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    Arash Abizadeh, Does Liberal Democracy Presuppose a Cultural Nation? Four Arguments

    Johnathan R. Razorback

    Messages : 4389
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Arash Abizadeh, Does Liberal Democracy Presuppose a Cultural Nation? Four Arguments

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback le Jeu 20 Avr - 9:43



    "The key cultural nationalist claim is that the nation—particularly its shared cultural core—is necessary for effecting integration in liberal democratic societies and that the nation, culturally understood, is therefore necessary for well-functioning liberal democracy. I argue that all four arguments fail. My purpose in demonstrating this failure is to open the door for a theorization of liberal democracy in multinational and postnational contexts." (p.495)

    "Many writers have further maintained that motivating and integrating the polity’s members have required appeal to shared ethnicity (i.e., myths of common descent), to provide an affective identity capable of motivating nonstrategic social action and serving as the (ostensibly) prepolitical basis for the polity’s social integration (e.g., Smith 1986). But the problem for liberal democratic polities, of course, is that the racist overtones of ethnic nationalism sit uncomfortably with liberal democratic normative commitments (to say the least)." (p.496)

    "Motivating and integrating the democratic citizenry, Habermas (1989, 227, 1998, chaps. 4, 5) argues, no longer requires a basis in a shared national culture or history (much less a shared ethnicity); in an open, postconventional society, it is sufficient for political institutions to be subjected to the scrutiny of reflexive discursive practices that grant them presumptive validity in the eyes of those subject to them. What is required is a “constitutional patriotism,” through which the citizenry identify with their polity thanks to what they take to be the rationally defensible principles its institutions embody." (p.496)

    "But even communitarian critics who reject the ethnic nationalist position have argued that neo-Kantian liberals fail to identify an object of collective attachment strong enough to motivate the affects and, thus, fail to solve the twin problems of motivation and integration. The charge is that neo-Kantian liberalism does not place enough emphasis on the affective bases of democratic politics required to motivate adequately the democratic citizenry, which are to be found in such emotive virtues as community, loyalty, and/or a shared cultured life or history. For these critics, if values such as democracy and freedom are to be sufficiently realized, citizens must be situated within an affective or cultural horizon they could realistically call their own. While the ethnic nationalist answer is too thick, neo-Kantian constitutional patriotism is too thin: The fact that we find the principles embodied by political institutions rationally defensible is simply not enough to ground our identification with them in the sense required." (p.496)

    "Communitarian partialism [...] would hold that I have special obligations to (the members of) my community, which I do not have to others—and that I must favor those members in (at least some) cases of a conflict of interest." (p.497)

    "The contemporary communitarian answers come in two forms: republican and nationalist. Both construe a shared affective identity as being in part constituted by the common sentiment/belief that “we” belong together. What I call (civic) republicanism denotes the view that the required object of affective loyalty that grounds this sentiment/belief is a particular community with shared political institutions, territory, and (politicoinstitutional) history, i.e., a patria (e.g., Maurizio Viroli, Charles Taylor), while civic or territorial nationalism denotes the position that the relevant object of and ground for affect is a national community understood in terms of a shared culture with a territorial homeland but not necessarily a shared ethnicity (e.g., David Miller, Dominique Schnapper).
    In the rest of this article, I take up this specifically (civic–territorial) nationalist version of the communitarian  position.
    " (p.497)

    "To sum up, (1) ethnic nationalists appeal to the nation understood as a community of shared culture but also of common descent ; (2) civic nationalists appeal to the nation understood as a community of shared culture with a territorial homeland, but not of shared descent; (3) civic republicans appeal to a patria understood as a community of shared political territory, institutions, and history, but not of shared national culture; (4) and neo-Kantians appeal to shared political institutions as such, which embody rationally defensible principles. I follow Kymlicka (1995) in assuming that both (1) ethnic and (2) civic–territorial nationalism are instances of cultural nationalism.
    (See also Nielsen 1996–97 and Brubaker 1998, 299.) I take communitarianism to refer to positions 2 and 3. It should be said that not everyone relates communitarianism and nationalism in this way. The French, for example, often understand communitarianism and nationalism to be two fundamentally opposed projects: Whereas the first term denotes loyalty to particularistic, subnational communities (what anglophones might call communalism), the second represents an attempt to transcend such particularisms by grafting citizens’ loyalties to an overarching national identity. I follow anglophone usage here.
    " (p.497)

