Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Natural Nations and Abstract States

Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Natural Nations and Abstract States

Article excerpt

Conflicts are produced when great powers or international organizations draw arbitrary state boundaries over areas occupied by tribal and national cultural groups. When this happens, homogeneous groups that have lived together for many generations, and that have had their identity formed by shared values and laws suddenly find themselves divided and forced to live with other tribes or national groups that hold different values. Imposed abstract state boundaries divide natural nations, disrupting normal interactions, and even separating families.

Such divisions are particularly evident in post-colonial Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, where Europeans drew administrative districts on maps over areas of land without much thought about the national self-identity of the peoples living in that territory. Such divisions are the cause of much anguish, strife, and even genocide in our world. The process of absorbing different national groups has followed conquests throughout history, and leaders of empires often left local rulers with some autonomy that honored the local values and customs. Today we are particularly aware of the after-effects of European colonization of Africa and Asia in the 19th and 20th centuries because, as Europeans withdrew, the states left behind were composed of non-natural cultural groupings not predisposed to live peacefully together.

The lines of these abstract states can be viewed somewhat ambiguously, not as all good or all bad. In multi -ethnic states people are forced to learn to live with one another in nonviolent ways, whereas traditional tribal borders absent regional hegemonies are often areas of constant violence, war, and displacement. We witnessed this in human catastrophes as refugees fled from Cambodia, Laos, Bosnia, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Syria in recent decades. It is normal for natural nations (tribal and ethnic groups) to seek to control artificial states, and to use the power of the state to exploit other groups for their own benefit. This phenomenon manifested in its most extreme form, genocide, in Germany, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan.

There is another problem that occurred in Louis XIV's France, the United States, Soviet Russia, Maoist China, and the European Union, where state regimes, interest groups, or elites attempt to force the values or ideology of a ruling class onto inhabitants that do not all share those values, causing oppression, unrest, and violence.

Ancient political philosophy generally assumed that there would be an official value system without separation of church and state. Aristotle argued that the size of a polity had to be limited by the ability to have face-to-face interaction in order to for the official values system to emerge. Athens, whose democratic assembly at one point had 2700 citizens who made the laws, was considered by him to be about the maximum size of a democratic state. This democracy had official gods like other ancient societies, and Socrates was sentenced to death in that democracy on charges of impiety to the gods. The Roman Empire also had official gods, but after Christianity became the official religion, it was difficult to maintain a monolithic cultural system over the extensive empire, and it fractured along Roman and African lines, and then between East and West, and finally into various religious orders and denominations. While some general Christian ideas were accepted throughout Europe, the religion of the Empire never completely replaced the local face-to-face value systems.

A major advance in political theory on the concept of unity and diversity is found in The Spirit of Laws by Charles Louis de Secondât, Baron de Montesquieu. He argued that there are first principles of politics that derive from the nature of reality and are applicable to all human beings and societies. The cultural norms and social conventions of tribal, ethnic, and religious groups he called derivative principles. …

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