Nationalism In The Baltics And The Politics

Of Recognition Essay, Research Paper

`?The best political arrangement is relative to the history and culture

of the people whose lives it will arrange??

Michael Walzer.?? Although we live in a particular world, we

can still aim toward a juridical ethic that would function as a critical authority against the history

which determines us so deeply? Andre Van de Putte .??????????? A common perception is that

nationalism is in decline world-wide.?

It is very easy to list factors that contribute to such an apparent

decline, or as some would have it, lead inexorably to it.? For instance, we recognize the large role

that international corporations play in the world of finance and business; we

recognize the interdependence of economic systems, and a virtual free market in

certain basic commodities.? The effects

of the internationals are felt not only in the economic realm but also bleed

into the cultural arena ? culture follows money or chases money.? These effects may be seen in? how local talents, whether they are Latvian

opera divas or? Russian hockey players

or Lithuanian basketball stars, follow the dictates of the international market

place. In other words, they end up where the money is.? Furthermore,? cultural creations such as films, recorded music and popular

novels are themselves commodities promoted by a world-wide culture industry

largely dominated by the United States. (I understand that Latvia used to

produce as many as seven or eight films a year and now the industry is on the

verge of extinction.)? Such factors

internationalize culture and threaten the very ground on which national

identity may be based.? It may also be

thought that national cultural identities are to some extent compromised by

being subject to international human rights as promoted by the United States,

and as embodied in UN doctrines, requirements for membership in the EEC and

elsewhere.? Issues such as gender

relations or sexual mutilation in fundamentalist Moslem states are criticized

as are civil liberties and democratic rights violations in China and in Cuba,

ethnic relationships in East Timor and in the Balkans, and possibly, human

rights issues dealing with language rights in Latvia. The national identities

we forged over the past centuries with so much sacrifice are in many ways

slipping away from us. Is nationalism a dying phenomenon, or worse, is it,

where it rears its head, a force for evil, an excuse for vindictiveness???????? ????? When we turn on the television news or

look at the political page of our newspapers we are constantly reminded that

nationalism is ?the refuge of a scoundrel?, that its appeals are ?essentially

sub-human or primitive in character, a deformity that no civilized person would

have anything to do with?.[1]

Such a sentiment was expressed by Albert Einstein. The recent events in the

Balkans attest to this ? Serbian ?ethnic cleansing? in Kosovo is but the latest

event in a troubled world.? Who can say

that the core of the problem, i.e., that which drives such events lies in

nationalism rather than in religious conflicts, or simply in vindictiveness

drawing upon a long memory of perceived wrongs inflicted on the people; perhaps

a social memory extending back over centuries. But whatever value attaches to

being a member of a dominant ethnic community which practices marginalization

and demeaning of ethnic minorities, such value is clearly overridden by the

suffering inflicted upon the minorities. ? However, nationalism represents a range or

family of views and need not take such extreme form.? Nationalism, if it is to gain acceptance within liberal

democratic communities, must recognize human diversity in a number of

parameters ? religious, cultural, racial, ethnic, and in a more qualified form,

linguistic diversity.? Such a version of

nationalism is defensible within the parameters alluded to above. Indeed, in

qualified form, it has found concrete expression in the world today, not in the

Balkans, as I think we can surmise, but, to a large extent in Canada and in a

more qualified way in the Baltics ? Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.? ????? Let me begin? my presentation of a defensible version of nationalism by

providing an account of the? three? main forms that nationalism may take. Of the

three forms, two are commonly recognized, and the third has recently been

advanced in contemporary writings on the subject. I shall discuss, in brief,

the two forms and then proceed to a more systematic characterization and

evaluation of the third.? The three

forms are labelled ethnic, civic, and cultural nationalism. We might begin by

asking what is it about the three conceptions of nationalism that binds them

together, that unifies them as one general type of human social

phenomenon.? Do they all share common

characteristics, or is there, in a sense, a family resemblance; do they answer

or address for a people the same deeply felt need? Is nationalism a response to

?some kind of deep elemental force outside human control?[2]

