TRAMES 2, 5, 2001


Monika Kirloskar-Steinbach

Abstract. Today, political philosophy is witness to liberal justifications of nationalism. Liberal nationalists regard nationalism as a fundamental good which is instrumental in forming individual identity. They argue that liberals should not dismiss nationalism as a primitive, tribal urge but instead learn from it. In fact the sense of belongingness and relatedness which is so constitutive of nationalism could help counteract liberal maladies. Liberal nationalists urge one to consider nationalism not as opposed to reason but as an enriching force which can eliminate the alienation associated with modernity.

This paper tries to show that a normative justification of liberal nationalism proves to be problematic on various counts. It does not fare well with liberal morality with its emphasis on reason and reflection. Moreover, a priority to the nation, as opposed to the state, could also have consequences for liberal institutions. They would have to take a back seat and hope that in crucial times individual nations decide to stand by them.

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