National States and National Minorities

National States and National Minorities

National States and National Minorities

National States and National Minorities

Excerpt

Man stands towards his fellow men in an almost infinite variety of relationships, and the business of all political and social, and of most domestic, activities is so to adjust those relationships as to secure an existence tolerable to some, at least, of the persons concerned. The comparatively crude end which most modern political thought has set itself to attain is that in matters of common interest the will of the majority should prevail. When this purpose has been achieved, the result is called 'democracy'--a result which our present age, in the face of cogent and increasing evidence to the contrary, yet likes to maintain and perhaps even to believe that it has successfully achieved. Few, however, would hold that the mere ruthless enforcement, down to the last detail, of the whole will of what may be only a bare numerical majority suffices to create a desirable state of society. On the contrary, perhaps the most important of all the tasks which face democracy, so soon as it becomes anything of a reality, is that of tempering its own rigour by a generous and considerate treatment of minorities.

In almost every aspect of social existence there will be found a majority and a minority. The present work, however, is concerned only with the special class known as 'national minorities'. The problem of national minorities in a not inconsiderable part of the world is one of recognized 'international concern' to-day. In that belt of states which stretches from the Baltic in the north to the Aegean and the Black Sea on the south, being bounded on the east by the Soviet Union, and on the west by the Scandinavian states, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, and also in Turkey and 'Irāq, the national minorities enjoy a special right to international protection.

This system of protection was already in force, to a limited degree, before the War, in the Ottoman Empire and in those states which had freed themselves from Ottoman rule in the course of the nineteenth century, that is, in . . .

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