A widely accepted myth blinds us to the true nature of contemporary ethnic controversies as an escalating para-modern problem --instead, we tend to be puzzled by the apparent revival of an ancient non-modern phenomenon that, we thought, would be erased by the processes of modernity. In my opinion, the reverse scenario is more valid: non-modern societies, although demographically quite multi-cultural, did not face serious ethnic controversies. Instead, salient problems of ethnic diversity and ethnic nationalism are quite modern - - actually, they are para-modern.
A Myth. To illustrate the conventional point of view that I reject, let me cite a recent essay by John R. Bowen entitled "The Myth of Global Ethnic Conflict" (Bowen, 1996). Ironically, Bowen uses "myth" in his title to refer to the false premise that "ethnic groups lie in wait for one another, nourishing age-old hatreds and restrained only by powerful states. Remove the lid, and the caldron boils over" (1996: 3). I agree that this idea is a myth, but the title suggests that Bowen rejects the rise of "global ethnic conflict" as a myth. In fact, his article proclaims its reality.
However, his explanation is inadequate -- it points to part of the problem without supplying its larger context, and his use of ethnic conflict misleads. The proliferation of ethnic conflicts does not mean that ethnicity is the cause -- rather, many different kinds of conflict are seen today as "ethnic" in character -- the conspicuous mask covers diverse causes. 
Moreover, most inter-ethnic relations are non-violent and many of them involve harmonious integration, as Bowen himself acknowledges. He reminds us that in many situations ethnic diversity coexists with harmony.
However, some ethnic interactions are increasingly violent and threatening to the world -- I'm afraid they will increase during the coming years, or century. This chapter focuses on the dangers stemming from one form of ethnic conflict, namely that of ethnic nationalism. It generates ethnic cleavages by contrast with ethnic diversity. Such cleavages often, though not always, generate non-violent conflicts.
Bowen correctly points out that each local controversy has its own distinctive features. More importantly, I think, the threat of escalating conflict between ethnonational movements and existing states, many of them weak and authoritarian in character, is growing and frightening. The future will see more and more situations similar to what has already happened in Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, among the Basques in Spain and at Chiapas in Mexico.
To understand why ethnonational violence will escalate in the decades to come, we need not only to reject the explanatory myth that Bowen attacks but also gain a deeper understanding of the historic forces that have led us to our contemporary predicament, call it what you will. Ethnonational conflicts are not purely "ethnic" but they are all ethno-political: they mix ethnicity with various social, economic, political and cultural factors that reinforce each other, producing episodes of violence.
Moreover, as Bowen also argues, primordial tensions cannot explain them: they are all distinctively modern -- or para-modern, as I would rather call them. Admittedly, this term is novel and cannot yet be widely understood, but it helps us focus on the negative side-effects of modernity. They are the aspects that we would rather not see, including all the negative consequences of what we like most about modernity. Around the world, they include mounting ethnic cleavages that will increasingly provoke local violence driven by rising ethnonationalist movements.
Contemporary ethnic controversies are truly modern -- i.e., para-modern. Since we hate to recognize the unwanted results of modernization, we would rather attribute them to the past, to hateful residues of "traditional" or "pre-modern" ways of acting and thinking, as dramatized in the "myths" Bowen protests against. To recognize the modern origins of para-modernity is to confront a nemesis, to acknowledge the unavoidable consequence of our most vaunted achievements. Somehow, this invalidates us, creating unacceptable self-indictments and despair, a threat to our self-esteem.
In order to understand the modern and ethnic aspects of the growing violence, we need to recognize that, although multi-culturalism is an ancient phenomenon, it was rarely, if ever, a leading cause of conflict in non-modern environments. Modernity has only recently pushed it to the forefront of our consciousness and made it a pretext for the increasingly violent conflicts that now plague the world.