, or is it a phenomenon which we can shape to our purposes???? Let us keep such questions in the back of

our minds as we survey the three conceptions. ?In essays by Van de Putte, De Wachter, and


we find a sustained challenge to the two traditionally recognized forms of

nationalism based on the ?ethnic? and ?civic? conceptions of the nation after

Hans Kohn et al.? The former is

characterized as the ?kulturnation?, identified with Eastern nationalism. The

latter, based on liberal ideals of a union under a doctrine of human rights and

the ideals of the enlightenment, is identified with Western nationalism.? Ethnic nationalism is commonly identified

with German nationalism which arose in the period of German Romanticism with

people like Herder and Goethe, and is ?largely based upon language, culture,

and tradition.?[4]? A nation, according to the ethnic

conception, has an identity apart from individual wills; it is an entity that

exists as an objective reality through history.? One belongs to the nation when one shares the same language,

culture, and history.? But more so, the

tendency has been to see ethnic nationalism as focusing on racial identity, on

biological ancestry or in a word, ?on blood? as in, we are the same people, we

share the same blood-line. While the ethnic conception? of nationalism is based on a shared history

and language, ethnic nationalism has commonly been identified with racial

homogeneity ? with racism.? Civic

nationalism, on the other hand, grows out of the philosophy of Jean Jacque

Rousseau with his emphasis on the sovereignty of the people, and is supported

by the ideals of the French Revolution with its ?Declaration of the Rights of

Man and the Citizen?.? The civic

conception of the nation has been conveyed to us through its able exponent,

Ernest Renan.? As Renan wrote in What is Nation: it is ?le plebicite de

tous les jours? ( a daily plebiscite)[5].

The civic conception of a nation is, in the words of Van de Putte,

?constructivistic (an artifact), individualistic, and voluntaristic?[6].? Civic nationalism, then, is a political

creation through the wills of the people, embodying a legal code and generally

a bill of rights.? It is, in the Lockean

sense, a nation ruled and defined by the ?the consent of the people?.

Interestingly, the two major historical manifestations of civic nationalism,

Revolutionary France and the United States, saw themselves as missionary states

with the mandate to bring their particular kind of enlightenment to the world. The

cultural conception of nationalism arises as a result of certain problems that

lie at the very heart of both the ethnic and the civic conceptions of the

nation.? The ethnic conception is simply

not acceptable since it may violate basic human rights and? has led to extreme repression of minorities.? The civic form of the nation, however

welcome? it may seem at first sight,

does not by itself create loyalty to the nation-state, a willingness to

sacrifice oneself for the nation and its fellow citizens, sufficient to secure

social stability.? In this connection,

we are all familiar with the communitarian criticism of pure (Rawlsean) constitutional

liberalism (Michael Sandel, Alisdair McIntyre, Michael Walzer et al.).? Loyalty is not felt to an abstract set of

principles. The civic state is an ideal in search of a concrete interpretation.

It is not any actual existing state.?

For instance, the constitutional democratic state is not a mere

collection of individuals subscribing to democratic principles and a

constitution; it exists, where it exists, as a ?democratic culture?. The ideals

of democracy are always culturally interpreted. ? Accordingly, we have a reason now for

positing a new conception of nationalism which does not just take bits and

pieces from civic and ethnic nationalism, but forms a new synthesis in which

the ideals of a civic state are integrated in a concrete cultural arena. De

Wachter?s preferred conceptualization of nationalism as ??the ideology which

pursues congruity between both the political and the pre-political?[7]

avoids the two stools of the ethnic and civic conceptions. It opens the door to

a certain kind of cultural/multicultural nationalism, which recognizes a public

sphere in which exists? ?…the

possibility of all forms of attachment by all sorts of people in a

multicoloured life-world?[8]

to one nation state. Civic nationalism may be seen as transcending itself, giving

birth to a ?culture of democracy?, viz., to ?cultural nationalism?. Such themes

are further developed in both Tamir?s[9]

and Miller?s work, who both argue for revamping the old conceptual geography. Should we

buy into this new conceptualization of cultural nationalism?? It is tempting to answer in the affirmative,

but there are questions that we may raise. First, is cultural nationalism,

broadly conceived, really different from civic nationalism?? In the case of the United States (which,

arguably, is a paradigm of civic nationalism) we find a strong sense of? loyalty among its citizens, which involves,

what is? described as, a

?quasi-religious worship of the Constitution? (reminiscent of Jurgen Habermas?

