Unformatted text preview: e expects its soldiers
to be patriotic, so they would be prepared to sacrifice their lives for it, then, MacIntyre
concludes, “good soldiers may not be liberals”. 14 However, for MacIntyre, this does not mean
just that nationalism may be “useful” for the liberal state, but also reveals a deep and
irresolvable contradiction in the existence of such a state.
But let us start from the begining. Why can there be no compromise between liberal
morality and patriotism? MacIntyre claims that the liberal account of morality presupposes an
impersonal standpoint in moral judgment. According to this account, if we want to judge and
act morally, we have to abstract ourselves from all particular ties and loyalties. In other words
liberal morality requires impartiality. On the other hand, patriotism is based on the particular
loyalty that binds us to our nation. This means that patriotism requires partiality. From this
MacIntyre concludes that the two are necessarily incompatible.
Although there where attempts to reconcile these two positions in the form of
“moderate patriotism”15, MacIntyre claims that such attempts are doomed to fail. In his CEU eTD Collection opinion, there are two key reasons why this is so. First, when conflicts between nations over
scarce natural resources arise, the requirements of impersonal liberal morality must collide
with the requirements of patriotism; the former will require that the resources in question be
distributed among the individuals regardless of their communal belonging, while the latter
will give primacy to one of the communities in conflict.
Second, MacIntyre asserts, communities may enter into conflict over their respective
understandings of good life. In this case too, impersonal morality on one side, and patriotism
14 MacIntyre, Alasdair, “Is Patriotism a Virtue?”, Theorizing Citizenship, Ronald Beiner ed. (Albany: State
University of New York Press, 1995), 226.
Ibidem, 212 8 on the other, suggest radically different ways of resolving these conflicts. Once again, liberal
morality strives for a solution which is neutral, although this time between competing beliefs,
while patriotism requires loyalty to a praticular community’s conception of a good life.
So, MacIntyre concludes, “moderate patriotism” seen as particularistic loyalty under
the constraints of liberal morality, can be sustained only in the relatively peaceful periods of
international relations. Whenever a more serious conflict arises, a moderate patriot will be
forced too choose between impersonal morality and patriotic loyalty.
However, Macintyre points out that there is a different moral tradition, the one
originating in Aristotle’s political philosophy, which does not consider patriotism to be at
odds with morality, but indeed holds that patriotism a prerequisite for it. What makes this
moral tradition different from liberal morality is that it is not impersonal. In MacIntyre’s own
“According to liberal morality, the questions wher...
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