can be forged into new separatist movements." 32 Ethnic grievances--of cultural threat, economic discrimination, and the like--feed a demand for revolutionary political change. Rejecting the values of the dominant group, independence-seekers spurn assimilation to the controlling group (in the Soviet case, the Russians) and instead re-adopt traditional ways. Once the independence idea has taken hold, negotiation to downgrade it becomes difficult if not impossible, because nationalists seek spiritual satisfaction and self-pride as much as the pursuit of material or political interests. The genie of self-determination can be squeezed back into the bottle only by the ethnic group itself.
Weighing, too, against the C.I.S. is the political immaturity of its members. Central Asian states are still ruled by one-party regimes. Even in Russia, democracy is in its infancy. (The Supreme Soviet, meeting in December 1992, conducted many ballots in secret, ruling out the possibility of deputies being accountable to the electors for their actions.) 33 Any agreement to join a federation is no more solid than the paper it is written on, since this association would be undertaken without popular consent. In Ukraine, a republic with opposition groups, the push is for independence rather than reintegration. The Soviet successor states' allegiance to a federation will be secure only when their own political systems are anchored in popular consent.
The Commonwealth of Independent States has been and will continue to be a feeble international entity, and a successor to it--in the form of a smaller association of Russian, Belarus and the Central Asian states--would also be frail. With luck, the C.I.S. will join the ranks of modest regional international organizations like the Organization of African Unity and the Organization of American States; at present, the European Economic Community example is unattainable. For young states in the process of self-definition, regional integration is not in the cards.