Militancy and Nation-Building…

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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5 Responses

  1. Christopher Carr says:

    Concerning Europe: not to oversimplify, but I think there’s also the fact that “Germany” is largely a nation of German-speakers, “France” is a nation of French-speakers, “England” is a nation of English speakers, etc. I know this doesn’t tell the whole story, but much of the rest can be accounted for by geography – i.e. Switzerland, the countries along the Danube, intra-Scandinavia, etc. There are some outliers, like Belgium or the Balkan nations, but those either tend to be essential to peaceful equilibria between regional powers or a mess when they’re not essential. The Celtic nations, the Basques, etc. are a slightly-more-complex story, of which I won’t go into much detail here except to say that, at least in the case of the Celts, superior farming technology drove them to Europe’s extremes (those goddam Germans and their BMWs!).

    At some point in time, all those nations realized they’d be better off trading goods and services with each other than taking turns sending waves of young men to get mowed down by machine-gun fire and tariffs were replaced by FTAs. Of course, this requires infrastructure and knowledge capital, and building infrastructure and knowledge capital requires young people to be in school or something and not out killing other young people.

    To look at the rest of the world, regions that generally have borders that separate prime factors such as languages or cultural forces or that are marked by geographical features or that are instrumental to some greater peace in the region – i.e. India/Pakistan, the Far East, even South America to some extent, enjoy a relative peace between nations even if tensions exist. Regions whose borders have been arbitrarily constructed by victors in World Wars – regions such as Africa or the Middle East (where three civilizations are fighting over one political prize or one ethnic group is split between two nations because some Belgian king two-hundred years ago wanted a mountain or something and his cousinsister the Queen of England agreed that splitting the mountains was fair or something) will tend to be unstable.

    That is to say, meaningless national governments like those of “Zaire” or “Iraq” will fail to acquire the legitimacy that ends the war of all against all.

    Of course, “naturally” unstable regions exist as well, regions where there is a confluence of factors such as language, religion, etc. which are more prime than governmental structure (in this sense, I somewhat agree with the infamous Huntington.); these inherently unstable regions are places like Afghanistan, where, of all manner of things to do in Afghanistan, we are actually trying to build a nation. Tisk tisk. Report

  2. Nob Akimoto says:

    I was thinking more along the lines of the transitions that arose in the 1770s through 1840s. This really does take us into the weeds a little, but Best’s description of how Prussian nationalism (and German nationalism writ large) became militarized in the face of Napoleonic conflict is a really interesting take on how the ultimate nature of military and society relations changed in the interwar era. The image of a nationalist military order like what Clausewitz or Scharnhorst imagined and what wound up happening in the face of the Holhenzolhern. (Yes I mangled that) resistance is quite revealing.

    In fact arguably the whole history of Germany would likely have been substantially different if the war in the 1860s had come out in favor of the Austrians rather than the Prussians. (This was unlikely of course for socioeconomic reasons but still a possibility) The Prussian militancy really did change how German society was organized and led eventually to the bigass conflicts of the 20th century.



  3. Jason Kuznicki says:

    I would strongly emphasize the importance of Hegelian philosophy here, in which the nation-state is the agent that realizes the authentic freedom of its people.

    Also, a delightfully broken metaphor in the last sentence.  Well done.Report