söndag 7 februari 2010

Liberalism och medborgarskapstest

Det pågår en debatt mellan forskare på Eudo-Citizenship forum om vilken typ av medborgarskapstest som bör finnas i ett liberalt samhälle. Notera att debatten inte handlar om medborgarskapstest i sig är liberala eller inte. För som Christian Joppke påpekar: The heartland of liberalism, the United States, has long practiced citizenship tests. So, one must be astonished that their recent introduction in Europe has raised controversy, and that there is doubt about their “liberal” credentials.

Joppke försvarar en viss typ av medborgarskapstest utifrån en liberal utgångspunkt.

With respect of the contents of the citizenship test, to ask for host-society language competence and knowledge of the principles and procedures of liberal democracies is an incontrovertibly legitimate core component of all citizenship tests in Europe and other Western states. And few would doubt that asking for knowledge of historical key events in a country’s road to becoming a liberal democracy, along with knowledge of liberal democracy’s peculiar institutional form in the respective country, is equally legitimate.

The controversy starts with respect to cultural knowledge, which is unconnected to political principles or history. To this I respond that all countries are historically specific formations, and asking for some knowledge of, even experience with this specificity is not as such an unreasonable expectation.

One must further consider that citizenship applicants are already legal permanent residents, who enjoy rights that approximate citizen rights in all domains except the narrowly political ones. And the expectation is merely cognitive: the respective information can be learned (and unlearned), and—like learning a new language—it is capacity-enhancing, it does not deprive the individual of anything, least their “identity”.

Joppke drar gränsen mellan vad som är ett liberalt medborgarskapstest eller inte med hjälp av Kant.

I propose to define this threshold by means of the Kantian distinction between “morality” and “legality”. A test that is inquisitional about the “true” values or beliefs of an individual, even if they pertain to the rules of liberal democracy, is pernicious from a liberal point of view.

Whenever the new citizenship tests are informed by the notion that the liberal state is one only for liberal people, the threshold of the illiberal is passed. Because this is a profoundly illiberal idea, casting people into a standard mold and robbing them of the possibility to decide for themselves who they want to be. Ever since Kant, it is a key precept of liberalism that law and public policy can regulate only the external behavior of people, not their inner motivations.

Debatten har bara inletts. Ines Michalowski har redan kommit med invändningar mot Joppkes resonemang och de två inläggen hittills kommer med säkerhet att följas av fler.

För övrigt ligger, vad jag förstår, Joppkes syn på frågan om medborgarskapstest rätt så nära svenska forskaren Andreas Johansson Heinö. Och vill ni höra mer från honom går det att ladda ner ett avsnitt av filosofiska rummet från den 29 november 2009 där han och andra diskuterar hur mycket mångfald demokratin tål.

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