Limits and achievements of the nation-state
In this step, we consider Jürgen Habermas’s theory of ‘constitutional patriotism’.
Habermas is arguably Germany’s leading political theorist and critical theorist. His theory of constitutional patriotism proves relevant for our discussion on the future of the European nation-state.
Habermas’ contribution to the discussion on the nature and on the future of the nation-state provides us with a sound account of strengths and limitations of the nation-state. Habermas discusses the impact of modernisation and the collapse of the old feudal system (in which people were protected by kings, princes and other rulers in exchange for them working on the land) on the development of a European nation-state. He discusses the importance of nationhood in establishing a bond between various groups and solidarity and, consequently, democracy. At the same time, in line with constitutional patriotism, Habermas does not see cultural or ethnic homogeneity as a necessary condition for a successfully functioning constitutional democracy.
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