Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Coming Micro-States

The Coming Micro-States. I want to point at this post at Coming Anarchy. With the addition of Montenegro to the international community, and the likely addition soon of Kosovo, the question is starting to arise about whether there are more nations now than are really needed. The collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia have added more than a dozen nations alone to the world stage.

Chirol writes, "The effects of Montenegro’s recent independence and Kosovo’s predicted independence are already rippling far beyond the Balkans. If Montenegro, a geographically small country of some 600,000 people, can achieve independence, why too shouldn’t others such as South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karbagh or Transdniestria?"

Indeed. And why shouldn't every other separatist group in the world try for this too? There is a lot of recent inspiration. But is this good for the world at large? Do we need more balkanization? Many aspirant states based on ethnicity have no chance such as Hawaii and the Lakota nation which will probably fail as the local populations which are overwhelmingly not made up of the local ethnic separatists groups have no interest in independence. The international community will not force this undemocratically. However, ethnic groups in Spain, Italy, the UK, etc. who actually make up the majority of a population of a separatist area may be successful.

Although most separatist attempts at world balkanization will fail, we almost surely will see many new nations in the near future. History has shown that many of these new states will have a limited duration and will eventually be absorbed by larger entities. It should be interesting...

Additional note: Separatists groups hate being called separatists. They almost always claim that their "nations" were never legally acquired in the first place and hence they are asking to be restored to their proper and correct status. Secession is a dirty term to them. My apologies to these groups but that is not the way the international community views it so I will continue to use the "S" word.


armands said...

So, what's wrong with nations becoming independant? I think there is some other "wrong" - those large entities not willing to let smaller nations become independant. And here is the reason for the violence of seperatist groups. If there would be a possibility to become independant in democratic way (Montenegro is the latest example), there would be no need for the violence.

I am from Latvia, we are the country of about 3 million, and I hate the discussions about how we all do not need small countries. If we lost our first independance in 1940, that was not because we are so stupid, that was because "large entities" as USSR and Third Reich had their plans which they fulfilled.

Steve Muhlberger said...

It isn't the size of countries so much as whether you can cross boundaries, or are trapped within them.

The EU is finally emerging, for one part of the world, as a structure in which smaller countries can exist without becoming prisons, or being one itself.

I'll be in Latvia myself in a week or so. It will be interesting to see how things have gone since 1995, the last time I was there

Hal O'Brien said...

As time goes on, Leopold Kohr's The Breakdown of Nations (1957) becomes more prescient.

I very much expected China to fly apart after Deng Xiao-Ping died. Certainly centrifugal forces explain why the Chinese government is no nervous about any hint of unrest from Xinkiang, Tibet, or Taiwan, and why they were so intent to get both Hong Kong and Macao back into the fold (although they balked about Macao at first -- too difficult to manage, even for them, and even with the precedent :)

Oddly, the push towards the European Union has been a confirmation of Kohr's ideas. He believed both the USA and the Swiss Confederation worked because in neither case could any one partner overwhelm the others. Europe, historically, has been unbalanced by the domination of Germany in the center. It was only after WWII, and with all European countries being equally outgunned by the superpowers (USA and USSR) that Europe could come together. The open question remaining is, What happens now that Russia is (mostly) out of the picture?

Anyway... Sorry if this is somewhat disjointed. Fascinating stuff, to be sure.