Guido Comparato, ‘What do Nationalists Maximise? A Public Choice Perspective on the (Non-)Europeanization of Private Law’

The paper aims at unfolding the ideological underpinnings and the cultural-historical foundations of one of the latent basic assumptions of modern legal scholarship, which is the link between private law and the national idea. In particular processes of denationalisation triggered by European integration have led to resistance from Member States and a defense of the idea that law should remain national. This link is often ideally justified by the view that law is an expression of the cultural values embedded in the nation, which can be termed ‘Volksgeist’ theory. This particular view, which has long historical roots but is mainly entangled with the ideology of cultural nationalism, has now become generally accepted, albeit in a disguised form, in modern political and legal discourse. Combining insights from legal and political studies, the paper traces the circumstances that led to the affirmation of the national idea in private law, tracking that idea in legal history, in political theory and finally legal scholarship. It asserts that, notwithstanding the historical defeat of the most notorious manifestations of nationalism, several assumptions of cultural nationalism have become commonly accepted and can still be detected in the legal discourse.

Comparato, Guido, What do Nationalists Maximise? A Public Choice Perspective on the (Non-)Europeanization of Private Law. European Review of Contract Law. Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 245–259, ISSN (Online) 1614-9939, ISSN (Print) 1614-9920, DOI: 10.1515/ercl-2012-0245, July 2012.

First posted 2012-07-11 06:39:45

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