Michael Schwartz, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.


Undoubtedly there are advantages to continuity. If not there seems no reason for us to meet annually as an association. One such advantage would be being informed by our past. Regarding that past I would like to return to the Presidential Address made by Chris Provis in 2005 to the AAPAE at the University of South Australia. In his Presidential Address Provis stated that “we have seen some tension between liberal, western policy and some Islamic communities and countries about values and lifestyle” (Provis, 2005, p. 1), with such tension “especially salient at present” (Provis, 2005, p. 1). In this context, Provis noted, “we see traditional ethical problems about toleration” (2005, p. 1). Provis (2005) argued for the necessity of dialogue that focused, not solely on interest, but more fundamentally on positions. Such positions inform those “values and ethical commitments” (Provis, 2005, p. 1) from which both actions and decisions emerged. My intention today is to further contemplate the realities of such positions, bound up as they are with “beliefs about what an outcome ought to be” (Provis, 2005, p. 2), and their implications for tolerance. Provis referred with no distinction to “Islamic communities and countries” (2005, p. 1). I do though believe that there is an important distinction to be made between communities and countries and that it has implications for a position. I will return to that.

Provis (2005) refers to both interests and positions with reference to a book by Fisher and Ury (1983). They explained that whilst “your ego becomes identified with your position” (Fisher and Ury, 1983, p. 5) that position “provides an anchor in an uncertain and pressured situation” (Fisher and Ury, 1983, p. 4). But that anchor can easily convert to a trap exacerbating tensions such as those between western policy and Islamic communities and countries which Provis (2005) mentioned.

Provis in his 2006 Presidential Address to the AAPAE used “some historical examples” (2006, p. 1). In this address I too will utilise some historical examples. I will argue that the history of the last century readily created specific positions. Whilst dialogue will always be necessary, what seems more essential is the recognition that much of the tension exists due to the creation of positions which are artificial. Emmanuel Levinas (1905-1995) described a singular Other who is fundamentally different from oneself. Individually that might be so. Communally it seems debatable. In communal terms the Other might be fundamentally the same but entrapped in an historical position which creates the illusion of difference. Let me present you with an historical scenario which illustrates that.

A Scenario:

There is a country seemingly inhabited by strangers. A country which did not exist until the 1947 Partition created it. A country whose name was only coined shortly before the Partition that created it. Prior to Partition most of its inhabitants could not conceive of such a country existing. Many fled when it was created. And the land which that country occupies continues to be bitterly disputed by conflicting faiths with ancient claims.

That country is located astride the crossroads of historic trade routes. It has been conquered many times by different conquerors. In the first millennium before the Christian era it was conquered by the Persians and later the Greeks. In more modern times it was conquered by the Turks and the British. Today both its military and its religious fundamentalists play a major role in its internal affairs. Several former army generals have at different times ruled this country.

That country has a star on its flag and has had a female prime minister. It is a democratic republic with a state religion, where the religious political parties wield growing influence. It has competed in the Olympic Games, and its top industries are the telecom industry and the software industry. Close to half a million of its citizens are expatriates living in the United States of America.

That country is situated on a dry land with little rainfall. In the south there is the desert: in the north steep icy peaks. In that country is one of the world’s earliest known cities, and many major archaeological sites. These sites, and the ancient civilization they represent, attract many tourists to that country.

That country has much poverty, but has also enjoyed rapid economic growth. Throughout its history it has been engaged in numerous military disputes with its vastly more populous neighbour state. Despite the needs of many of its inhabitants for so many basic commodities, it has used its scarce resources to create a nuclear arsenal. And it is home to a thriving arms industry.

That country has since the early 1950s enjoyed a strategic relationship with the United States of America, and is considered despite some tensions to be a strategic ally. It is the recipient of billions of dollars of American military aid, a fact which some investigative journalists have bemoaned. It is perceived to be a key United States ally in its global war on terror. It shares intelligence with United States agencies. It provides logistical support, and has helped identify and detain citizens.

That country has in some of the areas which it governs a strong separatist movement. There a separate ethnic entity seeks to create its own homeland. Such aspirations have been suppressed by the military of that country. That country has also created wildlife sanctuaries and game reserves to protect threatened species.

That country you might think is the Jewish state of Israel. It well might be, but it is not. It is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, although one might be forgiven for the confusion. Each of the examples I supplied above – and there are many more such examples – apply equally to Pakistan and Israel, bar one: Israel has far less of its citizens living in the United States. But then Israel itself has a very small population which explains that singular difference.

