Journal of Ethical Urban Living 2 (1):93-110 (2019)

There is an increasing turn to nationalism around the world. The advocacy of “America First” policies, the Brexit leave campaign in Britain, and recent elections in Poland and Hungary show evidence of a rise in nationalistic sentiments. One reason given to explain this rise in nationalism is that in an increasingly diverse world stability is not possible without close cultural links between members of society, and that a shared national culture can provide those links. Nationalists argue that a shared national culture is a necessary condition of creating social solidarity that creates social stability. However, the nationalist solution to creating social solidarity can be questioned on a number of counts. First, it relies on a conceptually problematic account of national identity that holds that national identity includes elements like a shared culture, a shared history, and a shared connection to a particular geographic territory. There are reasons to think that this type of account of national identity is closer to an account of ethnicity than an account of national identity. An ethnic nationalism is morally problematic as it contends that one can only have solidarity with those who share one’s ethnicity, and could be used to justify discrimination against ethnic minorities. Second, even if this is the correct account of national identity, it is not the case that a shared culture, a shared history, and a shared connection to a particular geographic territory are necessary or sufficient conditions for social solidarity. Finally, nationalist attempts to protect the national identity of a liberal democracy by restricting all immigration, may actually destroy the values, such as individual rights and limited government of that liberal democracy.
Keywords nationalism  liberal democracy  social solidarity  national identity  immigration
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