A pluri-national state? possibilities and limits of the nation state model to sustain a political community in a globalized world of nations

Autor:Peter Ehret
Cargo:Peter Ehret, PhD student at the Department of Philosophy of Law. University of Granada, Plaza de la Universidad, 1, 18071 Granada. milo95@correo.ugr.es.
Páginas:141-153
RESUMEN

Although it is founded on the universal rights of its citizens, the concept of the liberal state still resembles the monist nation state when focusing on its application in a political community. Consequently, pluri-nationalism questions the feasibility of liberal theory for the reasoned justification of a political community with free and equal citizens. Further, it addresses a central normative dilemma in liberal theory. On the one hand, liberalism emphasizes citizens’ active role in shaping their conditions for freedom. At the same time, it defends their protection from the public sphere as passive subjects of human rights. As a consequence, liberal theory divides up into a more contextualized view on social actions and an atomistic consideration of society based on positive recognition of abstract rights. In the face of this apparent dichotomy, this paper employs a “third way” between traditional liberal-democratic theory and more “communitarianist” approaches by stressing the significance of the state as the guarantor of a common legal community, which has to address its subjects of law in their individual and collective nature. The insights gained from the discussion on pluri-nationalism will contribute to reconcile these apparently oppositional approaches. It is demonstrated that both – instead of being competing conceptions – are rather two sides of the same coin. Key words: Nation state; liberalism; federalism; pluri-nationalism; Hegel.

 
CONTENIDO
A PLURI-NATIONAL STATE? POSSIBILITIES AND LIMITS OF THE NATION STATE
MODEL TO SUSTAIN A POLITICAL COMMUNITY IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD OF
NATIONS
Peter Ehret*
Abstract
Although it is founded on the universal rights of its citizens, the concept of the liberal state still resembles the monist
nation state when focusing on its application in a political community. Consequently, pluri-nationalism questions the

it addresses a central normative dilemma in liberal theory. On the one hand, liberalism emphasizes citizens’ active
role in shaping their conditions for freedom. At the same time, it defends their protection from the public sphere as
passive subjects of human rights. As a consequence, liberal theory divides up into a more contextualized view on
social actions and an atomistic consideration of society based on positive recognition of abstract rights. In the face
of this apparent dichotomy, this paper employs a “third way” between traditional liberal-democratic theory and more

which has to address its subjects of law in their individual and collective nature. The insights gained from the discussion
on pluri-nationalism will contribute to reconcile these apparently oppositional approaches. It is demonstrated that both
– instead of being competing conceptions – are rather two sides of the same coin.
Key words: Nation state; liberalism; federalism; pluri-nationalism; Hegel.
UN ESTAT PLURINACIONAL? POSSIBILITATS I LÍMITS DEL MODEL D’ESTAT NACIÓ PER
SOSTENIR UNA COMUNITAT POLÍTICA EN UN MÓN DE NACIONS GLOBALITZAT
Resum
Tot i estar fundat en els drets universals dels seus ciutadans, el concepte de l’estat liberal encara s’assembla a l’estat
nació monista quan s’intenta aplicar a una comunitat política. Conseqüentment, el plurinacionalisme posa en qüestió


actiu de la ciutadania en la formulació de les seves condicions de llibertat. Al mateix temps, denfesa la seva protecció
de l’esfera pública com a subjecte passiu de drets humans. En conseqüència, la teoria liberal es divideix en una visió
               
           

  
  
enfocaments aparentment oposats. Està demostrat que ambdues visions - enlloc de ser concepcions enfrontades - són
més aviat dues cares de la mateixa moneda.

* Peter Ehret, PhD student at the Department of Philosophy of Law. University of Granada, Plaza de la Universidad, 1, 18071
Granada. milo95@correo.ugr.es.

