source and abstract:
The Bertrand and Laliberté reading deals with some super interesting questions on diversity and again harkens back to Huntington who seems to have written the context for this module. Some comments and questions follow.
It was delightful realizing that the nation-state is actually a modern concept and has only been around since the French Revolution, another “What? Things weren’t always this way? Some people made our world this way today?” moment in undergrad. Nationalism and nation-building practices (eg architecture and the reinvention of historical origins) suddenly “click” - so that’s why they’re so interesting to social scientists. An appropriate question would be how are these “manufactured identities” (Bertrand and Laliberté p6) doing today? Have they been subsumed by other identities or have they been consolidated (like instating democracy by going through the motions of democratic procedure - no joke, I asked this last lecture and Dr Murali said yup, this works)? Is voter apathy indicative of their expiration? What other identities are being perpetuated? (I automatically think consumerism and all the ways we are beckoned and all the identities and associated values we are address as daily).
Does the homogeneity of Japan tend to appear on island nation-states? What are the disadvantages of this neat coloring-in-the-box nation and state coincidence of geography? I’ve read that Japan is stifling for its youths and today’s paper had a piece about anti-Korean protests there. I’d like to look a little bit more at Japan.
The “native elites” groomed in colonies and in former USSR states are a group of people with super interesting experiences and positions. On a bigger level they’re the intersection of power concessions (to the nation) and legitimization practices (for the state). Who are these people today? Does the “native elite” demographic exist in other power relations, eg corporate and consumer, university and students? What if the UofT student union president is just a native elite? Holy shit, power mechanisms are everywhere.
It was super interesting to learn that the South and North Korean governments both tell its citizens that they belong together. Is this like sad East/West Berlin thing where everyone misses each other? Or is this like a “we’ll swallow them one day” imperialistic thing? Bit of both? (Berlin was probably a bit of both). That seems so abnormal from a Canadian context. Can you imagine if the US told its citizens Canadians are really Americans and waiting to be integrated? So much indignation would fly. Can the NK/SK governments really say that? Should they? Why are they saying it? It seems like an out-there thing to say so there must be motives at work.
Another thing that stuck out in my mind is how globalization as made it such that the state can’t depend on allocation of resources to minority groups to gain loyalty, because much of resources is tied up in other nations and multinational corporations. This must have an effect on the manufactured identities above. So what should the state do? What should Toronto do? It seems like global cities are striving to compete for the attention and investment of these corporations. Is that a good long-term strategy for statecraft? I don’t think so… How should the state command allegiance? (After answering whether they should and in what form.) Maybe the state should just exit and consumers can see corporations clearly and decide how they’d like to act and what kind of world they want to live in, but maybe that’s a bit of gamble. But India gambled (instituting democracy which kinda worked).
Taiwan is fascinating! Was never interested in Taiwan before this course. So Taiwan is a nation not defined by a shared race or culture but political values/commitment to a political system? Don’t they say “vote with your feet”? I’ve always thought about this - what if the people who agree on policy debates just go and form their own city? Minus the logistical nightmare, would this model work? Would people change minds? But after the initial mind-changing, would everything settle down and we’d all have happy cities? How is Taiwan doing?
Other interesting points that don’t need paragraphs: theories of how sub-state nationalism is mobilized (p14), select ethnicities of China “losing their language” (p21) sounds like castration, and the strange case of the USSR policies contributing to dissolution and consolidation (p8).
I bet fragmentation is avoided for stability AND economic reasons. I bet economy of scale is both real and totally in people’s minds. Economy of scale kinda seems like game theory. Everyone has something to lose if one group starts to do economy of scale. Noone has anything to lose if noone did economy of scale. Did you know at some point a journalist decided to carry a step ladder with him so he could be taller than everyone else and get a better shot? Then all journalists started carrying around step ladders and noone is taller than anyone but everyone has to carry one more piece of equipment. (Then modernism kicks in, in both the passé mechanization and digital flavors and like evangelists tell us technology will free us.)
•Is stability good if boundaries don’t coincide with ethnical territory lines? Is democracy good if “national coherence” can’t be preserved?
•What is “accommodation” Why? How does it “manage” diversity?
•What other examples are there of nation-states not built on shared race or culture, but political values - eg Taiwan? Communities and civic bodies (everything is political) eg Anonymous