Metta Spencer

When States Divide

Chapter 1 of Separatism: Democracy and Disintegration (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998)

Metta Spencer

The twentieth century has been called the "post-imperial epoch," for it saw the collapse of the Habsburg, Ottoman, Hohenzollern, Ch'ing, British, and Russian Empires. But this title is too limited, for these imperial splinterings have not been the end of the matter; afterward the nationalistic spirit moved on to divide other countries that had not been empires. Today almost half the wars going on in the world are struggles for secession. Our daily newspapers refer to "peoples" and ethnically defined "nations" that claim entitlement to "self-determination" in a sovereign "homeland" of their own. In the heat of struggle for such exclusive possession, some claimants perpetrate "ethnic cleansing" -- the expulsion of other groups or even genocide.

Such horrors are being carried out as these words are written, and others must be expected in the future. Yet it is with the hope of preventing or mitigating the violent consequences of nationalistic movements that the authors offer this book. The present chapter and the following one will sketch certain historical trends and attempt to discern a pattern in them. Here, and again in the concluding chapter, I shall describe, compare, and identify some potential correctives to the most dangerous trends.

Nationalism has been defined as "a theory of political legitimacy which requires that ethnic boundaries should not cut across political ones, and, in particular, that ethnic boundaries within a given state should not separate the power-holders from the rest."[1] Ideally, according to nationalists, the population of each state should consist of a single ethnic community, and all members of that ethnic community should live within the borders of that state. The ideal is only a dream -- no "nation-state" remains wholly monocultural today, and if one did, it would be culturally stagnant. Centers of civilization have always been multicultural regions where people from diverse backgrounds meet and stimulate each other through example and dialogue.

Many nationalist movements seek to gain control of the entire existing state where they live, as in the case of colonial subjects who take over an intact state from a colonial power. Other nationalists seek to split the existing state and take control of their share of territory. This book will deal with the latter objective -- separatism. We shall compare the histories of separatism and seek to identify its causes and consequences. We shall assess its contemporary trends and certain constitutional innovations that may serve to reduce its likelihood.

Waves of Secession and Democracy

Far more separatist movements arise than ever come to fruition. Such movements in the late 1990s cannot be counted, for the most marginal of such groups probably amount to nothing more than fantasy. Among the less plausible contemporary examples are the movements for the independence of Hawaii and Alaska, though even these separatists may surprise us in the future.

Secessions take place in waves. After both world wars, it was the great powers that broke up states and shifted borders around, for separatist movements were far too weak to achieve these results by their own actions. During the wave following World War II, European colonization was reversed, and several states, such as India, Korea, and Palestine, were divided to accommodate the incompatible demands of ethnic or ideological groups. During the troughs that followed those waves, maps remained fairly stable until about 1990, when a third wave of secessions began. The Soviet Union broke apart, and separatist aspirations spread to other states, both socialist and nonsocialist. It is not clear whether this wave of secessions has yet crested.

These secessionist waves correlate with another pattern: the democratization of states, of which Samuel Huntington has identified three such waves or cycles.[2] The first long wave took place between 1820 and 1920, spreading from the United States to some European states and a few British dominions and Latin American countries. This cycle was reversed to some extent between 1920 and 1945. Then, after World War II, a new wave of democratization took place because democratic societies, as the victors, were able to bring reforms to the vanquished states. That was also the period of decolonization, and most of the new states created in those days emulated the advanced democracies. This surge then waned between 1960 and 1975, as democratic states collapsed or were overthrown in several countries. Finally, since 1975, a new wave of democracy has been taking place, and in 1989, with the breakdown of Communism, it overturned almost the entire socialist world. There were 44 democracies in 1972, 56 in 1980, and 91 in 1992, when the Soviet empire was breaking apart.[3]

The temporal coincidence between surges of democracy and surges of secessionist movements will require explanation. One reason must be that secession is regarded as a manifestation of "self-determination," which conceptually would seem associated with democracy, the principle that citizens must be governed only with their own consent. To its great proponent, Woodrow Wilson, self-determination meant both (a) freedom from external coercion or alien domination and (b) the right to meaningful participation in the political process -- or "internal self-determination."[4] The former meaning is the basis for separatists' demands, while the latter refers to democracy.

Democracy and self-determination are linked in other ways. A democratic referendum is often one phase of the move toward secession. In recent times, virtually all such moves toward independence have been accompanied by promises of democracy, even when there are reasons to doubt the nationalists' sincerity.

Both the left and the right portray both processes as interdependent aspects of a single progressive development, the trend toward giving human beings more control over the conditions of their own lives. Yet, despite these similarities, democracy and self-determination are two distinct projects with sometimes contradictory objectives. Before considering such an interpretation we should explore both the causes and consequences of secessionist movements.

