What are your thoughts on the fact that a lot of different ethnic groups in Europe have their own state(s) right now?

Aug 2010
15,458
Welsh Marches
#11
It's really more complicated than "ethnic groups having their own states". For starters, a lot of ethno-linguistic groups are defined by states. Danish, Swedish and Norwegian are all mutually understandable, they're called different languages because they are different countries. If Scandinavia was unified it would probably be counted as a single language with regional dialects. Secondly, equating ethnicity with language is difficult. Almost everyone who speaks Irish Gaelic also speaks English, so it doesn't show on that map of yours.

But in Eastern Europe there has clearly been a rise in self-determination post WW1. I consider that a mixed blessing. It's good to have internally stable states which don't have revolutions or strong secession movements, because there is a stronger feeling of the citizens of that state being a single Demos. However, having lots of small states can be problematic; there's more room for border tensions between them, and they can be so weak that they are dominated by stronger neighbours. Personally, I think that the ideal is to have states be built around a single Demos (be it around a primary ethnic group or some other binding notion), but for those Demos to be large, say in the 20-100 million people range. That seems to be more or less the ideal, most efficient country size in the modern world. Of course, engineering a demos or ethnicity is both difficult and fraud with other negative side effects, so is not necessarily worth doing.
"Danish, Swedish and Norwegian are all mutually understandable, they're called different languages because they are different countries. If Scandinavia was unified it would probably be counted as a single language with regional dialects." No, this is not true, these are different languages by any standards, although Norwegian is closely is closely intertwined with Danish for obvious historical reasons. Swedish and Danish are notably different as one can appreciate immediately if one compares related texts in each (speaking at a more personal level, I can read Danish quite easily but Swedish only with a considerable effort!)
 
#12
Provided they can make it work for themselves better than their former rulers, it's a good thing. While it does give ideas to other groups of people seeking more autonomy or independence, at the moment only a few have large enough support after balancing out all the pros & cons of staying put against breaking free (Scotland and Catalonia), even then there's still a couple issues to work out.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,559
SoCal
#13
Well, I'm a monarchist (more or less) so I'm not really in favour of the dissolution of the ancien regime empires in the early 20th century like the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Both for the obvious reason of removing monarchs from their position of power, but also because of the enormous violence and destruction the subsequent ethnic and religious conflict caused when everybody was fighting over who rightfully did and did not belong in their new countries. The distant and detached rule of the emperors was replaced by the very personal and partisan rule of nationalists (and we saw what happened in Germany and Turkey). Empires generally did not put much stock in valuing one 'people' over another, and so ruled relatively lightly and tolerantly compared to the ultra-nationalists that replaced them. The philosophy of 'this country belongs to these people' opened a can of worms that led to a truly awful display of violence and persecution in the 20th century, not just in Europe but also in former colonies in Africa and Asia, some of which still continue to this day.
I wouldn't say that Emperors and Kings were necessarily more benevolent. Tsarist Russia persecuted its Jews and both Imperial Germany and the Kingdom of Hungary pressured their minorities to assimilate into the dominant German/Hungarian culture. Plus, this is not to mention the Armenian Genocide that the Ottoman Empire perpetrated and the Circassian Genocide that the Russian Empire perpetrated. (If you want to go outside of Europe, you could look at Qing China's Dzungar Genocide.)

I will agree that what came after the toppling of these empires was often much worse than these empires themselves. However, reality could have been different in more ways than one. For instance, the liberal Russian Provisional Government could have survived and had a democratically elected Constituent Assembly replace it and write a new, democratic constitution for Russia. Likewise, the Weimar Republic could have survived with a more competent President during the Great Depression (such as Wilhelm Marx, who narrowly lost in 1925 in real life). On the flip side, had Germany kept its Kaiser but still lost WWI, I could theoretically see the German Kaiser and his entourage supporting Hitler as a way for Germany to restore its glory and also due to a desire to use him as a figurehead to tap into his support base. Anyway, my point here is that history was not set in stone and that alternative paths could have been followed.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,559
SoCal
#14
It's indifferent. One way or another, you will have groups and one way or another, you will have wars.
Post-WWII Europe actually appears to have been relatively stable. There were wars in the former Yugoslavia and in the ex-Soviet space, but they were much more localized than the World Wars were. The core of Europe has remained pretty stable over the last 70 years.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,559
SoCal
#15
It's really more complicated than "ethnic groups having their own states". For starters, a lot of ethno-linguistic groups are defined by states. Danish, Swedish and Norwegian are all mutually understandable, they're called different languages because they are different countries. If Scandinavia was unified it would probably be counted as a single language with regional dialects. Secondly, equating ethnicity with language is difficult. Almost everyone who speaks Irish Gaelic also speaks English, so it doesn't show on that map of yours.
I agree with these points. One can speak one language and identify as a member of a different ethnic group. Also, sometimes nationalism is the result of state-building. For instance, the French people now identify as French in large part because French policymakers over the last 150 years have encouraged the development of a common French identity and also aggressively promoted the use of the French language at the expense of various patois and regional languages such as Occitan.

That said, though, as I said in my original post here, there were also numerous cases where nationalism came first and a state was created later. I provided a lot of examples of this in my original post here.

But in Eastern Europe there has clearly been a rise in self-determination post WW1. I consider that a mixed blessing. It's good to have internally stable states which don't have revolutions or strong secession movements, because there is a stronger feeling of the citizens of that state being a single Demos. However, having lots of small states can be problematic; there's more room for border tensions between them, and they can be so weak that they are dominated by stronger neighbours. Personally, I think that the ideal is to have states be built around a single Demos (be it around a primary ethnic group or some other binding notion), but for those Demos to be large, say in the 20-100 million people range. That seems to be more or less the ideal, most efficient country size in the modern world. Of course, engineering a demos or ethnicity is both difficult and fraud with other negative side effects, so is not necessarily worth doing.
Would you have supported the United States of Greater Austria idea had you lived 105+ years ago? :

United States of Greater Austria - Wikipedia

 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,559
SoCal
#16
Yeah, it does seem nice for different groups to have their own states as long as they run these states relatively well and don't abuse any of their population.

BTW, I can understand that people in countries who lost territory over the last 150 years could be upset about this. For instance, a Russian might have hoped that a lot of Ukrainians and Belarusians would have become Russians over the last 150 years--thus eliminating any desire for secession. Ditto for a Hungarian in regards to assimilating the Slovaks and Ruthenians and transforming them into Hungarians (Magyars).
 
Dec 2011
1,317
Belgium
#18
" Belgium with their Flemish/Walloon cultures"

Synarix, is there a Flemish "culture" and a Walloon "culture". I thought that there was a difference of language, but not of "culture". In the Flemish "region" they speak mostly Dutch and dialects of Dutch, in the Brussels and Walloon region they speak mostly French as the French dialects are mostly gone. And in the Walloon region they have a German community of the cantons of Eupen and Malm├ędy mostly speaking German.

Kind regards, Paul.
 
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