Dual citizenship is an anomaly to the reality that citizenship connotes a national identity, with an implicit commitment to one’s nation. Dual nationality undermines that commitment. Do the following benefits to some – tax advantages in the other nation (the country of origin); unfettered entry to both country of birth and country of adoption; and the freedom to take up arms on behalf of one’s ancestral folk – offset the deleterious international consequences flowing from the grant of dual citizenship?
Were one to get into a serious spot of bother with, or in, one’s secondary attachment, one’s national government is not likely to be able to offer adequate (or any) consular support. Some of Australia’s newest citizens have learnt that.
Then, there could also arise a comparable disadvantage were the nation of one’s ancestors to be bound by the Napoleonic Code in relation to citizenship. Under this Code, a government is entitled to treat the descendants of a former citizen, no matter where they lived, as citizens of the ancestral nation; even when these descendants had been born elsewhere, had lived there all their lives, and had never visited the tribal land.
For example, not that long ago, when an Australian official in his early twenties was to represent the Australian Government in the former nation of his father (both Australian citizens), it was discovered that the young man could be called up for national service were he to arrive at his ancestral land.
Normally, citizenship by birth is available to one born of permanent residents in the nation. Citizenship by descent is available to one born overseas to citizens who are temporarily away from home. Citizenship by grant is available to immigrants who satisfy specified legal conditions. Not that long ago, anyone taking up the citizenship of a foreign nation automatically lost the original citizenship.
When Australia offered dual citizenship, for political reasons, did that diminish the value of one’s passport to only a document of identity? What of one’s commitment to one’s nation? Is the replacement of colonialism’s globalisation by military power, by the USA’s globalisation by economic power, leading to the devaluation of sovereignty and national pride? At least until the next world war?
What of the complications for cultural identity of dual nationality? Are the principal signifiers of cultural identity becoming less significant to a peripatetic younger generation? Without the divisive influence of institutional religion, especially based on authority and priestly control, could cultural identities begin to coalesce?
Indubitably, as we immigrants in Australia have shown, there is an innate tendency for humans to be interested in one another, and thence to reach out to one another. Remarkably, Anglo-Australians did demonstrate, within two generations, a capacity to become multi-ethnic, and colour blind. We are now one national people.