From Submission to Rebellion: The Provinces Versus the Center in Russia

By Vladimir Shlapentokh; Roman Levita et al. | Go to book overview

18
THE CONTRADICTORY CONSEQUENCES OF REGIONALIZATION

Particularization, and regionalization as one of its forms, is in many respects a valuable process for groups and regions of all types. In the mid-1990s, members of any ethnic group in the United States cannot be too proud of their origin and culture. Most decidedly, a group should not, as was common in the past, imitate WASP culture in any way, nor should it be ashamed of its customs and language. Likewise, any region in Russia or Spain can now defend itself against the central government and entertain relations with the world without the capital's permission.

However, the cost of further regionalization is not small, particularly if the relationship between the center and the periphery does not have a solid legal basis, as well as rules on how to change it that are recognized by all players. An outburst of regionalization radically changes the character of the modern nationstate and the character its citizens' lives. It encourages, along with other forms of particularism, differentiation and divisiveness within societies--even stable societies such as that of the United States.

In 1992-1995, regionalism in the world was a powerful process that could not be stopped without betraying the principles of democracy. In countries such as India, Canada, Russia, China, and to some degree, the United States, particularism, and especially regionalism, is one of the major social and political processes. In Moscow, the two political adversaries--the president and Parliament--in the struggle involving the new Constitution assumed that without the support of regional leaders they had no chance of winning.

The citizens and governments of many countries face the difficult task of finding ways to reconcile particularism with the interests of the majority and with the necessity of preserving the advantages of their large unified state. Politicians in the United States and Russia, as well as the rest of the world, who make decisions for or against modern forms of particularism should carefully weigh the costs and benefits to their entire societies.

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