Friday, August 18, 2006

Rethinking Asia and Africa and Hypernationalism

Many of the problems of Asia and Africa are due to the absurd way states were lumped together by the colonial powers. The folly of the left is that it can make Nationalism irrelevant.

Sudan is the ultimate example of people who loathe each other being lumped together for no sane reason. Arabs and Blacks have a history of annimosity but some colonial paper pusher placed them together with tragic results.

There are many available options such as local autonomy or a type of statism. There is the example of the peaceful Chech Slovak split. Individual countries may opt for different solutions.

Nationalism is real and is not going away.


jams o donnell said...

Beakerkin, as you already know have seen from my own blog the situation in Darfur horrifies and angers me, partly because it seems to be largely ignored by the world. . There is no doubt that the "Grab for Africa" is an underlying cause as it is the cause of many of Africa's woes.

The people of Darfur (like the people of Israel or anyone else for that matter) have the right to live in peace without fear of slaughter. What you suggest may well be the way forward for them.

Nationalism is everywhere. We have nationalist movements here in the UK. This is no surprise given that this country is a union of separate historic nations. The SNP (the Scottish Nationalist Party)and PC (Plaid Cymru - literally the Party of Wales) are represented in Parliament and in the devolved national assemblies. I give thanks that their brand of nationalism is peaceful. Northern Ireland has Sinn Fein and the moderate SDLP.

We do of course have the Neo Nazi style nationalists too. The British National Party has some representation in local councils but not nationally. My own views on the BNP and the like is as hostile as my views on Soviet communism.

The Merry Widow said...

Truth was, it was an administrative move, as if papaer pushers were aware of reality! Usually done back in the "home" country to simplify paperwork! They had no "feel" for the language, customs, history etc. of the natives! They didn't care about what happened 500 or so years ago, there was also an element of "bigger is better" snootiness toward other European colonial powers! Bragging rights you might say! I know, I'm Scottish myself(with Dutch, German, Welsh) Wonder how I'd divide myself into nations? So Scotland's annexation by England is, not a sore spot, but a noted fact. And Scottish culture was distinct from English and thanks to England, the clan structure was made adversarial between chiefs and the rest! It ceased being family! Sad!
Good morning, G*D bless and Maranatha!


beakerkin said...

Jams I want to thank you and TMW for rethinking about Europe in this context. There are several areas in Europe that could see hypernationalism. This is largely an old world issue.

Nationalism is not going away and we have to deal with it on some level.

jams o donnell said...

I wish nationalism would go away but sadly I don't have the powers of the boy in that old Twilight Zone episode! At its worst it is vile.

We do not have to go back far to see nationalism at its ugliest in Europe - look at the break up of Yugoslavia and the conflicts in the Caucasus statelets like Chechnya, Abkhazia etc.

The take over of Scotland was an interesting one. There was plenty of fighting between Scotland and England for centuries (think William Wallace, Edward I etc). A Scottish king became king of England after Queen Elizabeth died childless in 1603. For over a century England and Scotland were ruled as separate but linked kingdoms, union only came in 1707. A key reason for union was a Scottish attempt to create a colony in Darien. It failed (due to a large extent to english commercial interests), Scotland was bankrupted, Union was offered as a way out and the rest is history.

Scotland retained some elements of independence including somewhat different judicial and educational systems. Scotland has its own parliament again now - it came into being after New Labour came to power in 1997. Once again it has control over its internal affairs. Defence, foreign policy an some other issues are the remit of the UK Parliament.. a bit like the relationship between your state and federal government?

The Merry Widow said...

Supposedly, but the federal is barging into and cancelling out states rights! To me and the Founding Fathers, states rights should trump federal except for mutual defense and commerce! Now it's stuck it's nose into health, welfare, education and judicial issues, to the detriment of all! The Republic is dead, and democracy leads to the man on horseback!

beakerkin said...


I do not think Nationalism in itself is a bad thing. I am glad you brought up Yugoslavia as an example of the potential problems of divisions.