Recommended citation: Ehret, Peter (2018). A pluri-national state? Possibilities and limits of the nation state model to sustain a
political community in a globalized world of nations. .
Peter Ehret
A pluri-national state? Possibilities and limits of the nation state model ...
Revista Catalana de Dret Públic, Issue 57, 2018 142
Summary
1 Liberty and Nation – a “mirage of linguistic consensus”
2 The contradictions of the nation state model


5 Concluding remarks
References
Peter Ehret
A pluri-national state? Possibilities and limits of the nation state model ...
Revista Catalana de Dret Públic, Issue 57, 2018 143
1 Liberty and Nation – a “mirage of linguistic consensus”
“To say that the modern world is a ‘world of nations’ is both a reality and an aspiration” (Smith, 1988: 129) –
this judgment by Anthony Smith points out the ambiguous role of the nation in legitimizing political power.
On the one hand, the nation has monopolized the legitimacy of political institutions and their recognition
by international law (Smith, 1988: 1). On the other hand, there is never and will never be a full congruence
between a nation and the state regarding the people that inhabit it (Renner, 2015a: 27), according to a
pessimistic résumé made by Karl Renner in the context of the national upheavals in the Austria-Hungarian

have not improved, but have in fact become more complicated. As the nation has become the central subject
of independent political entities, the claim of constituting a proper nation along with its right to have a
proper state, has evolved to be the central argument of collective identities in search of political recognition

                
collective identity has not been settled yet by political institutions.

Requejo demonstrates, the underlying problem goes far beyond a supposed incomplete integration of national
entities in constitutional states. Its roots lie in our current understanding of the liberal constitutional order
itself. Neither political theory nor institutional practices have been emancipated from the concept of monist
state nationalism as the source of legitimizing political power. Thus, we cannot deduce the problem to the
normative premises of liberal democracy, but to the exclusivity of understanding liberal principles only
within a national context (Requejo, 2017: 72–80).
There is not only one liberal democratic theory. Indeed, there is some kind of “normative pluralism”
            
approach sheds light on the different dimensions of citizen’s rights in a democratic state. So far, as is to be
expected, theorists have come to different conclusions regarding the realization of people’s freedom in the

a more “neutralist” state regarding concrete values of society, the “moralist” theories put more emphasis
on the values existent in society, as well as on the normative foundation of the legal institutions. As each


This “mirage of linguistic consensus” (Requejo, 2017: 72) is especially true for democratic theories inspired
by Kantian liberalism. In particular, the “individualistic” emphasis of citizen’s rational virtues implicitly
resembles premises of a monist state nationalism, because reason is bound to a statist conception of truth
       
   
conception of legal justice, public good, and virtues. In that way, liberal freedoms become dependent on
particular cultural
issue for liberal democratic theory.

liberal rights and national identity. It is important to point out that the individualistic liberalism of Kant is not
the only way to reason a state founded on the recognition and protection of liberal rights. Hegel’s state model
anchored the political institutions in universal individual rights, too. By recognizing the inter-subjective
dimension of morality, however, the universal content of people’s rights is contrasted with the particular
ethicities (“Sittlichkeiten”) found in their immediate social environment. This opens the door for a more
contextualized vision of the social realities existent in a territory, making the protection of citizen’s rights
less dependent on pre-liberal cultural values and thus, facilitates a liberal reasoning of a pluri-national state.
Peter Ehret
A pluri-national state? Possibilities and limits of the nation state model ...
Revista Catalana de Dret Públic, Issue 57, 2018 144
The basic objective of this paper is a re-examination of classic pluri-national as well as value-pluralist theories
from this Hegelian perspective. This requires us not only to go beyond the traditional liberal approach, but

to the liberal paradigm. The problem of pluri-nationalism has also been addressed by thinkers within the
Marxist tradition. Their main reference is “Austro-Marxist” Otto Bauer, who concentrated on a Marxist
theorizing of the nation (Arzoz Santisteban, 2015: XIII) in his search for a balance between social democracy

the nation into social models of Marxism (Arzoz Santisteban, 2015: XXXVIII). By addressing the imminent
nationality question, their most prominent advocate widely referred to the thoughts of his less known fellow
campaigner Karl Renner. But in contrast to Bauer, Renner’s basic aim consisted in the juridical articulation
of his theory of national autonomy (Arzoz Santisteban, 2015: XIII). By focusing on the juridical idea of the
   
settled beyond the socialist models. This is why we have to understand the ideas of Karl Renner within
their proper historical context, i.e. the evolution of the constitutional state in Austria and the intentions of
    
compromise with Marxism becomes secondary. In effect, the essence of Karl Renner’s ideas is found in

Renner and other social-democratic authors federalism meant liberty – for individuals as well as for nations,
and for humankind in general (Arzoz Santisteban, 2015: XLII).
            
