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May 23, 2006


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The trend towards uni-national states which contain ethnic minorities as opposed to multiethnic, multinational empires has probably been one of the principal causes of war in the 20th Century. Alleged mistreatments of minorities in neighboring states has been one of the chief pretexts of military campaigns, whether between Poland and Lithuania, Poland and Germany, Germany and the Czech Republic, Greece and Turkey, the various Balkan states etc. And it is inevitable that minorities will be treated (or perceive themselves to be treated) shabbily and thereby inflame neighboring states where the minority is in the majority. Yet nationalism remains a potent force; nations want to express their identity and power and prestige with national states, free from minority status within other, larger political units.

I agree with you that this process should probably be more discouraged than encouraged. What will happen, for example, if every ethnic minority in Russia were to try to secede. We've seen already in Chechnya that remaining ethnic Russians will be mistreated and nations will rightly resist their division in smaller units, one by one, from agitating internal minorities. Further, the trend towards uni-national states goes against the other major phenomenon of modern times: mass immigration and ethnic diversity within large nations. Perhaps this latter trend is unsustainable, but it is ironic that the west which has pursued this strategy internally will defy its own logic and insist that other nations must each govern themselves separate from the challenge of living with one or more ethnic groups in a single polity.

Farok J. Contractor (Rutgers)

1) Can someone kindly give the source for the graph of Number of States by Year?

2) I have wandered into this blog because of my interest in the question of MES (at the plant level) in different sectors vis-a-vis nation size. Can one make a generalization about the need for companies to become multinational, based on scale economies at the plant level. That is to say plant size versus national market size?

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