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

Monday, August 27, 2012

Theory of Relative Political Deprivation--Connor--Grad School Notes

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

Grad School Notes on: 

“From a Theory of Relative Economic Deprivation (RED) Towards a Theory of Relative Political Deprivation”  by Walker Connor (2001)

Relative Deprivation is the experience of believing that you are denied something to which you are entitled.

In this reading Connor takes case with popular assertion that economic inequality (or the perception on inequality) drives ethno-national conflict.  The point on perception is important because whether or not an imbalance exists, if a group believes one exists they can infuse this incendiary belief into any economic data (rather than vice versa).

He points out that you have this inequality in every country and in every region due to the wide disparity in development.  He goes on to say, “defining ethno-national conflict in terms of economic inequality is a bit like defining them in terms of exygen: where you find the one, you can be reasonable certain of finding the other” (115).

Normally the charges of inequality are based upon intra-state situations because “economies are generally construed to be state-wide enterprises.”  But this does not mean that the government itself is necessarily targeting specific ethno-national groups for discrimination.  You have even greater disparities in the global economy that isn’t controlled by a central government.  (116).  There’s also evidence of politically dominant ethnic groups that are less well-off than other groups in their country. 

Empirical Problems with RED:

Quebec and Maine Illustration.   Both states have comparable median family incomes.  Quebec is actually a little better off.  However, the Parti Quebecois points to disparities with Ontario and states they would be better off alone.  Despite a similar plight, Mainers don’t advocate to leave the Union—they acknowledge geography as the culprit—not a government conspiracy (117).

RED also does not account for conflict that stems from economically advantage ethnic groups.  Ex.  Basques and Catalans resent poor Castilians.

RED would also mean that if you closed the gap, tensions should lessen, but there is empirical evidence that this is not always the case (118).

Also many examples of groups pursuing nationalistic behavior despite an awareness it will damage their economic standing (RED): Quebecois in 60’s and 70’s, resistance of Baltic socialist republics of Soviet investment capital, overwhelming West German sentiment to unify with East Germany despite assurances they would incur great economic hardship (119-20).

What Role does RED play then?

There is better evidence to suggest that RED as a catalyst (or exacerbator) for ethno-national action/tensions, rather than a necessary precondition for those actions/tensions.
Other catalysts: Large influx of outsiders into an ethnic homeland (influx of European Jews into Israel really set off the conflict following WWII), destruction of symbolic artifcacts/buildings are two examples.  The point being that just about anything could end up being a catalyst (121).

Connor’s Solution?  Relative Political Deprivation (RPD)

Ethno-nationalist people living in their homeland resent being ruled by non-members.  “The right of national self-determination”  is a phrase that has become commonplace.

This idea does not equal separatism, rather it means people want to be given the choice to decide for themselves if they should secede.  Most often they choose not to—instead, they just want some meaningful measure of autonomy (such has been the case for Quebec). 

Even among separatist-leaning groups, they still also espouse affection for their state.  The state has many mechanism to build this good will—namely through education.  (122-124).

Example: Switzerland is multi-ethnic democracy that is decentralized through a confederal cantonal structure.  Other European states have responded to ethno-national tensions through similar political devolution.
Example:  Ethiopia’s 1991 constitution federalized the state by ethnic groups in its regions and has 13 official religions. 

Obstacles to Alleviation:

Because autonomy has so many variations, its implementation is problematic and requires periodic alteration/continuous negotiation.   This whole process must derive its legitimacy from recognition that the problem is a political NOT economic one (124).

European Integration:

Example of EU integration that is supported by many minorities since it lessens the power of a state to which they don’t hold as much affection for and also increases their ability to associate with their ethnic brethren that are often right across their state’s border (Alsatians and Germans for example) (126).

Connor speaks at length about the process surrounding the 1992 Maastricht Treaty.  His main points are:
- A group’s sense of RPD is not trumped just because of common economic institutions
- EU integration does not mean that economic concerns trump political ones without qualification.  Political integration has been elite-driven (128-129).
This is the great debate: will growing economic integration lead to a recession of nationalism? 
Communist Manifesto said yes but since it was written we have seen, and continue to see, and ebb and flow of nationalism despite globalization (130).

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