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The focus here is on those European states which imagined themselves settled in the aftermath of war, empire, and the Cold War, yet now find themselves surprised by the new challenges of migration and multiculturality—meaning the growth in ethnocultural diversity as a form of everyday life. These states have adopted varying strategies—or none—in order to address the problems which arise, but did not at first realize the extent to which the domestic realm had become inextricably entangled with external relations—whether through the transnational activities of diasporas or through blowback from their own foreign policies in regions of the world where some of their minority communities have intimate connections.

The subject of foreign policy and multicultural societies is thus a new but important one, politically as well as intellectually. Keywords: diaspora , diversity , foreign policy , identity , intervention , migration , minorities , multiculturalism , multiculturality , terrorism , transnationalism.

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Criticism of multiculturalism

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Christopher Hill

Oxford Research Encyclopedias Politics. Third, ethno-nationalism is subordinate to civic patriotism, which has little or nothing to do with ethnic criteria. Finally, any legitimacy that ethno-national claims may have is to be derived from choices the concerned individuals are free to make. Consider now the particular arguments from the first set.

The first argument depends on assumptions that also appear in the subsequent ones, but it further ascribes to the community an intrinsic value. The later arguments point more towards an instrumental value of nation, derived from the value of individual flourishing, moral understanding, firm identity and the like. Each ethno-national community is valuable in and of itself since it is only within the natural encompassing framework of various cultural traditions that important meanings and values are produced and transmitted. The members of such communities share a special cultural proximity to each other.

By speaking the same language and sharing customs and traditions, the members of these communities are typically closer to one another in various ways than they are to those who don't share the same culture. The community thereby becomes a network of morally connected agents, i. A prominent obligation of each individual concerns the underlying traits of the ethnic community, above all language and customs: they ought to be cherished, protected, preserved and reinforced.

The general assumption that moral obligations increase with cultural proximity is often criticized as problematic.

In This Article

Moreover, even if we grant this general assumption in theory, it breaks down in practice. Nationalist activism is most often turned against close and substantially similar neighbors rather than against distant strangers, so that in many important contexts the appeal to proximity will not work. It might, however, retain its potential force against culturally distant groups. The ethno-national community is essential for each of its members to flourish. In particular, it is only within such a community that an individual can acquire concepts and values crucial for understanding the community's cultural life in general and the individual's own life in particular.

There has been much debate on the pro-nationalist side about whether divergence of values is essential for separateness of national groups. Taylor , concluded that it is not separateness of value that matters. Critics of nationalism point out that flourishing might have too high a price, especially in the form of aggressiveness towards neighbors. Communitarian philosophers emphasize nurture over nature as the principal force determining our identity as people — we come to be who we are because of the social settings and contexts in which we mature.

This claim certainly has some plausibility. For example, Nielsen writes:. Given that an individual's morality depends upon their having a mature and stable personal identity, the communal conditions that foster the development of personal identity must be preserved and encouraged. For the opposite line, denying the importance of fixed and homogenous identity and proposing hybrid identities, see the papers in Iyall Smith and Leavy Philosophical nationalists claim that the nation is the right format for preserving and encouraging such identity-providing communities.

Therefore, communal life should be organized around particular national cultures. The classical nationalist proposes that cultures should be given their own states, while the liberal nationalist proposes that cultures should get at least some form of political protection. A particularly important variety of value is moral value.

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Some values are universal, e. The nation offers a natural framework for moral traditions, and thereby for moral understanding; it is the primary school of morals. I note in fairness that Taylor himself is ambivalent about the national format of morality. An often-noticed problem with this line of thought is that particular nations do not each have a special morality of their own. Each national culture contributes uniquely to the diversity of human cultures. The most famous twentieth century proponent of the idea, Isaiah Berlin interpreting Herder, who first saw this idea as significant , writes:.

The carrier of basic value is thus the totality of cultures, from which each national culture and style of life that contributes to the totality derives its own value. The argument from diversity is therefore pluralistic: it ascribes value to each particular culture from the viewpoint of the collective totality of cultures.

Assuming that the ethno- nation is the natural unit of culture, the preservation of cultural diversity amounts to institutionally protecting the purity of ethno- national culture. A pragmatic inconsistency might threaten this argument. The issue is who can legitimately propose ethno-national diversity as ideal: the nationalist is much too tied to his or her own culture to do it, while the cosmopolitan is too eager to preserve intercultural links that go beyond the idea of having a single nation-state.

Moreover, is diversity a value such that it deserves to be protected whenever it exists? Should the protection of diversity be restricted to certain aspects of culture s proposed in full generality? The line of thought 1 is not individualistic. And 5 can be presented without reference to individuals: diversity may be good in its own right, or may be good for nations. But the other lines of thought in the set just presented are all linked to the importance of community life in relation to the individual.