Cultural Mixing. To grasp the significance of this modern transformation, we need to recall that all civilizations, going back for thousands of years, have been multi-cultural in the sense that peoples with different cultural heritages have co-existed and experienced acculturation. No doubt, primordial societies were mono-cultural, as hypothesized in many case studies by social anthropologists working in some surviving isolated communities. However, population movements, and especially trade and urbanization, brought peoples with different cultural practices into contact with each other long ago, generating multi-cultural relationships as the norm. In these contexts, cultural changes occurred as peoples in contact interacted with and influenced each other, sometimes assimilating and changing their cultures, and often becoming involved in conflicts based on economic, social, political and other differences that they did not explain in terms of ethnicity, nor would they have sought relief through ethnic nationalism or self-determination movements.
No doubt, as kingdoms and empires arose in traditional civilizations, ethnic differences were exploited by rulers but they rarely became a focus for organized competition and conflicts. When one people conquered another, they sometimes established systems of stratification that produced dominant elites and their subordinates, sometimes followed by conflicts between masters and slaves (subjects). Caste relationships became ritualized as each caste enforced/accepted traditionally legitimized rules of conduct. Those living on the margins of an expanding civilization fled to new lands, retreated to inaccessible enclaves, or accepted assimilation. They did not conceptualize their intercultural relationships in terms of ethnicity -- although they often contrasted civilized folks with barbarians, believers with infidels, or settled with nomadic peoples. Paradoxically, in its original Greek usage, ethnicos identified members of one's own community but, gradually, it evolved into a terms for outsiders: the heathen, infidels, barbarians, or foreigners.
In the mode of hierarchic ascriptive social relations and beliefs in supernatural forces, marginalized communities typically accepted their fate (karma) and make the best of whatever opportunities came their way -- they could not use cultural differences as a pretext for organizing liberation movements or rebellions. Slave revolts were uncommon, but when they did occur, slaves revolted against their masters, not as a racial or cultural community but, more often, indeed, as a mixed group of oppressed people. Kings often mobilized followers who were culturally different from most of their subjects and they conceptualized their conflicts with rival rulers in terms of different gods or domains but not their cultural or national identity.
Multi-culturalism in non-modern environments took the form of ethnic differentiation -- different cultural communities, socio-political strata and economic classes co-existed of fought each other, but not in order to assimilate minorities or to win their independence as nation states. In historical mythology, the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt might be viewed as an exception, but I think theocratic concerns were more salient than ethnic considerations, and escape from slavery was the primary motive. In general, the wars, revolts and conflicts found in non-modern environments were not conceptualized as ethnic struggles, nor were their fault-lines based on cultural differences.
Modernity. Modernity, by contrast, has elevated ethnic identity and nationalism into a salient focus of socio-political protest and action. By modernity I refer to a special way of life that has arisen in the context of non-modern ways of life. Non-modern ways continue to exist in the world today which is why I do not write, 'pre-modern.' Unfortunately, "modern" is often used to mean "contemporary" and in a temporal sense, everyone on earth today is a contemporary, but not necessarily modern. The present day and the modern co-exist but they are not the same -- the non-modern exists nowadays as well as in the past.
Modernity as a way of life involves many interdependent ways of thinking and acting, with innumerable consequences, but the basic structure of modernity is quite visible when we focus on three of its major features: industrialism, nationalism, and democracy. The underlying beliefs, driving causes and material consequences linked with these features are all modern. Many other practices and ideas existed and still exist without reference to these three three features -- they are non-modern even though contemporary. Normally, moreover, they are deeply influenced by modern practices and beliefs. Composing and performing a symphony, for example, is non-modern, but modern technology deeply affects the way it is heard and understood.
Capitalism is often viewed as an aspect of modernity but I reject this idea. Capitalism has existed for several millennia among traders and in market cities throughout the world -- it is not specifically modern (Curtin, 1984). However, capitalism was a driving force in the Industrial Revolution, as were the monarchs who entered into mercantilist partnerships with merchants in order to finance their growing state power after the treaty of Westphalia brought the feudal age to an end. It was, I believe, the political empowerment of capitalists (as a bourgeoisie, an empowered capitalist class) that permitted industrialism to emerge, but industrialism subsequently gained a life of its own and can spread, with or without capitalism. Moreover, the technological achievements of modernity are products of industrialism and could never have been produced by pre-industrial capitalists (See Polanyi, et al, 1957).
