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The Revival of Federalism in Normative Political Theory

  • Dimitrios Karmis
  • Wayne Norman

Abstract

In its most general sense, federalism is an arrangement in which two or more self-governing communities share the same political space. Citizens of federal states (or superstates, as in the case of the European Union) are members of both their subunit (sometimes called a province, canton, land or, confusingly, a state) and the larger federation as a whole. For a number of largely unrelated reasons, interest in both the theory and practice of federalism has exploded in the years following the collapse of Communism in Europe.

Keywords

Federal State Political Theory Political Theorist Federal System National Minority 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer contributed significantly to such debates with his famous speech of May 12, 2000. See Joschka Fischer, “De la confederation à la federation, réflexion sur la finalité de l’intégration européenne,” in Le nouveau débat sur l’Europe, ed., Hartmut Marhold (Nice: Presses d’Europe, 2002), pp. 176–189. For a French response to Fischer, see Hubert Védrine, “Réponse à Joschka Fischer,” in ibid., pp. 190–194. More generally, the opposition between a federal union and a union of nation-states has been a recurrent theme in the recent talks about the enlargement of Europe and the drafting of a European constitution.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Will Kymlicka and Wayne Norman, eds., Citizenship in Diverse Societies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).Google Scholar
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    A consequentialist argument is one that recommends a particular institutional arrangement not because of its intrinsic features (such as its fairness or its conformity to the demands of political equality) but because of the sorts of results or consequences it is likely to produce over the long run. For more on the structure of normative arguments for federal arrangements, see Wayne Norman, “Federalism and Confederalism,” in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed., Edward Craig (London: Routledge, 1998), volume 3, pp. 572–574; and “Towards a Philosophy of Federalism,” in Group Rights, ed., J. Baker (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994), pp. 79–100.Google Scholar
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    Among the first and most well-known versions of this thesis is Daniel J. Elazar’s in his Exploring Federalism (Tuscaloosa, Al.: University of Alabama Press, 1987).Google Scholar
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    On the meaning of foedus, see Bernard Voyenne, Histoire de Vidée fédéraliste, volume I, p. 27 and Solomon Rufus Davis, The Federal Principle: A Journey Through Time in Quest of a Meaning (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), pp. 215–216.Google Scholar
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    The eighteenth century was marked by the beginning of the fusion of the old language of republican patriotism with the new language of nationalism. For a critical overview of this process and a plea for “patriotism without nationalism,” see Maurizio Viroli, For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).Google Scholar
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    Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Discourse on Political Economy,” in Rousseau’s Political Writings (New York: W. W. Norton, 1988), p. 69.Google Scholar
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    Rousseau cited in Josep R. Llobera, The God of Modernity: The Development of Nationalism in Western Europe (Oxford: Berg, 1994), pp. 153–154.Google Scholar
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    Some evidence suggests that Tocqueville did not believe in the possibility of viable multinational federations. For example, although he knew the Canadian case, Tocqueville did not prescribe, or even really consider, a federal solution in any other case than the United States and Switzerland. And even in these two cases, he did not consider a federal system with Aboriginal peoples as an option in America, while he presented Switzerland as historical exception very unlikely to be reproduced (see Dimitrios Karmis, “Fédéralisme et relations intercommunautaires chez Tocqueville: entre prudence et négation des possibles,” Politique et sociétés 17:3 [1998], pp. 59–91).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    John C. Calhoun, “On the relation which the States and General Government bear to each other [The Fort Hill Address],” in The Works of John Calhoun, volume VI: Reports and Public Letters of John Calhoun (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1855), pp. 63–64.Google Scholar
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    John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, On Liberty, Considerations on Representative Government (London: J. M. Dent, 1993), p. 392.Google Scholar
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    Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, La fédération et l’unité en Italie (Paris: E. Dentu, 1863), p. 118 (our translation).Google Scholar
  43. 53.
    See notably Samuel LaSelva, The Moral Foundations of Canadian Federalism, chap. 1; and Will Kymlicka, Finding Our Way: Rethinking Ethnocultural Relations in Canada (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998), chap. 13.Google Scholar
  44. 56.
    See Supreme Court of Canada, Reference re Secession of Quebec, [1998] 2 S.C.R. 217, as well as commentary in Wayne Norman, “Domesticating Secession,” in Secession and Self-Determination, eds., Stephen Macedo and Allen Buchanan, NOMOS XLV (New York: New York University Press, 2003), pp. 193–237.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dimitrios Karmis and Wayne Norman 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dimitrios Karmis
  • Wayne Norman

There are no affiliations available

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