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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Liberal nationalism is a kind of nationalism identified by political philosophers who believe in a non-xenophobic  form of nationalism compatible with liberal values of freedom, tolerance, equality, and individual rights.[1] Ernest Renan[2] and John Stuart Mill[3] are often thought to be early liberal nationalists. Liberal nationalists often defend the value of national identity by saying that individuals need a national identity in order to lead meaningful, autonomous lives[4] and that liberal democratic polities need national identity in order to function properly.[5]

Liberal nationalism, also known as civic nationalism or civil nationalism, is the form of nationalism in which the state derives political legitimacy from the active participation of its citizenry (see popular sovereignty), from the degree to which it represents the "general will". It is often seen as originating with Jean-Jacques Rousseau and especially the social contract theories which take their name from his 1762 book The Social Contract.

Liberal nationalism lies within the traditions of rationalism and liberalism, but as a form of nationalism it is contrasted with ethnic nationalism. Membership of the civic nation is considered voluntary, as in Ernest Renan's classical definition of the nation as a "daily plebiscite" characterized by the "will to live together".[citation needed] Civic-national ideals influenced the development of representative democracy in countries such as the United States and France (see the United States Declaration of Independence of 1776, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789).

States in which civic forms of nationalism predominate are often (but not always) ex-settler colonies such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, in which ethnic nationalism is difficult to construct on account of the diversity of ethnicities within the state. A notable exception is India, an ex-plantation colony,[6] where civic nationalism has predominated due to the country's unparalleled linguistic, religious and ethnic diversity. Civic-nationalist states are often characterized by adoption of the jus soli (law of the soil) for granting citizenship in the country, deeming all persons born within the integral territory of the state citizens and members of the nation, regardless of their parents' origin. This serves to link national identity not with a people but rather with the territory and its history, and the history of previous occupants of the territory unconnected to the current occupants are often appropriated for national myths.

The Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru in the United Kingdom rarely refer to ethnicity in their nationalism. This is in contrast to ethnic nationalist political parties found elsewhere in Europe. The SNP and Plaid Cymru were the first political parties to field elected candidates of an ethnic minority background in the devolved institutions of their respective nations - Bashir Ahmad in the Scottish Parliament, Mohammad Asghar in the Welsh Assembly (however, he has since defected to the Welsh Conservatives, and declared his support for British Unionism); both are Muslims of Pakistani origin.

See also


  1. ^ Tamir, Yael. 1993. Liberal Nationalism. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-07893-9; Will Kymlicka. 1995. Multicultural Citizenship. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-827949-3; David Miller. 1995. On Nationality. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-828047-5.
  2. ^ Renan, Ernest. 1882. "Qu'est-ce qu'une nation?"
  3. ^ Mill, John Stuart. 1861. Considerations on Representative Government.
  4. ^ Kymlicka, Will. 1995. Multicultural Citizenship. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-827949-3. For criticism, see: Patten, Alan. 1999. "The Autonomy Argument for Liberal Nationalism." Nations and Nationalism. 5(1): 1-17.
  5. ^ Miller, David. 1995. On Nationality. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-828047-5. For criticism, see: Abizadeh, Arash. 2002. "Does Liberal Democracy Presuppose a Cultural Nation? Four Arguments." American Political Science Review 96 (3): 495-509; Abizadeh, Arash. 2004. "Liberal Nationalist versus Postnational Social Integration." Nations and Nationalism 10(3): 231-250.
  6. ^ Kesavan, Mukul (2007-08-15). "India's model democracy". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 

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