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Book Reviews 153

sion of prima facie rights is confusingly placed in chapter 8, after chapters 2


and 7. Wellman thinks that some legal cases of rights conflict are cases of real
rights conflict but that others are cases of merely apparent rights conflict. He
never clearly lays out the criteria which allow one to determine whether a
particular legal case represents one or the other.
Real Rights, while not perfect, is a valuable contribution to the literature on
rights. Analytic ethicists working on rights theory will need to read this book.

GEORGE RAINBOLT
Georgia State University

Kymlicka, Will. Multicultural Citizenship:A Liberal Theoryof Minority Rights.


Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995. Pp. 296. $29.95 (cloth).

This is Will Kymlicka's second book-length treatment of multiculturalism. The


first, Liberalism, Community,and Culture (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989) was
based on his Oxford doctoral thesis, a remarkable debut. Since then he has,
after a spell of teaching in the United States, moved back to his native Canada
and become an active figure in the debate on the future of the country. A
possible result of this involvement in the life of official Ottowa is that the
prose of the text flows without a hitch into that of the reports commissioned
by the Canadian government from which he frequently quotes with approval.
I also wonder if taking upon his shoulders the burden of Canadian politics
leads to Kymlicka's occasionally weighing his words to avoid rocking the boat.
Thus, it is crucial to Kymlicka's prescriptions that Canada should be treated
as a binational country, in addition to containing the indigenous "first nations."
Immigrants "must learn either of the two official languages (French or En-
glish)" (p. 15). This suggests they have the choice, but in Quebec immigrants
have to send their children to francophone and not anglophone public schools,
even if they would prefer them to be educated in English. Many people
question the moral legitimacy of the law that mandates this, but Kymlicka is
silent about its existence.
The province of Quebec is itself quite clearly a binational society on
Kymlicka's criteria, since it has "a historically settled anglophone community"
(p. 191) that created its own distinct religious, educational, and economic
institutions so as to form a complete society. Yet the great bulk of Kymlicka's
discussion of Quebec (and it is one of his major preoccupations) treats it as
if it were simply the home of a francophone community whose collective right
to survivance must be protected. He thus appears to see no problems in the
secession of Quebec or a renegotiation of its status within the federation on
the basis of a majority vote in the province. In every other context he insists
on the inappropriateness of majority decision making in multinational socie-
ties. On his own premises, it seems a plausible implication that any change
in the constitutional status of Quebec should require concurrent majorities
among both of the national communities making it up. But saying this would
frustrate Kymlicka's manifest objective of finding a version of liberalism that
can conciliate francophone nationalist zealots.