The reality though is that both Pakistan and Israel came into existence at about the same time in the remarkably similar circumstance of minorities contemplating a majority; and they continue to exist in similar circumstances. Not the least of these circumstances is that the creation of Pakistan led to the flight of 8,500,000 Sikh and Hindu refugees from Pakistan to India and 6,500,000 Muslim refugees from India to Pakistan (Peters, 2002). In turn the creation of Israel led to the flight of over 600,000 Muslim refugees from Israel to the Arab states and the flight of over 800,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab states to Israel (Shulewitz, 2000). In both India and Palestine within a nine month period the problems of governance after the British departed “was ‘resolved’ by the partition of the land on the basis of ethnicity” (Greenberg, 2005, p. 89). Those partitions created an Other. They also created positions from which to contemplate that Other, but not to accommodate the Other.

If the nineteenth century was a story about migration, the twentieth century was a story about refugees. One year before those partitions of India and Palestine Europe witnessed the German refugee crisis with “between twelve and fifteen million ethnic Germans” (Frank, 2006, p. 231) fleeing Poland and Czechoslovakia. Numerous other examples exist (Morawska, 2000). I will though restrict my historical examples to the partitions of India and Palestine and those refugees. The plight of nearly all these refugees is largely a direct cost of the creation of new states. In this paper I consider some ethical implications of such creations which entrap communities in positions which have specific “beliefs about what an outcome ought to be” (Provis, 2005, p. 2).

The Nation & the Imaginary Community:

The ethnic Germans lost their homelands in Poland and Czechoslovakia for the same reason that, amongst numerous other ancient communities, Karachi’s Hindus, Baghdad’s Jews, and Beersheba’s Muslims – all three a dominant group in each of those cities – lost their homelands. They did so because of European intellectuals who in the formative years of the 20th century, ignoring economic reality and ongoing traditions, but stressing “linguistic and cultural differences between peoples . . . subscribed to the proposition that the right to national self-determination was a fundamental moral principle” (Johnson, 1983, p. 37). This was despite some, such as Karl Popper, arguing “that self-determination was a self-defeating principle” (Johnson, 1983, p. 37) as it inevitably created additional minorities. Historically it is worth noting that Benjamin Disraeli, Britain’s most cosmopolitan prime minister, was hostile to nationalism which he saw as a threat “to the future of European civilization” (Bogdanor, 1975, p. xv). Nonetheless, supposedly as self-determination was a fundamental moral principle we witnessed early in the last century the acceptance of nationhood, and simultaneously with that the emergence of the modern nation state.

One of the strongest arguments for the ethics of nationalism was made by David Miller (1988). Miller argues that “nationality is essentially a subjective phenomenon, constituted by the shared beliefs of a set of people” (1988, p. 648). In doing so Miller highlights a significant and often raised problem. He explains that whilst the existence of a nation depends on its members having shared beliefs it is not required that those beliefs should be true as myths will do. This “makes the question about the ethical significance of nationality a particularly pointed one. If national allegiance can be based on false beliefs, how is it possible for a purportedly rational institution such as morality to accommodate them?” (Miller, 1988, p. 648).

Miller attempts to resolve this conundrum by differentiating between ethical universalism and ethical particularism. The former he argues, akin to that of the subject “in Rawl’s notion of the original position” (Miller, 1988, p. 649), has a moral subject “not fundamentally committed to any particular persons, groups, practices, institutions” (Miller, 1988, p. 649). In contrast to this, ethical particularism has a moral subject “deeply embedded in social relationships. . . . (where) . . . the rationality in question cannot be that of abstract principles” (Miller, 1988, p. 650).

Miller, while not disputing that universalism must be more impersonal than particularism, does not believe that presents any disadvantage to his use of ethical particularism when considering nationality. This is because universalism’s moral subject “as an abstract individual” (Miller, 1988, p. 649) cannot, given that status, claim a commitment to any specific community. Indeed, such an individual can see himself as “disengaged” (Miller, 1988, p. 649) from any such commitments “in arriving at his most basic principles” (Miller, 1988, p. 649).

