12 thoughts on “Honors World Regional #14

  1. The global landscape is changing. With the creation (and success) of the European Union, a super-state organization, and the emergence of sub-nationalist movements within various countries, the modern concept of “state” won’t remain the same. No country is immune from devolutionary pressures, the pressures that push for the disintegration of the state. This includes countries that are old, new, and have varying economic power. These pressures are perhaps more noticeable in Europe, where the modern concept of the nation-state began, but of course, these pressures occur in other regions. For instance, there are pressures in Asia and Latin America. Recently, we saw the result of such pressures with Sudan and South Sudan, but they don’t always lead to the creation of a new state. Like we see with Catalan in Spain, there is not a new state, yet, but there are unique political expressions in this area that do not exist in other parts of Spain. As unique political parties are created in areas where this sub-nationalist pressure exists, we will continue to see more pressure against the state, even some separation movements. The more these sub-national pressures begin to be expressed in political arenas, the more we will begin to see these pressures become movements. We already saw this with the Scottish referendum, and we’ll begin to see it more as time passes.
    In states where there are significant differences in language, religion, or ethnic identity, we can expect that there are some pressures to have some amount of autonomy or independence. We see these pressures in areas of Africa (see Sudan/South Sudan), we see them in India, in Latin America, and other areas. These pressures in Europe demonstrate an interesting facet of the sub-national movements; when these pressures begin to be expressed through democratic means, they have interesting implications, some of which we have not seen just yet.
    Is it a bit ironic that both super-national organizations and sub-national divisions are the two pressures facing the modern state? Probably. But again and again, we are seeing this occur. We see regions, particularly Latin America and Africa that are inspired by the success of the European Union. Although these super-state organizations have not reached the same level of expression as the European Union, this movement to integrate modern states economically, politically, and militarily will become increasingly more common.

  2. The formation of super-states such as the European Union, NATO, UN, and WTO demonstrate the recent trend to bring together countries for collective security. This has led, to a certain extent, to individual countries (especially throughout Europe) becoming less nationalistic or concerned with only their state. The pictures provided help to show some of the more recent pushes against collectivism and a return to nationalism and patriotism inside countries.

    In the top left picture, we see the Catalonia flag that is commonly displayed in areas of North Eastern Spain such as Barcelona. The flag displays the want for independence from Spain that has been greatly desired by much of these areas. Catalans, which were suppressed by Franco during the Spanish Civil War, have throughout history always seen themselves as independent from Spain. Recently, the push has been less violent, but still constantly displayed (especially anytime Barcelona play Real Madrid in soccer).

    The middle left image shows a similarly divisive issue in Scotland. Many in the country want independence from the United Kingdom and as recently as the 2014 referendum have shown the initiative to actually break away. It seems likely that the country will soon become independent if the UK does not follow through on its concessions. If Scotland does break away, it will cause very interesting issues not only in the UK but also in the EU.

    The bottom left image shows the divide between Ukraine and Russia which has also come to a head recently. Ukrainians are formally sovereign, but do to its reliance on Russia for gas and energy is not effectively sovereign. Even if the Ukrainians were to act against the huge country it would mean losing such help that they could not really deal with. This is a great example between formal and effective sovereignty as having sovereignty and being able to show it are two different things. Only if Ukraine is able to find a way to exist without help from Russia will it be truly independent from the country.

    The picture of Belgium is not easy to understand, but it seems to be showing some split in the country. The North is primarily yellow while the South is blue and pink primarily. This is probably showing some fundamental split among the general population in Belgium. Similar to Catalonia, Scotland, and Ukraine, Belgium is probably experiencing a backlash from a part of its population who no longer wants to identify with the nation.

    This push for both bigger nations (super-states) and smaller nations is something that is becoming more common. While the EU is widening and looking to become even bigger, areas like Catalonia and Scotland are looking to break away from the big picture in favor of the smaller. It will be interesting to see how situations in these countries play out as some want larger collectivization and others want smaller.

  3. Europe is in a unique situation in the cycle of nations. After the move from feudalism to absolutism, European countries created national identities. People moved away from Catholic or Protestant idnetities and moved towards French, German, etc. as who they were. This led to WWI and WWII. As the the continent advanced in technology and economics, the countries United into super states. The UN, NATO, EU, etc. made Europe one region rather than many states. Goods, ideas, and people moved freely between countries and they began to lose their identity. As the people searched for hope they looked away from country ties and found nationalism in a smaller form.
    The waved flag is the idea of identity in a region because of heritage or language or religion rather than boarders on a map. These flags and symbols are a way to say “this is who I am!” Europe is ripe for this because the governments there have become so united.
    One example of this is Belgium. Belgium is divided north and south over language. The people there identify as Flemish or French, not Belgian.
    I think one of the reasons that Belgian people look for deeper identity is because so much peace and trade go through its Capitol of Brussels. Belgium is known for treaties etc. which makes national identity a little fuzzy.