The Nationalist Roots of Separatism

A precondition for the emergence of secessionist movements is nationalism, which has changed in character over the years. The early nationalist movements, continuing the centralizing trends begun under previous monarchies, more often sought to weld political units together than to divide them, as today. Here I shall review four roots of nationalist movements: (a) structural, (b) historical, (c) ideological, and (d) motivational factors.

Structural Conditions

One of the essential preconditions for nationalism -- the system of nation-states -- is omnipresent. Without nations there can be no nationalism. A second structural feature of modern society consists of the "mobilization" of populations through education, mass media exposure, travel, and migration.

The System of Nation-States: For hundreds of years, the world has been divided into a patchwork of states with clear boundaries. Every piece of land and every human being supposedly belongs to one of these entities, which are self-contained within "hard shells." The governments of these countries ideally recognize each other as sovereign and do not try to influence the internal affairs of the others except through diplomacy when their own interests are affected.

Still, the boundaries of these states do sometimes change. Before and during the early phases of nationalism in Europe, states decreased in number as they amalgamated into larger, centralized states or great empires. In recent years, however, nationalists generally have not promoted integration but rather secession,[5] so the number of states has been increasing. In 1998, some 185 of them belonged to the United Nations, and a few did not.

Because nations constitute a system, a successful claim of sovereign statehood depends on whether other states officially recognize it as such.[6] No objective standards exist for determining whether states should accept a secession. Sovereign states ultimately retain the right to decide whether to recognize other states.[7] However, dangerous ambiguity might be resolved if the United Nations or the International Court of Justice (ICJ) were to propose minimum criteria for recognizing secessionist claims. The present uncertainty only encourages separatist movements to test the water by claiming sovereignty.[8]

Mobilization. Nationalism is connected with the central experience of modernization -- the breakdown of a stable traditional social order when a larger communication system penetrates formerly isolated communities. Karl Deutsch, who studied nationalism during the 1950s, called these changes in traditional rural society "mobilization," the process through which traditional people become conscious of the wider society.

Before their mobilization, peasants have to worry about bugs and drought, but not about their social relationships, for the only people they meet are lifelong acquaintances of predictable habits and opinions. But let a road be built, for example, and strangers, salesmen, and politicians will travel through. There will be schools, films, radios, and magazines. One will no longer know whom to trust, or whose trinkets to buy when visiting the market.

Mobilization draws traditional persons into a broad, swiftly changing social world characterized by social insecurity. They may seek to recreate their lost sense of community, seizing upon small signs of similarity -- such as common accent or cuisine or holiday customs -- as grounds for solidarity. Deutsch called such a new group an "ersatz" community; its pretended familiarity is contrived to substitute for the real thing and reassure those living in a context of uncertainty.

To these aspects of mobilization must be added the frequent experience of migration. Pushed and pulled by market forces, traditional people move to cities or even to foreign countries while staying in contact with their relatives back at home. In refugee camps and major cities around the world, migrants congregate and try to reestablish new-old communities, singing familiar songs, trading recipes for Easter bread, exchanging child care, and lending their friends money until payday. Nationalism attains its maximum impact under precisely such circumstances. From abroad, the expatriate nationalist writes home, advising his relatives to assert their independence. These "long-distance nationalists" continue to participate politically in the country they left behind. However, as Benedict Anderson has noted, their participation is "non-responsible." They do not have to pay the price of the policies that they advocate from afar.

These are the social structural conditions most conducive to nationalism, and they are increasing in the modern world. Deutsch expected the period of nationalism to be only a transitional phase in a larger process. After people became familiar with modern institutions they would create pluralistic associations in their new country and organize politically to attain their security. Their dependence on ethnic solidarity would diminish and they would forget about nationalism. Perhaps Deutsch's prediction eventually will prove correct, but today it seems that the period of nationalism may not be brief.

Historical Roots of Nationalism

European states were created as a system as early as 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia, yet the sense of nationhood did not arise at the same time everywhere. Englishmen were English before Frenchmen were French. Often, small European principalities were forged together to create centralized states with precise borders instead of the previously ambiguous frontiers. The new "hard-shelled" sovereign states maintained standing armies and governmental bureaucracies that could tax the population and maintain local surveillance over them.

The creation of national identity involved the spread of vernacular languages and the new technology of print. Nation-builders explicitly sought to create national cultures by creating a single unified language for each nation from one of the local dialects, standardizing its spelling and grammar, and teaching it in schools throughout the new country. For the first time, all semieducated persons throughout France could communicate with one another. It was this that made them into Frenchmen.[9]

A similar process took place all over Europe and beyond, but not simultaneously. One of the founders of Italy, Massimo d'Azeglio, said, "We have made Italy. Now we have to make Italians."[10] Only later, when the Ottoman Empire broke up, did people in Anatolia come to think of themselves as Turks. Nationalities often arose around the world in colonies where all those who could read the same newspapers came to imagine themselves as constituting a single community united by one history. Much had to be rewritten to create such histories, including the intentions of the nation's ancestors. Nationalists everywhere learned to speak for the anonymous dead who had not understood what they themselves had "really meant" or "really wanted."[11]

On the whole, the nationalists' amalgamation of small principalities into sizable modern states may be considered a liberalizing influence. It allowed for greater inclusiveness, so that people identified with a wider community than before, and by standardizing a national culture and legal codes, it fostered communication and cosmopolitan knowledge. Even so, the increase of communication in the vernacular languages fostered a contradictory tendency in the larger empires. Thus when German replaced Latin as the medium of governance in the Habsburg Empire, the Hungarian and other elites began to entertain nationalistic ideas, drawing closer toward nonelites who spoke their own languages.