But where a moral subject is “embedded in social relationships” (Miller, 1988, p. 650) that subject will partly be “defined by its relationships” (Miller, 1988, p. 650) and the accompanying obligations and rights. As such those commitments “form a basic element of personality. To divest oneself of such commitments would be . . . to change one’s identity” (Miller, 1988, p. 649). Thus, under ethical universalism the moral agent can arrive at his or her moral principles as an autonomous individual. But under ethical particularism whilst “the agent can still aspire to rationality” (Miller, 1988, p. 650) any such a rationality “cannot be that of an abstract principle. Rather it consists in the capacity to reflect on existing commitments” (Miller, 1988, p. 650). Because of that Miller asserts “that if nationality is going to have an ethical significance, it must be from a particularist perspective” (Miller, 1988, p. 651) where as an ethical subject the abstract individual has been replaced “with the embedded individual” (Miller, 1988, p. 653).

One could protest that this individual is embedded in a community with no nationalistic aspirations. Miller’s appeal to “social relationships” (1988, p. 650) cannot easily posit national relationships; such relationships within a community are not though difficult to conjecture. Examples of such communities are obvious in social organisations, the workplace, and elsewhere. And individuals do differentiate between their community and their country. Hence, my misgivings: Provis does not distinguish between “Islamic communities and countries” (2005, p. 1). But can one construe, as Miller does, that ones social relations signify nationality? They well might suggest many things while failing to suggest any nationalistic imperative.

One could also protest that this might not resolve the problem as that embedded individual could still, conceivably, be defined by mythical relationships, and as one moves from ones own community to the larger society such relationships are bound to become increasingly mythical. Miller attempts to circumvent this criticism by arguing that if an embedded individual is embedded in a nation then what is essential is that the stories the nation tells about its past are “generally believed” (Miller, 1988, p. 656). That of course does little to answer how national allegiance can be accommodated by morality. Stories abound. Some relate to communities, and some relate to a nation. And none of this means that any individual is embedded in a nation as opposed to his or her community.

However, Miller further circumvents this by acknowledging that while stories are “to a large extent mythical” (Miller, 1988, p. 656) those stories provide the “national character” (Miller, 1988, p. 656). And Miller requires a national character as without it there are no national boundaries but only “de facto boundaries between states” (Miller, 1988, p. 656) because there are no nations on either side of the boundary. But there are all sorts of stories which create all sorts of boundaries. Different neighbourhoods often have their stories, as they do their boundaries.

Miller does acknowledge that often “nationalities are heterogeneous populations, masquerading as ethnic groups” (Miller, 1988, p. 656) where the largest ethnic group takes precedence over smaller ethnic groups in dictating that masquerade. Such ethnicity in some cases, is “as ‘fictitious’ as national identity” (Miller, 1988, p. 658) where an ethnic group’s beliefs regarding its past are not believable. All of that assumes an individual embedded in some group. None of that, though, suggests the predominance of a nation over a community for an individual.

But perhaps I am being unfair to Miller. Individuals abroad do perceive themselves foremost in national terms. Such perspectives regarding nationalism, according to Archard, comprise “a normative claim” (1996, p. 217) which presumably was promoted by those European intellectuals discussed by Johnson (1983). Here, firstly, “political communities ought to be nationally homogenous” (Archard, 1996, p. 217). And, secondly, those “national communities are entitled to independent, sovereign selfgovernment” (Archard, 1996, p. 217). This seemingly presents a circular argument equating a self-governing political community with a national community but providing no valid reasons as to why this is called for; nor what this might benefit. On the other hand it does commit national communities to different positions along with the accompanying position’s viewpoint. As such it must present problems casting conflicting national communities as an Other, and in doing so furthering those tensions which Provis (2005) highlighted.

Miller, however, pursues such a normative claim where his attempted justification of nationalism is simultaneously an attempted justification of ethical particularism. He argues that by beginning with “universalist criteria, we shall not end up with nationality” (Miller, 1988, p. 662). However “if we start out with selves already heavily laden with particularist commitments, including national loyalties, we may be able to rationalise those commitments from a universalist perspective” (Miller, 1988, p. 662). My problem is that such commitments need not include national loyalties. But, if they did, ethical particularism must inevitably lead to a particular nationalism as such commitments highlight what divides a nation rather than what unifies it. Furthermore, I suspect that those shared beliefs which are untrue are far more ethically problematic than Miller allows particularly as they are liable to be manipulated to the detriment of certain groups.

