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Midterm Essay

Ahmed Arroyo Cruz Modern&ContempWestCiv

Politics and the Nation State

The nation state is the concept that the people, or the majority of people living in a state, are aware that they share the same, or a similar culture to everyone in the state. It is a form of political organization characterized by having a clearly defined territory, a relatively constant population, and a government. The nation state was born, historically, by the treaty of Westphalia, at the end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648.

This treaty ends the old feudal order and gives way to territorial organizations defined around a government that recognizes its spatial and power limits.

If one disregards pre-modern ancient civilizations like the Egyptian, Roman or Persian empires, nationalism is a development of the European modern era. Those societies in the European Middle Ages were “human resources associations”, which could mostly do without the criteria that make up a state due to their orientation and dependence on a ruler, a dynasty or a cooperative governing body like the merchant republic of Venice.

They worked through the personal bond between rulers and subjects. Early forms of national consciousness developed during the Crusades, especially in France under Louis VI, and since the Cathar wars under the dominant Catholic religion. A level of international diplomacy and an early form of nation-state action formed the Westphalian Peace of 1648, in which states began to establish themselves as sovereign subjects of international law with the concept of the Westphalian System.

From the eighteenth century onwards, the idea of ??the nation-state moved completely into the center of politics, when the situation of the population had worsened as a result of high public debt, high taxes and violent wars.

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In this context, ideas were widely received that emphasized and mingled the idea of ??a nation as a community in the sense of an idealized self-image. For the worse living conditions, ethnic or cultural minorities were collectively held responsible in the sense of an enemy image.

The nation state presupposes a state and a nation. Both have emerged from historical developments and not a natural condition of human coexistence. According to the supporters of the nation-state idea, emerging nation-states should unite the essential parts of the state-bearing and usually also a titular nation. The state-supporting part of the population should feel connected to a common culture or tradition. Ideally, a national state includes all members of a people and only members of that people or culture, an ethno-state.

The opposite of the nation-state is formed by the multi-ethnic state, which unites members of more than one nation within its territory. Examples of today’s multi-ethnic nations are Switzerland, Belgium or the United States of America.

For example, the island states of Japan and Iceland are close to the type of nation state. It becomes much more complicated for developing states that conceive of themselves as nation states, when the settlement has areas of different ethnicities that overlap. In this case, an attempt to form a nation-state can turn into a war if different ethnicities want to found their nation state on the same territory. Conflicts can also arise if ethnic groups want to become autonomous in their settlement from a multi-ethnic state. It could then lead to talk of separatism or secession. Such striving for sovereignty of one’s own settlement area and for the emancipation of one’s own people is usually found where an ethnic group of a multinational state dominated by a larger people sees itself, its interests or its culture, as oppressed, under-represented or threatened. Since a separation or reduction of the state is usually not in the interest of the multi-ethnic state, the conflict of interest between the different ethnic groups tend to lead to civil war and repression, but only rarely lead to a peaceful solution attempt. Separatism is the urge of the population group of a nation state to form its own state or to join another state because of its own culture or ethnicity different from the state-bearing ethnic group. Examples are the Basques, Catalans, Kurds, Albanians or Uighurs. There is often only a perspective difference between the terms separatism and nationalism, depending on the standpoint of the existing state or the demarcation advocates.

It is doubtful that a nation’s definition of a common trait, such as language, tradition, customs, customs or descent, can be fully met. Sociologists criticize the idea that all permanent residents of a state must be part of the associated nation, but at least strive to become it. Especially in the context of increasing mixing cultures within young living environments, notions of societal and political education oriented towards nation-state categories did not appear to be a perfect fit. The central strategy for the development of the nation state is the homogenization of language, education and life forms. However, the living arrangements of young people and young adults with a migrant background clearly showed the integrating power of diversity management, which favors political participation on the basis of multiple affiliations.

Decolonization and the creation of powerful global entities, characterized the second half of the twentieth century, and lead to a questioning of the usefulness of the national or imperial-colonial scale that had marked the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. Such skepticism was shown in the creation of the European Economic Community or European Union, taken as an integration model by other international economic organizations like NAFTA, and, to a lesser extent, by military alliances like NATO during the cold war, or on the cusp of international relations that is the UN and its agencies.

This ideological change meant the fall of the Berlin wall and the disappearance of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, which meant the transition to capitalism of the surrounding countries. There was talk of a revitalization of international relations, in a much more violent context of international relations, similar to the so-called “clash of civilizations” theory, as seen by Islamic radicalism. Several new states appeared in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia was “balkanized”, in which their territories were split into new countries or incorporated into others, and in Africa, there was the independence of Eritrea against Ethiopia and South Sudan against Sudan.

Living outside the borders of the nation-state, members of the state-bearing nation can increase political problems. Living in a closed area can lead to the demand that this be joined to the nation-state, for example by Ireland with regard to Northern Ireland. This is the concept of “irredentism”. If they do not live in a closed area, this can lead to repatriation actions. One example is the late repatriates in Germany in WW2.

Normally, assimilation takes place over time when the minority has no interest in keeping its culture, is not big enough, or does not have enough assertiveness with the majority to form their own national state or to join the national state of their nation. Over the generations, the mother tongue, nationality, cultural sense of belonging and identity change. An example of this are Alsatians and Lorraine. States with uncertainty about their own identity may experience assimilation pressure on the minority.

Globalization, in addition to allowing new social networks outside the state powers, gives greater power to economic institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Same with economic agents to traditional political institutions, including States.


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