Review of Will Kymlicka’s Multicultural Citizenship

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87 Hobsbawm here makes a sharp-witted comparison between historians of nations and biblical literalists: “no serious historian of nations and nationalism can be a committed political nationalist, except in the sense in which believers in the literal truth of the Scriptures, while unable to make contributions to evolutionary theory, are not precluded from making contributions to archaeology and Semitic philology” (1990, p. 12).

88 Kymlicka also takes a counterview here as well by emphasizing that nationalism is championed by the working class because of its liberating effects in their lives (the promotion of literacy, better health care, etc.).

89 Almond and Verba say that these monarchies used a growing civic culture to “mitigate their rationalism” and shift sacredness from the traditional authority of the church, onto the modern creation of nation. (Almond & Verba, 1963/1989 p.6)

90 Though Kymlicka attributes his view to a modernizing theory of nationalism, to a certain extent the nationalism he describes also mirrors that of Smith in that it includes historic elements and cultural artifacts passed down from generation to generation (i.e., nation is not created ex nihilo for Kymlicka either).

91 For example, Smith argues, “Ancient beliefs in divine election have given modern nationalisms a powerful impetus and model”. In other words, much of the passion and conviction behind nationalism has its origins not in modern nationalism itself, but in prior myths of identity – in this case, specifically monotheistic religious myth. (1999a, p. 331) See also (1995, p 17).

92 Smith adds several examples here of such renewals of traditions, such as the discoveries of the Tomb of Tutankhamun, the ruins of Teotihuacan, or the recovery of Hatsor and Masada. Yet even these examples are themselves telling. In Recovered Roots (1997), Yael Zerubavel, describes how sacred history for example represented the inhabitants of the Masada fortress as having remained and fighting bravely, and yet historical documentation records that there was a mass suicide. The story of Masada was given prominence as a triumphal nationalist story recounting heroism and bravery, but which strayed from historical evidence of the event (Zerubavel, 1995, p. 220).

93 Though for Smith territory is important insofar as the nation has associations for its members, usually historic, with a particular place but not necessarily ownership of it, as is the case with Kymlicka.

94 An important term discussed widely in the politics of recognition and identity. See in particular Taylor (1991).

95 Herder’s conception of the world’s nations is that each represented something valuable and unique adding to the richness of human experience, which together ought to be harmonious like the music in an orchestra. This view is also shared by Margalit who writes: “There are people who express themselves ‘Frenchly’, while others have forms of life that are expressed ‘Koreanly’ or … ‘Icelandicly’” (as cited in Levy, 2000a, p. 102) or in the writings of Berlin, “The ‘physiognomies’ of cultures are unique: each presents a wonderful exfoliation of human potentialities in its own time and place and environment. We are forbidden to make judgments of comparative value, for that is measuring the incommensurable” (Berlin, 2000, p. 233).

96 As Smith words it, “the desire for what is unmixed and uncontaminated by alien elements” (Smith, 2001, p. 443). I would argue however that in light of the horrendous ethnic cleansings and genocides of the past century, any such talk of “cultural purity” should be eyed with extreme caution and skepticism.

97 The Quiet Revolution was a silent transformation of Quebecois society that occurred in the 1960s which saw the diminishing importance of church and conservative values in Quebecois life. For Kymlicka, what is especially poignant about this example, as we will see again later on, is that although Quebec society became culturally more similar during this period to English Canada, its demands for sovereignty did not diminish but instead intensified.

98 Yael Tamir also shares this view. She ties the weakening of national bonds due to globalization with the rise of economic injustice. Nationalism, says Tamir, brought about cross-class coalitions which kept extreme nationalisms in check and brought economic justice to the poorest in our societies. (Tamir, Class and Nation, 2004).

99 Note however, that when Kymlicka speaks about the “dignity” that national identity provides for all members, he omits mention of ethnic nationalism’s history of extreme violence towards minorities or “non-members”, and further omits his own insistence (which appears in other places of his writings) on civil nationalism’s similar history of exclusion. Nor does Kymlicka in any way relate the rise of nationalism with the rise of totalitarianism either in Europe or in the decolonized south.