Nationalist Theories:

Nonetheless Miller does claim that for nationality “to have an ethical significance, it must be from a particularist perspective” (1988, p. 651). From such a perspective, Archard argues that in contrast to that of Rawlsian liberalism, communitarians might well recognise “the nation as a community” (Archard, 1996, p. 216) although it is equally open to them “to recommend something other than nationality as the proper principle of political community” (Archard, 1996, p. 216) as ways exist whereby the traditions and cultures of different groups can be protected “without endorsing the nationalist doctrine of the nationstate as a required conjunction” (Archard, 1996, p. 217). If, as I have argued, and as seems perfectly valid, an embedded individual is primarily embedded in the community then achieving such an outcome without creating nation-states is crucial. Archard does not explore the reality of such ways although given the tensions Provis (2005) notes they are of significance.

In considering their significance it is important to consider the possible relationship between nationalism and territory given Miller’s claims regarding the ethical significance of national boundaries. Boundaries divide land. They create partitions. And there seemingly is widespread acceptance of Meisels claim that “nationalism . . . involves land” (2003, p. 31).

Meisels argues that nationalism can be defended “on liberal premises” (2003, p. 34) by “asserting that individuals have an interest in culture because it is a prerequisite for their freedom” (2003, p. 34). Here, contrary to Miller’s assertions, the individuals are not embedded in any culture but require such a national culture, along with its accompaniments such as language and lifestyle, if they are to attain individual freedom. The individual thus require an historical past to emerge as an individual in the contemporary world.

This historical aspect is important to Meisels who, citing theorists researching Australian aboriginal rights, writes “that for the aboriginal people of Australia, history is morally relevant” (2003(a), p. 66). Australian aboriginals would require recognition of their past to emerge as individuals within the wider Australian community. But that does not require, although Meisels might argue that it does, the existence now of a specific nationstate. It presumably would though require some larger recognition than is currently given to Australian aboriginal culture. At the start of a conference such as ours we, to my mind at least, somewhat blithely acknowledge the aboriginals as the traditional owners of this land. There seems something disingenuous about such an acknowledgement which I suspect is not unrelated to our unwillingness to define the full implications of traditional ownership for future ownership. A current example of this might be if Chinalco, owned by the Chinese government, were to gain full control of Rio Tinto which currently has agreements with traditional owners such as the Martu people in Western Australia. Another example might be the current Queensland claims upon Aboriginal land for environmental purposes regardless of traditional ownership.

Meisels thus presents a very different perspective to Miller but comes to a remarkably similar conclusion with the necessity of the individual embedded in the community. There is a difference though. For Miller if the individual ceases to be embedded in that community the individual ceases to be that individual: for Meisels the individual cannot become an individual until the individual is embedded in the community.

What is crucial in differentiating these two aspects is their perspective. Miller has a forward looking perspective. Miller’s particularism has an individual defined by his or her social relationships which requires a nation. Meisels’ perspective however is backward looking. Meisels’ individual required a culture; Meisels’ individual required a past; Meisels’ individual required a nation: but they do not require a nation now as they have a past and a culture. Although they, with that past and that culture, might exist in a nation, that need not be one where nationalism dominates political associations. Where it does conflicts between nations “admit of no political solution which does not violate the integrity and character” (Goldin, 2005, p. 290) of those nations. For Goldin, much like Popper, such problems are only “reproduced, not solved, by future partitions” (Goldin, 2005, p. 292) as those partitions continue to allow nationalism to dominate political associations. The question then is what Archard (1996) alluded to: what alternatives exist in organising a political community? In answering that question it seems worth noting that “MacIntyre’s political thought is best understood in terms of its opposition to, and as an attempt to describe an alternative to . . . the state” (Murphy, 2003, p. 152). Any such an attempt is therefore not a solitary enterprise.

Some alternatives:

Michael Walzer embraces a particularism which changes the dynamics of this situation. Walzer introduces us to the very scenario which pre-occupied Goldin (2005): minorities subject to the majority, and denied access to civil society. Such groups he terms the tribes who he sees sustained by a MacIntyrean narrative which while disguised as a lullaby preaches hatred. Walzer explains why these tribes cannot be contained “within established multi-national states” (2006, p. 64) and why selfdetermination is a valid outcome for such tribes. And yet he, in keeping with Goldin and others, asks where this ends with “smaller and smaller groups claiming the right of selfdetermination; and the politics that results will be noisy, incoherent, unstable, and deadly” (Walzer, 2006, p. 70). Although for Walzer options exist to expose the tribes to modernity as “confronted with modernity, all the human tribes are endangered species” (2006, p. 72) as is the case with Australian aboriginals. Such an endangerment undoubtedly presents as many risks as it presents opportunities.