In each argument, there is a general communitarian premise a community, to which one has no choice whether or not to belong, is crucial for one's identity, or for flourishing or some other important good. This premise is coupled with the more narrow, nation-centered descriptive claim that the ethno-nation is precisely the kind of community ideally suited for the task.

However, liberal nationalists do not find these arguments completely persuasive. In their view, the premises of the arguments may not support the full package of nationalist ambitions and may not be unconditionally valid. For an even more skeptical view stemming from social science, see Hale Still, there is a lot to these arguments, and they might support liberal nationalism and a more modest stance in favor of national cultures.

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We conclude this sub-section by pointing to an interesting and sophisticated pro-national stance that developed by David Miller over the course of decades, from his work of to the most recent work of He accepts multicultural diversity within a society but stresses an overarching national identity, taking as his prime example British national identity, which encompasses the English, Scottish and other ethnic identities.

Such identity is necessary for basic social solidarity, and it goes far beyond simple constitutional patriotism, Miller claims. A skeptic could note the following. However, multi-cultural states typically bring together groups with very different histories, languages, religions, even quite contrasting appearances. One seems to have a dilemma.

Grounding social solidarity in national identity requires the latter to be rather thin and seems likely to end up as full-on, unitary cultural identity. Thick constitutional patriotism may be the only possible attitude that can ground such solidarity while preserving the original cultural diversity. Arguments in the second set concern political justice and do not rely on metaphysical claims about identity, flourishing and cultural values.

They appeal to actual or alleged circumstances that would make nationalist policies reasonable or permissible or even mandatory , such as a the fact that a large part of the world is organized into nation states so that each new group aspiring to create a nation-state just follows an established pattern , or b the circumstances of group self-defense or of redressing past injustice that might justify nationalist policies to take a special case. Some of the arguments also present nationhood as conducive to important political goods, such as equality.

A group of people of a sufficient size has a prima facie right to govern itself and decide its future membership, if the members of the group so wish.

It is fundamentally the democratic will of the members themselves that grounds the right to an ethno-national state and to ethno-centric cultural institutions and practices. This argument presents the justification of ethno- national claims as deriving from the will of the members of the nation. It is therefore highly suitable for liberal nationalism but not appealing to a deep communitarian who sees the demands of the nation as independent from, and prior to, the choices of particular individuals.

For extended discussion of this argument, see Buchanan , which has become a contemporary classic; Moore ; and Gans For some exchanges of arguments, see J. An interesting volume from a legal perspective is Kohen , and some interesting case studies are presented in Casertano For an extremely negative judgment see Yack , Ch. Oppression and injustice give the victimized group a just cause and the right to secede. If a minority group is oppressed by the majority to the extent that almost every minority member is worse off than most members of the majority simply in virtue of belonging to the minority, then nationalist claims on behalf of the minority are morally plausible and potentially compelling.

This argument implies a restrictive answer to our questions 2b and 2c : the use of force in order to achieve sovereignty is legitimate only in the cases of self-defense and redress.


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Of course, there is a whole lot of work to be done specifying against whom force may legitimately be used, and how much damage may be done to how many. It establishes a typical remedial right, acceptable from a liberal standpoint. See the discussion in Kukathas and Poole , also Buchanan For past injustices see Waldron Members of a minority group are often disadvantaged in relation to a dominant culture because they have to rely on those with the same language and culture to conduct the affairs of daily life. Since freedom to conduct one's daily life is a primary good, and it is difficult to change or give up reliance upon one's minority culture to attain that good, this reliance can lead to certain inequalities if special measures are not taken.

Spontaneous nation-building by the majority has to be moderated.

The National Interest Discussion 6-1-17

Therefore, liberal neutrality itself requires that the majority provide certain basic cultural goods, i. See Kymlicka b, and Institutional protections and the right to the minority group's own institutional structure are remedies that restore equality and turn the resulting nation-state into a more moderate multicultural one. See Kymlicka , We note an interesting recent proposal by Robert E. Goodin , who distinguishes two motivations for multiculturalism and two possible resultant kinds: polyglot multiculturalism and protective multiculturalism.

The nation-state has in the past succeeded in promoting equality and democracy. Liberalism informs the notion of individual agency, but provides weak purchase at best on membership and on the collective cohesion and capacity of the demos. Ethno-national solidarity is a powerful motive for a more egalitarian distribution of goods Miller , Canovan , The nation-state also seems to be essential to safeguard the moral life of communities in the future, since it is the only form of political institution capable of protecting communities from the threats of globalization and assimilationism.