?constitutional patriotism?). This suggests that it is not the culture of

democracy? which promotes loyalty to the

civic state, but rather, loyalty is secured through a kind of ?constitutional

ideology?. On the other hand, we may find that ?constitutional patriotism? is

not an intelligible notion apart from some cultural expression of it, some

practice of democracy at work or, indeed, a variety of practices relative both

to geography and time. Secondly,

Martha Nussbaum, in her short but much discussed essay, ?Patriotism and

Cosmopolitanism?,[10] raises some

issues which may undermine cultural nationalism.? Her arguments for cosmopolitanism and ?world citizenship? lead us

to question whether the ideal of cultural nationalism is internally consistent.

Citizens of modern constitutional democratic states which adopt doctrines of

human rights based on some conception of natural human rights, find themselves

asking Nussbaum?s question:? ?? are?

(we) above all citizens of a world of human beings ??? The political doctrine here, by its very nature, viz., by its

commitment to human rights, makes a universal appeal.? The liberal multicultural democratic state exercises sovereignty

over a geographical region (this after all, is the sine qua non of its very existence as a state), but its commitment

to a doctrine of human rights pulls it towards, what Martha Nussbaum calls,

?the substantive universal values of justice and right?, in a word, towards

?world citizenship?. But what, then, keeps the political state in continued

existence; where does the sense of the oneness (unity) come from? As De Wachter

has pointed out, loyalty to the state (the totality) must be stronger than that

to its ?intermediate structures?– its religions, professions, and in the

context of the multicultural state, to the polyglot of its cultural minorities.? How does the liberal democratic

multi-cultural state (in this context, we may recognize a multiplicity of

democratic cultures), which takes seriously its political and social doctrines,

preserve its stability and continuity, given its commitment to universal

values?? What stops it? from becoming the global community? ?For an answer, we need to turn to David

Miller?s On Nationality.? Miller believes that a stable nation cannot

adopt what he calls, ?radical multiculturalism?. A national identity must unite

the polyglot of minorities under one unifying conception of the nation.? Miller accepts the conservative tenet ?that

a well-functioning state rests upon? a

pre-established political sense of common nationality?[11],

but he does not believe that nationality should be viewed as something

static? to be protected and preserved by

all means.? Rather, he allows that the

sense of national identity will be an evolving phenomenon. All that needs to be

?asked of immigrants is a willingness to accept current political structures

and to engage in dialogue with the host community so that a new common identity

can be forged?[12]. The view

that Miller characterizes as radical multiculturalism reaches far beyond mutual

tolerance and the belief that each person should have equal opportunities

regardless of minority status and that the purpose of politics is to affirm

group differences. Radical multiculturalism, in fact, comes very close to

Nussbaum?s ?world citizenship?, a perspective which would lead to the rejection

of all forms of nationalism.[13]

Thus, cultural nationalism when freed from radical multiculturalism is not

subject to the above criticism. It seems

to me that cultural nationalism differs in essence from ethnic nationalism,

with which it shares a minimal connectedness, in that we find an ideal of

inclusion and toleration of minority cultures in cultural nationalism which is

ostensively absent in ethnic nationalism. Cultural nationalism implicitly

recognizes the ideals of liberal democratic society and preserves a doctrine of

human rights.? Yet within this broader

ideal of toleration, it also recognizes a basic need of? humanity for a sense of? identity which is shared and communal.? Cultural nationalism is a regime of

toleration.? But, we must not think that

toleration follows a formula, a fixed pattern according to set principles.? Toleration has to be interpreted in a

historical context with due reference to time, place and history.? This is the insight that Michael Walzer