    "Miller’s substantive cultural nationalist thesis is obscured by an ambiguity in his argument. In the face of empirical examples of multinational democratic states with important redistributive policies, such as Canada and Switzerland, Miller (1995, 96) is forced to argue that insofar as they do have such policies, “they work as they do because they are not simply multinational, but have cultivated common national identities.” But here Miller is trading on an ambiguity between two senses of common nationality: (1) sharing a common culture constituted in part by common beliefs, a common language, etc.,  and (2) sharing a common identity constituted by shared sentiments or an affective sense of belonging and commitment." (p.498)

    "Of course it might be argued that, despite appearances, Canadians or the Swiss in fact do share a national public culture, albeit of a “thin” kind. I do not pursue this empirical question here; but even if it were true that Canadians or the Swiss shared some sort of thin national public culture, this “thin” culture could not do the work that civic–territorial nationalists like Miller demand of it. First, to serve as the basis for social integration, they believe that the national culture must ground “a people with a distinct and common character of its own” (Miller 1995, 25, emphasis added). Whatever this puta-
    tively shared Canadian/Swiss national public culture is supposed to consists in, it is difficult to see how it could serve to distinguish the Canadian/Swiss “nation” from a host of other liberal democratic “nations.” Second, this move completely deflates the concerns typically expressed by nationalists (including Miller) about a shared language, shared beliefs, shared rituals, etc. (e.g., Miller 1988, 657), and would thus, for example, fully undermine the motivation for Miller’s (1998) Euro-skepticism
    ." (p.498)

    "This paper considers four such arguments: (1) the shared norms/beliefs argument, (2) the trust argument, (3) the transparency argument, and (4) the industrial society argument." (p.499)

    "Miller (1995, 143) approves of France’s aggressive assimilationist cultural policies—it is a functional imperative for democracy to forge a common national qua cultural identity." (p.500)

    "It is true that shared values or shared norms can be and often are one basis for a shared identity. But neither is a necessary condition, as a multitude of identities, whether Jewish, Quebecois, Scottish, African-American, or Iranian, testifies. What is the “norm,” for instance, that all Jews, or even all Israeli Jews, share ? As some of these examples further suggest, even affective identities that are presumed to be based on a shared culture do not
    require shared values or norms.
    " (p.500)

    "What coordinated social action requires is not actual consensus about the meaning of the practice, but compatibility in the weak sense that each actor’s interpretation of a particular practice, and the individual actor’s corresponding actions, be such that they can persist in the face of the actions of other individuals, who may or may not share the same interpretations. In the face of the hermeneutical indeterminacy of meaning, consensus is at once unfeasible and unnecessary. For example, many social theorists have thought that symbols are an important facet of affective collective identity. But symbols’ capacity to help affectively bind individuals together is neither conceptually nor empirically dependent on those individuals’ consensus about the
    meaning of the symbol. A flag might symbolize the country’s military victories for one citizen, their Olympic glories for another, the federation of the country’s constituent regions for another, and the country’s tradition of humanitarianism and peace-keeping for another, yet still help bind them all together (military buff, sports fan, federalist, and peacenik) in flag-waving pride. Indeed, one reason symbols can be such an important facet of unity at the level of practice is precisely the indeterminacy of their meaning
    ." (p.500)

    "I do not find the premise (3a) that trust requires, or is largely a function of, a common culture very persuasive. First, we need to be attentive to the distinction between different types of trust—at the very least, between what scholars commonly call “social trust” (in, e.g., institutions) and “interpersonal trust” (Rose-Ackerman 2001; cf. Sztompka 1999, chap. 3). I would wager that, given the choice, informed Iranian journalists accused of some crime would “trust” a German judge to grant them a fair trial far more than they would trust an Iranian judge, with whom they presumably share a common culture. Certainly, in debates about where to try Pinochet, there were many Chileans who “trusted” British and Spanish judges far more than they did Chilean judges. It is difficult to see a shared culture as the key explanatory variable, much less as a necessary condition, for social trust in institutions. Nor is shared culture necessary for interpersonal trust: We can all presumably think of cases in which consumers from a certain cultural group have “trusted” some class of merchants from a different cultural group far more than their own, because the “alien” merchants had a reputation for being trustworthy, while their “own” merchants were seen as scoundrels.
    The counterexamples I have just given obviously trade on the intuition that trust consists in the belief that the other person or institution is trustworthy in general and will, thus, treat others with impartiality and fairness. Such belief in another’s general trustworthiness may be better explained by the other’s previous reputation for trustworthiness, rather than by the fact of a culture shared by the two parties
    ." (p.501)
    -Arash Abizadeh, 2002. "Does Liberal Democracy Presuppose a Cultural Nation ? Four Arguments." American Political Science Review, 96 (3): 495-509.

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