Regarding these options Walzer contemplates why historically the tribes survived as tribes antagonistic to other tribes and sees the reason as fear. He relates how Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan argued that the religious wars of Hobbes time were motivated by fear. Hobbes thought “an absolute sovereign” (Walzer, 2006, p. 77) could remove that fear; although, what eventually removed this threat “was not so much political absolutism as religious toleration” (Walzer, 2006, p. 77). Walzer argues that we need to emulate that: we need to be tolerant of what he terms the tribes. Admittedly, he did express concern at the validity of ongoing partitions but sees no alternative to abandoning “coercion and allow(ing) the tribes first to separate and then to negotiate their own voluntary . . . incorporation” (Walzer, 2006, p. 78). Walzer insists that historically this has always been the case with Sweden, for example, having to allow Norway its independence as a prelude to the eventual Scandinavian cooperation.

Walzer argues that it is impossible for any regime to destroy tribalism. Regimes, he writes, are replaced: tribalism though is an ongoing commitment of individuals to their own past with “the parochialism … that it breeds …. permanent” (Walzer, 2006, p. 81); and if that “parochialism is threatened” (Walzer, 2006, p. 81) it becomes more entrenched. Nevertheless, Walzer claims that this parochialism is an artificial construct within contemporary society where the self “is capable of division and even thrives on it” (2006, p. 82) due to those opportunities for both social and cultural differentiation. But this can only occur “under conditions of security” (Walzer, 2006, p. 82) where an individual has the ability to construct a multifaceted social identity. For Walzer “when identities are multiplied, passions are divided” (2006, p. 82) with the understandable outcome of a more secure world.

Amartya Sen reflecting on his childhood memories “linked with the politics of partition” (2006, p. 2) corroborates Walzer’s (2006) sentiments. Sen describes the sudden violence which erupted on hitherto harmonious communities, and how that violence was instigated by converting “peaceable” (2006, p. 172) Hindus and Muslims “into dedicated thugs” (2006, p. 172) by making them regard “themselves only as Hindus or only as Muslims … not Indians” (2006, p. 172). Similarly Naim Kattan reflects that his childhood friends in Baghdad before the expulsion of the Jews “were neither Jew nor Muslim. We were Iraqis” (Kattan, 2007, p. 15). Sen discusses the various aspects of a heritage but expresses no surprise at the “unique prioritization of religion” (2006, p. 15) by religious fundamentalists as it achieves their objective of “incarcerating people within the enclosure of a singular identity” (2006, p. 15).

Regarding the attainment of a more secure world Walzer considers the “political structures” (2006, p. 82) which best accommodate this outcome. While Walzer concedes these vary he does stipulate certain desired criteria. These “are their capacity to promote peace, distributive justice, cultural pluralism, and individual freedom” (Walzer, 2005, p. 171). Walzer identifies two polar extremes: the one extreme is the “unified global state … like Immanuel Kant’s ‘world republic’” (2005, p. 171); the other extreme is a “radically decentred” (2005, p. 172) world. Walzer argues that we are not at this latter extreme but close to it which explains many of our current global ills, such as “insecurity and fear” (2005, p. 173); and given Walzer’s perceptions as to the consequences of fear this is an extreme he would like the world to avoid.

However, for Walzer, the other extreme is not tenable. He argues that such an extreme would require both loyal citizens and the ability to be able to create a political culture “if it were to sustain itself over time” (Walzer, 2005, p. 176). Although, that would seem currently impossible given “the range of cultural and religious differences” (Walzer, 2005, p. 176). Walzer thus argues for something between these extremes and that “toleration” (Walzer, 1997, p. 2) is required for such an option to both emerge and survive.

Regarding toleration Walzer compares consociations such as Switzerland with nationstates such as Germany, and writes how some in the “Zionist movement in the 1930s and 1940s argued for an Arab-Jewish consociation” (Walzer, 1997, p. 41) rather than a Jewish nation-state. Consociations Walzer describes as “a morally closer . . . heir to the multinational empire” (1997, p. 22) which “is a heroic program” (1997, p. 22) as it seeks imperial status without imperial rulers. Groups here are not tolerated by some emperor: rather, “they have to tolerate one another” (Walzer, 1997, p. 22) which given the limits of goodwill depends on agreed “institutional arrangements” (Walzer, 1997, p. 24). Nationstates, however, have a dominant group who sought statehood as “an engine for national reproduction” (Walzer, 1997, p. 25). Walzer writes that such nation-states can “tolerate minorities” (1997, p. 25) but that this tolerance unlike the ancient multinationals does not extend to any “regional autonomy” (1997, p. 25); especially as what is tolerated in a nation-state is not primarily the group, but the individual. Indeed, such a focus in a nation-state can pose a threat to the viability of some groups. In doing so it presumably forces those most committed to such groups to oppose any such tolerance which bears out what Sen (2006) asserted regarding the motivation of fundamentalists.