100 For a defense of a nation’s right to historic territory by Kymlicka, see Ch. 3 “The forms of Liberal Multiculturalism” in Multicultural Odysseys (2007). See also Ch. 6, “The European Experiment” where he derides European generic strategies for diminishing the normative claims of national minorities to ownership of specific territory, and further de-emphasizes the role which territory played in the violent conflict in the Balkans by downplaying authors who link the two.

101 Indeed although Renan believes that nations are perfectly needed for his time, he has the foresight to anticipate their end. Like all human systems, nations will have their beginning and their end says Renan. Renan believes for example, that they will most likely be replaced by a European confederation. Renan’s apprehension about a single world government or world citizenship is a theme that we see again and again rising against cosmopolitan visions such as those of Immanuel Kant or Jurgen Habermas. Kymlicka too has his own suspicions about the imperatives behind international agendas, particularly with respect to Human Rights claims. (Renan, 1996, pp. 41-55, see especially pp. 52-54).

102 In a sense there is both top-down (institutional) and bottom-up (grassroots) modification of one’s national culture, which is why a stable institutional setting is necessary, Kymlicka believes, for the flourishing of national cultures or of culture more generally.

103 He insists that his version of nationalism is not an ethnic one, that the nation should be open to new immigrants and should encourage pluralism.

104 This is more evident here in Kymlicka’s work than in the work of Smith who, by contrast, describes the malleability of this ethnic core and how nationalists fashion this over time to suit changing public perception and ideology based on historic data and pre-existing mythologies. Kymlicka is clearly saying here that it is not the myths themselves that are unchanging, but an abstract indefinable something-or-other which runs deeper, more centrally to our core perceptions of who we are and to where we bear our allegiances.

105 Bader argues that this simplistic bifurcation into the “ethnocentric” vs. “cosmopolitan” alternative is “blocking our thinking and practices” and hence “needs to be overcome” (Bader, 1997, p. 773).

106 These themes are recurrent in the literature on the ordering of human societies and are of particular importance in the wake of post-modernism. The nationalist debate over the ethnic and civic aspects of nations intersects with the ongoing effort by liberals, multiculturalists, and communitarians try to balance equality and difference, which they all value differently. While communitarians tend to value the importance of a community of descent and common culture, multiculturalists lean towards the other side and tend to emphasize a commitment towards pluralism – though some liberal critics point out that through their advocacy of group rights, multiculturalists emphasize too greatly sectarianism and hence potentially jeopardize equality. For an example of this line of argument see Susan Okin’s article, “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?” (1999).

107 Historical nations for Marx and Engels were England and France, constituted by strong middle classes and which achieved cultural unity to cement the conditions of capitalism. Non-historical nations included for example, the southern Slavs, which lacked a middle class. Their lack of assimilation impeded the transition to capitalism. (Gans, 2002, p.8-9).

108 Notably, Greenfeld indicates that even the world “people” was used “in the plural” by the Americans, as a “plural divided sovereignty” which was “composite, not unitary….Thus any nation, in principle, was a federal structure, in the sense that it was based upon the good faith (from the Latin foedus – treaty, derived from fides – faith) of its members in one another, or a social contract…Membership did not imply the dissolution of the individual in the community.” (1992, pp. 426-7).

109 Smith eloquently puts it as such: “chosen peoples, sacred territories, golden ages, and the commemoration of the glorious dead” reveal the fundamental religious underpinnings of so much modern ‘secular’ nationalism (Smith, 1999c, p. 39).

110 Kymlicka quotes here from Gerald Johnson: “It is one of history’s little ironies that no polyglot empire of the old world has dared to be so ruthless in imposing a single language upon its whole population as was the liberal republic ‘dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal’” (as cited in Kymlicka, 1998a, p. 180; 1999a, p. 103-4).

111 This expectation on the part of Americans has been no different in Kymlicka’s native Canada. Of the differences typically attributed to Canada vs. America, Kymlicka says, “some people say both countries are multiculturalist, others say we’re both assimilationist” (Kymlicka, 2001, p. 27), yet Kymlicka himself does not believe in the traditional “melting pot” vs. “mosaic” characterization of American vs. Canadian societies.

