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Nationalism In The Baltics And The Politics Of Recognition Essay, Research Paper

`?The best political arrangement is relative to the history and culture

of the people whose lives it will arrange??

Michael Walzer.?? Although we live in a particular world, we

can still aim toward a juridical ethic that would function as a critical authority against the history

which determines us so deeply? Andre Van de Putte .??????????? A common perception is that

nationalism is in decline world-wide.?

It is very easy to list factors that contribute to such an apparent

decline, or as some would have it, lead inexorably to it.? For instance, we recognize the large role

that international corporations play in the world of finance and business; we

recognize the interdependence of economic systems, and a virtual free market in

certain basic commodities.? The effects

of the internationals are felt not only in the economic realm but also bleed

into the cultural arena ? culture follows money or chases money.? These effects may be seen in? how local talents, whether they are Latvian

opera divas or? Russian hockey players

or Lithuanian basketball stars, follow the dictates of the international market

place. In other words, they end up where the money is.? Furthermore,? cultural creations such as films, recorded music and popular

novels are themselves commodities promoted by a world-wide culture industry

largely dominated by the United States. (I understand that Latvia used to

produce as many as seven or eight films a year and now the industry is on the

verge of extinction.)? Such factors

internationalize culture and threaten the very ground on which national

identity may be based.? It may also be

thought that national cultural identities are to some extent compromised by

being subject to international human rights as promoted by the United States,

and as embodied in UN doctrines, requirements for membership in the EEC and

elsewhere.? Issues such as gender

relations or sexual mutilation in fundamentalist Moslem states are criticized

as are civil liberties and democratic rights violations in China and in Cuba,

ethnic relationships in East Timor and in the Balkans, and possibly, human

rights issues dealing with language rights in Latvia. The national identities

we forged over the past centuries with so much sacrifice are in many ways

slipping away from us. Is nationalism a dying phenomenon, or worse, is it,

where it rears its head, a force for evil, an excuse for vindictiveness???????? ????? When we turn on the television news or

look at the political page of our newspapers we are constantly reminded that

nationalism is ?the refuge of a scoundrel?, that its appeals are ?essentially

sub-human or primitive in character, a deformity that no civilized person would

have anything to do with?.[1]

Such a sentiment was expressed by Albert Einstein. The recent events in the

Balkans attest to this ? Serbian ?ethnic cleansing? in Kosovo is but the latest

event in a troubled world.? Who can say

that the core of the problem, i.e., that which drives such events lies in

nationalism rather than in religious conflicts, or simply in vindictiveness

drawing upon a long memory of perceived wrongs inflicted on the people; perhaps

a social memory extending back over centuries. But whatever value attaches to

being a member of a dominant ethnic community which practices marginalization

and demeaning of ethnic minorities, such value is clearly overridden by the

suffering inflicted upon the minorities. ? However, nationalism represents a range or

family of views and need not take such extreme form.? Nationalism, if it is to gain acceptance within liberal

democratic communities, must recognize human diversity in a number of

parameters ? religious, cultural, racial, ethnic, and in a more qualified form,

linguistic diversity.? Such a version of

nationalism is defensible within the parameters alluded to above. Indeed, in

qualified form, it has found concrete expression in the world today, not in the

Balkans, as I think we can surmise, but, to a large extent in Canada and in a

more qualified way in the Baltics ? Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.? ????? Let me begin? my presentation of a defensible version of nationalism by

providing an account of the? three? main forms that nationalism may take. Of the

three forms, two are commonly recognized, and the third has recently been

advanced in contemporary writings on the subject. I shall discuss, in brief,

the two forms and then proceed to a more systematic characterization and

evaluation of the third.? The three

forms are labelled ethnic, civic, and cultural nationalism. We might begin by

asking what is it about the three conceptions of nationalism that binds them

together, that unifies them as one general type of human social

phenomenon.? Do they all share common

characteristics, or is there, in a sense, a family resemblance; do they answer

or address for a people the same deeply felt need? Is nationalism a response to

?some kind of deep elemental force outside human control?[2]

, or is it a phenomenon which we can shape to our purposes???? Let us keep such questions in the back of

our minds as we survey the three conceptions. ?In essays by Van de Putte, De Wachter, and


we find a sustained challenge to the two traditionally recognized forms of

nationalism based on the ?ethnic? and ?civic? conceptions of the nation after

Hans Kohn et al.? The former is

characterized as the ?kulturnation?, identified with Eastern nationalism. The

latter, based on liberal ideals of a union under a doctrine of human rights and

the ideals of the enlightenment, is identified with Western nationalism.? Ethnic nationalism is commonly identified

with German nationalism which arose in the period of German Romanticism with

people like Herder and Goethe, and is ?largely based upon language, culture,

and tradition.?[4]? A nation, according to the ethnic

conception, has an identity apart from individual wills; it is an entity that

exists as an objective reality through history.? One belongs to the nation when one shares the same language,

culture, and history.? But more so, the

tendency has been to see ethnic nationalism as focusing on racial identity, on

biological ancestry or in a word, ?on blood? as in, we are the same people, we

share the same blood-line. While the ethnic conception? of nationalism is based on a shared history

and language, ethnic nationalism has commonly been identified with racial

homogeneity ? with racism.? Civic

nationalism, on the other hand, grows out of the philosophy of Jean Jacque

Rousseau with his emphasis on the sovereignty of the people, and is supported

by the ideals of the French Revolution with its ?Declaration of the Rights of

Man and the Citizen?.? The civic

conception of the nation has been conveyed to us through its able exponent,

Ernest Renan.? As Renan wrote in What is Nation: it is ?le plebicite de

tous les jours? ( a daily plebiscite)[5].