gives us in his recent valuable book, On

Toleration .? Walzer writes:? ?? there are no principles that govern all

regimes of toleration or require us to act in all circumstances, in all times

and places, on behalf of a particular set of political or constitutional

arrangements.? Proceduralist arguments

wont help us here precisely because they are not differentiated by time and

place; they are not properly circumstantial?.[14] Charles

Taylor?s defence of? ?multiculturalism

and the politics of recognition? allows us to anchor our preferred sense of

nationalism in a basic human need viz., the need to be recognized. Perhaps the

most basic thing Taylor tells us is that there is a fundamental human need to

be recognized, that the essence of self identity is a communal/cultural affair.

My identity is not something I work out in isolation, in a vacuum as it were,

but something that I negotiate in dialogical relations with others.[15]

?Who am I?? cannot be adequately answered within the ideology of the civic

conception unless it is enriched in ways that go beyond the purely

political.? That is, my identity is not

fully defined within the individual realm but necessarily invokes a social

dimension.? My worth as a human being is

found here, within my culture, and is reflected by the placement of my culture

within the political sphere as a whole.?

Cultural nationalism does precisely this by allowing individuals from

diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds to find their worth. Let us

see how the situation in the Baltics exemplifies the kind of nationalism I am

supporting. ?The elements we observe in

the Baltics are first of all that there is an indigenous majority culture, a

literature and national language, in each of the Baltic countries.? The three Baltic nations have undergone a

tumultuous history, and have been subject to occupation and domination by major

powers including at one time or another in their histories by Poland, Germany,

Sweden and Russia. All of these periods of occupation with practices of

genocide under the Nazis, massive exiles of the native populations and Russian

colonization during the Soviet period?

have left an indelible imprint on these nations.? Indigenous cultures that have survived or

preserved an identity have done so essentially?

as peasant cultures, very much distinct from the cultures of the

masters. In a curious way, the masters or ruling classes in the Baltics have

always been foreigners who preserved their own traditions and language over

centuries. In the present post Soviet?

period with the re-assertion of sovereignty and the rise of nationalism,

the question arises for the Baltics: ?How far can we assert our national

identities without violating basic rights of our ?immigrant? minority ethnic

groups??? David Miller for one has

argued for limiting rights our immigrant groups which threaten national

stability.? He writes: (In? the) circumstance where the immigrant group

is strong and cohesive enough to?????

constitute itself as an independent nation ..(perhaps as a result of )

having been expelled from some other place ? the receiving nation may have good

reason to guard itself against being turned into bi-national society,

particularily where it forces deep conflicts between the two people.[16]? In

defending cultural nationalism, we are not arguing against immigration, nor are

we arguing for a static ethnic sense of national identity into which the

immigrant must be assimilated with a total loss of his/her previous ethnic or

national identity. We are arguing for a gradual integration ?according to the

absorptive capacities of the nation in question?. The process of integrating

the immigrant is not a one-way street where the immigrant simply acquires a new

cultural identity, but a process where the national identity itself is in

constant but gradual flux.???? Nationalism

in a multicultural setting should present itself under icons or national

symbols that are not offensive to minorities and can be comprehensively adopted

by all members of the society.? National

identity must be defined as far as possible ?independent of group-specific

values?. Although complete cultural neutrality is not feasible in practice

since ?a national language is the bearer of the culture of the people whose

language it originally was?[17],

the nation should present itself in a way which is culturally innocuous to the

minorities. ?Remove the prejudice? which is inherent in an ethnic conception of

the nation, and ?ensure that each group is shown? equal respect and the reluctance to share in a common culture

will evaporate?[18] suggests

Miller. Let me

provide an account of the situation in?

Canada, which like the Baltics, has also encountered linguistic and

cultural barriers to forming a strong union. In Canada differences exist among

the founding peoples, the French and the English, the indigenous people and the

more recent immigrant communities. Canada in the recent past has striven to

present itself and its symbolic image of itself in culturally neutral terms,

incorporating or acknowledging the divergent cultural or ethnic entities that

constitute it. It acknowledges the roots of its founding people? –?

the French, the English, and of course, the Indigenous Peoples in the

phrase, ?the founding nations of Canada?.?

