9. National. The properties of any nation (including both states and
ethnonations) can be referred to as national. It applies most aptly to a national state where
ethnic identity and state citizenship coincide. However, the word is now used ambiguously to
refer either to the properties of a state or to those of an ethnonation, even when they diverge
completely. In the plural, this word also refers to members of any nation , including those
identified with either a state or an ethnonation.
How national unification relates to industrialism is a related question that needs to be examined
with care--rather naive unilinear causation is often asserted. Some argue that industrialization
provided the motor that drove the development of nations and nationalism (Gellner 1983, 163-5;
l987, 15). Elsewhere, I have argued that the emergent bourgeois power which fueled the growth
of national states also created the conditions necessary for the industrial revolution (Riggs
1995a). Of course, the relationships are interactive: nationalism supported industrialization
which, in turn, acceleratied the growth of nationalism. Both, moreover, drove the creation of
modern empires and their eventual collapse .
10. Nationalists and Ethnics. The difference between a nationalist, meaning a person loyal to
a nation, and ethnic, meaning a member of an ethnic community, is worth noting. Nationalists are
persons who place their commitment to a state or an ethnonation above their loyalty to any other
collectivity. Anyone characterized by a cultural (or ascriptive) marker such as language, religion,
ancestry, religion, or social race (i.e. socially constructed notions that distinguish communities by
their genetic properties) may be treated by others as significantly different, and therefore as an
ethnic. The two concepts are related but they are different and non-hierarchic--i.e. one is not
broader than the other. Thus, there are non-ethnic nationalists and ethnics who are not ethnic
nationalists. The two concepts overlap, however, in the related concepts of an ethnonationalist
, and an ethnic national . On the logic of overlapping concepts see .
When one's loyalty focuses on an ethnonation, we may speak of
ethnonationalism but when it pertains to the state of which one is a citizen, we may properly speak of
state nationalism. I treat state nationalism as a non-ethnic attachment--as noted above. To
treat state nationalism as an ethnic phenomenon obscures a fundamental difference. All
ethnonationalists are, by definition, ethnic, but many ethnics are not ethnonationalists.
Instead, their main self-identification is with the state of which they are citizens. Some
experts might call them state ethnics but I would not use this term. For me, the term ethnic is
properly used only when ascriptive criteria--not including citizenship--are used as markers to
distinguish one community from another. Accordingly, it seems appropriate to distinguish between two
classes of ethnics: ethnonationalists for whom their ethnic identity is primary and civic ethnics who
give first place to their citizenship while retaining one or more ethnic identities as secondary
attachments. They are simultaneously state nationals and ethnics, but not ethnonationalists.
Similarly, we may distinguish between two kinds of nationals: those who are ethnic and others
non-ethnic. If they identify themselves by their citizenship, then they are state nationals. Some
state nationals claim no ethnic identity apart from their citizenship, but other simultaneously
identify with one or more ethnic communities. I would call them civic ethnics and they often
have serious grievances based on how they are treated by others, including the state.
The point is they are not ethnonationalists if their primary self-identification is not based on an
ethnic criterion: as examples I am thinking of someone who claims to be an American of
Japanese Ancestry, an Irish American, African American, Mexican American, etc. No doubt
some American citizens do give priority to their ethnic identity--e.g. Hawaiians pressing for
recognition of their sovereignty. They are ethnonationalists who happen to be also U.S. citizens
but not state nationalists.
No doubt these concepts are confusing--we tend to reduce nationalism to a form of ethnicity or
ethnicity to a form of nationalism. Neither is valid. However, the two concepts overlap in a non-hierarchic way in the form of ethnonationalism when one's primary political identity is based on
ethnicity, not citizenship. The two categories coincide in the special case of a national state .
11. Ethnonationals and Ethnic Nationals. Members of a state are sometimes called 'nationals,'
a fuzzy term whose meaning varies from state to state, but is widely applicable. By contrast,
citizenship is quite well defined by means of passports that are internationally recognized. There
are also alien residents of a state who, nevertheless, have certain rights and there are conquered
peoples who are not citizens but have passports as nationals--or state nationals, as we may say to
distinguish them from ethnonationals.
