- The emergence of ethno-nationalist conflicts is related to the creation of nation-states.
- Ethno-nationalist conflicts are more powerful in weak states and in states where civil society is not developed.
Since the fall of Berlin Wall and the collapse of
- Ulrich Beck claims that globalization makes people search for a secure national homestead and to react with an agressive nationalism threatening existing state borders. But how earlier ethno-nationalist conflicts could be explained since the globalization is a new phenomenon.
- Writers like Simpson think that the removal of iron curtain led to the emergence of heteregeneous states where ethnic conflicts emerge. This will follow its natural course until homegenous nation-states emerge. However, this explanation also fails since we have examples like
- Samuel Huntington points out the “clash of civilizations” replacing nationalist and ideological polarization. However, his theory has a poor empirical performance.
- There are some other views related to Völkerpsychologie and culture of violence. These theories point out the unending troublesome regions’ political culture like “ever troublesome Balkans” or “tribalistic
- Thanks to the works of many scholars, now we tend to believe that the ethnic violence is highly patterned. Wimmer argues that in the transition from the rule of kings, caliphs or Communist cadres to the democratic, egalitarian nation state, the weakness of the state apparatus or the abscence of a strong civil society lead to the politicization of ethnic difference and ethnicization of political conflicts.
During the time of multi-ethnic empires, although there was some political mobilization among ethnic lines, for the crown loyalty was the only matter. Thus, for instance, Spanish crown did not hesitate to grant priviledges to Basque region. However, this started to become a problem when Spanish nation-state was tried to be established. Similarly, the
According to statistics provided by Wimmer about sub-Saharan
The politicization of ethnic difference: It takes place in two different ways. First of all, when a majority of population with a tradition of political centralization takes over the apparatus, ethnicization of the state and bureaucracy occurs automatically (
Secondly, the ethnicization of politics and bureaucracy can take place via the formation of clientelist networks. This is less self evident and needs to be analyzed more closely. In newly established states, especially in those where weak states exist, modern goods (equal treatment before the law, protection from arbitrary violence, political participation etc) cannot be spread equally over the entire population simply because the state is not strong enough. In this kind of states, favouritism solves the problem. It allows state elite to strengthen their position and have political support. Usually, it is the educated middle class who are the most interested in the politics of ethnic representation and who suffer most from ethnic preference politics since they are the ones who fill the governmental offices. The vast majority of ethno-nationalist movements are led by educated middle class.
The ethnicization of political conflicts: Under what conditions can people who play no direct role in the struggle for bureaucratic posts and sinecures be mobilized for an ethno-nationalist project?
1-) Economic explanation: Most social scientists in the 1970’s were thinking that mobilization along ethnic-national lines could be successful where these lines seperate socio-economic interest groups. For instance, in Nazi Germany the trading rich minorities consisted of Jews became the target of agressive German nationalism. Uneven development may lead to political and cultural hierarchization of regions. When it coincides with different ethnic identities, the ethnicization of political conflicts may take place. According to Wallerstein, always the more wealthy regions tend towards secessionism (
2-) Socio-psychological explanation: Because ethnic status is given at birth and cannot be changed, it prevails over all other types of conflicts and in the case of uneven development it easily fosters rivalry between ethno-regions. According to this approach, it is very difficult for heterogeneous societies to get rid of ethnic conflicts.
3-) Psychological explanation: They focus on ego stabilization through group identification. They underlined the importance of the devaluation of others. But they fail to explain why the boundaries between us and them are mostly based on ethnic differences rather than religious, class, regional etc differences.
4-) Post-structuralist (Foucauldian explanation): Nationalist discourses affect people’s thinking and feelings. Anthony Smith also thinks that the power of ideology plays a central role in ethno-nationalist conflicts. However, post-structuralism points out the working of this mechanism and it cannot explain why it occurs.