Democracy, Nationalism, and Multiculturalism

Democracy, Nationalism, and Multiculturalism

Democracy, Nationalism, and Multiculturalism

Democracy, Nationalism, and Multiculturalism

Synopsis

Democracy, Nationalism and Multiculturalism provides an up-to-date review of subnational and multicultural issues in Western multinational states. The book includes normative, institutional and comparative accounts of key issues such as: * politics and policies of accommodation * multiculturalism * recognition of group rights * federalist reforms and debates in Canada and European states * the political construction of the European Union.

Excerpt

At the end of the 1970s, the conception of the state as a nation-state began to undergo a profound revision. This affected political theory, institutional policies and arrangements for the territorial division of power. A perception of the state as a monocultural and uninational entity, which gave rise to political centralism, a uniformist interpretation of federalism and assimilation policies for immigrants, underwent a number of important changes. One example of these was the experiments in multinational federalism that took place in Canada, Belgium and Spain. These facilitated the recognition of the pluralities of culture, language and identity of the different national minorities within these countries. After Canada took the first step in 1971, there followed an explosion of multiculturalist public policies. The scope and political orientation of these policies has been quite different in New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. However, in all cases they have resulted in a greater tolerance and recognition for the cultures of immigrants and other ethnic, cultural and religious groups.

This political and theoretical evolution towards the normative implementation of national and cultural pluralism and alternative lifestyles in contemporary societies has brought about an extraordinary development in political theory. Following the framework described by W. Kymlicka, it is possible to identify three stages for this development (Kymlicka 2001). An initial stage, in the 1980s, centred on the liberalism/communitarianism debate and critiques of the work of Rawls by those who, faced with an individualistic citizenry and a theory of justice that established the latter's primacy over the ideas of the good, demanded the normative insertion of the individual into the collective as the possessor of a specific idea of the good life. In this initial phase, the defence of a series of minority rights implied the acceptance, albeit partially, of some of the communitarian theses through different formulations. Among these theses were the clash between authenticity (or identity) and autonomy, between a culturally interventionist state and one that was culturally neutral, between the community and society, the primacy of the ideas of the good over the idea of justice, and so on. The second stage, in the 1990s, saw the theoretical debate shift to within liberalism itself for reasons of plausibility and the obvious limits displayed by the criticisms of the

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