Nationality, Patriotism, and Nationalism in Liberal Democratic Societies

Nationality, Patriotism, and Nationalism in Liberal Democratic Societies

Nationality, Patriotism, and Nationalism in Liberal Democratic Societies

Nationality, Patriotism, and Nationalism in Liberal Democratic Societies

Synopsis

"Since the American and French Revolutions, the nation-state has come to be considered the normal form of political organization. National self-determination was a key to the programs of the liberals who campaigned for constitutional government in the first half of the nineteenth century. Statesmen and political philosophers of the previous century championed the idea that a Europe constituted by sovereign nation-states was to become a nucleus of world peace. In 1945 the United Nations was established upon these principles. By and large, we still act upon them in international affairs." "However, the older position which associated the national idea with a liberal political system based upon self-determination was gradually pushed into the background. Instead, almost from the start the various national groups tried to extend their sphere of control, and the boundaries of their nation-state, as far as possible; the liberal principle of respecting the legitimate interests of other ethnicities or national groups, fell into disregard." "The popular enthusiasm for national self-determination was not so much concerned with the desire to create the essential political conditions for a free and unhindered enfolding of one's own national culture, but rather with the desire to be part of a strong national state capable of imposing the national will, if need be, upon other peoples." "It was the hope of many that, since 1945, a metamorphosis of the nation-state was underway, with a return to a more modest, democratic notion of nation and nationality which has nothing in common with the aggressive varieties of the previous decades. Indeed, the export of the Western democratic notion of the nation-state was long considered an essential to modernization which Western social scientists and politicians recommended to the peoples in the Third World."

Excerpt

This book considers the phenomenon of nationalism in contemporary liberal society. The essays presented here are a self-contained piece of a much larger and more elaborate academic project whose purpose is to show the principal topographic features of liberal societies by assessing the main achievements and shortcomings of these societies. The papers commissioned particularly for this volume, one of eight in the series conceived and edited by Edward Shils and myself, are from that part of the project devoted to the study of national solidarity and the interrelated concepts of nationality, nationalism, and patriotism.

Professor Wolfgang J. Mommsen, one of the leading scholars in the subject of nationalism, was the force behind the treatment of nationalism that is presented here. The task of assembling the volume fell to me because of duties Professor Mommsen subsequently assumed as president of the German Historical Association.

While the discussions that led to these chapters took place only a short while after the brutality in Tiananmen Square and just before definitive events in Eastern Europe, the fate of socialism was not a point of reference in assaying the present . . .

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