Nation-state or consociations

Returning then to Archard’s (1996) question as to the alternatives which exist in organising a political community, Walzer presents two viable alternatives: the nation-state or a consociation. In Palestine in the 1940s, as Walzer (1997) recounts, some Zionist leaders argued against a nation-state and sought a consociation with Palestine’s Arabs. In this they failed. In India in the 1940s Muslim leaders such as Mohammed Ali Jinnah demanded a separate Muslim nation-state called Pakistan, although not all agreed. Jinnah’s demands were vigorously resisted by India’s Hindus. Nehru thought the very idea of Pakistan “absurd” (Weekes, 1964, p. 85). Gandhi insisted that “even if the whole of India burns, we shall not concede Pakistan, no, not if the Muslims demand it at the point of the sword” (Gandhi as quoted by Stephens, 1964, p. 206). In resisting this Nehru and Gandhi failed.

It is worth recalling that the Muslims arrived in India as western conquerors, and from the twelfth century until the eighteenth century, when the British came as even more recent western conquerors, ruled over much of India from Delhi. That is why it has been pointed out that in a predominantly Hindu nation the palaces have Muslim names. The concept of a Pakistan only arose with the realization that the British had not arrived to stay. Much of the same could be said regarding Palestine. Nevertheless, whilst “imperial rule is historically the most successful way of incorporating difference” (Walzer, 1997, p. 15) the British Empire no longer exists. Walzer insists that “established local minorities” (1997, p. 19) such as, presumably, Palestine’s Jews and India’s Muslims were “the great beneficiaries of the imperial regime” (1997, p. 19). However true that is, the departure of the British Empire led them to establish their own sovereign nation-states.

India was partitioned in 1947 by the British into a Muslim state and a Hindu state. Palestine was partitioned in 1922 by the British into Palestine and into the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan; with the former partitioned again in 1947 by the United Nations General Assembly into a Jewish state and an Arab state. It is debatable whether these partitions solved anything. They created the Palestinian refugee problem along with the destruction of ancient Jewish communities throughout the Middle East. Historians also claim that if Indians had accepted Dominion status rather than demanding independence the horrors of Partition would have been avoided (Rudolph and Rudolph, 2006); and the newly independent states of India and Pakistan would not have to have immediately created Ministries for Refugees to help those millions in their refugee camps (Khan, 2007).

And yet, despite such tragedies, there might be something much more fundamental. Provis in his 2006 AAPAE Presidential Address contemplated “cases of group conflict which involve differences of belief” (2006, p. 7). Indian historians reflecting on Partition write that “it took place in 1947 because it seemed the only way of alleviating the rivalry of Hindu and Muslim. But . . . far from laying discord to rest, it merely institutionalized that discord at an international level” (Page, Singh, Moon and Khosla, 2002, p. 1). Exactly the same could be said regarding the partition of Palestine. In effect both partitions committed the antagonists to specific conflicting group positions.

As I stated at the outset Provis in his 2005 Presidential Address argued for the necessity of dialogue that focused on positions. The Partitions created positions. Provis then concluded his 2006 Presidential Address asking “how we can combine the need for dialogue in times of group conflict, with personal commitment and intellectual integrity?” (2006, p. 7). Walzer, I believe, provides a reply. He identifies consociations where we are talking of coalitions, of alliances, of associations; of alternatives to those nation-states which often foster group conflict. And he urges the necessity for tolerance underwriting such consociations. But he augments this with a detailed study of Martin Buber, both a leading Zionist and an exponent of dialogue. Buber’s ongoing commitment to binationalism in Palestine both before and, in terms of Provis’ question more importantly, after partition, presents an individual who successfully answered Provis’ question. Walzer writes that binationalism in that place at that time might to some, although not to Buber, have seemed like “the triumph of moral principle over moral reality” (1988, p. 71). Although Buber, while intent on addressing the moral reality did not claim to have authority to sacrifice group interests to the moral demand. All Buber sought according to Walzer was to sustain “the critical argument” (1988, p. 79). As ethicists can we hope to do more?


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