Traditionally, I might add, capitalists were members of ethnic minorities and were politically marginalized -- the phenomenon has often been described but, I believe, its true significance has not been appreciated -- see, for example, Zenner (1991). The evolution to modernity, therefore, involved the pivotal role of empowered capitalists as the entrepreneurs and inventors of industrialism. Their ethnic particularism gave way to bourgeois nationalism, and they also activated the struggle for democracy. To recognize this pivotal role, however, is not to equate capitalism with modernity -- the product is not the same as its cause even though the cause was a necessary condition for the consequence.
Multi-culturalism, therefore, arose in non-modern contexts and persists in modern ones. However, it has been so deeply re-shaped by modernity that it has acquired novel and even menacing features. Modernizers have usually thought that modernization would bring rationality and the rule of law, democracy and peace with justice for all. It is hard for them, therefore, to see how modernization has also transmuted the logic of multi-culturalism, making it a catalyst in the rising malaise of ethnic nationalism and civil wars, genocide and refugees, while precipitating global concern and international interventions. In order to understand these fateful changes, we need to consider all three basic aspects of modernity: industrialism, democracy and nationalism. Each has shaped the rise of ethnonationalism and contributed to ethnic cleavages. Let me take up each in turn.
Industrialization. The most dire result of industrialization was the expansion of certain modern states into empires -- each modern empire sought to expand its industrial base by gaining secure access to larger markets and sources of raw materials, while also financing its ability to buy the treasured products of foreign civilizations. The contemporary world situation can best be understood, I think, as a result of the struggles between these modern empires -- culminating in the "Cold War" between the two super-powers who survived the devastation of World War II.
The successor states that emerged on the ashes of these collapsed empires were artificially constituted by imperialism, many tribes were mixed together in the new states and some ethnic nations were divided between different states. Weak authoritarianism and anarchy in many of these successor states provided the incentives for escalating resistance movements and criminal gangs, many of which now converge into ethno-political revolts based on demands for self-determination and sovereignty, or for the re-unification of a people divided by imperial conquests.
A secondary consequence of industrialization involved massive migrations that greatly increased the degree of multi-cultural mixing and ethno-racial marginalization. Newly emerging British factories, for example, required large quantities of cotton to manufacture cloth, generating the demand for plantation workers that drove the slave trade -- neither Europeans nor conquered peoples were willing to perform the arduous work on plantations and in mines that industrialism required, nor would they accept the poverty it entailed. When the American Civil War and emancipation produced a large number of "freed" slaves, they became a marginalized racial (ethnic) minority, creating the most acute of the many ethnic controversies faced by Americans today. Chinese workers were brought to California to do the manual labor involved in building railways, and plantation workers came from Japan, Korea and the Philippines to grow sugar in Hawaii and elsewhere, thereby generating major contemporary controversies involving Asian ethnicity in the United States.
Throughout the domains of the modern empires, miners, plantation and construction workers were imported to help supply the materials and infrastructures needed by expanding factories. Some became millers who processed agricultural products. Others became merchants operating village stores: peasants living on a subsistence basis could not become customers for factory-made products until outsiders set up shops in their villages. Traditional reciprocity in such societies would have led to the ostracizing of any community member who demanded money in exchange for merchandise. Following independence, some of these alien minorities became scapegoats and even faced eviction -- as did the Indians in Uganda, or the Chinese in Indonesia.
A third dimension of industrialism that contributes to the violence of ethnonationalist revolts involves the goods and services it provides. The mass production and distribution of the weapons of deadly violence makes them widely available to terrorists as well as to nationalists. Industrialism created new means of communication, including the INTERNET, that facilitate the organization of resistance movements and oppression by authoritarian regimes. It produced new modes of large-scale organization available to private associations and political parties as well as to states, multi- national corporations and ethnonational movements. It has developed means of transportation that permit the long-distance migration of laborers and entrepreneurs as well as the transportation of manufactures and raw materials. All of these products of industrialism reinforce and facilitate the rise and revolts led by ethnic nationalists. They do not, however, supply their causes. To explain the underlying rationale of these movements we need to look at two other major dimensions of modernity: democracy and nationalism.
