by Fred W. Riggs, University of Hawaii
Woes of the
Cleavages versus Diversity
Modernity has two faces, its positive "ortho-modern" face including all that we most admire and and enjoy, plus its "para-modern" aspects -- the side- effects that we most deplore. The two aspects have accompanied each other from the start of the main processes of modernity which include industrialization, democratization and nationalism. Among the negative aspects, one with far- reaching consequences involved imperial conquests by major powers in competition with each other to obtain the raw materials and markets required by their new industries, plus the funds required to import the long-treasured products of the world's civilizations. Nationalism, democracy and economic growth were celebrated in the imperial homelands but not in the conquered domains -- that is, until the quest for these precious things led to liberation movements and the emergence of successor states whose boundaries had been created for the administration of imperial possessions. Meanwhile, inter- imperial rivalries (including the "Cold War") led to global violence and weakened the empires, destroying their ability to hold on to their empires.
Modern ethnicity has been generated by these processes of modernization, including the aspirations and weapons produced by industrialism; equalitarian dreams spawned by democratization; and dreams of national self-determination learned from national states. Increasing mobility of populations, especially refugees, generated by ethnonationalist clashes with weak and dictatorial states, has created an environment of ethnic diversity, posing one range of para-modern problems that, on the whole, can be resolved by democratic policies and good will.
A different set of ethnic cleavages, born from the artificiality of divided nations and multi-national states inherited from collapsed empires, poses more intractable problems that defy solution, especially in states where anarchic conditions prevail and weak dictators cannot satisfy the basic needs of their subjects. For the most part, in modern environments, inter-ethnic integration and harmonious relationships are possible and predictable -- but the rise of ethnic nationalism in the para-modern context of cleavages creates almost insoluble problems leading to violence and genocide. This chapter focuses on the causes and consequences of ethnic nationalism as a tragic aspect of modernity fraught with menacing implications for the future of our world. In the para-modern context there are no enemies, only victims. All of us suffer from the consequences of the modern developments we most admire. Our response should involve a serious effort to understand the results of the collapse of all the modern empires and to help build the global and local infrastructures required to cope with their tragic consequences, especially as manifested in the rise of ethnic nationalism.
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