ideas. The partial emancipation of Karl Renner from his Marxist tradition allows us to also combine his
thoughts of pluri-national federalism with more liberal approaches on pluri-national society, especially the
value-pluralist theory of Isaiah Berlin. Berlin’s value-pluralist liberalism has already been used to address
   
alternative to the monist national determination of liberal state theory. Nevertheless, as Karl Renner pointed
out, juridical recognition might have an effect on how national identity understands itself. Thus, Requejo’s
emphasis on value-pluralist premises for federal theory must be completed by Karl Renner’s approach,
which stressed the primary juridical nature of the state and its possible effect on national identity. This is
in line with the abstract legitimation of the Hegelian state and its democratic reinterpretation by Jürgen
Habermas in his theory of rational discourse.
      
public institution defending constitutional rights, while at the same time it is founded on a common identity
from which its institutions emanate. Thus, the nation state turns out to be an ambiguous concept, if we take
into account the premise of the liberal state: a free community of equal subjects of law, which is based on
the principle of individual self-determination. This contradiction requires us to examine further the relation
       1 In his
accentuation of the sentimental component of nationalism, Isaiah Berlin has worked out the normative
relation between self-determination understood in terms of liberal theory and the proclaimed right of national
     
the nation is seen as an expression of individual liberty on a collective level. Turning back to the liberal state
          
particular identity. As demonstrated by Isaiah Berlin and Karl Renner, when founding its institution on the
freedom and rights of its citizens, a state has to rely on both.
However, this relation is far from being unproblematic. Nationality, when considered as an identity, has
to be envisaged into a wider focus on human beings’ search for social identity. Here, insights from the
                
       

its defender Lenin considered national self-determination as a mere strategical tool to gain support for his further political goals. At
the same time, other prominent Marxists like Rosa Luxemburg clearly rejected the secession of nations in homogeneous territories.

(2015: XLIV, XLVIII–XLIX).
Peter Ehret
A pluri-national state? Possibilities and limits of the nation state model ...
Revista Catalana de Dret Públic, Issue 57, 2018 145
cultural community. The contrasting of this normative foundation of the nation state with empirical insights
              
identities, among them national identities. This enables us to evaluate the proposals of communitarianist
corrections of liberal theory, which also address the liberty of citizens in its collective dimensions.
That leads us back to federalism and to concrete proposals for the institutionalization of the pluri-national
state in federal theory. As normative premises for pluri-national states interfere with existing theories and
practices of federalism, the third part will discuss, if and to what extent, the current nation states ought to be
reformed into institutions, which are more open to a pluri-national society. In order to get a more complete
vision on the problematic of current federations, the Hegelian thoughts on the juridical foundation of the
modern state are completed by the insights of Habermas on the relation between morality and law through
discursive action.
2 The contradictions of the nation state model
The reason why we have to rethink the relation between liberal principles and nation state lies in the
contradictory nature of the second of the two. If we understand the liberal foundation of the state as the
positive constitutional rights of citizens, there can be no collective value existing prior to the constitutional
values. Nevertheless, the imposition of the latter continues to be seen as a dependent variable of the former. In
other words, as long as there is no collective identity backing the institutional order, there will be no respect
for the constitutional norms by the population. There is some truth in this argument. As Hegel has pointed
     

under the term “the people” (Requejo, 2017: 70). As long as we take the national identity as a social resource
of political power and the political institutions as mere outcomes of the nation, there can be no constitutional





of the social reality. Recognition in the legal sphere requires an abstraction from the particular context in a
way that a person is in prima facie considered in their human nature, and not because of belonging to this or

The proposals of Karl Renner to solve the dilemma of the coexistence of the nationalities in the Austro-
    
      
its territorial domination in juridical terms. If destabilization and war were to be avoided, the coexistence of

the sovereign state as a juridical entity (Renner, 2015b: 100–108).