Democracy. The underlying rationale for the emergence of modern ethnicity was generated by the spread of democratic values. As monarchic authoritarianism was replaced by democratic populism, notions of human equality informed electoral practices that empowered citizens but they also angered subjects who felt betrayed -- for them, promises of empowerment led to the realities of marginalization and oppression. From its earliest beginnings, the ortho-modern achievements of democratization were counterbalanced by the para-modern frustrations born of capitalist oppression and imperialist tyranny. Humiliations and hardships that were stoically tolerated under traditional monarchies became intolerable as democratic values spread.
No doubt, ideally speaking, democratic governments promised to accommodate the needs and just demands of all their peoples. No doubt they succeeded by responding to the needs of their enfranchised citizens, but the same democratic values also spurred the mobilization of marginalized peoples, including proletarians and peasants as well as increasingly conscious cultural and racial minorities.
So long as sovereignty was vested in kings and emperors whose supernatural powers were thought to bring promises of health and wealth to all peoples under their rule, revolts were viewed as sacrilegious provocations more likely to bring divine retribution than worldly benefits. Traditional hierarchic notions legitimized gross inequities among different cultural communities and castes or classes.
The shift from monarchism to democracy, by contrast, entailed the acceptance of the new equalitarian norms proclaimed in the American Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal..." This revolutionary doctrine has always clashed with actual practice, but it became an inspiration to marginalized peoples -- if equality was "true," then why were they, quite "self-evidently," so unequal?
As universal suffrage and social mobility progressed, so did the mobilization of oppressed minorities, starting with "proletarians," under socialist/communist leadership, and continuing during the past half-century with ethnic and racial minorities. Their leaders proclaimed democratic values to support their protests and demands. In America, the Civil Rights movement - - whose most dramatic moment is epitomized by Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, August 28, 1963 -- brought a long delayed, though still incomplete, fruition to this aspiration in America. Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation has been celebrated around the world as a call for marginalized peoples to rise up and demand their rights.
As Bowen points out, new social groups identified by "ethnic, religious, or regional categories" were recognized by the colonial powers and given preferential treatment, providing a basis for self identification that subsequently enabled them to "...act in concert, as political groups with common interests... These shared interests have been those of political autonomy, access to education and jobs, and control of local resources. Far from reflecting ancient ethnic or tribal loyalties, their cohesion and action are products of the modern state's demand that people make themselves heard..." (p.7).
The facts mentioned by Bowen are true enough but they focus on the effects of imperialism without recognizing that democratic values were an integral part of the pattern. The colonial powers did not create the ethnic distinctions that already existed among conquered peoples, but they accentuated them and gave them a new political force that armed the leaders of resistance movements. Democracy, therefore, is as much a motivator for ethnic conflicts as it is a mechanism for resolving them.
Insofar as constitutionalism prevailed and states were really democratic, newly mobilizing peoples could use non-violent methods to voice their demands through political parties and elections, but when weak authoritarians, especially members of a dominant minority, had seized power, the only recourse available to marginalized communities has been the use of violence. The efforts of weak governments to suppress dissent -- using terror, genocide, and police mafias to maintain their supremacy -- has generated a whip-lash response that reinforces dissidence.
Exponents of democracy as a road to justice for oppressed peoples need to see that the rhetoric and values of democracy, when not realized in practice, provide a rationale for protest movements. However, democratization is only one of the three pillars of modernity. To understand modern ethnicity, we need to add the story of nationalism to that of democracy and industrialism.