The civic conception of a nation is, in the words of Van de Putte,

?constructivistic (an artifact), individualistic, and voluntaristic?[6].? Civic nationalism, then, is a political

creation through the wills of the people, embodying a legal code and generally

a bill of rights.? It is, in the Lockean

sense, a nation ruled and defined by the ?the consent of the people?.

Interestingly, the two major historical manifestations of civic nationalism,

Revolutionary France and the United States, saw themselves as missionary states

with the mandate to bring their particular kind of enlightenment to the world. The

cultural conception of nationalism arises as a result of certain problems that

lie at the very heart of both the ethnic and the civic conceptions of the

nation.? The ethnic conception is simply

not acceptable since it may violate basic human rights and? has led to extreme repression of minorities.? The civic form of the nation, however

welcome? it may seem at first sight,

does not by itself create loyalty to the nation-state, a willingness to

sacrifice oneself for the nation and its fellow citizens, sufficient to secure

social stability.? In this connection,

we are all familiar with the communitarian criticism of pure (Rawlsean) constitutional

liberalism (Michael Sandel, Alisdair McIntyre, Michael Walzer et al.).? Loyalty is not felt to an abstract set of

principles. The civic state is an ideal in search of a concrete interpretation.

It is not any actual existing state.?

For instance, the constitutional democratic state is not a mere

collection of individuals subscribing to democratic principles and a

constitution; it exists, where it exists, as a ?democratic culture?. The ideals

of democracy are always culturally interpreted. ? Accordingly, we have a reason now for

positing a new conception of nationalism which does not just take bits and

pieces from civic and ethnic nationalism, but forms a new synthesis in which

the ideals of a civic state are integrated in a concrete cultural arena. De

Wachter?s preferred conceptualization of nationalism as ??the ideology which

pursues congruity between both the political and the pre-political?[7]

avoids the two stools of the ethnic and civic conceptions. It opens the door to

a certain kind of cultural/multicultural nationalism, which recognizes a public

sphere in which exists? ?…the

possibility of all forms of attachment by all sorts of people in a

multicoloured life-world?[8]

to one nation state. Civic nationalism may be seen as transcending itself, giving

birth to a ?culture of democracy?, viz., to ?cultural nationalism?. Such themes

are further developed in both Tamir?s[9]

and Miller?s work, who both argue for revamping the old conceptual geography. Should we

buy into this new conceptualization of cultural nationalism?? It is tempting to answer in the affirmative,

but there are questions that we may raise. First, is cultural nationalism,

broadly conceived, really different from civic nationalism?? In the case of the United States (which,

arguably, is a paradigm of civic nationalism) we find a strong sense of? loyalty among its citizens, which involves,

what is? described as, a

?quasi-religious worship of the Constitution? (reminiscent of Jurgen Habermas?

?constitutional patriotism?). This suggests that it is not the culture of

democracy? which promotes loyalty to the

civic state, but rather, loyalty is secured through a kind of ?constitutional

ideology?. On the other hand, we may find that ?constitutional patriotism? is

not an intelligible notion apart from some cultural expression of it, some

practice of democracy at work or, indeed, a variety of practices relative both

to geography and time. Secondly,

Martha Nussbaum, in her short but much discussed essay, ?Patriotism and

Cosmopolitanism?,[10] raises some

issues which may undermine cultural nationalism.? Her arguments for cosmopolitanism and ?world citizenship? lead us

to question whether the ideal of cultural nationalism is internally consistent.

Citizens of modern constitutional democratic states which adopt doctrines of

human rights based on some conception of natural human rights, find themselves

asking Nussbaum?s question:? ?? are?

(we) above all citizens of a world of human beings ??? The political doctrine here, by its very nature, viz., by its

commitment to human rights, makes a universal appeal.? The liberal multicultural democratic state exercises sovereignty

over a geographical region (this after all, is the sine qua non of its very existence as a state), but its commitment

to a doctrine of human rights pulls it towards, what Martha Nussbaum calls,

?the substantive universal values of justice and right?, in a word, towards

?world citizenship?. But what, then, keeps the political state in continued

existence; where does the sense of the oneness (unity) come from? As De Wachter

has pointed out, loyalty to the state (the totality) must be stronger than that

to its ?intermediate structures?– its religions, professions, and in the

context of the multicultural state, to the polyglot of its cultural minorities.? How does the liberal democratic

multi-cultural state (in this context, we may recognize a multiplicity of

democratic cultures), which takes seriously its political and social doctrines,

preserve its stability and continuity, given its commitment to universal

values?? What stops it? from becoming the global community? ?For an answer, we need to turn to David

Miller?s On Nationality.? Miller believes that a stable nation cannot

adopt what he calls, ?radical multiculturalism?. A national identity must unite

the polyglot of minorities under one unifying conception of the nation.? Miller accepts the conservative tenet ?that

a well-functioning state rests upon? a

pre-established political sense of common nationality?[11],

but he does not believe that nationality should be viewed as something

static? to be protected and preserved by

all means.? Rather, he allows that the

sense of national identity will be an evolving phenomenon. All that needs to be

?asked of immigrants is a willingness to accept current political structures

and to engage in dialogue with the host community so that a new common identity

can be forged?[12]. The view

that Miller characterizes as radical multiculturalism reaches far beyond mutual

tolerance and the belief that each person should have equal opportunities

regardless of minority status and that the purpose of politics is to affirm

group differences. Radical multiculturalism, in fact, comes very close to

Nussbaum?s ?world citizenship?, a perspective which would lead to the rejection

of all forms of nationalism.[13]

Thus, cultural nationalism when freed from radical multiculturalism is not

subject to the above criticism. It seems

to me that cultural nationalism differs in essence from ethnic nationalism,

with which it shares a minimal connectedness, in that we find an ideal of

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