112 In a similar vein to Kymlicka, Brubakers says that ethnic nations are dissassimlationist while civic nations are assimilationist “It is one thing to want to make all citizens of Utopia speak Utopian, and quite another to want to make all Utopiphones citizens of Utopia. Crudely put, the former represents the French, the latter the German model of nationhood…France took over [the belief] from the Roman tradition, that the state can turn strangers into citizens, peasants – or immigrant workers – into Frenchmen” (Brubaker, 1992, p. 8).

113 In Resnick’s words, “civic nationalism in itself is no guarantee of comity” (Resnick, 2000, p.283).

114 As Tamir asks, “why are partiality and favoritism so morally worrisome?” (1993, p. 112).

115 Although a part of Kymlicka’s argument, somewhat contradictorily to his statement that liberal nationalism is “non-ethnic”, is that “a non-cultural definition of civic nationalism is implausible” (Kymlicka, 1995, p. 200). Yet despite this critique of the civic model of nation the line Kymlicka draws between ethnicity and culture is unclear.

116 This first criterion however, though admirable in theory, is less practicable in reality, particularly if we do consider cultural identity as in “flux” and constant growth as Kymlicka claims. Anytime culture becomes part of “official” state policy it will achieve a set, standardized form which will not always (or necessarily easily) reflect the changing currents of cultural change within the society, or reflect the way that culture is perceived and valued by all group members. Thus, to claim that national culture can be a matter of individual self-identity covers the implicit priority of the group over the individual within this claim.

117 This premise is sound when there is an alternative culture or group to which the unsatisfied individual can turn and join in place of his or her current group, however when this is not the case, it is hard to see how national culture can be maintained as a true reflection of all members of the society’s self-identification.

118 This seems to contradict however Kymlicka’s commitment to post-ethnic nationalism, if national identity also encompasses these other spheres of identity: religion, history, and language.

119 See also Archibugi (2003) for an elucidation on the development of the definition of self-determination and its complications. As Archibugi says, “an objective criterion for defining a people has never existed, and never will” (Archibugi, 2003, p. 491).

120 See also Ignatieff (1999) who calls nationalism a narcissistic form of identity.

121 Interestingly, Kymlicka cites the European Union as an example of the taming of liberal nationalism (Benhabib, 2006, p.133). Benhabib however believes that Kymlicka is mistaken to see the EU as merely a beacon of liberal nationalism for it is accomplishing a “far more ambitious devolution of sovereignty” (2006, 170).

122 I am referring here not only to Kymlicka, but also other authors such as Walzer and Taylor.

123 Rawls himself distinguishes between four different types of neutrality. As he says, “we may distinguish procedural neutrality from neutrality of aim; but the latter is not to be confused with neutrality of effect or influence. As a political conception for the basic structure of justice as fairness as a whole tries to provide common ground as the focus of an overlapping consensus. It also hopes to satisfy neutrality of aim in the sense that basic institutions and public policy are not to be designed to favor any particular comprehensive doctrine” (Rawls, 2003, p. 70).

124 As Beiner eloquently puts it in Theorizing Nationalism: “It doesn’t require any blindness to the importance people place upon their linguistic and ethnic heritage to say that the Czechoslovak and Yugoslav federations embodied a noble impulse, and their collapse in the face of nationalist agitation in each case conveys a real tragedy, not just for the peoples concerned but for all human onlookers…” (1999, p. 14).

125 Among these negative outcomes Tamir includes: “forced assimilation, oppression of minorities, political exclusion and, in some extreme cases, expulsion and physical annihilation” (1999a, p. 90).

126 See Ch. 11 for a more detailed description.

127 See UNDP, 2004. Full report available at:

128 As Canovan says of nationalism: “not only is [it] a sticky cobweb of myths and meditations, guaranteed to repel the clear-minded: worse, it seems also to be the source of a fundamental contradiction in political theory” (1998, p. 139).

129 See for example, his unsubstantiated argument about the sense of anomie experienced by Inuit Children due to lack of role models and secure cultural structures as described in Chapter 4.

