FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism (Muller 2008) Grad School Notes

BONUS LINK:  My entire (so far) grad school notes collection can be found here. 

Grad School Notes: 

“Us and Them: The Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism” by J. Muller (2008)

For Americans, Ethnic Nationalism in politics is not an easy concept to grasp of which to give merit, most find it discomfiting both intellectually and morally

Two of best ways (least bad”) responses to ethnic nationalism is ethnic disaggregation or partition. 

People who come to the US usually do so with the expectation that their ethnic identities will lessen or disappear. 

In regions where there is peace now it is only a byproduct of violent ethnic separations—where separation hasn’t occurred—watch out. 

Ethnonationalism formed the Europe we know today despite their claims that nationalism is now supplanted by globalism and transnational institutions.  Today, every European state except for two has a dominant nationalit

The Politics of Identity:

Two schools on the idea of a national identity: 

Civic/Liberal:  American conception.  If you live within the borders you are part of the nation, regardless of ethnic or racial background
Ethno:  nations defined by a shared heritage (blood)—common language, faith, ethnicity

But civic nationalism is a relatively new phenomenon in Europe and US.  (e.g. WASPs)

Differing levels of civic vs. ethnonationalism as one travels east from western Europe. The countries in Western Europe had a longer period to develop a more homogenous population—enabling them to become nation-states.

The Rise of Ethnonationalism (EN):

Idea of a nation-state is a recent phenomenon—for most of history people lived in Empires—their own little nations.

Gellner defines:
Rise of ethnonationalism driven by modernity.  Military competition between state led to demand for continual economic growth—this depended on mass literacy and communication—promotion of education and common language—leading to conflicts over language and communal opportunities.

EN also responded to modern state’s weakening of familial and religious social bonds—offering a common ethnic identity.

The ugly side of EN is that the creation of a nation-state necessarily means that there will be minorities created and treated as inferior.

The Great Transformation:

Ethnic cleansing, population transfer, genocide were all byproducts of post World War I breakup of empires as borders were moved to align them with populations and victors.  This nationalism continued to build up through World War II—with Hitler’s Germany as an unholy culmination. 

Postwar but not PostNational:

After WWII, instead of borders being moved, populations were—in the name of postwar stability.  Mixture of ethnic populations deemed subversive and troublesome, this was characterized by the expulsion of ethnic Germans from non Germanic countries.  Carried through the end of the Cold War—this has been the story of ethnic disaggregation and and EN.

Decolonization and After:

EN happened elsewhere too: British partition of India and Pakistan; later partition of Pakistan and Bangladesh; mandate of Palestine’s disestablishment into Israel; expulsion of pied-noirs in Algeria, Asians in Uganda.

The Balance Sheet:

Obvious deleterious effects of EN, but also good things and stability have occurred:
EN has motivated countries to mutual trust and sacrifice—through appeals to that shared heritage.  Post WWII Europe has been so stable because of EN—those sourcers of conflict having been removed. 

New Ethnic Mixing:

Today ethnic mixing occurs largely due to a north and west migration pattern from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.  Whether these groups will assimilate will largely determine future conflict or perhaps another rise of EN. 

Future Implications:

Since modernization is a key cause of EN, one can expect future conflict in modernizing states.  This is especially true in developing new states (think Africa) with borders that cross ethnic boundaries.

Once a certain level of conflict has been reached—remaining a single state becomes counterproductive (Chaim Kaufmann).    Once this point has been reached partition may be the most human response.  Yes, it creates problematic refugee flows but it at least addresses the source of the conflict.  It does however, require a substantial financial commitment from the international community. 

EN is here to stay and ignoring and trying to write it off as imagined and therefore irrelevant might only provoke future conflict. 

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