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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > February 2016 > Citizenship tests

Citizenship tests

Do ethnic majorities now need special protection, asks David Goodhart

The Cultural Defence of Nations: A Liberal Theory of Majority Rights

This is an important and timely book. It helps both to explain aspects of current European politics—such as the rise of populism and David Cameron’s repeated appeals to British values—and also provides a rigorous guide to what majorities can and cannot do to preserve their culture and way of life.

Its author, Liav Orgad, an Israeli lawyer, circles his subject with more legalistic detail than most people will comfortably bear. But it is an intellectual ice-breaker and will, or should, open up new territory for others to explore.

The idea of majority rights seems like a contradiction in terms. Majorities, it has been assumed, do not need special legal protection because their culture is dominant and transmitted through everything from schools to national ceremonies. And majorities by definition carry the greatest weight in a democracy, including deciding (at least in theory) the terms on which others can join the society.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s February issue: Lawrence Summers questions Robert J Gordon’s thesis on the impact of the digital revolution, John Sawers, the former Chief of MI6, highlights how technology is making the work of spies harder and Frank Furedi examines the student movements demanding protection from the offensive and uncomfortable. Also in this issue: Gershom Gorenberg on Israel, Ben Judah on the complexity of London and Elizabeth Pisani on the impact of fake drugs. Plus Sam Tanenhaus on Obama’s gun control plans.