "people", was indissolubly tied to the sovereign independence of a nation with a right to self-determination.
The attitude of philosophers to nationalism since 1900 has been markedly unsympathetic. Yet there have been signs over the last few years of a more sympathetic philosophical reappraisal of nationalism.
There is a recognition that nationalism is here to stay. Not all nationalism is an unconditional evil. Moreover there is a warranted scepticism about the alternatives. The cosmopolitanism which animated the 18th century philosophes has not yet found a convincing form of institutional realisation. It is also a matter of real concern that the political constructions above and between nation states have displayed a marked democratic deficit, characterised, in consequence, by popular indifference, official corruption, and executive arrogance.
There has also been a general revisionist reassessment of nationalism by historians, social scientists, and cultural theorists which has challenged the critical orthodoxies of the past. So, for instance, nations do have a degree of historical legitimacy; they are not simply the empty inventions of modernity.
All of this is relevant to the question of the boundaries of the jurisdiction over which there is democratic control. If democracy is self-government, who or what fixes the identities of the self or selves that govern?
The democratic principle does not of itself provide an answer to this question. Why not then simply take as an answer what is already supplied by a salient fact - namely that the world of humanity is divided into relatively stable, enduring communities bound together, and reciprocally perceived as tied together, by significant ties of mutual affect which derive from commonalities of historical …
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Publication information: Article title: Podium: Not All Nationalism Is an Unconditional Evil ; Podium: From a Lecture to the Forum for European Philosophy by the Reader in Moral Philosophy at St Andrews University. Contributors: Archard, David - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: July 3, 2000. Page number: 4. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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