2015b: 100–108). Instead of governing in the general interest of all communities of the territory (Renner,
2015a: 27), the state would be abused to pursue the particular goals of the dominant national identity. Due
to the existence of various nations in the state territory, this would have meant subordination of the other
       

Renner the conversion of the factual power of the nations into juridical power was the condition sine qua
non
exclusively in juridical dimensions.
               
a degeneration of legal nature by the pure use of social coercion (Renner, 2015a: 100–101). The force
behind this power is the nation – a “people” with an active political character in search of self-determination
Peter Ehret
A pluri-national state? Possibilities and limits of the nation state model ...
Revista Catalana de Dret Públic, Issue 57, 2018 146
              
similarity of feeling and thinking within a determined group of people. This does not automatically imply a
political will (Renner, 2015a: 25). However, the second pillar of the nation is political and strongly related
to the upheavals of modernity. National movements could often be found in opposition to the universal

acting on behalf of its own initiative (Renner, 2015a: 81–88). This political dimension of the nation requires
further examination. The right of acting on one’s own initiative constitutes a crucial element of the liberal
paradigm, which has surged in the context of modern rationalization.
Isaiah Berlin worked out the contradiction, which lies in this liberal principle when interpreted in terms of
        

political interest, but in the romantic perception of self-realization. As every visionary has its own targets,
there is no mediation of the proper vision by reality, but a creation of reality by the proper vision (Berlin,

– the realization of self-determination resulted in the emergence of a multitude of national movements with

The interesting point here is the connection of the national movement to sentiments and ideas situated
outside the political level. The covering of this sentimental sphere and its undetermined “mythical roots”
of the identity was the reason why the impact, success, and endurance of nationalism were not foreseen by
the rationalist theories of the 19th century. The failure of rationalist theories to capture the importance of

This means that national self-determination has little to do with the rationalist assumption of liberal self-
determination. In fact, the contrary is true. Nationalist feelings are often guided against a rational organization,
       
              
neutral formula of law in order to safeguard individuals from the exclusive consideration of their particular
physical nature or cultural backround. By contrast, the nationalist ideology gives absolute priority to those

these elements are defended against all other sources of authority and loyalty on the basis of their suggested
superior nature (Berlin, 1990: 57).
This, however, does not mean that there should be no reconciliation between national identity and individual
 
and which one belongs to the nation. Renner did not negate that the total will of the state should be imposed
by the particular will of the cultural entities. These entities were the nations on sub-state level. The state,
by contrast, as legitimated in its territorial sovereignty by the general will of the whole population, could
not rely exclusively on a sole national identity, but on mechanisms seeking for the reconciliation of the
social identities existent in its territory through rational mediation by law. This was, according to Renner,
the reason, why the law of the modern states had originally emerged after the confessional wars of Europe
(Berlin, 1990: 9–25).
The nation state that followed as a historical reality, however, was far from being the natural outcome of a
rational order, where the liberal principles of modernity are realized through the self-determination of the
nation. Neither the national sentiment as such nor the exclusive reduction of the juridical sphere of the state
to the political will of self-determining nations have anything to do with a liberal understanding of self-
determining individuals in a rational state. According to Renner, the liberty of nations and individual citizens
can only be guaranteed by a juridical sphere situated beyond the particular will of the nation, because the
former is legitimized through the general will of the population, while the latter is not (Renner, 2015a: 25).
Renner distinguished between the general will of the population and the particular interest of the nation. This
distinction was based on the particularity of the latter. As is assumed by its own proponents, a political nation,
2 Berlin addresses the same issue with a different approach in  (Berlin, 1990).
Peter Ehret
A pluri-national state? Possibilities and limits of the nation state model ...
Revista Catalana de Dret Públic, Issue 57, 2018 147
       
      
             
together in the modern nation state, aspirations of liberty segued into a paradoxical union of modern rational
organization and an anti-rational mythological self-righteousness of romantic feelings (Berlin, 2009d: 277–
      

does not resemble a remedy for integrating the population into a political community founded on the liberal
principle of freedom.
3 The pluri-national state – a solution of the national state dilemma?
The nation state apparently solved the central dilemma of legitimation of political power in modernity. The
crucial question was how to integrate the factual power of the modern state into a normative foundation,

     
legitimacy they had lost in the upheavals of modernity, beginning with the confessional wars and ending


vision of political legitimacy, expressed by the nation, with the older concept of juridical mediation and so
he dismissed the nation state as an inadequate concept for organizing social reality. But even if we are able
to reason – as Karl Renner did – the state as a juridical entity legitimized through the coexistence of various
national identities, this does not automatically mean that people are willing to accept this kind of institutional

understanding as to why national identity has become so important to people in modernity.
            