The dream of several large nations was that people would toss their identity aside and it just doesn't work. Kurds in Turkey consider themselves Kurds.

The notion of statism as in the United States is an option. However, it works best when we have multi ethnic, multi regional parties with a shared vision. A parlimentary system and the building of coalitions along the Italian model may be the best that
many of these countries can hope for.

I am trying to remember the crack pot author who wrote that Natural resources are a curse. This author traveled the world and found that political instability may be fueled
by natural resources or the drug trade. I tended to dismiss this author as a lunatic when she placed Lebanon in this context but the dirty little secret is that there is a large element of truth.
The rival factions all take part
in the herion trade. The center of the heroin trade is the Bekaa Valley where Hezbollah is located.

The potential implications of this
are not understood. It may well be that Narcotics is also funding terrorism. The degree of this funding remains unclear. Would we really want to use chemical agents to destroy the poppies. Would such efforts cause birth defects? It is a problem with an unclear solution.

FLORIAN said...

I think all of Africa is a prime example of how the idiotic colonial powers decided to draw up the map to include hundreds of ethnicities into one nation. Take Cameroon for example, you have over 150 different ethnic groups living together in that one lump of land--Balkanism at it's worst and it led to violence many times. Most of the Middle East is drawn up like that too.

Purple Avenger said...

Its not just old colonial borders, its old arbitrary colonial classifications.

The difference between Tutsi and Hutu is an artificial eugenics based one invented by the Belgians. Prior the the appearance of the euro-whacks, and their (successful) attempt to create classes in that country there was no difference and people got along.

beakerkin said...

Purple Avenger this is 100% true and Colonialism did hurt Africa. However some of the blame belongs on the irresponsible strong men themselves.

India also was colonized and doing quite well. South Korea was ravaged by war and is doing well.

While it is true that Colonialism did hurt Africa it is not the only problem. Europe has been out of Africa for years and the situation has gotten worse.

The notion outside forces can fix Africa is misguided. The West can help Africa along but until there is stable governance and the rule of law this will remain a problem. Africans have to help themselves as well. There are small scale examples but nothing major.

JINGOIST said...

Beaker, Africa's problems lead to MANY other questions....


jams o donnell said...

This is an extremely interesting string of comments. There are plenty of uncomfortable truths being pointed out here.

India is indeed doing fairly well. It can put a satellite in orbit under its own steam but there is still a hell of a lot of grinding poverty. There still remains much for India to address.

India also has a problem with Maoist teerrorists, the Naxalites. Needless to say they are a vile bunch of murderers and brigands and of course have their idiotic supporters.
in the west.

Redwine said...

Interesting thread indeed. Jams: I wouldn't compare Asia to Europe or the US. Asian nationalism is different, and in Asia, Chinese or Indian or Pakistani nationalisms very different again. Beak was right in calling the attention to that diversity.

Also: "The folly of the left is that it can make Nationalism irrelevant." - Beak, wrong: what you call left, is at least as nationalist as the far right was. Nowadays mostly the radical left is promoting good old-fashioned xenophobia, calling it "self-determination" (the Maoist support for Transnistria, etc.) The whole history of the Communists regimes in Eastern Europe is one of primitive nationalisms.

beakerkin said...

Red Wine

This was not the case in Yugoslavia. Despite the efforts of Tito Serbs, Croats ect all thought
of themselves s Serbs and Croats.
The Soviet Union also had the same
problem with over 100 nationalities. People do not naturally think of themselves in the greater entity. The new world states are largely unburdened by this problem.

Redwine said...


Yugoslavia (not so far from here, as far as the ex USSR) was strongly nationalist: there is more to it than Serbs and Croatians: the hell broke out in Bosnia and Kosovo. As for the ex USSR, with its more than 100 nationalities, we can contemplate the fruit of a very strong nationalist propaganda. My point here was that these countries were no less nationalist and racist than the rest: but in a different way; the propaganda was different and the way to impose ethnic supremacy.