Posted by: Dirk | July 16, 2008

National Thought in Europe – The case of Belgium

Belgium is in trouble. The Economist already asks whether it is time to dissolve it. As it happens, I just read a book by Joep Leersen (National thought in Europe), who has a different idea. I cannot say whether he had Belgium on his mind while he wrote the last paragraph of the book (p. 251):

Given the increasing multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity of our societies, the state should, I suggest, abandon its old reliance on nationality as its enabling principle, and revert from the outworn ideal of the nation state to that of the civic state. Once the state moves into such a civic, post-national base, it may be on that basis, and with fresh credibility, expect and even claim a ‘constitutional patriotism’ from its citizens. The state has no call to incorporate any given specific cultural tradition. It has only the duty to maintain its laws and protect all citizens and cultures under its aegis from persecution, repression or discrimination. This may not in itself ensure absolute and ideal harmony; but then again, the pursuit of absolute and ideal harmony, even if it were not a chimera (which in any case could never be achieved by the ostrich-policy of national mono-culturalism), is not the duty of the state. The mere suppression of injustice and intolerance is already a sufficiently heavy task.

Since it is very likely that the members of the European Union will increase in cultural and ethnic diversity through more migration,  the problems of Belgium might be an example of things to come.

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