identity. Nevertheless, this does not mean that there are absolutely no useful rational elements found in
         
           

have, as religions did before, successfully captured people’s attention, because they were able to address
desires central to human nature. Thus, nationalism cannot be deconstructed as a solely irrational outcome of
disoriented subjects in modern life.
  
never operated independently from their social environment. This is why there can be no concept of freedom
  

of subjective nature and objective reality in the sense of being perceived from outside in the way individuals
perceive themselves, in their conscious awareness, as humans. Nevertheless, by pursuing their own goals in
the outside world, the pure subjective visions of individuals “rationalize” their world views, because they
have to adapt partially to the circumstances found in their social environment – and this is where social

The factor of social recognition leads us to important renovations of the model of liberal democracy. Due
to the existence of particular social contexts, liberal rights do not only have an individual dimension, but
also a collective one. Consequently, the right to human dignity might go far beyond the recognition of a
human in its individual nature, and into an acknowledgement of collective identity by the institutions. This
        
 
Smith demonstrated that nationalism adopted a discourse on social integration that can be found long before the occidental incidence
in the modern age. This explains why the phenomenon of nationalism is global and able to combine with other forms of loyalties
even of pre-modern nature, for example religious identities (Smith, 1988). Regarding the combination of nationalist sentiments with
.
Peter Ehret
A pluri-national state? Possibilities and limits of the nation state model ...
Revista Catalana de Dret Públic, Issue 57, 2018 148
   
outside world (Requejo, 2017: 68). So, there are, as is to be expected, various systems of values rising
out of human action. Notwithstanding, as a modern thinker, Hegel still sought to identify one common
particular spirit in every community (“) holding these value systems together and guiding them
onto a universal essence of being. By contrast, as Isaiah Berlin demonstrated, the existing value systems of

often be “reasonable” discrimination between values within cultures or even within individual convictions.
This does not mean, however, that reason does not play any role in the prioritization process and its
interpretation of values during social interaction (Requejo, 2017: 67). This is why Berlin also favored some
sought of accommodation between the different value systems (Berlin, 2009e: 96), even if the hierarchic
ordering of the social structure of a community disappears. This makes liberal state theory more feasible for
a society seen as a melting pot of different cultural communities.
As Requejo points out, reasoning a pluri-national state requires us “to put Berlin inside Hegel” (Requejo,
                
legitimacy of liberal-democratic polity” (Requejo, 2017: 72). If we wish to safeguard the recognition of
collective identity in the long term, collective rights alongside individual rights, regulated in a similar way as
those on an individual level, are the only way to pursue this goal (Requejo, 2017: 72–80).
           
collective identity, we cannot rely anymore on the premise that an institutional order built on liberal principles
needs to evolve from a single collective identity capable of pursuing the imposition of law. To be able to deal
peacefully with the social reality found in the state, it should be rather the other way round – a constitution
based on the recognition between
“people” as a public right expressing the belonging to a state with a guarantee to receive equal legal treatment
(Renner, 2015a: 16).
Renner deduced this right from a suggested existence of a cultural community; held together by common
ways of thinking and feeling. Thus, Renner’s nation constituted free association of persons and in its essence,
relied on elements facilitating this association, like language, cultural expression, conviction, etc. In this
respect, he acknowledged that nations are not a closed cultural community. Indeed, as its members are
mixing with one another, as is the case in all natural societies, the decision of belonging to a nation had to
rely on a voluntary base (Renner, 2015a: 15). Nevertheless, when discussing their role in the state, Renner
did not turn away from demanding a national identity from every citizen of the state (Renner, 2015a: 25–26).
  
        
identity. Second: culture in itself as a prerequisite for collective identity of any kind is a vague and ambiguous
concept.
As sociological investigation has shown, the reality of cultural and class issues is much more complex
than that. An individual does not simply act in a determined manner because of coming from this or that
cultural background. Indeed, cultural preconditioning or ethnic value systems are – like class – one factor
among many others in explaining the behavior of people in their social environment. It seems that intragroup
differences are even larger than intergroup differences. Thus, a shared culture is simply not a legitimate
   
national state based on the determination of a shared cultural or class identity of a group may even be a
dangerous assumption. The crucial question rather seems to be how individuals give sense to their lives
(Lamond & Small, 2008: 79–81).