130 By this, Dusche is making reference to Leibnitz’s theory, using the concept of monads to describe nations. “The nation monads each form their own integral cosmos and are, in Leibniz’s words ‘without windows’. Leibniz’s monadology also encompasses the idea that a prestabilized form of harmony exists between monads.” (Dusche, 2000, p.27). Dusche rejects this view however, because he says there is no harmony between nations and that any attempt to culturally define a nation ends up in exclusionary measures creating “second-class citizens with secondary rights” (2000, p.27). While the monadic paradigm still is the dominant one guiding international relations and political sciences, Dusche argues that this is a wrong reflection of present economic and social realities (2000, p.28).

131 This is an anachronistic reference of course, J. S. Mill did not understand nationalism in the same way the “liberal nationalist” authors of today do.

132 He says that a narrative with much “currency today” is that Canada’s official bilingualism stems from constitutional arrangements embedding a “legacy of an unequal distribution of power” (Coulombe, 2000, p. 283).

133 Indeed, in the intervening years since Kymlicka wrote this, there are now 193 recognized states, with South Sudan the newest among them.

134 Note: ‘small’ and ‘sizeable’ minorities are not defined elsewhere by Kymlicka, though he does refer to “sizeable minorities” throughout his writings.

135 Clare Chambers disputes Kymlicka on the “myth of ethnocultural reality”, say argues that he is false to assert that liberals view culture in this light, it is neither widely disseminated or believed by liberal thinkers. (Chambers, 2003)

136 Soysal points out the interesting example of the transformation of the Vikings from “warrior forefathers to spirited long-distance traders”(Soysal, 1998, pp. 210-1)

137 As Einstein famously remarked, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

138 As one article in Wired Magazine from 2002 put it so aptly, “In 20 years from now, the idea that someone looking for love won’t look for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because ‘the rights books are found only by accident’.” (Giscom, 2002)

139 I am inspired here by Jeremy Waldron’s depiction of the rise of the Cosmopolitan man. The cosmopolitan man is not bound by culture, not constitutive of him in way that communitarians describe – not the rigid Kantian view of ethical unity, but “the chaotic coexistence of projects, pursuits, ideas, images, and snatches of culture within an individual” (1995, p. 94). “The cosmopolitan may live all his life in one city and maintain the same citizenship throughout. But he refuses to think of himself as defined by his location or his ancestry or his citizenship or language….He is a creature of modernity, conscious of living in a mixed-up world and having a mixed up self.” (1995, p. 95).

140 The singular locus of power which nation-states once held is being undermined by many diverse challenges. As the 1997 World Bank Development Report said, “People are now more mobile, more educated, and better informed about conditions everywhere…involvement in the global economy tightens constraints on arbitrary State action” (World Bank, 1997, p. 12). As the Vienna Declaration of the 1993 World Conference on Human rights laid out, “The promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community” (Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on Human Rights, Article 4). “Non interference” is becoming increasingly challenged, in is place a matrix of power is divested across numerous fronts and a new trend in “Responsibility to Protect” is arising.

141 Anne-Marie Slaughter is an international lawyer, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and former Director of Policy Planning for the US State Department from January 2009 to February 2011.

142 MacCormick says that we must move the debates from claims over territory and populations to questions of allocation of political authority in a transnational community.

143 As Martha Nussbaum says of cosmopolitanism, it “requires a nation of adults, who do not need a dependence upon omnipolitical parental figures.” (Nussbaum, 1997, p.11)

144 I disagree however with Nussbaum on her imagery of concentric circles however, but prefer to see identity as overlapping ones.

145 Kant himself was worried that a single world state would lead to despotism. (Eriksen, 2002)

146 Anne-Marie Slaughter and Thomas Hale argue that the rise of transgovernmental networks offer a way to democratize global governance as they are composed of official state units (sanctioned by the elected parliments) and therefore overcome the legitimacy problem of many supra-national bodies. (Slaughter & Hale, 2010)

147 Held describes historical progress of democracy and postulates that for democracy to continue progress in the world today it needs next to be on the global level. Held proposes a “cosmopolitan model of democracy” through regional parliaments, referendums, democratization of international organizations and entrenched rights.