Nationalism. Indeed, the most powerful motivators for contemporary ethnonational movements were generated by nationalism. State elites and intellectuals initially promoted nationalism as a motor for assimilation and nation-building. This goal also appeared to be a requisite for the success of both industrialization and democratization. The evolution of modernity was made possible by state nations able to promote the dream of a national state. When this dream, driven by the need for raw materials and markets of the newly empowered capitalists and their expanding industrial properties, led to the creation of modern empires, it was not long before the dream of national independence became the engine for liberation movements and the emergence of today's throng of new states. Moreover, just as democratization in the motherlands reflected the urge to replace royal with popular sovereignty, so the anti-imperial liberation movements linked nationalism and equalitarianism in their drive for self- determination struggles of colonial peoples.
Ironically, the leaders of national liberation movements were soon transfigured, in many countries, into dominant minorities viewed by their subjects as oppressors. Bowen asserts that "The colonial powers... realized that, given their small numbers in their dominions, they could effectively govern and exploit only by seeking out 'partners' from among local people" (p.6). He claims that, thereby, they created "firmly bounded 'ethnic groups,'" but he might also have noted that such policies also created privileged minorities who often became the rulers of these countries after they were liberated. The former liberators came, in turn, to be perceived as oppressors by the marginalized majorities who found, to their dismay, that they had escaped exotic masters only to be enthralled by endogenous authoritarians.
These ruling minorities have now become the target of second-generation self-determination movements designed to partition multi-national states and reunite divided nations. Such protests and revolts reflect and foster ethnic cleavages, a condition that needs to be distinguished from the familiar pattern of ethnic diversity. Diversity exists when members of interacting ethnic communities accept their common citizenship and live together symbiotically, if not harmoniously. Because of the similarities and interactions between ethnic diversity and cleavages, we need a generic concept that includes both: I use ethnic controversies for this broader idea. Sometimes "ethnic diversity" is also used more generically to include cleavages, but this practice is confusing and I avoid it.
The two types of controversy are reciprocal. The violence generated by ethnic cleavages now generate torrents of refugees fleeing genocide ("ethnic- cleansing"). Some of them settle as marginalized immigrants in a hostland where they become part of the pattern of ethnic diversity. Looking back to their homelands, however, they may also join externally driven movements to politicize and reinforce ethnic revolts in the countries they fled. Nationalistic resistance to refugees and other migrants may well reinforce their inclination to become ethnic nationalists in their diaspora homelands. Thus migrants become transmission belts, facing nationalist exclusiveness in their hostlands, they become more nationalistic in their homelands. Alternatively, democratic acceptance of immigrants provokes cultural integration in a context of ethnic diversity.
No doubt, differences in the level of economic development (industrialization) between rich and poor countries accentuate population movements. Newly marginalized or persecuted minorities (including workers and entrepreneurs whose parents had moved from their homelands to various imperial possessions) flee to their former "mother countries" rather than return to their original homelands -- economic opportunity weighs more heavily than cultural affinity.
However, persons with different cultural backgrounds who have peacefully coexisted for many generations may suddenly find themselves mobilized and polarized by rival ethnic camps, sometimes leading to a frenzy of genocidal attacks -- as we have seen most recently in Bosnia and Rwanda. "Ethnic cleansing" became genocide in the hands of Serb militants, and, as Bowen points out, the new Croatian regime "moved quickly to define Serbs as second- class citizens, fired Serbs from the police and military, and placed the red- and-white 'checkerboard' of the Nazi-era Ustashe flag in the new Croatian banner" (p.9). Thus civic ethnicity can be transformed into ethnic nationalism and efforts by ethnic nationalists to create a national state can lead to violent repression of minorities.
No doubt the reverse process is also possible and, under the terms of the Dayton accord, with international supervision, the fractured community of Bosnians may, eventually, regain the relative harmony it had before rival Serb, Croat and Muslim leaders tore it to shreds. Everyone is familiar with the sorry Palestinian story -- under Ottoman and British rule, Arab and Jewish subjects coexisted in relative harmony, but the creation of Israel and the flight of Palestinians has led to intense confrontations and the bitter struggle that continues today in that embattled land. We all hope that, under the terms of the Oslo accords, peace and justice can be restored, but it will certainly take great patience, courage and tolerance to bring this about.
