Varieties of Nationalism and the Stateless Nationalists’ Political Dilemma
National movements tend to bifurcate or, at times, trifurcate, into two or three basic nationalist orientations: independentist nationalism, autonomist nationalism, and federalist nationalism. The general expectation is that a stateless nationalist would seek to align her nation with a state, but in the contemporary world, we find many nationalists who do not seek their own state, and instead seek an autonomous special status or the status of a constituent unit within a federation. While all nationalists pursue nation-affirming and nation-building goals, they have three fundamental political orientations to choose from. I explain how nationalists go about resolving their fundamental political dilemma. I use evidence gathered in Québec and Catalonia, based on interviews with the top leadership of the eight national parties of these societies, focus group interviews with the militants, and questionnaire responses by the militants. Rejecting deterministic accounts of nationalism, my argument points us toward a revalorization of the primacy of political factors in explaining this puzzle. I argue that intersubjective relations of reciprocity between sub-state nationalists and majority nation nationalism are critical for explaining how stateless nationalists resolve their fundamental political dilemma.