148 As Billig points out, such notions are recent and historically contingent too, for “a glance at mediaeval and modern maps shows the novelty of the bounded state” (Billig, 1995, p. 20).

149 As far back as 1966, the UN General Assembly adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 27 of the ICCPR contains the only universal legally binding norm on minority protection, introducing minority protection firmly into the body of human rights (Heinze, 1999, p. 2). Then, in 1973, the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) produced the first politically binding document containing detailed commitments towards minorities (Heinze, 1999, p. 3). This document established the conditions for minority protection with international legal measures, to resolve minority problems within the framework of democratic political systems. Thereafter, a process began which eventually culminated in the 1995 Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) of the Council of Europe (CoE).

150 For more on this, see this UN site on “Lessons from Rwanda: the United Nations and the Prevention of Genocide”

151 Typically, “high culture” is, as in Kymlicka’s example, culture which adheres to standards cast by western elite and is juxtaposed against more traditional cultures which are considered along the anthropological scale to be of a “lesser” nature due to their reticence to adopt or conform to modernity.

152 Indeed, taking a different approach than Fraser, Walzer argues that “it is a harsh fact of political life that the extension [of citizenship rights] has been most successful, the welfare system strongest, in the most homogenous Western states”. He says that it is America’s diversity, more than anything, which has led to the “shoddiness of our welfare system (Walzer, 1995, 248)” In a Reply article, Bader refutes Walzer’s statement by citing examples of well-developed welfare systems in multicultural countries such as Canada and Australia, as compared to relatively late developments of welfare systems in culturally uniform places like Japan (Bader, 1995, 251).

153 See Chapter 4, “Aboriginals” for an elaboration of “Kymlicka’s Constraint” by Dale Turner.

154 Indeed, Connolly points out the dangers of viewing our identity as concentric circles, particularly within a nationalist framework. He says that this reinforces the idea of what a healthy identity is, with nation as its “authoritative centre” inevitably minority identities become “defined as satellites ranged around the national center, either to be tolerated or persecuted.” (Connolly, 2001, p.350)

155 Benhabib’s example of reason not as a single glass sphere but as dispersed crystals is reminiscent of the Jewish mysticism (Lurianic Kabbalah’s) story of creation, wherein God (pure truth/reason) put himself into vessels of light which were shattered in order to create the world.

156 Walzer however agrees with Kymlicka on this point, he says that the state can provide the means for the group to flourish, but it cannot guarantee flourishing or survival (Walzer, 1995, p. 152).

157 By Neo-Republican, presumably Young was influenced by the writings of Philip Pettit who in Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government aimed to resuscitate non-domination as the major principle behind Republicanism at the heart of deliberative democracy (Pettit, 1997). Petit defines non-domination as “the absence of domination in the presence of other people, not the absence of domination gained by isolation” (Pettit, 1997, p. 66)

158 Anthropologically speaking it seems highly doubtful such a mono-ethnic country exists anywhere in today’s world, perhaps with the exception of isolated countries like North Korea.

159 These include the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992), the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), the Council of Europe’s 1995 Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights (1996). Other important developments include the Council Recommendation 1201/93/EC of 1 February 1993 on an Additional Protocol on the Rights of National Minorities to the European Convention on Human Rights, (1993), Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 22nd Sitting, Doc. 6742, Article 5., the Ad Hoc Committee for the Protection of National Minorities (CAHMIN), and the mandate of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM).

Further, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), affirms both the sovereignty (the right to “freely determine their political status”) and right to culture (to “enjoy their own culture…in community with other members of their group”) for all “peoples” through Article One, and the second provision, of Article 27 of the same Covenant. Of additional noteworthy mention is the 1997 European Convention on Nationality, which defines ‘nationality’ as “the legal bond between a person and a state and does not indicate the person’s ethnic origin. European Convention on Nationality and Explanatory Report, 1997, By Council of Europe, Council of Europe publishing, Strasbourg Cedex, p28, volume 71.

160 As Cairns says, Canadian policy towards the Metis can be best summed under the labels “The Forgotten Peoples” and even “The Non-People” (Cairns, 2000, p. 21).

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