Q&A on Civic Nationalism

What is Civic Nationalism?

Civic nationalism is a form of nationalism based on ideological alignment rather than economic, cultural, or ethnic lines.

In a civic nation there is no citizenship by birthright – even native born children are not citizens until they reach adulthood and apply. The point is to make citizenship a choice, and the choice is based on the individual’s ideas and beliefs about the proper role of government. All applicants are held to the same standard in that regard.

In the case of a native born child who comes of age, but fails the testing and doesn’t meet the standards or chooses not to join, then they would not become a citizen. There should be ample education and encouragement for children to become citizens of course, so there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to pass if they really agreed with the system and wanted to be a part of it.

Will the requirement for agreement lead to thought-policing, echo chambers, and indoctrination?

On the contrary, civic nationalism is the concept of a nation of ideas, and must therefore embody a respect for ideas.

For this reason, the education of children in civics should not be indoctrination, as the goal is actually to reach an informed consent when and if they choose to join, for which knowledge of alternative systems and other arguments would be invaluable.

Moreover, citizens have an inviolable right to freedom of thought and freedom of speech, and, most importantly, freedom to exit. If someone changes their mind and no longer agrees with the fundamental principles of the system, then they are free to renounce their citizenship at any time, and so there is no need for thought-policing.

Why not base the nation on cultural lines?

Why should that common culture need to be tied to the government per se? Under a civic nationalist system, there can be strong common culture among people in a given area. In a free country, any kind of society or institution can be formed, whether it’s in a town or a whole region, with its own rules, standards, and culture.

What the civic nationalist system intends to recognize is that there is a separation of concerns – the government is for one specific kind of purpose: the defense of people’s rights and the institution of justice – and that is all the government per se is concerned with, whereas private organizations are thereby free to fulfill all other kinds of concerns, including cultural, religious, and so on.

So this civic nation can be a kind of alliance amongst all different areas and kinds of people, who may be very different and disagree on many things, but who all choose to lay down arms on the issue of the use of force, and agree to a limited government whose sole purpose is justice and defense

If this kind of system were voted in, what happens to non-citizens who already live in the area? Are they forcibly removed?

There is not always a necessity to forcibly remove non-citizens from a country. Peaceful people, perhaps citizens of another country, can potentially be either tourists or residents, and the renunciation of citizenship for example does not automatically mean the loss of property in the country, either. A rights-respecting nation wouldn’t go around arbitrarily seizing people’s private property just because they don’t agree. This is especially true for people who share a common heritage, common culture, and common language and so on, as people who live in the same area often do.

The main issue in dealing with non-citizens who want to be in the area is with maintaining the security of the citizens, and with the establishment of a legal agreement with non-citizens. But establishing basic legal agreement to follow the laws, without having full citizenship status, is certainly possible. That’s how things like visas, extradition treaties, etc. exist.

People often think this sort of system means forced removal, and that’s not necessarily the case. Forced removal is something that only happens when no legal agreement can be made, perhaps with a stateless actor or some hostile person.

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