us and them

the recent events in ukraine reminded me to remind you guys that, if you’ve never read it, you should read jerry z. muller‘s terrific 2008 piece for Foreign Affairs – “Us and Them: The Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism” [pdf here]. it’s worth rereading periodically, too, since it’s so gosh durned excellent!:

“A familiar and influential narrative of twentieth-century European history argues that nationalism twice led to war, in 1914 and then again in 1939. Thereafter, the story goes, Europeans concluded that nationalism was a danger and gradually abandoned it. In the postwar decades, western Europeans enmeshed themselves in a web of transnational institutions, culminating in the European Union (EU). After the fall of the Soviet empire, that transnational framework spread eastward to encompass most of the continent. Europeans entered a postnational era, which was not only a good thing in itself but also a model for other regions. Nationalism, in this view, had been a tragic detour on the road to a peaceful liberal democratic order.

“[A] survey would show that whereas in 1900 there were many states in Europe without a single overwhelmingly dominant nationality, by 2007 there were only two, and one of those, Belgium, was close to breaking up. Aside from Switzerland, in other words — where the domestic ethnic balance of power is protected by strict citizenship laws — in Europe the ‘separatist project’ has not so much vanished as triumphed.

Far from having been superannuated in 1945, in many respects ethnonationalism was at its apogee in the years immediately after World War II. European stability during the Cold War era was in fact due partly to the widespread fulfillment of the ethnonationalist project. And since the end of the Cold War, ethnonationalism has continued to reshape European borders….

“Nineteenth-century liberals, like many proponents of globalization today, believed that the spread of international commerce would lead people to recognize the mutual benefits that could come from peace and trade, both within polities and between them. Socialists agreed, although they believed that harmony would come only after the arrival of socialism. Yet that was not the course that twentieth-century history was destined to follow. The process of ‘making the state and the nation commensurate’ took a variety of forms, from voluntary emigration (often motivated by governmental discrimination against minority ethnicities) to forced deportation (also known as ‘population transfer’) to genocide. Although the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ has come into English usage only recently, its verbal correlates in Czech, French, German, and Polish go back much further. Much of the history of twentieth-century Europe, in fact, has been a painful, drawn-out process of ethnic disaggregation.

“Massive ethnic disaggregation began on Europe’s frontiers. In the ethnically mixed Balkans, wars to expand the nation-states of Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia at the expense of the ailing Ottoman Empire were accompanied by ferocious interethnic violence. During the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, almost half a million people left their traditional homelands, either voluntarily or by force. Muslims left regions under the control of Bulgarians, Greeks, and Serbs; Bulgarians abandoned Greek-controlled areas of Macedonia; Greeks fled from regions of Macedonia ceded to Bulgaria and Serbia.

“World War I led to the demise of the three great turn-of-the-century empires, unleashing an explosion of ethnonationalism in the process. In the Ottoman Empire, mass deportations and murder during the war took the lives of a million members of the local Armenian minority in an early attempt at ethnic cleansing, if not genocide. In 1919, the Greek government invaded the area that would become Turkey, seeking to carve out a ‘greater Greece’ stretching all the way to Constantinople. Meeting with initial success, the Greek forces looted and burned villages in an effort to drive out the region’s ethnic Turks. But Turkish forces eventually regrouped and pushed the Greek army back, engaging in their own ethnic cleansing against local Greeks along the way. Then the process of population transfers was formalized in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne: all ethnic Greeks were to go to Greece, all Greek Muslims to Turkey. In the end, Turkey expelled almost 1.5 million people, and Greece expelled almost 400,000.”

et cetera, et cetera….

“Analysts of ethnic disaggregation typically focus on its destructive effects, which is understandable given the direct human suffering it has often entailed. But such attitudes can yield a distorted perspective by overlooking the less obvious costs and also the important benefits that ethnic separation has brought….

“But if ethnonationalism has frequently led to tension and conflict, it has also proved to be a source of cohesion and stability. When French textbooks began with ‘Our ancestors the Gauls’ or when Churchill spoke to wartime audiences of ‘this island race,’ they appealed to ethnonationalist sensibilities as a source of mutual trust and sacrifice. Liberal democracy and ethnic homogeneity are not only compatible; they can be complementary.

One could argue that Europe has been so harmonious since World War II not because of the failure of ethnic nationalism but because of its success, which removed some of the greatest sources of conflict both within and between countries. The fact that ethnic and state boundaries now largely coincide has meant that there are fewer disputes over borders or expatriate communities, leading to the most stable territorial configuration in European history.