of negative liberty by Isaiah Berlin. In that sense, negative liberty is the absence of obstacles and chains
 In this context, it is worth remembering the governance practiced by the authoritarian socialist rule in Eastern Europe and the
Soviet Union, and their treatment of the “nationality question”. Instead of creating a cosmopolitan legal community of equals, the
recognition of the national identity as secondary to the identity of state citizen led in fact to an “ethnicization” of social life. See also:

Peter Ehret
A pluri-national state? Possibilities and limits of the nation state model ...
Revista Catalana de Dret Públic, Issue 57, 2018 149
          
(Requejo, 2017: 72) taking into account the importance of social recognition, we have to address this negative
liberty in its collective dimensions. In other words, institutions have to allow a continuous reformulation of
collective identity by the subjects of law. This is why the state’s primary target as a guarantor for social
      different social entities are enabled to

In this sense, the liberal lecture of the concept of equality has evolved into a more complex and contextualized
          
            
        
the immediate environment, where cultural life is produced and reproduced (Sánchez Matito, 2017: 12).
 
to the values appreciated in every social context of society.
              
 
constitutional order. Belonging to a nation in a pluri-national state is a voluntary decision taken by citizens in
liberty (Renner, 2015a: 15). This liberty has to be guaranteed in a negative and a positive way, i.e. the access
of public rights must not depend on this or that nationality, but on the constitutional acknowledgement of
individual decision. In line with the communitarianist correction of liberal theory, we have to admit that the
relation between political institutions and social environment is continuously changing. This requires public

subjects of its law.
This is indeed in line with the case studies regarding the liberal political communities challenged by
polyethnicity. According to Alain Gagnon and Raffaele Iacovino:
“a balance must be struck between the  as active constituents of the
larger political community and the need for a  , for the purposes of unity – a
center that also serves as a marker of identity in the larger society and denotes a pole of allegiance for all
citizens.” (Gagnon & Iacovino, 2005: 28).
To sum up: In principle, pluri-nationalism means relativizing the power of one national group in relation to
the others within shared political institutions. But even if we might expect various nations to be acknowledged
by constitutional order, the foundation of the political legitimacy onto the pluri-national identity may only
have sense if pluri-nationalism is interpreted within the premise of an individual decision to belong. By

to a value going beyond the particular identity of any nation found in the state.
4 Federalism beyond the nation state
The idea of the pluri-national state also has fundamental implications on the organization of the state. This is
where federalism comes into play. However, neither federal theory nor practice, have been able to provide an

recognition of national pluralism in federations with a greater degree of stability and democratic quality
(Requejo, 2017: 70–75). Nevertheless, as:
“the 21st century may be witness to political movements in favor of regarding national minority demoi as
polities that wish to preserve as much collective negative liberty as possible in an increasing globalized world
[…] federal theory and practice would be advised to pay more attention to these movements than they have
done in the past” (Requejo, 2017: 75).
In other words, the contemporary challenges to democracy require the opening up of federal structures to
separate varied nation-building processes coexistent in the territory. This requires not only the opening of the
existing institutions to the social realities of the territory, but a move to a more confederate structure relying
Peter Ehret
A pluri-national state? Possibilities and limits of the nation state model ...
Revista Catalana de Dret Públic, Issue 57, 2018 150
on pragmatic agreement. In some cases, even the right of secession should be legally guaranteed (Requejo,

However, there are problems too, if we might understand these events within the liberal paradigm. Remember
that proponents of pluri-nationalism call for collective rights organized alongside individual rights regulated
in a similar mode to those on an individual level (Requejo, 2017: 72–80). It is not clear which of these two
categories of rights should be given priority in a particular case. Though recognizing collective rights as
complementary to individual rights, Requejo says little about the problem of repressive communitarianism
based on identity (Schmalz-Bruns & Hitzel-Cassagnes, 2009: 21), i.e. when collective rights produce negative
effects on individual freedom and values. In this respect, his approach has not really been emancipated from
           
nation by various nations. Thus, the conceptual problem of the nation as such is only partially addressed.
The fact that a reduction of individuals belonging to a particular culture is simply not possible seems to be
ignored. Individuals require legal protection against cultural categorization, while at the same time they
might need positive recognition of their cultural identity by law. How could a federal structure reconcile this
apparent contradiction between individual rights and the positive recognition of cultural pluralism?
This leads us to Habermas’s analysis of the relation between moral principles and law. According to Habermas,
only the prior recognition of abstract individual human nature allows us to formulate contextualized collective
rights for determined groups. Habermas acknowledges that there may be a difference between existing law
and moralist conceptions in certain contexts. However, these moral conceptions do not evolve independently
from the juridical framework that surrounds them. Along the same lines, remember that Requejo, too, assumes
the morality of law by criticizing the monist national paradigm of the existing federations and constitutional

  
between legal codes and moral concepts (Habermas, 1998: 661–662).

