Review: Citizenship Today – Global Perspectives and Practices

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Thomas Alexander Aleinikoff, Douglas B. Klusmeyer

4.0 out of 5 stars All About Rights–Very Little About Loyalty or Duties, June 2, 2001

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the most positive side, it is the only, and therefore the best, treatment of the issues of citizenship that I could identify, and that is why I bought it. The range of authoritative essays that have been brought together is very worthy, and anyone contemplating this topic must take this work into account.

On the other hand, as I went through chapter after chapter, what I tended to see was an awful lot of academic whining about how the world is getting too complex and too multi-cultural to be able to pin someone down to just one citizenship, let them have many. Reality check needed here. Governments exist to preserve and protect very specific moral, ideological, and cultural values, and governments are the means by which a Republic finances what are called external diseconomies–those things that are needed for the common good but not profitable for the private sector to do.

There are glimmers here and there of how one might better integrate new immigrants and otherwise promote good citizenship, but overall what this book is missing is a major commitment to thinking about how one draws the line between nationalized citizens truly loyal to their newly chosen nation-state, and those who choose to retain another primary citizenship and simply enjoy the bounty of the land they have chosen to VISIT….

Of all the contributions, the one that stood out for me was by Adrian Favell, on “Integration Policy and Integration Research in Europe: A Review and Critique.” Despite the title, the heart of this chapter concerns the information “sources and methods” that underlie conclusions about citizenship and the policies on citizenship. There is a great deal of meat in this chapter, and it could useful guide the next book in what I hope will become a series.

I like this book. It forced me to think and it certainly opened my eyes to how we are letting a whole bunch of people debate the nature of citizenship without ever really being committed to the idea that an oath of loyalty is fundamental–as universal service should be fundamental, not to flesh out the military, but rather to provide a common foundation for knowing one another intimately, for respecting one another from that common ground. How one defines citizenship is fundamental to the future of every nation–this book both enlightens and frightens.

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