In Defense of Nonliberal Nationalism

Political Theory 34 (3):304-327 (2006)
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Although nonliberal nationalism has played a prominent role in previously and currently colonized nations of the Third World, its assessment by liberal political theorists has been less than favorable. These theorists believe that nonliberal nationalisms are bound to be oppressive to marginalized members, since they view nonliberal cultures, which such movements aim to protect and maintain, to be essentialist and static monoliths that do not recognize the fundamental value of individual rights. In this article, I defend nonliberal nationalisms of previously or currently colonized nations—what I call nonliberal polycentric nationalisms—by arguing that they can be morally justified, provided that they are democratic. This argument is supported by communitarian constructions of moral agency and culture, which show that nonliberal cultures hold emancipatory potential for the insiders who actively participate in the reconstruction of their national culture.

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Ranjoo S. Herr
Bentley College


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