On State, Identity and Rights: Putting Identity First

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The paper considers the nature of the state understood as the political unity articulated on the basis of a collective identity which provides the state with its capacity to make decisions. The foremost decision of the state to protect and defend this identity is the source of its authority to enforce laws. Collective identity thus represents an object of special interest, unlike both “political” interests (Millian other-regarding acts) and private interests (Millian self-regarding acts). The validation of laws through this special interest is a necessary condition for both of these latter kinds of interests to materialize. Hence, unlike the Millian thesis of two different kinds of interests (self- and other-regarding), here we take that there are three types or spheres of interests. Any conception of rights, then, will cover a subset of interests found in the domains of all of those three types of interests: in the domain of political interest the issue concerns selection among competing sets of legitimate interests, within the domain of private interests the point is to discern those that will be protected by law, while the third type of interests, the object of which is a unique collective identity and its defining specificity, represents an overarching interest that is embedded in any legitimate collective concern. In this scheme, well-suited for democratic theory, the majority/minority discourse is a matter of distinguishing which particular set of legitimate interests is chosen to be dominant (e.g., which political party is in power) and which ones are waiting for the opportunity to achieve their transformation from minority (opposition) to majority (i. e. government). If, however, there is no well-defined collective identity, minorities acquire a new meaning. Rather than being possible future majorities, they form a nucleus of competing collective identities with, sometimes hopeless but still alive, aspirations to sovereignty. Thus they become sources of likely conflicts that may go well beyond political controversies
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Archival date: 2016-08-04
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The Case for Pacifism.Norman, Richard

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