“These ethnically homogeneous polities have displayed a great deal of internal solidarity, moreover, facilitating government programs, including domestic transfer payments, of various kinds. When the Swedish Social Democrats were developing plans for Europe’s most extensive welfare state during the interwar period, the political scientist Sheri Berman has noted, they conceived of and sold them as the construction of a folkhemmet, or ‘people’s home.’

“Several decades of life in consolidated, ethnically homogeneous states may even have worked to sap ethnonationalism’s own emotional power. Many Europeans are now prepared, and even eager, to participate in transnational frameworks such as the EU, in part because their perceived need for collective self-determination has largely been satisfied…..”

read the whole thing!

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review of “ethnic conflicts”

for your consideration, a review by andrew sabisky of tatu vanhanen‘s Ethnic Conflicts: Their Biological Roots in Ethnic Nepotism (links added by me). thanks, andrew! (^_^)

Ethnic Conflicts: Their Biological Roots in Ethnic Nepotism – some thoughts

Nationalism, once thought to be a monster whose thirst for blood had been thoroughly slaked by mass warfare, is making a resurgent comeback throughout Europe. Ostensibly fired by opposition to both Islam and the European Union, Marine le Pen & Geert Wilders – amongst others – have made major polling gains: future electoral victories promise or threaten, depending on your point of view. Golden Dawn have already achieved ballot box success in Greece. Robert Putnam’s work shows that interindividual trust in America has undergone a spectacular decline since the 1960s, accompanying the rise of ethnic diversity. In fact, recent modeling by unwilling sociologists shows that not even in 20 million possible worlds can ethnic diversity increase without a consequent decrease in community harmony. But why?

Tatu Vanhanen, perhaps best known in the Anglosphere for his co-authorship (with Richard Lynn) of such blockbusters as IQ and Global Inequality and IQ and the Wealth of Nations, has some answers. Vanhanen, inspired by the work of renowned scholars such as Pierre van den Berghe and J. Philippe Rushton, traces the roots of ethnic conflict to the sociobiological theories of inclusive fitness and genetic similarity. Despite vast variation within ethnic groups, members of ethnic groups will, on average, be more closely related to each other than random members of other ethnic groups, making ethnic nepotism an evolutionarily adaptive strategy. Ethnic nepotism is family nepotism writ large; the same process is driven by selfish genes aiding the replication of identical genes resident in related others. Ethnic groups are super-families, though the degree of difference between families varies. Races separated by geography for millennia differ more greatly than more recent cleavages within the Indo-European language-family (for example).

So far, so mainstream – at least in sociobiological terms anyway. The most intriguing aspect of Vanhanen’s introduction was his definition of ethnic conflict. I had been expecting ethnic conflict to be operationalized purely in terms of violence, an expectation aided by the macabre pile of skulls on the front cover. But Vanhanen includes peaceful conflict as well: his model incorporates all forms of intra-nation ethnic division, whether they take the form of political parties politely debating in parliaments, or destructive mobs engaged in ethnic cleansing. His scale has 5 levels: at level 2, for example, political parties or major interest groups are routinely organized along ethnic lines, and some level of discrimination is present. At level 4 discrimination and repression are high and systematic, and there is some serious level of civil warfare or terrorism.

Anyway, after compiling and computing data for 176 nations, Vanhanen reveals that the level of ethnic heterogeneity explains 66% of the variance in the level of ethnic conflicts, the remainder to be explained by other factors and measurement error. The expected relationships between democratization and national income levels and ethnic conflicts exist, but are weak. Intriguingly, he notes that while democratization does not reduce ethnic conflict much, it does tend to reduce violence somewhat; the countries with high levels of ethnic heterogeneity but lower-than-expected levels of strife tend to be either democracies of decent quality or strong autocracies. The two successful recipes for restricting ethnic violence seem to be either democratic institutions specifically adapted to the demands of blood, or the brutality of a hegemonic dictatorship, though obviously the sample sizes for countries with large residuals are not particularly great. Vanhanen also notes that high levels of interracial marriage seem to lead to more stable situations than one might expect, though such a strategy perhaps comes with other costs.

This is just a very brief sketch of Vanhanen’s work, which is well worth exploring in more depth. His nation-by-nation account of the factors that perhaps account for each country’s position on the regression line is fascinating and not something I can do justice to here (so please do buy your copies from Richard Lynn’s Ulster Institute).