In Cyprus the clash between Greeks and Turks is essentially modern, following that island's independence from British rule in 1960. No doubt inter-communal tensions are old, but they were accelerated, with armed support and nationalist rhetoric coming from Greece and Turkey, as well as from Cypriot activists on both sides. As the internal partition advanced, members of the Turkish minority concentrated in the northern reaches of the island and were able, by 1975, to establish a de facto (but still unrecognized) republic. Under the auspices of the United Nations and the European Union, efforts are now being made to heal the breach by some kind of federal arrangement that would again permit Greek and Turkish Cypriots to live together in harmony.
There is no need to say more about these processes that are now the familiar stuff of innumerable press reports and television stories. They have led to the creation of a host of self-determination movements among conquered or displaced peoples seeking justice and economic opportunity as defined by industrialization, the modern norms of democracy and, above all, by nationalism. No doubt the leaders of revolts and protest movements continuously speak to those they hope to recruit as followers by repeating stories of past injustices and future dreams, hoping thereby to inspire new followers to join in revolts and struggles for equality and new opportunities. That nationalistic rulers should use historic myths based on past glories (whether real or manufactured) to support their nation-building efforts is understandable. That leaders of ethnic minorities should react by using incidents of persecution and injustice, combined with historical glory myths, to mobilize political movements demanding justice with equal opportunity and sovereignty is quite predictable.
Among the assumptions that John Bowen attacks is the notion "that ethnic diversity brings with it political instability and the likelihood of violence." I fully agree with his claim that greater ethnic diversity is not necessarily associated with violence. However, Bowen's assertion presupposes some agreements about what we mean by ethnic diversity. The phrase has a broader and narrower meaning that we need to distinguish. I have already distinguished between ethnic diversity and cleavages -- the former involving the mingling of peoples who accept their status as citizens (members) of the state in which they live, whereas the latter arises whenever a community rejects that identity and demands recognition of its sovereignty as an independent or autonomous people. Unfortunately, we often use "diversity" broadly to include both conditions. I think of "multi-culturalism" as a generic condition that prevails whenever communities with different cultural heritages co-exist and interact with each other. Traditionally, as noted above, multi-culturalism involved ethnic differentiation with separate status (niches, functions, strata) for different cultural communities in hierarchically structured societies where conflicts between rival groups were typically oriented to non-ethnic criteria.
By contrast, today, the forces of modernity (industrialism, democracy and nationalism) have re- constituted relations between members of different cultural communities in such a way as to give them new meanings. Among them, the most familiar is probably the diversity generated by migrations that bring people with diverse cultural backgrounds together in modern cities and democratic states. Undoubtedly tensions and misunderstandings co-exist with ethnic diversity (in this narrow sense) but such diversity does not generate violence. No doubt, exceptions occur in the form of pogroms, genocide, and urban riots directed against minorities and their persecutors. However, they do not involve nationalist claims for sovereignty. Modern democracies can and should do everything possible to overcome the prejudices and conflicts which generate these forms of violence, but I think we can succeed and, for the most part, violence associated with ethnic diversity is diminishing in the world.
By contrast, the form of ethnic violence that is escalating arises in situations where cleavages prevail, but even there, violence is not ubiquitous. In many countries, especially those in which democratic institutions prevail, ethnic nationalism is accommodated in various ways. Sometimes, as in the former Czechoslovakia, non-violent means were found to permit the Slovak peoples to become an independent state by partitioning an existing state. When Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan, great violence occurred, but after that conflict, peaceful relations have been established. The dissolution of the Soviet Union was accomplished with relatively little violence, though it was a highly traumatic and long-resisted transformation. In some cases de facto partitions have occurred without formal recognition of the separated nations: Cyprus and Somalia provide examples.
Similarly, some divided nations have been united -- Germany, for example. However, this happened following the collapse of the East German regime. A more dangerous scenario confronts the divided Korean and Chinese peoples when and if they are reunified.