Membership of an ethnonation is more difficult to define than membership of a state, but we may
consider that ethnonationals are counterparts of state nationals. They include most residents of a
territory for which claims of sovereignty are made--e.g. the Chechens living in Chechnya. That
territory constitutes their ethnic homeland. They are the basic members of an ethnonation in
which, of course, some non-nationals may also live. In the American context, Indians who live
on their own tribal reservations are ethnonationals in this sense, but non-Indians living among
them are not ethnonationals: a good example can be found on the Cherokee reservation in North
Carolina where many non-Cherokees also live.
The categories of state nationals and ethnonationals overlap but are not
identical--they coincide only in the exceptional situation of a national state . In some
countries, the distinction is clearly made because different words are used for the state and the
dominant ethnonation--e.g. Malaysians for citizens of the state and Malays for members of the Malay-
speaking community--thus many Malaysians are not Malays, and some Malays are not Malaysians.
Malays are ethnonationals and Malaysians are state nationals.
In many other cases, unfortunately, the same word is used for both concepts with resulting
confusion--e.g. Thai refers both to the Thai-speaking people and to citizens of Thailand (who
may speak other languages). Most Thais, of course, are simultaneously ethnonationals and state
nationals--they are nationals in both senses. However, some state nationals of Thailand--Muslims
or Karens--are not Thai ethnonationals. Moreover, some Thai ethnonationals do not live in
Thailand: by definition they are ethnic nationals of Thailand, but they may also become state
nationals in another country.
Ethnonationals who live outside their homeland may be spoken of as ethnic nationals. They have
a kind of double status as ethnics and nationals. Outside their own domain where they constitute
a majority of the population they live as minority ethnics, surrounded by peoples whom they see
as ethnically different from themselves. As ethnics in an ethnic hostland--i.e. territory outside
their own homeland--they remember their homeland. They may strive to maintain its language,
religion, or other cultural features, and on occasion they return home to visit friends and relatives.
Ethnic nationals who give priority to a continuing struggle for sovereignty in their homeland are
also ethnonationalists . However, many ethnic nationals, as civic ethnics, are not
ethnonationalists--they identify themselves as citizens (nationals) of the hostlands where they
live. Yet ethnic nationals may well be ambivalent about their own identity: becoming loyal
citizens of their hostlands while retaining strong commitments to their homeland. Many
Palestinian-Americans, for example, become patriotic Americans while simultaneously
struggling for an independent Palestinian state. Many American Indians demonstrated their state
nationalism by fighting in the U.S. Army during World War II, yet they remain ethnonationalists
supporting sovereignty in their own ethnic homelands. Most ethnonationalists probably live in
their homelands, but some also live as ethnic nationals in various hostlands. As Gurr (1993,
pp.18-20) uses ethnonationalist, he seems to include only ethnonationals. However, I feel
confident that he will expand this concept to include ethnic nationals who support sovereignty
movements in their homeland.
Ethnic nationals may be classified according to two main variables. The first reflects their
country of residence: either inside or outside the state where their homeland exists. Many
Chechens and Armenians, for example, live in Russia. The former can be considered internal
ethnic nationals and the latter external. However, if the Chechens were to gain recognition for
their independence, their status would change from internal to external ethnic nationals. This
might not mean much, although if they were re-classified as aliens within the Russian Federation,
it might make an important difference for them. To reverse the example, Russians living in
Estonia before that republic gained its independence were internal ethnic nationals, but since the
breakup of the Soviet Union, they have become external ethnic nationals. Some have already
decided to return to the Russian homeland rather than remain in Estonia as aliens. Others have
accepted their new status or chosen to become naturalized Estonian citizens. Similarly,
American Indians living in Chicago or Honolulu are internal ethnic nationals, while those living
in Paris or Hong Kong can be called external ethnic nationals.
A second distinction involves the extent to which ethnic nationals live as local majorities in their
hostlands. Those who form a majority in a residential area constitute a ghetto or an enclave,
while those who live scattered among persons having a different ethnic identity form a diaspora
or a dispersion. Both the causes and the consequences of this distinction are significant.
Enclaves arise most often because of boundary changes: persons who were once part of one
country found themselves separated by wars and subsequent peace treaties. They may find
themselves partitioned into several homelands, as did the Kurds after the Ottoman Empire was
dissolved. The Hungarians suffered a similar fate after the Austro-Hungarian Empire was broken
up. However, in this case, since one of the successor states was Hungary, it became their ethnic
homeland, while leaving many Hungarian enclaves in neighboring states. In such cases, members
of an ethnonation become enclaved ethnic nationals without migrating.
