We have explored nations, national self-determination and secession as living political ideas. Perhaps the key points to emerge from the discussion are that:
- the nation-state is the basic political community in the contemporary world, despite regional and global challenges;
- subjective approaches to defining nations, prioritising awareness of belonging to a national group, have advantages over efforts to construct objective definitions;
- the symbolic, imagined, aspects of nations can be as important as historical or other cultural ‘facts’ about the nation;
- nationalism is a many-sided and potent political ideology, though we can pinpoint some general characteristics shared by all nationalist movements;
- political theorists have offered imaginative responses to dilemmas of secession and national self-determination, such as the democratic and remedial approaches;
- all theoretical ‘solutions’ to issues of secession are vulnerable to objections;
- our assessments of political theories can depend on (sometimes unspoken) assumptions that we make about political realities and specific cases.