Autonomy and Revolts. Administrative autonomy within the boundaries of an existing state is an option that can permit different ethnic nations to co-exist within the same boundaries. In 1980 the Catalans and Basques were granted autonomy through the new Spanish parliamentary constitution under which 19 autonomous regions are now recognized. Although some Basques continue to fight for independence, Spain seems to have found a good accommodation with its Basque and other national minorities. In the United States, many indigenous peoples have virtual autonomy as self-governing nations -- but in other cases, as in Hawaii, the struggle for sovereignty on behalf of the Hawaiian people continues. Tensions between the Maori people and New Zealand also continue, but in a non-violent way.
Comprehensive data on the ethno-political minorities now struggling for independence or autonomy can be found in the data compiled by Ted Gurr (1993) -- see note no.3. Almost all of the sustained violence and civil wars based on ethnic nationalism are concentrated among these communities, i.e. wherever ethnic cleavages can be found. Moreover, as noted above, the existence of cleavages does not always generate violence. Perhaps, overall, there are more non-violent than violent cleavages. All ethnic cleavages could erupt into violence but, if appropriate steps are taken to accommodate the needs and sense of injustice that prevails among ethnic nations, much of this threatening violence can assuredly be prevented. In order to deal with the legitimate claims of ethnic nations, however, we need to see how they have been generated by the main forces of modernity -- they are not, as Bowen correctly explains, a resurgence of age-old ethnic rivalries.
To support his claim that political policies and partisan rivalries can explain why ethnonational violence is greater in some countries than in others, Bowen mentions an example described by Donald Horowitz (1996: pp. 12- 13; and 1985: pp. 291-364) to show that despite the apparent threat of violence between Chinese and Malays in Malaysia, a peaceful accommodation has been achieved by democratic politics, whereas in Sri Lanka, what originally appeared to be a good prospect for peace between Tamils and Sinhalese, was turned by political partisanship into violent strife. I accept the validity of the political dynamics described by Horowitz and Bowen, but they tell only part of the story. It appears when we recognize a third form of modern ethnicity that differs from the patterns of diversity and cleavages mentioned above.
"Plurality." Unfortunately, terminological limitations hamper discussions of this form although it is well known. In fact, a classic work by J.S.Furnival (1948) has explained in some depth how colonial policy generated multi-cultural tensions that he refers to as plural society. Unfortunately, this term has also come to refer more broadly to any multi-cultural situation, including ethnic diversity -- cf. Lijphart, 1977). It would be convenient if we could use "ethnic pluralism" to characterize "plural societies," because it would help us make a basic distinction between the Malaysian and Sri Lankan situations. Instead, accepting "pluralism" as a characteristic of all multi- cultural societies, I shall use ethnic plurality to describe Furnival's "plural societies," i.e., situations in which ethnic groups coexist and interact in the same society, but only at the levels of "commercium" while avoiding "commensalitas" and "connubium" -- to use terms favored by E. K. Francis (see note #1).
Most of the Chinese (and the Indians) who live in Malaysia today are descended from immigrants imported by British rulers and capitalists to work as laborers on plantations and mines created to meet the needs of modern industry. Many of them went on to become capitalists, both in the cities and as rural merchants in villages where they provided commercial services that local people could not provide for themselves without violating the norms of reciprocity that prevail in virtually all traditional communities.  Migrants were brought by the imperial powers, mainly from China and India, but also from the "Middle East" (especially Lebanon) and elsewhere to meet a variety of economic needs generated by industrialization.
As settlers, these migrants were not concentrated territorially nor could they make ancestral claims to the lands where they settled. However, unlike "immigrants" who came as potential citizens to live in the more industrialized countries, these colonial migrants -- a phrase we might also use to talk about them -- often came as "indentured" or "contract" workers with the expectation that they would return home after their contracts had expired. Many, however, chose to remain, usually without the opportunity to become naturalized citizens of the hostlands where they occupied scattered niches as perennial aliens. Some remained as laborers under miserable working conditions while others became successful merchants, attracting the envy and hostility of local populations.
