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Kenneth Ledford has provided an insightful commentary on the two articles on Catalonia. He generously notes their contribution to debates on normativity in the history of civil law codification, for which I thank him. More important, Ledford raises several questions that need to be addressed before we can be convinced that “the Catalan experience can be used to refine and reshape assessments of any general European phenomena regarding civil law codification” (Ledford, 390). I shall use this space to briefly address each of his three questions.
The defense of Catalan civil law against the introduction of the Spanish Civil Code in the late nineteenth century was the catalyst for a broad social movement that would be transformed into Catalan nationalism by the turn of the twentieth century. Lawyers were central to this development. They interpreted and popularized the danger codification presented for Catalan society and they were instrumental in making the civil law a central element in the construction of Catalan national identity. Taking their cue from the experience of other stateless nations in Europe, lawyers developed a principled argument for political autonomy that was institutionalized with the creation, in 1901, of Catalonia's first nationalist political party, the Lliga Regionalista. Between 1881 and 1901, Catalan lawyers would help found a series of social movements for the protection of Catalan culture and orient these movements toward the adoption of nationalist objectives. Finally, lawyers would form the majority of the Lliga Regionalista's electoral candidates and the core of the party's strategists, helping the party climb to a position of dominance in Catalan politics between 1901–1932.
Recent work in the field of liberal political philosophy has focused on the value of cultural communities for the individual. The claim that liberal theory can give explicit recognition to the fact that individuals are rooted in a social context has produced an important debate about the preservation of minority cultures and a liberal defence of nationalism. This literature should be of interest to scholars of nationalism because liberal theorists have used concepts related to the nation, such as self-determination, in ways that go against conventional usage, and liberal theorists have made claims about the relationship of the right and the good with which some students of nationalism would disagree. This article presents a nationalist response to the liberal conception of community by developing one possible nationalist argument for the priority of the good over the right by claiming that the nation is a communal good. The author illustrates this argument with examples of the political projects of nationalists-in-government in the developed West. Liberals need not be concerned with this reality since democratic institutions will set some limits on nationalist projects by ensuring that they are the outcome of democratic processes. On this view, the importance of self-determination is that it provides the context for the creation of institutions for a debate about the relationship of the right and the good. Self-determination does not, as some liberal nationalists argue, constitute an automatic right to cultural preservation.