Crafting State – Nations – The Culturist Review

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by Dr John Press

“Crafting State – Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies,” is an academic argument which refutes culturism.  In the academic literature, nation refers to a people; State refers to the government.  Thus, you can have a nation (a people) that wants a state.  And, you can have a state with several nations living inside of it.  This powerhouse of nationalism studies authors, Alfred Stepan, Juan J. Linz, and Yogendra Yadav argue that in the second case, nations should use multicultural style arrangements to create stability and avoid secession.

Crafting State – Nations focuses on India.  The Indian State, got the local states’ nations not secede by giving them control over their own internal cultural and governmental affairs and the ability to use the local language in State government.  Furthermore, India’s central government bought off secessionist leaders with positions in the central government.  With this combination of autonomy and perks, Indians have frozen secessionist movements and the population has high regard for the central Indian government.

The authors suggest that, rather than unity via nation-state (where the people make the state), you foster unity via affiliation in the nations with the central government – this is a state-nation.  Their ideal program is called Federacy.  To avoid secession, the central state would give tremendous autonomy to the local cultural group’s government, the federacy.  Under this model, the local federacy would have exclusive jurisdiction “over culture – making and culture – preserving powers, such as the right to establish the indigenous language as the official language.” The local people of the federacy, if satisfied with the central government’s administration, would feel loyalty to the state.

In my state of California 38% of all inhabitants are Latino and they are poised to become the majority. [i]     The group, La Raza, is a secessionist group that has branches on every university campus.   And 27% of inhabitants speak English either poorly or not at all. [ii]   When diversity has its horrid effects, should the United States make have California’s conduct all government and school programs in Spanish?  This would accelerate the current exodus of non-Latinos from the state. This may have helped with the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  But India is 81% Hindu and so is Tamil Nadu.  Allowing Tamil Nadu the ability to conduct local government in their language is, therefore, not so significant a rupture.

The authors show how a variation on the federacy model kept Catalonia in Spain. But here we are talking about two Catholic nations in one State.    If we give exclusive jurisdiction “over culture – making and culture –preserving powers,” to Muslims in Denmark, will we not then have Sharia law enforced with the complicity of the Danish government?  Is this not entirely contrary to western law?   Worse yet, the federacy model grants the federacy the right to create “extremely restrictive immigration policies and to prohibit those citizens of the polity who are not citizens of the federacy from buying land or establishing commercial enterprises.” So this would create no-go zones for Europeans.

The central government would keep control of foreign affairs and war.  But, the federacy could opt-out if the treaties adversely impacted them.  To increase buy-in, the Federacy citizens would have voting rights in the central government, but those in the center would not be able to vote in the federacy.  Finally, an international force, such as the UN, would make sure the federacy got all its rights. This is secession in all but name.  This worked, as the authors tell us, with Norway and the Aland islands.  But, any culturist could tell you having an international force impose a separatist Sharia-compliant zone in Norway would be a nightmare.

The authors note how this model really worked well in keeping the Mizoram peoples in India. But, using the same techniques, federacy did not work in nearby Nagaland.  The difference?  Mizoram had a perfect culturist formula wherein they had one language and their people (their nation) lived within their borders (their state).  Thus, with the Mizoram, a binding treaty was possible. The Nagas,were multicultural, their leaders spoke different languages and the Naga people spilled over into neighboring states.   Again, the background assumption of this book is that multicultural diversity can lead to bloody secession movements, and their examples inadvertently prove culturism is a great antidote to such chaos.

The authors call the minority cultural insurgents “cultural nationalists.” But, beyond this acknowledgement, the authors deny the importance of culture.  In fact, they claim that their surveys showing that the 161 million Muslims in India are proud to be India and approve of democracy, disproves Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilization” model. This shows that Islam and democracy are friends.  But, India is 81% Hindu. The only 13% Muslim population is spread throughout India, and only have a majority in Kashmir.  The salience of Kashmir, the only Muslim state, being in rebellion in defiance of federacy is not lost on this culturist author.  Amazingly, the authors read no significance into the Kashmiri cultural nationalists being called the “Muslim United Front.”

Nor do the authors wonder what it would be like were India 81% Muslim.  Their other effort to overlook Islam comes in their study of Indonesia.  Here the Acehnese people wanted to secede in order to implement a more stringent form of Sharia.  Using the federacy program, near total sovereignty was given to them.  In turn they put down their arms.  And the Acehnese are happy with the treaty.  Yet, four scant years after the agreement, the government of Aceh passed a law punishing adultery with death by stoning.  Also, terrorist camps have been found in Aceh.  As Indonesia and the Aceh are Islamic, this might not be a problem.  But, do we really want to have an international body enforce such cultural practices in Great Britain?



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