Furnival's term, "plural society," points to the social distance that continued to separate these minorities both from the indigenous populations and from the imperial rulers. When the empires collapsed, some expatriates remained, but most of them returned home, leaving the new states to cope not only with all the problems confronting indigenous people everywhere, but also with large numbers of colonial migrants. Many of these alien workers also left -- in the Middle East, certain oil-rich countries now employ large numbers of foreign workers on terms that compel them to return home when their contracts expire.
For many others, however, their original roots had been broken and they felt obliged to remain in their colonial hostlands. In a few countries, they became citizens and integrated members of the host populations, often intermarrying with them. However, in many other cases, they could not (or would not) integrate and remained ostracized, subject to hostile actions and political marginalization.
One response was to organize radical movements, not to demand sovereignty for themselves but, rather, to overthrow and replace existing governments. This happened in Malaysia where a prolonged predominantly Chinese-led "emergency" (civil war) compelled the British and the new Kuala Lumpur regime to fight the revolutionaries. No doubt the furies of this "emergency" helped persuade the new Malayan political leaders to coopt some Chinese leaders willing to join them in forming the political Alliance that rules that country today. Wealthy Chinese merchants could easily see that they would gain much more by cooperating with the Malay elite in exchange for protection of their properties than they could ever expect from communist revolutionaries, even if they were Chinese.
By contrast, in Sri Lanka, the Tamil rebels, especially in the north where the Ceylon Tamils live, view themselves as indigenous peoples, not migrants, and they support the violent eelam (homeland) movement, the LTTE. A smaller population of Indian Tamils, brought to Ceylon under British rule to work on tea plantations, have not joined the eelam movement but many of them, instead, have supported the Ceylon Workers' Congress and collaborated with the government. In the face of strong opposition from Sinhalese nationalists represented by the People's Liberation Front, an extremist group given to terrorism against the government, the ruling People's Alliance regime continues its war against the LTTE, despite timid overtures for peace. Although party politics explains much of the Malaysian/Sri Lanka contrast, I suspect a more important difference arises from the contrast between the ethnic nationalism of long-established minorities versus the tendency of colonial migrants to collaborate or support inter-communal revolutionary movements while resisting ethnic nationalism.
A broad survey of the political responses of colonial migrants will show that although they have not supported ethnonational movements, they have been profoundly discontented with their lot. However, no single path has appealed to them as a promising solution for their problems. The rulers of newly independent countries formed by the collapse of the modern empires often treat these migrant minorities as scapegoats, blaming them for many of the country's problems. The most conspicuous case is that of Uganda whose Indian minority was brutally persecuted and eventually ousted by the Idi Amin dictatorship.
A notable contrast can be found in Guyana half of whose population is composed of Indians, most of whom arrived as plantation workers during the 19th century. About 35% of the population are descended from African slaves imported before 1800. Under the leadership of Cheddi and Janet Jagan, the People's Progressive Party was organized in 1950 as an anti-colonial inter- communal movement. Gradually, however, it became primarily an Indian party espousing a communist ideology. After Guyana gained its independence in 1966, Jagan has continued to lead the PPP and soon emerged as leader of the communist People's Progressive Party. After abandoning his Marxist rhetoric, following a tumultuous history, he has finally gained acceptance as president of that country following elections held in 1992.
The situation of Indians in Fiji provides an interesting contrast between the catastrophe in Uganda and the success in Guyana. Following its independence in 1970, 50% of the population of Fiji consisted of Indians whose forbears had immigrated as indentured laborers under British rule. Nevertheless, real political power was monopolized by indigenous Fijians with about 44% of the population. When Indians had apparently gained power by elections held in 1987, a military coup led by Sitiveni Rabuka led to a confusing series of events in which, ultimately, the Indians seem to have become politically marginalized by a regime in which Rabuka now serves as prime minister and the long-term Fijian leader, Sir Kamisese K. T. Mara, is president. Background information on "plural societies" can be found in Enloe, 1972.
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