of the discourse on human rights. Albeit having been formulated in the interest of a particular group, its
    
In this process, law was not only opened up to a complex understanding of equality and liberty, but the
contextual discourse in itself lead to the recognition of people in their abstract nature as humans, independent



of human rights, but in fact a strong interdependent relation.

it acknowledges the right of peoples to identify themselves with a collective value. At the same time, its
subjects are protected from the negative effects coming from cultural categorization. In this way, people are
primarily considered as individuals. At the same time, the diversity of their personal identities is recognized
in this abstract value. This leads us back to Hegel and his emphasis on abstract legitimation of the state
founded on constitutional protection of individual rights.

              
manifestation of social movements due to the fact that the persistence of its institutions rely on 
             
              
abstract point of view of human nature. This is why legal recognition leads to a consideration of the people in
their abstract nature as individuals. Therefore, the institutional order of a state is legitimated through values
         
    

Peter Ehret
A pluri-national state? Possibilities and limits of the nation state model ...
Revista Catalana de Dret Públic, Issue 57, 2018 151
Understood in Hegelian terms, contemporary nation states cannot be considered exclusively as institutionalized
socio-historical entities. As legal entities, states are to be considered also in their constitutional character.

identities found in their territory. This leads us back to liberal constitutional values, which – being a purpose
in itself – constitute the legal point of reference for social movements to reclaim their collective rights.
               
nature as a human being, the constitution of a nation state is already going beyond any national identity.
Constitutionalism represents – in its legal institution – a value in itself. This enables national minorities
to seek recognition and legal guarantees within a wider understanding of a constitutional demos. Thus,
              
implication that recognition of a demoicratic community can only be achieved through – and within – the
constitutional order of the existing state.
5 Concluding remarks
Pluri-nationalism has not been established in constitutional democracies yet. Nevertheless, the tension
between national majorities and national minorities will constitute one of the major challenges for established
constitutional democracies in the 21st century.
In this respect, this paper discussed the few approaches that have been made so far to overcome the dilemma
of the national response to the social changes induced by modern life.
      
both emancipatory elements and sentimental driving forces. Contrary to its proper ideological concept,
        
right of national self-determination rather expresses anti-rational mythological self-righteousness.

recognition. This required us to critically question the dominance of one national identity in a state territory
when national identities do not coincide. In this context, cultural categorization turns out to be a dangerous
concept to legitimize political institutions. Thus, pluri-nationalism cannot constitute the normative fundament
if we accept Berlin’s premise of negative liberty. That means that citizens have to be able to articulate their
political goals without confronting obstacles in a shared public sphere. This stands in contradiction to a pluri-
national state based on clear categorizations along cultural lines.
This leads us to individual citizenship as the keystone of collective articulation of its universalist content
       
               
human nature. Only legal guarantees of individual citizenship can provide the discursive point of reference
for national identities seeking recognition by the state. This position is in line with Hegel, who saw the state
legitimized in its institutions beyond the particular identity of the population. Thus constitutionalism and
pluri-nationalism are dependent rather than contradictory to each other.
As a consequence, the only way for a pluri-national federation to become reality is through and within the
constitutional order of the already existing nation states. This means at the same time, that the constitutional
legitimation of the nation state requires citizenship to be emancipated from its exclusive determination by
one national identity.
Peter Ehret
A pluri-national state? Possibilities and limits of the nation state model ...
Revista Catalana de Dret Públic, Issue 57, 2018 152
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Ethnicity today? , 18
Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts. Ditzingen: Reclam.
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(p. 76–102). 
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. 
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Plurinational democracies, federalism and secession. A political theory approach.

 El Búho. Revista Electrónica de
, (15), 10–22.
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. Translation
