Conflict and Harmony in Multi-Ethnic Societies: An International Perspective

Conflict and Harmony in Multi-Ethnic Societies: An International Perspective

Conflict and Harmony in Multi-Ethnic Societies: An International Perspective

Conflict and Harmony in Multi-Ethnic Societies: An International Perspective

Excerpt

Trust is the most essential ingredient in human relationships whether between individuals, groups, or states. The unspoken question is, "Can I trust you not to betray me?"

This is a study of comparative politics in multi-ethnic societies. As a consequence of their differences in historical experiences, social cohesion, political, economic, and psychological development, each of the countries in the seven case studies--Switzerland, Britain, Northern Ireland, Canada, Malaysia, Nigeria, and South Africa--is at a different stage in its internal political integration and its domestic level of mutual trust. These differences are the most distinguishing characteristics among them and, in turn, have profoundly influenced the development of their political integration and the sense of trust among the diverse ethnicities in their populations. Political integration and mutual trust are so intimately interwoven as to constitute the singular, most ambitious goal of any political community. Yet, the most difficult domestic problem that each country has had to face results from their ethnic diversity. The key to their future is the attainment of political unity, stability, and continuity, despite their ethnic diversity. Success of this awesome task can only be achieved through political integration, mutual trust, and enlightened leadership.

The contention of this study is also that ethnic disharmonies are less likely to be extreme, that is, violent in a political community that has a significant number of voluntary associations, because citizens who belong to numerous and diverse associations will be exposed to a variety of divergent points of view, and such exposure helps to produce a willingness to compromise that is conducive to stable government and an integrated society. Being exposed to a variety of divergent points of view, citizens come to appreciate that social, economic, and political issues have more than one side: some contacts incline them to favor one course of action, while others influence them in opposite directions, thereby making conflicting points of view less threatening. In resolving these competing points of view, citizens come to adopt a more reasoned stance on public issues, while leaders of ethnic groups, aware that their . . .

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