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Kymlicka’s Contemporary Political Philosophy 18

July 14, 2017

The fourth and fifth groups, metics and racial caste groups, differ from the above in that they are only indirectly targeted by liberal nation-building. More specifically, where the former groups are included in the societal culture, metics and racial caste groups are excluded therefrom. To what strategy might the latter then have recourse in order to redress injustice from the majority culture?

Metics, be they irregular migrants or temporary workers, typically seek paths to citizenship and, ideally, would appeal to strategy 2.). Whether they do so in actuality remains an open question. That said, policies based on voluntary return are empirically unsound, so there is considerable incentive for liberal democracies to open paths to citizenship. As the author puts it:

“This is not only prudent, but morally required. For it violates the very idea of a liberal democracy to have groups of long-term residents who have no right to become citizens. A liberal-democratic system is a system in which those people who are subject to political authority have a right to participate in determining that authority. To have permanent residents who are subject to the state, but unable to vote, is to create a kind of caste system which undermines the democratic credentials of the state (Baubock 1994; Carens 1989; Walzer 1983; Rubio-Marin 2000).” (359)

Sooner or later, there comes a time when the person’s original terms of admission no longer matter, and they are for all intents and purposes loyal and productive members of society.

The case of racial caste groups, particularly African-Americans in the United States, seems a case apart. Contrary to metics, they have no origin country to which they would voluntarily return. For this reason, none of the standard strategies worked out above seems appropriate, and it is necessary to pursue a mixed strategy for this group. Such measures “may include historical compensation for past injustice, special assist- ance in integration (e.g. affirmative action), guaranteed political representation (e.g. redrawing electoral boundaries to create black-majority districts), and support for various forms of black self-organization (e.g. subsidies for historical black colleges, and for black-focused education)” (361). If certain of these seem in tension with others, this owes more to the complex life of African-Americans regarding the majority culture than to incoherent public policy.

This closes Kymlicka’s overview of minority groups, minority rights and strategies therefor. He summarizes:

“If we try to combine these different demands into a larger conception of ethnocultural justice, we can say that majority nation- building in a liberal democracy is legitimate under the following conditions:

(a) no groups of long-term residents are permanently excluded from membership in the nation, such as metics or racial caste groups. Every- one living on the territory must be able to gain citizenship, and become an equal member of the nation if they wish to do so;

(b) insofar as immigrants and other ethnocultural minorities are pressured to integrate into the nation, the sort of socio-cultural integration which is required for membership in the nation should be understood in a ‘thin’ sense, primarily involving institutional and linguistic integration, not the adoption of any particular set of customs, religious beliefs, or lifestyles. Integration into common institutions operating in a com- mon language should still leave maximal room for the expression of individual and collective differences, both in public and private, and public institutions should be adapted to accommodate the identity and practices of ethnocultural minorities. Put another way, the conception of national identity, and national integration, should be a pluralist and tolerant one;

(c) national minorities are allowed to engage in their own nation-building, to enable them to maintain themselves as distinct societal cultures.” (362)

When legitimately employed, nation-building gives rise to a complex dialectic with minority rights in which each successively makes demands on the other. Moreover, their combination allows for a kind of mutual justification: if nation-building justifies minority rights, these likewise justify the former.

At this point, the author pulls back to identify a common thread running through the three phases of the multiculturalism debate, namely, whether minority claims are just. In order for the supporter of multiculturalism to advance that end, Kymlicka deems a certain number of elements necessary. First:

“The first task confronting any defender of multiculturalism, therefore, was to try to overcome this presumption, and to show that deviations from difference-blind rules which are adopted in order to accommodate ethnocultural differences are not inherently unjust. As we have seen, this has been done in two main ways: (a) by identifying the many ways that mainstream institutions are not indiffferent [sic.] to people’s ethnocultural identities, but rather are implicitly or explicitly tilted towards the interests and identities of the majority group; and (b) by emphasizing the importance of certain interests which have typically been ignored by liberal theories of justice-e.g. interests in recognition, identity, language, and cultural membership.” (365)

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