Extreme Politics: Nationalism, Violence, and the End of Eastern Europe

Extreme Politics: Nationalism, Violence, and the End of Eastern Europe

Extreme Politics: Nationalism, Violence, and the End of Eastern Europe

Extreme Politics: Nationalism, Violence, and the End of Eastern Europe

Synopsis

Why do some violent conflicts endure across the centuries, while others become dimly remembered ancient struggles among forgotten peoples? Is nationalism really the powerful force that it appeared to be in the 1990s? This wide-ranging work examines the conceptual intersection of nationalist ideology, social violence, and the political transformation of Europe and Eurasia over the last two decades. The end of communism seemed to usher in a period of radical change-an era of "extreme politics" that pitted nations, ethnic groups, and violent entrepreneurs against one another, from the wars in the Balkans and Caucasus to the apparent upsurge in nationalist mobilization throughout the region. But the last twenty years have also illustrated the incredible diversity of political life after the end of one-party rule. Extreme Politics engages with themes from the micropolitics of social violence, to the history of nationalism studies, to the nature of demographic change in Eurasia. Published twenty years since the collapse of communism, Extreme Politics charts the end of "Eastern Europe" as a place and chronicles the ongoing revolution in the scholarly study of the post-communist world.

Excerpt

Every autumn at local parks throughout the United States, thousands of Scots come together to have an ethnic conflict. Kilt-clad chieftains from the major clans—the MacGregors and Campbells, the McDonalds and Wallaces—march with tartan banners held high. Bagpipers parade back and forth, drones erect and chanters skirling. Warriors whoop and terriers yelp as they descend on the soccer field or baseball diamond. Occasionally, someone denounces the English. Then, one of the clans receives a trophy for being the fiercest, and everyone decamps to the beer tent.

These are the peculiar rituals of Scottish Highland games, a growing form of weekend entertainment for Americans of Celtic heritage (and many who have no family connection at all). Two centuries ago, however, the Scots would have seemed less quaint. Thousands of people were killed in interclan feuding. Highlanders staged bloody rebellions against English rule. The British Crown and feudal lords responded with what would now be called ethnic cleansing, forcibly removing Highland farmers in a sweeping campaign known as the Clearances. “Till the Highlanders lost their ferocity, with their arms, they suffered from each other all that malignity could dictate, or precipitance could act,” wrote Samuel Johnson during a tour of the region in 1773. “Every provocation was revenged with blood, and no man that ventured into a numerous company… was sure of returning without a wound.” Scottish nationalism still exists; in the early 2000s, in fact, it seems to be on the rise. But as you stand in line at a municipal park in Virginia or Pennsylvania, waiting for a sample of Scotch whisky or a lunch of meat pie and shortbread, all surrounded by gentle . . .

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