Friday, September 21, 2007

I've Been Reading Some European History Lately, and It's Hard to Escape the Impression that Multination States and Popular Rule Are Not a Good Fit

Look at this story on Belgium about what looks like another step towards partition.

From what little I've read about modern European history - only recently – it looks like much of the post WW II stability in the region owes itself to massive relocation/ethnic cleansing, a sorting out (and in at least the case of Jews attempted liquidation) of the different peoples, accompanied by some redrawing of national borders. Where those things did not happen, there has tended to be violence.

In Belgium, where the different peoples already lived apart, they managed to co-exist in a largely, increasingly autonomous relationship. But like a long-separated couple, the Flemish and the Walloons seem to be moving inexorably towards divorce. And the issue, as it so often does in such cases, boils down to money. That is not so, when there has been a lot of domestic violence and mental cruelty along the way and there is no viable supranational body like the EU to precondition states to diminished sovereignty.

More generally, popular vote tends not to work when there is a clear split in communal identities. I suspect that this is old hat to political scientists, but, late to the game, it's something that I've only come to realize by way of the disaster that is Iraq. And the Bush administration too late, unless even now...

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