National Reification or Nationalising Nationalism: International Law Aspect
Publication Type
Original research

Abstract: The national reification takes place when the state defines itself as a tool to protect the interests of a particular ethnic group of people and tries to create a homogeneous society unified on the basis of linguistic, cultural, historical, ideological and religious principles. This inevitably leads to the monopolization of politics (common good) by the culture of the majority, and at the same time, to the marginalization and exclusion of the culture of the minority and to its obliteration in the future. This marginalization does not imply a discrimination because the minority is not denied civil rights, but its political activity from now on implies engaging in the culture of the majority. This approach appears as waves. The first wave preceded the Second World War; the second wave started in the nineties and affected the new Post-Soviet and Eastern European countries. The national reification is closely related to the principle of democracy; since the minority retains this obviously ineffective right to participate, all other forms of protest become inaccessible to it. The national reification is an objective and general tendency of the New Time. It fills the legitimacy deficit and not only “launches” a new state, but also generates internal threats that justify its existence. As a result, from the very first days, a new state is being created as a totalitarian and emergency one that can use extreme, but justified and legitimate measures. The principle of self-determination cannot be used against the national reification as it implies an obligation of conduct and has a narrow scope. Moreover, its beneficiaries, by not being states, are deprived of the procedural tools to protect their rights. It could be interpreted differently: we should recognize the right to secession for the nations faced with the choice to obey or lose identity. This interpretation, however, is an unrealizable utopia. Human rights are completely helpless in the face of national reification or, rather, are indifferent to it. The reason is a fundamental denial of the collective principle. Therefore, international law does not solve the problem of national reification. On the contrary, all the structure of the modern order (statehood, legitimacy, democracy, human rights, international law, etc.) generates this problem. The solution of the problem is vitally important and, at the same time, extremely difficult. It cannot be cosmetic, but should affect the very foundations of international law.


Russia Law Journal
Academic Initiatives Foundation
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Both (Printed and Online)