Friday, March 07, 2008

If ethnic nationalism is on the rise, so is the premium on ethnic homogeneity

Pat Buchanan, pointing to an essay by Jerry Muller in Foreign Affairs, summarizes the first half of the 20th Century in Europe as a story of a continent bloodily ripped apart along ethnic lines, pacifying itself in the process:

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were three multi-ethnic empires in Europe: the Ottoman, Russian and Austro-Hungarian. The ethnonationalist Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 tore at the first. ...

At the end of World War II, Europe’s nations were more ethnically homogenous than they had ever been, at a horrendous cost in blood.
Contemporary European trouble spots exist where an ethnic minority group is under the resented yoke of a larger majority. This map (via Dennis Dale) highlights potential independence and separatist movements that could potentially arise in the future. More troubling for the nations facing secession, some of those new states might petition for annexation by their ancestral motherlands (Transnistria to Russia, Northern Cyprus to Turkey, etc). There are, of course, several major European cities with significant Islamic populations from North Africa (in France), South Asia (in the UK), and the Middle East (Germany) that resent their hosts that do not register on that map.

Why, then, recognize Kosovo's independence? Ending (at least nominally) UN/NATO administration in favor of self-determination, along with political considerations, I suppose. Angering Russia through Islamic empowerment in a corrupt place that has yielded thugs who recently plotted to attack Fort Dix doesn't mesh well with what we're trying to do in the War on Terror, though. How do we square that with opposition to northern Kosovo's Serbian minority breaking away from the nascent state to be annexed by Serbia?

Why, conversely, demand that Kosovo not be recognized? Hopefully for reasons of realpolitik as well. It is of little vital interest to the US one way or another.

Demographics, not pronouncements from DC, are driving Kosovo's independence. It is nearly 90% ethnically Albanian, and Albanian birthing (TFR of slightly over 2) is more frequent than Serbian birthing (TFR of 1.69) is.

There's a pertinent lesson to be learned from nearby Greece. Following the population swap of 1924 that gave it over one million Greek Orthodox immigrants from Turkey in exchange for nearly 400,000 Muslims that had been living mostly in northern Thrace, Greece became the most ethnically homogenuous and (relatively!) well-functioning nations in the eastern Meditteranean world. Its greatest external conflicts following the Balkan wars were with Turkey over ethnically-split (or uninhabited) islands in the Aegean Sea and Cyprus.

Of more significance than whether or not other countries recognize Kosovo is to realize that a breakaway was bound to occur at some point. The downturn in violence in Iraq is partly the result of the ethnic separation that has taken place there over the last few years, through the movement of Sunnis out of Shiite areas and vice versa, and through the erection of physical barriers separating groups in densely populated cities like Baghdad. The relative improvement in Kenya corresponds with members of various tribes moving into their tribal homelands. Ethnic homogeneity in a region lessens conflict among people living in that region.

Seems to me we're wise to let these splits occur, and would be wise to facilitate them in Iraq, since we're on the hook there. How else are representative institutions going to be built on a foundation of something other than racial/ethnic characteristics?

On the other end, this mandates restriction of largescale migration into a nation by those who are going to remain outside of it. The Latinization of the American Southwest portends secession in the future. Census projections put nearly 130 million Hispanics living in the US by 2050, most heavily concentrated in the Southwest, and likely outnumbering whites in California, Arizona, Texas, and Nevada, as is already the case in the appropriately named state of New Mexico.

Fast-forwarding forty years, if those demographic predictions are borne out, and the white-minority states are clamoring for secession along with regions of Utah and Colorado on irredentist reasoning, it'd be prudent to let them go.

But back in 2008, the future has yet to be written. We need not put ourselves in a position where turning over the land our forefathers won in the 1830s and '40s is the best option. Stop illegal immigration from south of the US-Mexican border, and the can is at least kicked down the road another 50 years (and projecting population growth based solely on fertility rates that far into the future is very speculative).

The federal government's dereliction 0f its Constitutional duty (Art IV, Sec IV) is staggering:

The Bush administration has scaled back plans to quickly build a "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border, delaying completion of the first phase of the project by at least three years and shifting away from a network of tower-mounted sensors and surveillance gear, federal officials said yesterday.

Technical problems discovered in a 28-mile pilot project south of Tucson prompted the change in plans, Department of Homeland Security officials and congressional auditors told a House subcommittee.
There isn't even a system in place to adequately assess the success (or lack thereof) of the "virtual fence", and there will not be one put into action for at least three more years. The news that DHS needs another 36 months to 'construct' a virtual fence along 1% of the border comes a year and a half after both houses of Congress voted in favor of 700 miles of actual double-layered fencing. Staggering.

Despite Senator DeMint--one of only six senators to back Romney during the GOP nominating process--and company's attempts to get the barrier going, the Democratically-controlled Senate is not going to be cooperative even if 'insurgent' Democrats in the House are. None of the three Presidential candidates will do anything to improve on the Bush administration's failure, and an Obama-McCain matchup will provide more fodder for establishment Republicans to claim that supporting open borders is the key to long-term political viability.

Attrition has to come at the local and state levels. That's already happening, not just in the Southwest but in states like Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Missouri as well. Find your state representatives and send them an email or give them a call asking for state laws similar to the ones passed in Arizona and Oklahoma. By googling "find state representative kansas" as though I was unaware of who they are, I pulled up contact information for both of mine up in less than a minute (just using address information). Make it happen.


John S. Bolton said...

The rise of democracy is what drove the breakup of the polyglot empires. Insofar as one empire was resistant to losing land, it was also among the most resitant to democratization. Examples are the USSR, Spain and Portugal.
The reason for this is ethnic bloc voting; democracy then becomes the equivalent of taking a census more frequently.
Scholars and officials may congratulate themselves on how cosmopolitan they are, even to the point of extravagantly ignoring or slighting the lethal effect of ethnic bloc voting on the polyglot polity, but they do not do so honestly and wisely.
What is more likely is that they know all this very well, and only wish to have excuses for establishment of absolute dictatorship, once they have enough immigrants to make democracy a dysfunctional ethnic bloc voting exercise in redundant census-taking.

Audacious Epigone said...

redundant census-taking

Brilliant descriptor. Thanks! Of course, anything that is perceived to make voting more 'difficult' (presenting identification, restricted times, and other chores that reduce the likelihood that those with greater time preference will actually vote) is opposed by slinging the standard -ists attacks.

MensaRefugee said...

Ethnic Groups in conflict by Donald Horowitz went into what you talk about a lot. And a little in Sowell's Affirmative action around the world.

For instance, in Assam India, a census hasnt been taken in decades because the native assamese would hate it and riot agains the bengali immigrants.

In Lebanon, they raised it to an art form, with strict rules on the prime minister being from one group and the president being from another - of course, a group that was losing population over time was loathe to an accurate census - for the rules would have to be rewritten with them having less power.