Woodrow Wilson Reconsidered—I hate to speak ill of a fellow Democrat,* but “wars and rumors of war” recently in the Balkans and the Former British Mandate of Palestine make me question the fundamental wisdom of the ethnic state. Like the Father of Post-WW I “national self-determination,” I prefer to be an idealist. But a better ideal may in fact be the ‘generic’ territorial state guaranteeing full rights for all individuals and ethnic or religious groups. Because let’s face it, most of the Old World’s current national borders are sociologically ‘fuzzy,’ yet most still pretend to be mostly one single ‘people-group.’ Even with respect to the Northern Ireland situation, I’ve thought that if Gaelic-, Norman-, and Anglo-Irish Catholics throughout the Island were free to be themselves, socially, culturally, religiously, linguistically, across current national borders, maybe they wouldn’t feel it necessary to reunify the Island. But they’re not free in the North, objectively speaking.
It’s like labor-management relations: well-treated workers don’t feel the need to unionize: workers don’t make unions, employers do!!!
Of course, the perfect non-ethnic (or whatever) State doesn’t exist yet, not even the USA; and of course there’s the not small matter of the Native Americans. Multi-ethnic/non-ethnic states historically have tended to form either by conquest and empire, by voluntary federation, or by social/cultural assimilation, that is, by becoming in fact a single ‘people group.’ And they haven’t gone so well yet, but we seem to be improving. The European Union aims to transcend that region’s fuzzy borders, so it won’t matter anymore if Alsace-Lorraine, say, is technically part of Germany, France, divided, or whatever. This will also be aided, it is hoped, by the “Europe of the Regions” policies, to pay attention to ‘under-attended-to’ spots like, I dunno, Alsace-Lorraine, Brittany, Galicia, the Island of Ireland, etc. The idea, I think, in part is that if ‘peoples’ can retain their life and identity irrespective of political borders, and cooperate peaceably with other ‘peoples,’ that might make a better world than we have at present. Like in the USA, it doesn’t matter if an Irish-American lives in Chicago, or Massachusetts, or Marin County, California, or Mississippi, or Whitemarsh Township, Pennsylvania, or the Borough of Sussex, New Jersey; they can still be an Irish-American (mostly).
This doesn’t necessarily rule out having a State religion like most countries currently do, officially or unofficially–as long as individuals aren’t required to join it or directly support it, and are permitted to believe and organize belief as they choose.
Of course, the concept of “ethno-genesis” is quite complicated and I believe still not completely understood historically or with respect to our own time. But jeez, if every time a new group of people come to see themselves as a group, we have wars and conflicts and threats…. There has to be a better way! “Let a million flowers bloom”…in the one Greenhouse Earth!!! 😉
What’s equally needed is less will to dominate by groups or persons that would dominate such a polity. And some suggest non-domination requires nothing less than a religious conversion of some kind!….
(*–At least we’re allowed: Republicans say “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican” is the 11th Commandment!)