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The Inner Frontier

The Place of Nation in the Political Theory of Democracy and Federalism


Ramon Maiz

In reaction to the «fear of nation», which is widely represented in most contemporary political theory of liberalism and republicanism, this book outlines the necessity of including a national dimension in any democratic theory capable of facing the challenges of our time. The aim of the volume is to offer the reader a new non-nationalist concept of nation that is compatible with the normative requirements of democracy. The author considers a wide range of material in order to overcome assumptions, concepts and supposed evidence that have been uncritically accepted and repeated since the nineteenth century. The book includes a comprehensive analysis of the intimate connection between state and nation in the work of two of the deepest thinkers about the history of political thought, who respectively tried to imagine a republic without a nation (Abbé Sieyès) and a nation without a republic (Johann Gottlieb Fichte).
The volume also exposes the undeniable empirical and theoretical shortcomings of the widespread notion that opposes civic and ethnic nationalism, as demonstrated by the historical nationalization of the Republic in France. At the same time, a constructivist analysis of nation as an open political process and a detailed examination of the discursive plurality of contemporary nationalism are developed. Finally, the author proposes a political theory that includes a concept of nation that is neither essentialist nor communitarian but federal and pluralist, and then integrates it into a wider normative proposal of plurinational federalism.


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CHAPTER 5 - The Normative Theory of Plurinational Federalism and the Non-nationalist Idea of the Nation 175


175 CHAPTER 5 The Normative Theory of Plurinational Federalism and the Non-nationalist Idea of the Nation “Federalism has provided a device through which different nationalities could unite, and while retaining their own distinctive national existence, attempt to create in addition a new sense of common nationality.” K.C. Wheare, “Federalism and the Making of Nations”, Federalism, Mature and Emergent, 1962 1. Introduction: Is a Modern Normative Theory of Federalism Necessary? The positive theory of federalism (of an empirical and comparative orientation) has blossomed in recent years. This blossoming has been driven, to a great extent, by neo-institutionalist and political economy approaches (Inman and Rubinfeld, 1997; Máiz and Beramendi, 2003; Rodden, 2004; Colino, 2005; Wibbels, 2006). It has entailed more than the mere development and perfectioning of traditional analyses – facili- tated by the availability of new models and theoretical tools – and has been rooted in reliable empirical evidence. Contemporary positivist theories of federalism, as opposed to the works of classic political thinkers – Althussius, Madison, Tocqueville – and current politico- economic theories and research relating to federal states (public choice theory, welfare economics, etc.), share an exceptional unanimity rooted in two significant ruptures. First, they are formulated from an openly positivist perspective (with an empirical orientation indebted to the most recent social sciences) and situate themselves at the margins of norma- tive issues which have thus far monopolized the debate. In turn, the extravagant assumptions underlying initial economic analyses (complete information on voters, on the responsibility of each level of government, on the...

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