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By Ian O'Flynn

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Example text

I argue, however, that although Mill’s basic claim has troubling implications for divided societies aiming to make the transition from conflict to democracy, a more complete assessment of this issue needs to distinguish between two main forms that national identity can take – civic and ethnic. In some divided societies, the difficulty is not so much that citizens do not share a sufficiently strong sense of common nationality, but that they have not been able to balance the need to recognise competing ethnic identities with the need to create an overarching civic allegiance to the state.

But since politicians must take sides on this issue too, especially in divided societies where debates over the nature and scope of group rights are typically of cardinal importance, they must surely stand to benefit from some familiarity with the underlying philosophical arguments on both sides (Dworkin 2000). It is one thing, of course, to say that politicians could benefit from a more rounded understanding of the underlying values that are at play; it is an another matter entirely to show how this might work in practice.

Freeman 1999: 45). Admittedly, stability is a relative term, and hence is hard to specify precisely in the abstract. However, the instabilities that those contemporary states do experience are caused not so much by national divisions, but by such things as social and economic inequality, class discrimination, regional crises, globalisation, international terrorism and even by natural disasters. Mill’s use of the term ‘nationality’ is also conceptually problematic. Nationality can refer to a form of common political identity that binds citizens together in a common allegiance to the state, its institutions and civic offices.

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