As mass immigration irrevocably changes the face of the West, when will it also change our political cultures? Can they adapt to the new and unexpected requirements of sociobiological logic? The implications are intriguing to trace. In the face of declining trust and divergent genetic impulses, can the British constitution – which has until now defied codification – survive? Perhaps the rules of the game will need to be written down in one place in the future – until now we have rather muddled by on trust and precedent. Will institutionalized power-sharing (as in Northern Ireland) become the norm in the West – not between Catholic and Protestant, but between Muslim and non-Muslim (by around 2050 Britain is forecast to be a majority Islamic nation on current birthrate trends)? How much internal resistance will there be to the adaptation of current institutions? How much of the resistance, and counter-resistance, will be violent?

These questions are currently not a significant part of political debate, but Vanhanen’s incisive and clearly written work suggests that perhaps they should. I confidently recommend it in the expectation that many potential readers will derive their own interesting and worthwhile hypotheses from his data and analyses.

lord’s resistance army

so, obama has sent some military advisors or something to uganda to help tptb there to put down the barbaric but-they’re-not-alone-in-that-part-of-the-world lord’s resistance army.

don’t be fooled by the name: lord’s resistance army indeed! they should really be called the acholi people’s resistance army ’cause that’s all they are — an army made up of one of the, of course, several ethnic groups in uganda, i.e. the acholi. and what are their goals? more power for the acholi naturally!

what’s kinda funny, tho, is that the acholi people are a branch of the luo people. now why does that sound familiar…?

(note: comments do not require an email. speaking of uganda….)

segregation is good

ethnic enclaves are bad. if you want to keep people alive and prevent ethnic conflict, that is.

a couple of real world examples…

first, guatemala. in “Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Civil Violence: Guatemala 1977-1986,” timothy gulden found, amongst other things, that [pg. 29]:

The amount of killing in a municipality was correlated with its ethnic mix….

“The distribution of ethnic population among municipalities was highly polarized and the distribution U-shaped, as suggested by the gray bars in the histogram presented as Figure 3.

“Thus, at both ends of this histogram, where one group or the other [ladinos vs. mayans] represented more than 90 percent of a local population, and also in the middle, where neither group was more than 75-percent dominant, killings of Mayans, the principal victims, were fewer.”

here’s the histogram:

more from gulden [pg. 34]:

The ethnic mix histogram showed the greatest number of killings in municipalities with predominantly Mayan populations, but fewer killings in the most heavily Mayan areas. This pattern might have been produced by an attempt to clear Mayans from mixed Mayan-Ladino areas but a disinclination to do the same, to attempt ‘ethnic cleansing,’ in the Mayan heartland. The ethnic mix histogram also showed a small rise in killings where Mayans were between 10 and 25 percent of the population. Minority populations of such proportions might somehow have threatened or annoyed a local Ladino majority without effectively restraining it. Members of the smallest Mayan populations were safer; they might typically have been individual servants or laborers, with or without families, well known to Ladino employers.”

re. switzerland and the former yugoslavia — from an article i posted about the other day, “Good Fences: The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence”, the authors found that, in both switzerland and the former yugoslavia, there was the least amount of ethnic conflict in those areas where topographical and/or political boundaries clearly separated different linguistic, religious and/or ethnic groups, but where there were porous borders, there was more conflict. the former situation is more characteristic of switzerland on the whole, while the latter characterizes the former yugolavia, ergo more ethnic conflict in the former yugoslavia [pgs. 10-12]:

“Our work clarifies the ambiguities of mixed language and religion Swiss cantons by showing that in most cases the natural geography of the populations conspires to lead to a low level of violence, so that additional boundaries were not necessary; where they were needed, as in Graubunden, they were established. The highest calculated propensity to violence is between linguistic groups in the northern part of the canton of Bern, where historically unresolved real world tensions actually exist. Our analysis indicates that both administrative and natural barriers can play a significant role in mitigating conflict between religious and linguistic groups. Historical evidence suggests that for religious groups the boundaries in Switzerland were created to provide autonomy to a group with a shared identity and avoid conflict among multiple groups. Ongoing efforts to reduce tensions in Bern include introducing new political boundaries. The many political, social and economic factors that play roles in reducing violence build on a strong foundation of geographical borders.

diversity is strength … in killing games. =/

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