Forfatningspatriotisme – en idealistisk utopi? En kritisk tilgang til forfatningspatriotisme som grundlag for dannelse af en kollektiv europæisk identitet

Niels Wharton Hammerich

Student thesis: Master thesis


Can a European collective identity be formed through a Constitutional Patriotism? That is the key question I seek to answer in this thesis. To do so I challenge two of the main assumptions on which the idea of Constitutional Patriotism rests; namely that a collective identity can be constructed without the basis of a cultural homogeneity and understanding; and that the political values on which the patriotism is supposed to rest can be understood universally or similarly regardless of cultural differences. I assume that even though a group of people might be able to form a collective identity based on a chosen political value or historical event, it is essential that they have an approximate common view and interpretation of the chosen identity forming factor. For that common interpretation or view to be possible, a shared cultural understanding is required. To reach that conclusion I create a scenario to describe how a Constitutional Patriotism could be formed using Freedom of Expression to symbolize or represent a given number of chosen identity giving political values. Through an analysis of the Danish cartoon crisis and the following reaction in Denmark, France and Turkey and of the impact on Freedom of Expression by the phenomenon of Holocaust Denial in Germany and France, I seek to point out how the Freedom of Expression is understood differently in Denmark, France, Germany and Turkey. The analysis is based on John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle, his idea of individual autonomy in the self-regarding sphere of life and his utilitarian defense of free speech. Furthermore also the closely related Offense Principle of Joel Feinberg and his interpretation of the term Legal Moralism are used. The analysis shows how the four countries understand the idea of Freedom of Expression differently; how they have different exceptions of when the freedom can be repressed; and how differently they priorities the individual autonomy and Mill’s utilitarian view on free speech against the urge to enforce morality. Those differences must therefore be handled somehow before the European people can perceive the Freedom of Expression as a common value on which a collective identity can be formed. One way that can be done is by the creation of an illusion of having a common shared value. However being an illusion it would be a fragile basis on which to form a collective identity. Alternatively it can be done through a harmonization of the concept of free expression. Be that a harmonization of morality or a harmonization where the enforcement of morality never surpasses the individual’s right to speak his mind freely as long as no one are harmed or suffers a wrongful offense, it would require a minimum of understanding of the taboos, norms and morals of one another not to create situations unacceptable for large groups in the community. With that conclusion in mind the talks on ascension of EU membership candidate counties are thrown into a new light. Are the political values of the old EU-member states compatible with those of the new states and exactly what concept of free expression are the candidate states supposed to live up to upon ascension?

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages65