Constitutional Patriotism

Constitutional Patriotism

Constitutional Patriotism

Constitutional Patriotism

Synopsis


Constitutional Patriotism offers a new theory of citizenship and civic allegiance for today's culturally diverse liberal democracies. Rejecting conventional accounts of liberal nationalism and cosmopolitanism, Jan-Werner Müller argues for a form of political belonging centered on universalist norms, adapted for specific constitutional cultures. At the same time, he presents a novel approach to thinking about political belonging and the preconditions of democratic legitimacy beyond the nation-state. The book takes the development of the European Union as a case study, but its lessons apply also to the United States and other parts of the world.


Müller's essay starts with an engaging historical account of the origins and spread of the concept of constitutional patriotism-the idea that political attachment ought to center on the norms and values of a liberal democratic constitution rather than a national culture or the "global human community." In a more analytical part, he then proposes a critical conception of citizenship that makes room for dissent and civil disobedience while taking seriously a polity's need for stability over time. Müller's theory of constitutional patriotism responds to the challenges of the de facto multiculturalism of today's states--with a number of concrete policy implications about immigration and the preconditions for citizenship clearly spelled out. And it asks what civic empowerment could mean in a globalizing world.

Excerpt

“CONSTITUTIONAL PATRIOTISM”: the expression will sound in many ears like a contradiction in terms. Constitutions serve, by definition, to limit political power and to render power impersonal; patriotism is about mobilizing men and women for personal political sacrifice. Constitutions are, for the most part, settlements that emerged from interestbased bargains, they are the “autobiography of power”; while patriotism, on the other hand, makes an appeal to transcend self-interest. Constitutions, ideally, articulate not just norms and wider social aspirations, they also protect individual rights; patriotism, however, tempts citizens with illiberal forms of “group-meaningfulness” (George Kateb) and can make them ride roughshod over civil rights and liberties. Perhaps it's true that patriotism, as Alasdair MacIntyre once put it, “turns out to be a permanent source of moral danger.” Or it might even be the case that, as Kateb has claimed, “patriotism is inherently disposed to disregard morality.”

“Constitutional patriotism”—as understood by those who originally put forward the idea and as understood in this essay—designates the idea that political attachment ought to center on the norms, the values and, more indirectly, the procedures of a liberal democratic constitution. Put differently, political allegiance is owed primarily neither to a national culture, as proponents of liberal nationalism have claimed, nor to “the worldwide community of . . .

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