Many Hungarians have chosen to emigrate from Hungary and live abroad in many countries
where they constitute a diaspora or dispersion. Members of a diaspora are more likely to accept
their hostlands and become civic ethnics than are residents of an enclave. However, the reasons
for emigration are significant: those who go voluntarily for economic reasons are less likely to be
ethnonationalists than are persons who are compelled to leave home as refugees. The increasing
number of refugees in the world today means that more and more ethnic nationals will also be
ethnonationalists, an additional reason for the growing resistance in the "West" to poor
immigrants coming from the "rest" (Connelly and. Kennedy, 1994). Refugees often congregate
in new settlements in their hostland, virtually as colonists do, enabling them to sustain their
ethnonationalist organizations and activities. Cubans concentrating in Miami come to mind as an
We can make further subdivisions within these categories. Refugee settlements may be voluntary
or involuntary: thus we might identify the former as enclaves in a dispersion, and the latter as
ghettos in a diaspora. Cuban emigres choose to live in Miami, but Palestinian, Rwandan and
Cambodian refugees may have no option but to live in refugee camps. Of course, many marginal
or exceptional cases can be found. Those fleeing religious persecution, for example, may form
enclaves while eschewing ethnonationalism--the various Amish settlements might be a good
example, as are communities of Old Believers outside of Russia.
The point that affects the arguments offered in this paper is that while many ethnic nationals
refuse to remain connected with their ethnonational homelands, some remain attached and
become active ethnonationalists. As an example, consider that Irish Americans have, until
recently, supported Irish Republicans fighting the Unionists in Ulster. Alternatively, an ethnic
national enclave can become the focus of its own ethnonationalist rebellion: for example, the
Tamils revolting against Sri Lanka are descended from immigrants and they ask for support from
Tamils remaining in India. To understand the dynamics of ethnonational rebellions in the years
ahead, we need to take into consideration the important role that ethnic nationals play--usually
vis a vis their homelands but sometimes also in their hostlands.
It is useful to be able to refer to all members of an ethnonational homeland plus members of the ethnic nation living outside the homeland as a single collectivity. One possibility would be to accept ethnicose as a loan word from Russian where it usually has this meaning. Alternatively, we might construct a phrase like transnational ethnic community--or its acronym, TEC--recognizing in this context that transnational means trans-
ethnonation rather than trans-state. There are, of course, significant differences among TECs (ethnicoses), and having a term for the concept helps us to identify these differences, and see how they relate to ethnonationalist activities. The concept also enables us to note that only some members of any given ethnicose (TEC) are likely to be active ethnonationalists--
although their number can clearly grow or decline in any given case. A critical factor for
predicting turmoil among nations during the coming decades is the size and vigor of
ethnonationalist activity both in absolute numbers and as a measure of activism in a TEC
12. Imperialism: Traditional and Modern. We are accustomed to think of imperialism as a
homogeneous phenomenon, as though the Roman and the British empires were different
instances of a single concept. By so doing we mask a fundamental distinction. Just as nations
may take the form of states or ethnonations, so empires may be modern or traditional. Our
vocabulary disguises the shared elements between states and nations, even though we already
have one word that can be used for both; but the lack of distinct words for the two main types of
empires conceals their fundamental differences.
Consider the vast empires created by Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan: we recognize their
special character by pinning the names of imperial conquerors on them. But when we equate the
Roman and British empires, we associate them with different peoples but not different
principles. However, the ambitions of the Roman emperors drove the former, as did the dreams
of Alexander and Genghis Khan while the latter responded to the urgent need of a mobilized
modern state to satisfy the requirements of its dominant entrepreneurial class--the 'bourgeoisie'--for expanded markets and assured sources of raw materials for its factories.