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154 Ethics October 1996
Many commentators on Liberalism,Community,and Culturesaw it as falling
apart over the rights of national minorities. The central (and original) argument
was that their members have a claim ofjustice against the larger society to special
measures such as subsidization or self-governing institutions in order to have
the same chance to preserve their culture as the members of the larger society
are able to take for granted. The conception of justice to which Kymlicka sub-
scribed was a standard liberal one, requiring universal suffrage, freedom of
speech and worship, the absence of sex discrimination, and so on. Cultural
disadvantage was simply added to the standard forms of disadvantage upon the
basis of which claims to assistance or compensation could be made. But this
raised the question: what happens if the community whose culture is to be
preserved as a matter of justice is itself committed to the pursuit of practices
that violate the precepts of justice? Kymlicka recognized the problem but was
widely felt not to have provided a solidly reasoned solution to it.
It is natural to turn to Multicultural Citizenshipto see how Kymlicka now
fares in dealing with this conundrum. Well, he has now jumped off the fence.
But the way in which he has jumped seems to me to make the resulting theory
inconsistent with the book's subtitle. For all practical purposes, it is a liberal
theory of minority rights only in the case of minorities that are liberal anyway.
This is to say that it is not a distinctively liberal theory at all, since in the
case of illiberal national minorities it has illiberal implications. Admittedly,
Kymlicka differs from Michael Walzer in continuing to maintain that illiberal
societies are unjust, thus refusing to fall into the relativistic (or, more precisely,
conventionalistic) notion that each nationality, conceived as the bearer of a
homogeneous culture, can determine what justice is for it. But Kymlicka is
equally adamant that coercive intervention in other nations cannot bejustified,
making the same exceptions as Walzer for slavery and genocide. His distinctive
move is to extend the argument to national minorities within sovereign states,
where 'coercive intervention' is a perhaps prejudicial way of referring to the
practice of requiring the laws of national minorities with political autonomy
to conform to the constraints prescribed by a liberal constitution.
Kymlicka follows a curious line of argument here. He says it is "obvious"
that there is an "initial moral judgement" against forcibly intervening in Saudi
Arabia to ensure that everybody has a vote (p. 165). (It seems odd to me to
single out the lack of universal suffrage as the most obnoxious feature of Saudi
Arabia, from a liberal point of view, but let that pass.) He then uses this suppos-
edly obvious judgment to underwrite the conclusion that national minorities in
liberal states should not be required to conform to the demands of a liberal
constitution. But there are many reasons for not invading Saudi Arabia, including
(but not exhausted by) the reasons that led to the abrupt termination of Desert
Storm in order to avoid an occupation of Iraq. I do not believe that any of these
reasons brings us to a fundamental principle that nations have an unconditional
right to collective autonomy so long as they steer clear of genocide and slavery.
It seems to me that, if we want to identify a principle governing external interven-
tion, we should look at a case in which the issue of principle can as far as
possible be isolated from other factors. The case of a national minority in a
liberal constitutional state is precisely such a case. I would argue in the opposite
direction from Kymlicka: there is no fundamental principle of national autonomy
in this case, so there is none in any other case.

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Book Reviews 155
What I think has happened is that Kymlicka has bought uncritically into
what has been described as the romance of the nation-state and simply ex-
tended it to national minorities. This includes the idea that each nation is the
repository of a distinctive culture and that people can flourish only within
their own culture. Kymlicka emphasizes that this kind of nationalism is consist-
ent with value individualism: we do not have to ascribe a value to the nation
separate from the value of its members' lives (p. 47). But this simply shows
that value individualism is not sufficient for liberalism. What matters is the
conception of what gives value. If that is illiberal, then the result is inherently
illiberal in its implications.
Kymlicka seeks to impart a liberal twist to his romantic nationalism by
saying that the importance of preserving the national culture lies in its contri-
bution to the development of a capacity for individual autonomy. But even if
we were to give credence to that claim, it would lead to the endorsement of
only the relatively few national cultures that actually do foster individual
autonomy. Thus, we would have to conclude that the principled liberal argu-
ment for permitting special measures to enable national minorities to maintain
their own culture is valid only when the culture of that national minority is
itself liberal. Yet, as we have seen, when it comes to a choice between individual
autonomy and almost unconditional collective autonomy for national minorit-
ies, Kymlicka comes down unhesitatingly on the side of the latter. Nothing
could show more clearly the subversion of Kymlicka's original liberal project
by his subscription to the doctrines of romantic nationalism.

BRIAN BARRY
LondonSchoolof Economics

Brilmayer, Lea. American Hegemony: Political Morality in a One-Superpower World.


New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1994. Pp. 263. $30.00 (cloth).

It is quite often the case that those who are analyzing the structure of the
international scene and seek to set moral guidelines for a better world order
see the deficiencies of liberal theory more clearly than those who are examining
the inner workings and justifications of liberal states. This is especially true
of Lea Brilmayer's excellent book.
As this short introduction suggests, the task Brilmayer sets for herself is
to seek a measure of morality in the international scene as it is structured
today. Hence, her argument takes the unequal distribution of powers as given
and does not withdraw to thought experiments asking whether participants,
placed in a hypothetical setting, would choose to be part of a hegemonic
system. Instead, she examines a much more concrete and timely question:
what sort of arrangements between unequal parties, if any, do we have reason
to respect? This is not a idle question, but it is often neglected by political
theorists who are swayed by the theoretically correct, but practically unhelpful,
assumption that the obligation to respect agreements could be made void by
the inequality of the negotiating parties. Those who adopt this view must
conclude that there are reasons to discard most actual agreements among

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