  4. The increasing number of devolutionary regions is a result of the people’s frustration of with the governments which rule them. This devolutionary pressure is coming from a place of hope that a smaller, more homogenous body of people would be able to govern and promote the interests of their region more effectively. Our expectations have become more than the modern state is capable of. I see a trend towards more government involvement in more aspects of daily life, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be difficult to manage on such a large scale and with so many different opinions. Smaller states with a better connected people would seem to be more logical for this purpose. In the past, together has always been better, but increasingly being tied to the interests of larger states has become a burden. I can understand why certain groups would want independence, often they are distinct ethnic groups who have the capability to be economically independent. In the United States we have a very hard time juggling the interests and egos of so many different religious and ethnic peoples because its human nature to have conflict with people who are different. In Europe, there isn’t the same melting pot effect, more often than not, depending on where you are you could guess the language and religious background of the people around you. While the globe is becoming exponentially more connected, pressure for states to be homogenous in language and interest rises because it makes business and international relations easier. Smaller voices get oppressed for the greater good of the state. All this to say, it makes sense why so many find themselves wishing for separation. Furthermore, as we get further away from the last world war, there is a decrease in the nationalism that we saw develop in nations across the western world. While there have been many wars, none have been as unifying as the second world war, in fact they have been dividing nations. The modern state is having an identity crisis. I see a lot of people who think they are right, and want their voice to be heard, but with so many people thinking they are right nobody wants to compromise. There is a my way of the highway attitude in global politics, so the party with the most power either gets what they want, or the other part leaves. We are seeing lots of “other parties” wanting to leave. There will soon be several nations actually accomplishing this devolution, and I think it will definitely have effects on the EU. I will be curious to see if sovereign states begin to feel this devolutionary pressure in the European Union as it has become very powerful in comparison to the specific states. Do Greece and France have enough in common to remain a part of an effective body?

  5. As I mentioned in my last blog response, Europe not only has the honor of being the birthplace of the modern state, but it also has the more dubious honor of being the birthplace of Banal nationalism.
    While in recent history Europe has been unified in large nations states, most of these states came together by the use of force, annexing groups of people that had little in common with the ruling ethnicity of these modern states. And while the fear of other powerful states keep these separatists views in check in the pre-WW2 era (with the exception of the Irish), by the fear of being annexed by other republics with a more aggressive approach. Thus places like Sardinia or Cataluña didn’t remained art of Italy and Spain because they respected these states, but because they were scared of the Germans and the French. Yet in the modern era following WW2 Europe has been unified by the common flag of the European Union.

    Thus micro nations have found a new conducts towards independence as the European Union has provided a way to be protected from larger nations, while still being able to maintain independence. Thus regions that wouldn’t have contemplated their independence in the past have now found a new wave of nationalism.

    While in most cases peaceful demonstrations like Scotland or Galicia have led to national attention, some regions have decided to obtain independence through violence, even forming small terrorist groups, such as IRA or the ETA, in Ireland and Spain respectively, or even evolving into full on warfare as the case of Eastern Ukraine or Kosovo region in Serbia.

    Yet regardless of the course of action, the only certainty is that the European political landscape is going to change dramatically over the coming years.

  6. Scottish Independence has been a major issue, especially in recent years, and the move for Scottish independence is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality as the Scottish National Party gains more and more momentum. The Scottish National Party was established in 1934 when the two political parties of Scotland merged. Since then, it has continued to gain seats in Scottish Parliament and the Westminster Parliament, giving the party highly notable recognition within the United Kingdom, but also within Europe. The goal of the party is firstly to promote Scottish representation in the Westminster Parliament in order to see that Scotland can continue to grow its economy, along with protect the rights of Scottish public service and infrastructure. And although the SNP looks for this to change, many non-Scots have control of the Scottish economy, government, and public infrastructure, so the SNP is working toward a method of regaining that representation in order to ensure that Scotland is not overlooked, and that Scots can have a very clear voice in the U.K.’s government. In 2014, the SNP held a referendum to seek independence for the territory of Scotland from the U.K., but the referendum lost after 55% of voters voted “No” for Scottish independence. The party, however, has geared up for another round of seeking independence and has been discussing the possibilities of another referendum. We’ll see what happens next…
    The situation in Belgium however, is a little more complex. With strong French influence in the southerly region of Wallonia, and Dutch influence in the northerly region of Flanders. The have balanced the country well given the system of asymmetric federalism on which they operate, but separation has still been a part of the discussion, particularly with the political party, Vlaams Belang. Vlaams Belang is a nationalist Flemish political party within Belgium that seeks greater autonomy for the historic region of Flanders in Northern Belgium in order to “protect Flemish culture and the Dutch language.” Additionally, Vlaams Belang seeks to reunite with The Netherlands as an additional method of protecting the Dutch language. The movement was a reaction to under representation of the Dutch language and Flemish culture in Belgium, and also due to large influence of the French language and culture within Belgium, and particularly within the Brussels area.
    Catalonia has long been an ethnically separate part of Spain, and for many years has been attempting to secede from the country. The CiU party, has greatly facilitated this process. The CiU (Convergència i Unió, Eng. Convergence and Union) is a Catalan nationalist party in Spain seeking for greater autonomy for the autonomous region of Catalonia and is currently seeking its independence from Spain. The party had attempted a referendum of independence in 2014, but was denied by the Spanish parliament on a legality basis. The party not only seeks greater representation of minority rights in Spain, but also seeks a larger role in the integration of the European economy. The largest issue with Catalan secession is that the Spanish government continues to block their ability to secede due to legality of secession, but the negative impacts of this could result in more severe forms of protest and resistance from Catalonia.
    The annexation of Crimea by Russia has led to major tensions between the two countries. And essentially, has led to increased discussion of separatism in eastern Ukraine by Russian nationalists, but has also led to increased nationalism among Ukrainians. The allowance of Russia to annex Crimea can be interpreted as a major political decision to prevent further military action between the two countries (Russia would win on the bounds of effective sovereignty due to sheer size [population and wealth and UNSC standing]). I had also heard that a major reason Russia was eager to have Ukraine was because of the vast prevalence of mollisols throughout the country, which would allow Russia to have independent access to agriculture and greater food production to bolster its own global autonomy as a nation. Is this true? I’m sure there are caveats…

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