Book chapter

Why Stay Together? A Pluralist Approach to Secession and Federation (2000)


A federalist perspective on the secession debate challenges grievance theories that promote federal arrangements as a way to reconcile nationalist aspirations without imperiling the unity of the state. It is argued that a right to self-government can be achieved in a federal framework that views self-government by national minorities as their collective right & not simply a concession in multinational polities. The most common grievance of national minorities in multinational states is that the terms of federation are unfair or violated by the majority; therefore, it follows that national minorities are morally bound to maintain the existing state's unity if the terms of federation are fair. A description of federalism as both self-rule & shared rule is followed by an exploration of contractarian, devolution, & normative perspectives on federalism. Disputes between territorially concentrated groups over the division of political powers should be resolved by federal arrangements. It is concluded that participation in fair arrangements of federal power-sharing creates commitments toward the common good & accommodates multiple identities that help to integrate diverse societies. J. Lindroth