Home > Migration, Politics > Multinational Federalism: Territorial or Cultural Autonomy?

Multinational Federalism: Territorial or Cultural Autonomy?

Below is selection from Rainer Bauböck’s essay, Multinational Federalism: Territorial or Cultural Autonomy? The paper is available online from the School of International Migration and Ethnic Relations, Malmö University.

Excerpt:

One of the major tasks for theories of democracy is to reflect on what can be done to prevent conflicts between national and ethnic groups from turning nasty. As Rogers Brubaker (1998) has persuasively argued, in most cases there are no “solutions” for national conflicts, at least not in the sense of stable equilibriums of power or permanent arrangements that can be rationally endorsed by all sides. However, even if national conflicts may be intractable because there is so little common ground between irreconcilable claims, some arrangements may lead to a heating up of nationalist passions while others allow for a cooling down.

Occasionally it has been suggested that the nastiness comes from the nationalist craving for territory. The idea is roughly as follows: The modern state is a territorial monopoly of legitimate violence. Nationalists want to achieve self-government for their own nation. A universal principle of territorial self-determination for nations is a
recipe for endless war, because almost any given territory that could form a viable state can be claimed by many different national communities (Gellner (1983:1). However, if one adopts a ‘subjective’ definition of nations as communities of individuals who subjectively profess a national identity, then these communities’ desire for selfgovernment can presumably be satisfied more universally and more peacefully if they rule only over their members rather than over territory that includes people who do not see themselves as belonging to the same nation. Self-government for non-territorial nations appears to resolve the problems of rival claims, of contiguity and of size. The boundaries of constituencies are unambiguously defined by voluntary declaration of membership; there are no more exclaves and enclaves
because membership is no longer connected to territorial residence; and there is no obvious minimum size for viable self-government of groups that exercise no territorial sovereignty.

Read the complete text (PDF) >>

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Categories: Migration, Politics
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