The formation of states as nations implies the cultural definition of an ethnic majority. Within the concept of ‘nation’ is the idea of who and what comprises the nation. In an ancestral or biological sense of the nation, either multi-ethnicity within the nation is excluded or minority ethnicities are perceived as being less than full members.
(Fenton 1999) ‘The concept of a nation, defined by ancestry, religion or language will necessarily include and exclude others. ‘ 2 The concept of the ethnic majority also brings with it the concept of the minority. Ethnic ideologies can define nations, so ethnicity can define citizenship within nations and a civic nationalism arises when we witness cultural debates that come to surface in discussions of names for places, buildings and events.
Languages are suppressed, defended or promoted because people sense that a language is an item of culture which symbolises the value accorded to a whole population who have a ‘shared sense of fate. ‘3 This is important in explaining civic nationalism. Nationalism has got everything to do with ethnicity. The difficulty in the concept of a ‘multi-cultural’ society is the incorporation of the idea that cultures are all equal in worth as well as existing side by side in mutual respect.
Taking ethnicity as peoples from different cultures, religious background and countries then we consider this question in the light that no modern nation is without national minorities owing to the growth in globalisation with the flow of economy and multi-national corporations across territorial boundaries which bring in a cosmopolitan heterogeneous culture to every country worldwide nowadays making civic nationalism the product of many ethnicities that forms one single dominant ethnicity from combined rights for minorities and the majority.
There are different meanings attached to civic nationalism also, one is more extreme than the other but nowadays, it is the general consensus that there is one people in a nation including different peoples from different cultures which make up this unifying people of the nation. In this sense, ethnicity is important for civic nationalism but on the other and civic nationalism can be, as Smith clearly emphasises’, the idea of ‘the people’ as being one specific dominant group which overrides the nation. This sort of nationalism does not involve any idea of ethnicity in its definition.
The traditional understanding of civic nationalism the that the civic nationalists expect its citizens to respect for the nation in which they live, and to instill loyalty and respect for the nation’s values and principles but Kymlicka makes sure to distinguish civic nationalism from patriotism. In relation to the national state, the individual is a citizen with civic rights and duties and receives the benefits of modernity through an impersonal and impartial bureaucracy. Hence the nationalism of the national state is bureaucratic and civic.
Also necessary for the definition of the civic nation is the recognition that the people are citizens and ethnic members. When this works fully, there is no tension between the civic and ethnic components because culture and citizenship nourish each other and then the full potential of the nation is recognised. (Smith ‘nations and nationalism in the global era. ‘) It is when the power balance shifts between the dominant ethnie and the national minority that multi-cultural society does not work and citizenship and ethnicity are brought into conflict.
For civic nationalisms demand the surrender of ethnic community and individuality, the privatisation of ethnic religion and culture as a price for receiving citizenship and its benefits. It is not only ethnic communities that are demanding greater representation and rights within the nation but also civic nationalisms which may demand the eradication of minority cultures and communities on the assumption not just of equality through uniformity but that ‘high culture’ and ‘great nations’ are of greater value than ‘lower culture’ or the culture of ethnic groups.
(Smith) This vision of the nation state is limited since the dominant model of the nation state seeks to build a culturally and politically homogenous unit, most states are multi ethnic and multi-cultural whose communities have different views. This diversity has given rise to very vocal demands from ethnic groups for the recognition and support for their particular identity and culture. This is not surprising considering civic nationalisms devalue ethnic cultures or minorities and does so consciously and deliberately.
Some national states are unlikely to give in easily to demands from their ethnic minorities. In, for example, Canada, governments have worked hard to accommodate the requests from ethnic groups. (Smith) In place of the preoccupation with homogeneity that characterises dominant models of the nation state, including the liberal ideal of civic nationalism, Taylor and Carens suggest a different model of ‘liberal democratic citizenship that seek to recognise multiple forms of belonging to the political community and overlapping identities and citizenships.
‘ (Baumeister 2003) On Taylor and Carens’s model, they suggest that individuals from minority groups should be granted collective group rights so that they are part of the state as members of their cultural or national group. This they label ‘deep diversity’ or the ‘communitarianist’ point of view which accept that cultures should have their own laws to protect their traditions. (Wieviorka 1998) so the membership of the relevant cultural or national group becomes the primary focus of political identity.
If this is to occur, then it may be difficult to obtain political stability for if multi-culturalism or differentiated citizenship is to succeed, it must answer questions surrounding political stability and the equality of citizens. (Baumeister 2003) Multi-culturalism depends on ethnic communities not enjoying a wide range of unifying myths of origin but that they exist within an overriding national legal and political framework as well as participating in political and cultural spheres. This system can be seen in Canada. In Quebec, there has been a commitment to multi-culturalism and the ideal of a polyethnic nation.
However the problems with this ‘plural’ model or model of ‘deep diversity’ or ‘communitarianism’ are rife. Compared with the civic and ethnic models, it has only recently obtained support in national states such as Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand (Smith). ETHNIC AND MULTI-C DIFFERNETIATION Where former dominant ethnic groups have established the linguistic, legal and educational framework, the national identity of the nation changed because of the influx of other ethnic nationalities as immigrants who changed the character of the national community and pluralised its former identity.
The central difficulty of the multi-cultural nation is seen through its inability to secure political stability after abandoning both the ethnic model and the civic uniformity model. It is difficult to see what common good the state will secure. The liberal regime which is meant to include a multi-cultural society can exist in different contexts. For states must make decisions about which official language to use, which public holidays to observe and how to draw internal boundaries.
Since these decisions reflect the norm of the majority culture, they tend to place ethnic minorities at a disadvantage. The majority culture is allowed to shape the public domain and is therefore perceived as ‘normal’ with the minority being ‘different. ‘ This may lead to a lack of confidence or self-esteem for those in the minority which makes it difficult for them to become functioning participants in society.
(Baumeister 2003) Kymlicka has argued that minorities should be granted group-specific cultural rights in order to ensure that the autonomy of all citizens is protected equally (Kymlicka 1998. ) He says that ethnic groups wish to integrate into larger society and to be accepted as full members of it. Their aim is not to become a separate and self governing nation but want larger society’s institutions and laws to be modified to make mainstream society more accommodating of cultural differences.
He also states the link between civic nationalism and multi-culturalism in explaining that a country which contains more than one nation (a nation being a ‘people’ or ‘culture’) and a country that contains more than one nation is not a nation-state but a multination state where the smaller cultures form ‘national minorities. ‘ The formation of a multination state arises voluntarily when different cultures agree to form groups for their mutual benefit. (Kymlicka 1998. ) and there are many countries throughout the world who are multinational including pre-existing and previously self governing cultures.