Patriotic Loyalty for plural Societies: from Liberal Nationalism to Constitutional Patriotism Cover Image

Патриотска приврженост за плурална друштва: од либералног национализма ка уставном патриотизму
Patriotic Loyalty for plural Societies: from Liberal Nationalism to Constitutional Patriotism

Author(s): Nikola Beljinac
Subject(s): Politics of History/Memory, Politics and Identity, Identity of Collectives
Published by: Центар за хуманистичке науке »Синтезис«
Keywords: patriotic loyalty; constitutional patriotism; liberal nationalism; neo-republicanism; citizen allegiance; ethno-cultural pluralism;

Summary/Abstract: The problem of belonging strongly affects daily life in existing liberal democracies. Undoubtedly, the states whose population is divided according to ethnic and/or religious affiliation face a highly demanding task: it is necessary to deal with the challenge of political integration and social cohesion, establish a solid constitutional democracy, and encourage citizen loyalty, solidarity and allegiance, all at the same time. To put it shortly, a state should be a true home for everyone who lives in it. Several schools of contemporary political theory have tried to offer a solution to this problem, three among which are the most influential: liberal nationalism, neo-republicanism, and constitutional patriotism. Each of these three has aimed to find the answer to the following question: what should be the object of the patriotic loyalty of citizens in plural societies and in what way should the loyalty be realized in practice? The first part of this question refers to the object of patriotic loyalty, while the continuation refers to its nature. I believe that the theoretical positions of liberal nationalism and neo-republicanism suffer from the same drawback: they relate patriotism to a fixed object of loyalty, which leads to the essentialization of a single substantive conception of the good. Consequently, individuals and groups whose conceptions of the good do not correspond to the proclaimed object of patriotic loyalty are subject to condemnation and exclusion, and in the most extreme cases to various forms of assimilation. My position is that constitutional patriotism is normatively superior in comparison to any version of liberal nationalism and new republicanism, because constitutional patriotism does not look for justification in a fixed object of loyalty. Furthermore, I believe that constitutional patriotism should be understood as a theoretical perspective which radically reshapes the anatomy of patriotic loyalty by superimposing the nature of this loyalty to the issue of its object, in contrast to liberal nationalism and new republicanism, according to which the nature of patriotic loyalty is derived from a fixed object - the nation or republic. In other words, the issue of the object of patriotic loyalty in constitutional patriotism results from the previous considerations of the way in which patriotism should be practiced, which could lead to more appropriate political outcomes regarding the encouragement of patriotic emotions in citizens who do not share the same conception of the good. This in no way means that constitutional patriotism cannot or does not consider necessary to resolve the issue of the object of patriotic loyalty, as is claimed by both the critics and some proponents of this concept. What constitutional patriotism represents is a reversal of the hierarchy of normative justification in favour of patriotic loyalty. Patriotism is in this way separated from the comprehensive objects of loyalty and placed in the field of political legitimity, which reduces the need for citizens to give up on their particular identities. It is important to point out here that the reference point of patriotic loyalty lies neither in liberal-democratic procedures, nor in a particular political environment which embodies universal morality, as suggested by Habermas’s conception of constitutional patriotism. It rather lies in the context of communal life which is created when constitutional patriotism is practiced. Such theory of constitutional patriotism is in terms of its motivation more complete than Habermas’s conception. Although liberal-democratic procedures provide us with directions as to how we should be loyal (defining the nature of patriotic loyalty), they are in themselves nevertheless unable to provide the answer to the question what the object of loyalty, i.e. patria is.

  • Issue Year: V/2013
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 101-119
  • Page Count: 19
  • Language: Serbian