The basic difference between modern and traditional empires can be seen
in their life histories and the consequences of their collapse. The duration of traditional
empires depended on the organizational structure of their ruling dynasties: personal empires like those
of Alexander and Genghis Khan were short-lived while bureaucratized empires like the Roman and Chinese
could last for hundreds of years. Traditional empires were based on the internal consistency of
regal authority and non-ethnic rule--when they collapsed, their successor states obeyed the same
By contrast, modern empires easily outlived their founders but could
scarcely last for much more than a century. When they finally collapsed, as they all have within
the past half-century, they produced a congeries of new states based on novel imported principles of
governance and identity. The unavoidable demise of all the modern empires was based on an
internal contradiction between the democracy and nationalism honored at home and the authoritarianism
and anti-national practices imposed on conquered peoples. They collapsed because the metropolitan
principles of democracy and nationalism were infectious--they captured the minds and hearts of
indigenous leaders who used them to inspire the liberation movements that demolished these
empires. Many of the leaders of the liberation movements which created these new states were
educated in universities of their metropoles where they had an opportunity to study and observe
democracy and nationalism in practice.
Perhaps above all, they were also influenced by expatriates, the colonial administrators,
missionaries, business men and journalists who came to live with, but typically not among, them.
This class of transplanted people can be contrasted with ethnic nationals . Whereas ethnic
nationals normally migrate from poorer to richer countries, or they are forced to leave their
homelands by boundary changes or persecution, the expatriate citizens of modern empires chose
to live in conquered dependencies in a master/servant relationship. As colonists or settlers they
sometimes established enclaves--e.g. some Africaners in South Africa--or created new states, as
in the Americas. A few of them chose to become integrated citizens of their hostlands--"going
native" as their critics said.
The expatriates who remained after liberation are rarely studied by sociologists or
anthropologists and they are not classified as ethnics, although their cultural practices differ
markedly from those of the hostland peoples among whom they live and from whom they may
experience hostility or persecution. They often play a disruptive role but some of them are
creatively influential. I think of them as non-ethnic minorities. As state nationals of the
countries from which they come--they expect their agents overseas to help them when they
experience difficulties. They seek to avoid becoming integrated into the social, economic, legal,
or political systems of their hostlands, and they usually expect to return 'home' eventually: most,
but not all of them, do.
Many Americans living abroad fall into this category. They fill such diverse roles as diplomats,
military officers, advisers and teachers, missionaries, youth corp volunteers, business people and
journalists. Our disinterest in studying them reflects a culturally-induced blindness rather than
their intrinsic unimportance: since they are often powerful or influential and usually transient, we
do not see them as a "problem" worthy of analysis. It is much easier to look at the "others" as
having problems rather than examine ourselves as the cause of difficulties that others experience.
To understand the phenomenon of modern, by contrast with traditional, empires, we need to
appreciate the contradictory effects of juxtaposing democracy and nationalism with autocracy
and conquest. To explain the results of this contradiction, we should consider the role of non-ethnic minorities living in the conquered countries as well as the impact of experiences in the
metropole upon new generations of ethnonational elites.
13. Turmoil. A familiar recent example might be
Lebanon where, from 1975 to 1989, roughly speaking, a state of turmoil existed. Civil war brings to
mind the American experience of two territorially-based camps, each struggling to achieve a clear-cut
military victory followed by a peace treaty. Anarchian turmoil, as in Lebanon, was marked by the
inability of a nominal government to govern and continuous amorphous violence between many contenders
whose support base was more religious, factional and class-based than territorial. Under such
conditions of turmoil, the level of violence simply grew, persisted and eventually subsided with uneasy
brokered agreements leading, finally, to a restored constitutional democracy.
Anarchian turmoil involves continuing inter-communal or inter-factional violence that may
escalate and subside in cycles. Although war is used to describe the turmoil that existed in
Western Europe for a century between, say, 1338 and 1453, these violent encounters are only
seen anachronistically as a "Hundred Year War" between England and France. In fact, a raging
profusion of rival lords, their followers and their allies, fought intermittently in a continuing
reign of violence. The struggle petered out obscurely in the context of a domestic dynastic
dispute in England. To call the period a time of "turmoil" would be more accurate than to call it
Unlike today's turmoil among nations, that was turmoil among dynasties, not nations. The
differences are far-reaching. Nevertheless, a comparative study of periods of extensive turmoil
might well highlight some illuminating similarities. Overt military conflict is only one aspect of a
multi-faceted time of troubles. Rampant poverty and plagues linked with environmental
destruction and widespread genocide are linked phenomena. Mass migrations and refugee
movements, a perennial problem, acquire new urgency as population growth, especially in the
poorest countries, swells and drives refugees to seek relief in the more affluent countries: a vivid
portrayal of this problem and its growing urgency can be found in Connelly and Kennedy
(1994). All these problems will, assuredly, be compounded to the degree that ethnonational
rebellions increase in response to the spread of anarchianism .
