Nationalism, for and (mainly) against

In Robert McKim & Jeff McMahan (eds.), The Morality of Nationalism. Oxford University Press. pp. 158-75 (1997)
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To many people, the very idea of nationalism smacks of ethnocentrism or even racism. They suspect that violence, hatred, and distrust of the Other, embodied in a sharply divided world of "us" and "them," always lurk within the nationalist's heart. Recent world events have done nothing to allay these suspicions. Nationalism, on this view, is an evil to be overcome by a cosmopolitan stance that denies the significance of national boundaries. Yet positive values have also been associated with the nationalist idea, as some recent accounts remind us.ii Democracy, autonomy, community, pluralism -- these goods have been connected with the development of nationalism over the past several centuries. Some of the values underlying nationalism also manifest themselves today in its dilute and more respectable cousin, multiculturalism. And it goes without saying that whatever its merits, nationalism exerts enormous power on the aspirations of many people around the world



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Judith Lichtenberg
Georgetown University

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