One step in creating an image of Canada around which nationhood or

nationality may be defined is in terms of its overt public symbols. Symbols

which may have stood for colonialism and repression in the past have been

replaced; e.g., the old Canadian flag (a version of the Union Jack) has been

replaced by the Maple Leaf flag which is neutral to all parties, the previous national

anthem ?God Save the King/Queen? by the unifying anthem ?O Canada?.? Our history, another factor on which a

nation can divide, in the past was presented in a light that saw the dominant

national group, the English, as the victors in a just struggle and the

minorities, the Native Peoples or the French Canadians were presented as the

vanquished peoples. It is unfortunate that in the past in Canada we operated

with at least two different histories, history?

as taught in French schools in the province of Quebec, and history as it

was taught in English Canada. Events in the 18thcentury such as the

conquests of Quebec and Louisbourg, the Expulsion of the Acadians etc., were

given their own particular slants.? John

Ralston Saul in Reflections of a Siamese Twin

has made a very valuable correction to?

such a divisive account of?

Canadian history. The image of the?

French Canadians as a vanquished or conquered people, a minority which

has been forced to succumb to the will of the masters has stood as a barrier to

the full acceptance of Canadians as one nation.? We recognize that much has been done to remedy the symbols that

define our nation in a way that emphasizes our shared identities; we have

become aggressive in our task of nation building according to principles which

can accommodate our complex history and its diverse cultures and languages. I

think it is, in part from such considerations that our past prime minister,

Pierre Trudeau introduced policies of bilingualism and multiculturalism to

provide for a country in which?? both

the French and English speakers fully belong and with which members of diverse

cultural backgrounds can fully identify. The

official Canadian policy of multiculturalism, although seen by many to be

destructive of an internal cohesiveness, a sense of shared identity,

nonetheless can also be seen as an element in forming a uniquely Canadian

consciousness. I think the Canadian experience, with some qualifications,

should be a model for nation building in the Baltics and elsewhere.? . The

overt symbols of a nation such as the national flag, the anthem, the official

or public history, language, culture that apply to nations with linguistically

and culturally diverse populations should not apply specifically to any one

ethnic group. It may seen that Latvia has failed to observe the need for

neutrality of the symbolic elements on which, in part, national solidarity may

be built. Can one

honestly argue that Latvia represents in a qualified way an acceptable form of

nationalism?? I must begin by confessing

that Latvian policy has not been wise in all its endeavour of nation building.

The fostering of a sense of? national

identity? with which the Russian and

other minorities can readily identify seemingly has not been done. However,

viewed against the historical background of mass deportations and an aggressive

policy of Russification during the occupation period? there is, I think, some understanding and even justification of? the cultural and linguistic policies

followed by the government of Latvia, especially when these policies are seen

as arising through a democratic process, and preserving in general individual

human rights and basic freedoms including a free press and hence ?providing the

conditions under which debate can continue.?[19]

The Russian press in Latvia is very vocal in expressing its grievances in a

public forum, and debate is lively in both formal and informal settings. There

remain, however, divergent readings of past history, particularly as it applies

to WW II.? Latvia does not, and cannot,

subscribe to the Russian view that the forceful incorporation of Latvia into

the Soviet Union was an act of liberation?

since in the case of Latvia and the other Baltic nations the war did not

end in liberation but in replacing one type of enslavement (that of the Nazis)

by that of another (that of the Soviets).?

However, Latvia is very clear in its policy of divorcing itself from

any? aims of the previously occupying? powers. ?Another aspect that should be borne in mind

is that in the case of Latvia it is the Latvian majority which is, in a sense,

the vanquished people who have suffered occupiers for 800 years and whose

culture and language are very much under threat of disappearance. Latvian

speakers total only some 0.5% nearly overwhelmed by its Russia speaking

neighbours. Latvia is preserving a culture which is very much under threat,

whereas the Russians in Latvia have no such fears. They can draw, and indeed do

draw, upon the huge cultural wealth of Russia in the form of newspapers, journals,

books, TV, radio, all of which is available to Russian speakers in Latvia.? Russian is spoken by virtually all residents

of Latvia, in practice, but not in law.?

