Kymlicka’s Alignment of Mill and Engels: Nationality, Civilization, and Coercive Assimilation

Nationalities Papers 50 (5):1003-21 (2022)
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Abstract

John Stuart Mill claims that free institutions are next to impossible in a multinational state. According to Will Kymlicka, this leads him to embrace policies kindred to those of Friedrich Engels, aimed at promoting mononational states in Europe through coercive assimilation. Given Mill’s harm principle, such coercive assimilation would have to be justified either paternalistically, in terms of its civilizing effects upon the would-be assimilated, or non-paternalistically, with reference to the danger that their non-assimilation would pose to others. However, neither possible interpretation is plausible; Mill takes Europe’s civilized status to shield Europeans from paternalistic coercion, and he opposes coercive assimilation where it could conceivably be justified in the name of defense. Although this much suggests that Kymlicka misinterprets Mill by ignoring his definition of nationality, it leaves scope for Kymlicka to argue that Mill favors policies that promote mononationality through neglecting the languages and cultures of national minorities.

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Tim Beaumont
Shenzhen University

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References found in this work

On Nationality.David Miller - 1995 - New York: Oxford University Press.
On Liberty.John Stuart Mill - 1859 - Broadview Press.
Multicultural Citizenship: a Liberal Theory of Minority Rights.Will Kymlicka - 1995 - Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187):250-253.

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