The essay examines a prominent normative defence of nationalism, which links shared nationality with the attainment of the goods of liberal justice and democratic governance.
The essay first considers the argument that liberal values, and especially the value of social justice, will best be promoted in states whose members share a common nationality. In its strong form, this argument is vulnerable to counter-instances. A weaker version, which claims that in states divided in terms of national identities, social justice may be precarious over the long term, is more plausible. The second part of the essay argues that there is a close relationship between democracy and shared national identity. This section spells out precisely how a common national identity is helpful both for representative institutions to function properly and for widespread participation on the part of ordinary citizens.