Nationalism has had a complex relation with the discipline of political theory during the 20th century. Political theory has often been deeply uneasy with nationalism in relation to its role in the events leading up to and during the Second World War. Many theorists saw nationalism as an overly narrow and potentially irrationalist doctrine. In essence it embodied a closed vision of the world. This paper focuses on one key contributor to the immediate post-war debate—Karl Popper—who retained deep misgivings about nationalism until the end of his life, and indeed saw the events of the early 1990s (shortly before his death) as a confirmation of this distrust. Popper was one of a number of immediate post war writers, such as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, who shared this unease with nationalism. They all had a powerful effect on social and political thought in the English-speaking world. Popper particularly articulated a deeply influential perspective which fortuitously encapsulated a cold war mentality in the 1950s. In 2005 Popper’s critical views are doubly interesting, since the last decade has seen a renaissance of nationalist interests. The collapse of the Berlin wall in 1989, and the changing political landscape of international and domestic politics, has seen once again a massive growth of interest in nationalism, particularly from liberal political theorists and a growing, and, at times, immensely enthusiastic academic literature, trying to provide a distinctively benign benediction to nationalism.
Statists claim that robust egalitarian distributive norms only apply between the citizens of a common state. Attempts to defend this claim on nationalist grounds often appeal to the 'associative duties' that citizens owe one another in virtue of their shared national identity. In this paper I argue that the appeal to co-national associative duties in order to defend the statist thesis is unsuccessful. I first develop a credible theory of associative duties. I then argue that although the associative theory can explain why the members of a national community should abide by egalitarian norms, it cannot show that people have a duty to become or to continue as a member of a national community in the first place. The possibility that citizens might exercise their right to reject their national membership undermines the state's ability justifiably to coerce compliance with egalitarian distributive norms and, ultimately, the statist claim itself.
A History of Richard Turner’s Eclipse and Resurgence
. Andrew Nash (1999) compellingly argued that Turner and the New Left failed to engage with the salience of nationalism. This article aims to give historical texture to this account, to qualify this criticism by pointing to other factors that led to
Onions, Artichokes and 'The Debate' on the Nation and Modernity
Nationalism and Modernism, by Anthony D. Smith. London & New York: Routledge, 1998. ISBN: 0415063418.
Theories of Nationalism: A Critical Introduction, by Umut Özkrimili. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000. ISBN: 0333777123.
Understanding Nationalism, edited by Montserrat Guibernau and John Hutchinson. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN: 0745624022.
The Historiography of African Nationalism in Conqueror South Africa
The story of conqueror South African historiography relies on the ebbs and flows of narrative clichés and tropes. The main narrative arcs relate to historiographies that frame the understanding and analysis of conqueror South Africa. These historiographies interpret history as forming part of an epistemological paradigm of conqueror South Africa: a historiography that does not question the ethical right to conquest. This article focuses on the interpretations of African Nationalism by proponents of the liberal and Marxist historiographic traditions and critiques the way in which these historiographies depict and characterise African Nationalism. This historical characterisation bears an influence in current political and social discourse in conqueror South Africa: African Nationalism is relegated to a misguided moment in history, something to be reflected upon from a distance, an irrelevant phase in the long walk to a multiracial and cosmopolitan South Africa.
The Ariadne’s thread that runs through, and connects, the articles in this issue of Theoria is the modern state. How should the state approach welfare policy? Is the state’s power as absolute as once it had been? What is the importance of nationalism for states? What assumptions about the relationship between the state and civil society should be examined, and how? What, especially in a developing society such as South Africa, is—or should be—the relationship between the state and the poor? These are the overarching questions that knit together the contributions.
In an effort towards developing a normative theory of federalism, this paper offers a critical assessment of the work of Will Kymlicka and Ferran Requejo in order to show the progress and failures of liberal nationalist authors on issues raised by the normative dimensions of federalism in Western multinational contexts. More exactly, the paper argues that both authors fail to give a complete theory of federalism because the liberal conception of self-determination as non-interference can only create superficial unity and contingent trust, especially in multinational contexts, where non-interference is to regulate relations between particular identities and conceptions of citizenship. Drawing on this critical assessment of liberal nationalism, I argue that the neo-republican ideal of non-domination, as developed by Philip Pettit (1997, 2012), provides us not only with the adequate normative heuristics to assess national rights of self-determination, but also international relations and the institutional conditions needed to create binding trust within multinational federal constellations.
The Postsocialist Myth of Capitalism and the Ideological Suspension of Postmodernity
There is a widespread tendency to see the perils of postsocialism in the revival of the ghosts and myths from the past—namely ethnocentrism, nationalism, exclusiveness, bickering, collectivist-authoritarianism, expansionist chauvinism, and victimisation. I suggest that postsocialism's perils rest with a myth from the future, namely, the myth of capitalism. Those perils, I argue, are rooted in the fetishisation of capitalism by the postsocialist societies as a reflection of their deeply ingrained teleological way of perceiving the future. Political leaders are taking advantage of this situation by putting themselves in the position of those who would lead toward such a utopia. As a consequence, individual freedoms are sacrificed at the altar of communitarian bliss. I suggest that the only hope that we have to secularise the newly re-religiosised postsocialist societies rests with intellectuals.
Alexander Motyl, Slavoj Zizek, Glyn Daly, Will Kymlicka, Nigel Gibson, and G.A. Cohen
Revolutions, Nations, Empires: Conceptual Limits and Theoretical Possibilities, by Alexander J. Motyl. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. ISBN: 0231114311. Imperial Ends: The Decay, Collapse, and Revival of Empires, by Alexander J. Motyl. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. ISBN: 0231121105. Reviewed by Roger Deacon
Conversations with Zizek, by Slavoj Zizek and Glyn Daly. Polity: Cambridge, 2004. ISBN: 0745628974 Reviewed by Richard Pithouse
Politics in the Vernacular: Nationalism, Multiculturalism, and Citizenship, by Will Kymlicka. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN: 0199240981. Reviewed by Laurence Piper
Frantz Fanon: The Postcolonial Imagination, by Nigel Gibson. Cambridge: Polity, 2003. ISBN: 0745622615. Reviewed by Richard Pithouse
If You’re an Egalitarian, How Come You’re So Rich? by G.A. Cohen. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2001. ISBN: 0674006933. Reviewed by Ben Parker
‘The history of the Zulu people is the history of myself’.1 In Africa, as elsewhere, the notion of tradition is bound up with the discourses of ethnicity and nationalism. Typically invoking pre-colonial identities as the basis of peoplehood, such narratives of common descent are imbued with a strong sense of ‘pastness’, orientating the modern self in traditional terms. Anderson explains this invocation of tradition as a feature of the inverted nature of ethnic narratives of common descent.2 More common are accounts which focus on the ‘loss of meaning’ brought about by modernisation and the psychic security offered by an idealised past. Recent theories look to supplant this sense of tradition as reaction with a sense of tradition as creation. One example is Lonsdale’s argument that the affirmation of ethnicity in post-colonial Africa, with its associated invention of tradition, must be seen in the context of internal debates over civic virtue as pre-colonial moral economies are re-structured by the state and capitalism.