14. Inter-nation. Using nation as we have defined it above , we can see that
it would be
convenient to refer simultaneously to relations between states, between ethnonations, and
between states and ethnonations. The expression inter-nation could convey this meaning. All
three aspects are important and inter-dependent, as the current conflict between the Bosnian state
and the Serbian ethnonation--with extensive external intervention--well illustrates. For reasons discussed elsewhere (Riggs
1995b), I believe the driving force of rival modern empires, which undergirded most inter-state
conflicts during the last two centuries, has now vanished. Instead, most of the states of the world--rich and poor, north and south--will cooperate, if reluctantly, to try to maintain existing
boundaries. The focus of inter-nation conflict will increasingly center on efforts by ethnonations
to achieve independence or unification, leading to violent episodes of civil strife and external
interventions but not to inter-state wars. The essential weakness of most of the new states--quasi-states as Jackson (1990) has called them--and the widespread prevalence of zones of
anarchy, war-lordism, criminality, insecurity and poverty within their domains will lead to the
growing mobilization of ethnonational insurrections, terrorism, refugees, mass migrations and
The expression international relations could be re-defined to include these phenomena.
However, the established use of this term to refer mainly if not exclusively to inter-state relations
limits its utility for our purposes. Inter-ethnonational relations is equally limited in its relevance
because, I am almost sure, most ethnonations will not contend with each other--their grievances
will be directed against a state or states which they see as a barrier to the achievement of their
goals of political self-determination and economic prosperity.
In fact, the monstrous inter-state conflicts--that have, during the last two centuries, preoccupied
students of "international relations"--are now history. They arose when rival imperial aspirations
brought the leading national states of the West, including Europe, the United States and Russia,
into violent confrontations with each other--at first mainly in the domains where they were
extending their conquests and, later, in the heartland of Europe where the first and second World
Wars were concentrated. Subsequently the outlying supra-national (ideological) states (the U.S.
and U.S.S.R.), which came to be seen as "super-powers," dominated the arena of inter-state
Now, however, the end of the Cold War surely also marks the end of large-scale inter-state
conflicts. Almost unconsciously, we have drifted into a new era of world (dis)order in which
inter-state warfare has become anachronistic. However, we are so conditioned to identify
international with inter-state conflict that we persist in talking about future wars as though they
would only or even mainly involve inter-state wars.
With this in mind, we need to think about finding and accepting a new term that will,
unequivocally, include not only inter-state and inter-ethnonational problems, but will focus
attention on the growing and more threatening disasters looming ahead because of growing
conflicts between states and ethnonations. In fact, dozens of small wars (turmoils) are currently
raging all over the world, but they are only, I fear, the beginning of a massive long-term and
growing phenomenon. I only hope they will not evolve into a century-long period of turmoil
15. Turmoil Among Nations. The most important form of
inter-nation conflict in the coming decades (or even the whole 21st century) will almost certainly
involve conflicts between states and ethnonations that exist within or across their borders. Movements
for unification, partition, autonomy, and boundary revision will multiply. They will generate
global concern and anxious interventions. We need to focus our attention on this problem and
seriously think about how it can most effectively be handled for the sake of all the peoples of the
No doubt, turmoil among nations is a fuzzy phrase but it seems to capture the amorphous structure of a growing frenzy in which, increasingly, global and regional organizations designed to maintain order and stability will wrestle frantically with local outbreaks of violence where ethnonational advocates of self-determination and neo-traditionalism struggle with weak and desperate states. Obviously, there are many other issues of global import (including all the effects of environmental degradation, bitter poverty and overpopulation, mass migrations and floods of refugees) but, I think, turmoil among nations--or TAN, as we might call it for short--will increasingly contaminate and hamper the solution of our most pressing concerns. These environmental difficulties will increasingly aggravate the spreading turmoil among nations which, in turn, will pose even greater threats to the environment and to the development of peace and justice on earth.
For the rest of TURMOIL AMONG NATIONS see:
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Updated: 3 September 1997