Latvia is fully bilingual? and

the Russian speaker can be at home any where in the country.? Wherever I have travelled in Latvia I have

not found one incidence where Latvians refused to speak Russian when addressed

by Russian speakers. Indeed, anecdotally, when Russians have approached me and

spoken to me in Russian and I have replied in Latvian (as I do not speak

Russian), they have been very much mystified and somewhat angered by my

response. ?I have attempted to show that there is a

defensible version of nationalism which?

occupies the ground between the ethnic and civic conceptions of the nation.

Our middle ground lies between the one hand, a national identity based on a

(presumed) common ethnicity, culture or ?blood?, and on the other hand, a

national identity based on ?the daily plebiscite?, i. e., on the voluntary

choice of individual men and women to form a union under some doctrine of human

rights and constitutional process.? We

have suggested that there is a basic human need to have an identity within a

cultural milieu, to be identified with a culture and a tradition in which the

sense of self emerges and is reinforced.?

Cultural nationalism represents a social ideal which is consistent with

basic democratic political institutions and a doctrine of human rights. When we

confront an actual historical situation of a particular state, it becomes

manifest that its history will bear upon the form of nationalism which is

appropriate to it and whatever limits need to be imposed on the appropriate

model.? In the case of Canada, the form

of nationalism that we find recognizes the historical reality of its ?founding

nations?, the Indigenous People, the French, and the English, as well as the

diverse groups of immigrants which make up the country.? I have suggested that this form of

nationalism is, and could be, a model for other states.? In the Baltics the situation has been

somewhat different.? They have suffered

through a tumultuous history in the 20th century involving periods

of military occupation, large scale deportations, forced colonization etc .? The form of nationalism that is found there reflects

those historical contingencies. It is with respect to such historical

contingencies that Latvia and the other Baltic states represent in a qualified

form the ideal of cultural nationalism.?

Nootens[20], drawing

upon the work of Will Kymlicka and others, helps us see that problems such as

those that face the Baltics require over and above a purely philosophical

analysis also a disinterested historical context. ????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?Cornelius Kampe ????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?Acadia University (The paper appears in Social

Philosophy Today, Vol. 16,?

pp.66-81) [1]? David Miller, On Nationality (Cambridge: Cambridge

University Press, 1995), 5. [2]? Ibid., 4. [3] Jocelyne Couture, Kai Nielsen and Michel Seymour, Rethinking Nationalism (Calgary,

University of Calgary Press, 1998) [4] Ibid., 7 [5] Andre Van de Putte, ?Democracy and Nationalism? in Rethinking Nationalism, eds. Jocelyne

Couture, Kai Nielsen and Michel Seymour, (Calgary: University of Calgary Press,

1998), 161-195. [6] Ibid., 167. [7] Frans De Wachter, ?In Search of a Post-National Identity: Who are

my People?? Couture, Nielsen and?

Seymour, 197-217. [8] Ibid., 214 [9] Yael Tamir, ?Theoretical Difficulties in the Study of Nationalism?

in Couture, Nielsen and? Seymour, 65-92 [10] Martha Nussbaum, ?Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism? in ed. Joshua

Cohen,? For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of? Patriotism?? (Boston:

Beacon Press, 1996). [11] Miller, 129 [12] Ibid., 129-30. [13] Ibid., 132. [14] Michael Walzer, On Toleration

(New Haven, Yale University Press, 1997), 2-3. [15] Charles Taylor, Multiculturalism

and the ?Politics of Recognition??

ed. Amy Gutmann (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1992), 34. [16] Miller, 129. [17] Ibid., 137. [18] Ibid., 138. [19] Ibid., 128. [20] Genevieve Nootens, ?Liberal Restrictions on Public Arguments: Can

Nationalist Claims be Moral Reasons

in Liberal Discourse?? in Couture, Nielsen and?

Seymour, 237-260. ?



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