Civic Nationalism & Ethnic Nationalism


1. Ignatieff compares two types of Nationalism, according to the nature

of “belonging”


A.   Civic nationalism


1. Nationhood is defined by common citizenship


A. A civic nation consists of all those who subscribe to its

political creed.


              --regardless of ethnicity

--or race, color, religion, gender, language


B. A civic nation is in principle a community


--of equal, rights-bearing citizens

--united in patriotic attachment

--to a shared set of political practices and values.

e.g. legitimacy of 1960s civil rights movement in USA


C.  A civic nation is “democratic” in the sense that


--it vests sovereignty in all of the people (all citizens);

--a civic nation-state claims self-governing rights and rights for its citizens

 vis a vis other nation-states


D. Civic nationalism is exemplified by creation of British

nation-state in the late 18th century


--out of the English,

the Welsh, the Scots, and the Irish


--united by a civic rather than an ethnic definition

of belonging


--& by attachment to civic institutions like Parliament

& the rule of law


--How is the "United Kingdom" distinguished from the

former "British Empire"?



E. Civic nationalism is also exemplified by the French and

American revolutions


1. Which created the French and American republics


B. And put forth civic nationalism as a world embracing project


          --The USA preaches its version of civic nationalism

around the world

"we hold these truths to be self-evident….."


B.     Ethnic nationalism


1. Nationhood is defined by language, religion, customs & traditions


2. According to ethnic nationalists,


--it is not the state that creates the nation but

the nation that creates the state


          --The glue that holds people together is

     --Not shared political rights

--but pre-existing ethnic characteristics


3. European ethnic nationalism  

is exemplified by Germany's reaction to Napoleon’s invasion in 1806


--And Germany's "Romantic" reaction against

the French ideal of the nation-state


4. The German ideal of ethnic nationalism appealed to the peoples

 of 19th century Europe who were under imperial domination


     --Poles & Baltic peoples under the Russian Empire

      --Serbs under Turkish rule (Ottoman Empire)

      --Croats under the Habsburgs (Austro-Hungarian Empire)


C. Some contrasts between civic & ethnic nationalism


Civic Nationalists             Ethnic Nationalists

emphasize                         emphasize                    Examples


Law                                               Common roots ("blood")      Citizenship

Choice                                          Inheritance                             "born into"

Rational attachment                    Emotional attachment           supreme court, flag

Unity by consent                          Unity by ascription                 town hall, tribe

Democratic pluralism                 Ethnic majority rules              CA, Singapore

Liberty                                          Fraternity                                ALCU, homeland

Individual creates nation             Nation creates individual      founding myths


D. Civic nationalism is the more "realistic” source of belonging

Than ethnic nationalism, Ignatieff believes


1. Common ethnicity helps people unite against ethnic others but


--it doesn't help overcome other divisions

--such as class, gender, and scarce resources


               2. Civic nationalism provides the framework in law, political

participation & legislative possibilities to reconcile divisions


     3. Nonetheless, ethnic nationalism is the world's primary language

of belonging today, Ignatieff believes.



Tower of Babel

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