The Limits of Nationalism

The Limits of Nationalism

The Limits of Nationalism

The Limits of Nationalism

Synopsis

This book discusses the justifications and limits of cultural nationalism from a liberal perspective. Chaim Gans presents a normative typology of nationalist ideologies, distinguishing between cultural liberal nationalism and statist liberal nationalism. Statist nationalisms argue that states have an interest in the cultural homogeneity of their citizenries. Cultural nationalisms argue that people have interests in adhering to their cultures (the adherence thesis) and in sustaining these cultures for generations (the historic thesis). Gans argues that freedom- and identity-based justifications for cultural nationalism common in literature can only support the adherence thesis, while the historical thesis could only be justified by the interest people have in the long-term endurance of their personal and group endeavors. The Limits of Nationalism examines demands often made in the name of cultural nationalism, such as claims for national self-determination, historical rights claims to territories and demands entailed by cultural particularism as opposed to cultural cosmopolitanism.

Excerpt

Cultural nationalism is a nationalism according to which members of groups sharing a common history and societal culture have a fundamental, morally significant interest in adhering to their culture and in sustaining it for generations. in the name of the thesis that members of national groups have such interests, nationalist movements often voice specific practical demands in both the public and private spheres. Their main demand is for national self-determination. However, national groups also make claims with regard to territories with which they are historically linked. They demand that their members be granted priority in immigrating to their homelands. They further make claims concerning the special responsibilities that exist among their members, and assert the superiority of particularistic national ways of life compared to other lifestyles such as cosmopolitanism. the purpose of this book is to examine these theses and claims. I shall first examine the possibility of providing a liberal justification for the abstract tenet of cultural nationalism, namely, that members of national groups have an interest in adhering to their culture and preserving it for generations. After discussing this theoretical thesis, I shall move on to examine the more practical demands of cultural nationalism, namely, those relating to national self-determination, historical rights, priority in immigration and the like. It is a well-known fact that cultural nationalism has enjoyed a revival in many parts of the world in the last fifteen years. the present book joins a steady stream of philosophical writing on nationalism, both liberal and from other orientations, which has accompanied this revival.

In Chapter 1 I shall further elucidate the nature of cultural nationalism and attempt to situate its liberal version within nationalism in general. I shall argue that the liberal version of cultural nationalism must be distinguished from non-liberal cultural nationalism on the one hand, and on the other hand, from a liberal nationalism that is not cultural but rather statist. Unlike cultural nationalism, which focuses on the interests people have in their own culture, statist nationalism focuses on the interests states have in the cultural homogeneity of their citizenries. Unlike cultural . . .

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