Chapter

The Impossibility of Universal Nationalism

Jacob T. Levy

in The Multiculturalism of Fear

Published in print August 2000 | ISBN: 9780198297123
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599767 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198297122.003.0004
The Impossibility of Universal Nationalism

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Arguments for universalized nationalism, for a nationalism of all nations, must fail. In such a universal argument, ‘nation’ must be a descriptive concept, and it must be one that allows for a world of neatly separated and mutually exclusive nations. But the only accurate sense of ‘nation’ as a descriptive concept includes the observed identification and loyalty that persons feel. Arguments that one ought to be loyal to a particular nation, e.g. to a linguistic nation (Quebec) rather than to a civic nation (Canada), therefore cannot escape circularity. They cannot argue for loyalty to a group that is defined by loyalty in the first place. Moreover, the lack of any criteria that consistently demarcate nations from one another, the fact that some nations are linguistic groups, some are religious groups, some are state‐citizenship groups, and so on, makes universalization impossible.

Keywords: civic nations; generalizability; identity; linguistic nations; loyalty; membership; nationalism

Chapter.  13047 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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