Progressive v Reactionary

For liberals nationalism is also a process of modernization- ie progressive. With creation of nation states comes the acceptance of liberal values, civil rights and democracy. With these values society is diverse, creative and entrepreneurial. Economic and political liberalism form part of the modern idea of the liberal democracy. This can be seen the founding principles of the EU which aims to promote wealth, economic development and liberal values of human rights. It is also found in the constitution of the United States which in the Preamble states its aim is to promote a 'more perfect union' through 'liberty' and 'the general welfare'. It's clear, for liberals, nationalism is the same as progress.

However, achieving self determination can be repressive and reactionary (oppose progress or reform) to minorities since nationalism is also cultural and can be intolerant of those who do not accept the dominant culture. Liberal capitalism will tend to be intolerant of alternative ideologies and will tend to be intolerant of intolerance. "In order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance." Karl Popper. In 1971, philosopher John Rawls concluded in A Theory of Justice that a just society must tolerate the intolerant, for otherwise, the society would then itself be intolerant, and thus unjust. However,the German federal government banned the Communist Party on the basis that the party's revolutionary practice means "the impairment or the abolition of the fundamental liberal democratic order in the Federal Republic". Following hearings, the Federal Constitutional Court ordered the party to be dissolved, its assets confiscated and banned the creation of substitution organizations in 1956.

Nation states tend to be forcefully protective of their dominant culture. In Turkey it is legal to call for Kurdish or Armenian rights or make any refernce to the mass killing of Armenian after World War 1. In many nation states it is illegal to show disrespect for flags, anthems or other national symbols. Article 188 of Greece’s “penal code” states that if someone insults the national anthem, destroys the flag or other national Greek symbols they could go to prison for two years or pay a fine.A clause added to French law after whistles were blown during La Marseillaise at a large football match makes anyone who “outrages” the French national anthem or the French flag during an event regulated by public authorities liable for a €7,500 fine.

The ideal of self determination has also tended to allow states to repress minorities within their boarders as an acceptance of national sovereignty. China objects to criticism of its repressive policies towards the Uighurs is as an internal Chinese matter.