Nationalism and Beyond: Introducing Moral Debate about Values

Nationalism and Beyond: Introducing Moral Debate about Values

Nationalism and Beyond: Introducing Moral Debate about Values

Nationalism and Beyond: Introducing Moral Debate about Values

Synopsis

The book provides portraits of two kinds of nationalists: the tougher type, more common in everyday life, and the ultramoderate "liberal" or "thoughtful nationalist" encountered in academia. The author introduces a debate with the latter, who defends the view that states should be organized around national culture and that individuals have basic obligations to their nation. Miscevic laborates on the following questions: Why is radicalism typical of nationalism? How successful is the nation-state? Does nationalism support liberal-democratic values?

Excerpt

This book was born from my experience with nationalism and war in the former Yugoslavia. It has been further shaped by both my political experiences in Croatia under the Tudjman regime and by political and philosophical reflections on the issues of national identity, culture, and politics. It is intended to introduce the reader to the contemporary moral and political debate on nationalism, from a standpoint that is critical of nationalist views. It is thus both an introduction and a polemic with a postulated ‘thoughtful nationalist’, not a sociological investigation into causes and roots. Confrontation with this postulated ‘thoughtful nationalist’ occupies center stage; such a nationalist would defend the view that states should be organized on an ethno-cultural basis; that cultural and intellectual life should be officially organized around ‘national’ culture; that individuals have basic duties and obligations to their nation; and that such duties normally trump many other moral obligations. The book presents and attempts to answer the standard arguments of such nationalists and criticizes their views.

I have divided the arguments to be discussed into two groups. In the first group are the more narrowly political ones, having to do with issues of self-determination and with the alleged democratic credentials of nationalism. The second group is more philosophical, and centers around the relation between ‘national identity’ and various goods, such as the free flourishing of individuals, moral insight, and the cultural goods that traditions offer to individuals who participate in them. Does national identity really provide such goods, and is it a better provider than some alternative identities?

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