In our day, nationalists are exclusionary and divisive.[12] Long before the rise of National Socialism in Germany, nationalism had ceased to be benign.

Ideological Grounds

Nationalism is not a complete ideology in the same sense as communism, say, or Islam, or freemasonry. It has few theoretical proponents among philosophers and social scientists, nor does it suggest an action plan of universal scope. Nationalists do not try to spread their doctrine around the world to save us all; they only seek to justify their own group's status vis-à-vis its particular rival.

Nevertheless, nationalism employs certain concepts, such as sovereignty and self-determination, that are durable elements of general political discourse. Oddly, nationalism may be equally popular within the right, the left, and even the liberal center. Those who oppose the breakup of existing states risk being deemed bigoted and antidemocratic by their usual political allies. It is worth analyzing some of the assumptions on which nationalism is grounded.

y. A basic assumption is that the nation-state is the fundamental unit of human society and that it possesses sovereignty. Ironically, claims for such self-contained states are proliferating precisely when the reality of sovereignty is being superseded by the globalization of economies and polities. Nations may exist indefinitely, but their sovereignty seems sure to continue diminishing, under pressure from such international organizations as the European Union, the World Bank, NATO, the World Trade Organization, and even such hoary institutions as the International Postal Union.

Internationalists do not think it desirable to live in a state that is governed entirely by local voters, when the decisions that are made locally affect people who lack voting rights. Why, they ask, should only local farmers decide whether to allow an international airport to locate in their region? That decision affects millions of air passengers around the world who are denied any influence in the matter. Why should only citizens of Ukraine decide whether to continue operating the dangerous Chernobyl reactors? That decision affects millions of citizens of the countries downwind who lack any opportunity to vote on the matter. Why should only the citizens of rich countries decide whether to offer weapons to one faction or the other waging a civil war in a faraway country? That decision mainly affects the victims of those weapons, who should have something to say about the matter.[13]

A more democratic world cannot be created either by transferring more power to the international level or to the local level but only by giving people more influence over the decisions that affect their own lives. Nationalists suppose that such an objective can be attained by splitting states and giving local people more local control. This is so only with regard to those decisions that can be localized. Some decisions (e.g., whether to build new sewers) do mainly affect the local citizenry; other decisions (e.g., controlling the emission of greenhouse gases) mainly affect noncitizens at remote locations. It is no general solution to either increase or decrease the size of bounded, sovereign states.

Self-determination. The principle of self-determination, as well as the principle of sovereignty, is supported as a means of guaranteeing people some control over the laws by which their lives are regulated. Consent seems to be at stake here.

It is not logically necessary for this principle to entail the option to secede. There are, in fact, occasional claims for "internal self-determination," such as the demands of the aboriginal peoples of Canada for self-determination, although they do not claim the right to secede. They simply want a vastly greater degree of self-government for their own communities, in which they will make laws for themselves, police themselves, and provide social services for themselves. Since they are dispersed geographically, such devolution of power could not be based on federal principles (i.e., by shifting decisionmaking to smaller territorial entities) but rather by allowing functional units that are not localized spatially to make decisions.

In general, however, the notion of self-determination is understood to imply the option of seceding and acquiring sovereign status over territory as a member of the international system of states. This doctrine has been promoted as a right by liberals and dictators alike, for entirely incompatible objectives.

The leftist version of self-determination was advanced by V. I. Lenin, who had assigned another Bolshevik, Joseph Stalin, the task of studying the nationality question and developing a policy for the Soviet regime. This project established Stalin's reputation.[14] Theoretically, each union republic was a willing participant in the Soviet Union and had a right to secede at any time -- though in practice a nationalist surely would be punished for proposing secession. Self-determination was associated with Lenin's theory of imperialism, which recast Marxism along new lines.[15] This theory was meant to justify the possibility of action for Bolshevism, despite the fact that no substantial proletariat yet existed in the nonindustrialized countries, a condition that Marx considered prerequisite to revolution. Leninism now suggested that, just as there were oppressed and oppressor classes in the industrialized nations, the world itself could be seen as consisting of oppressed and oppressor nations. Lenin's plan was to work with the nationalistic bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations and encourage their aspirations of independence. The principle of self-determination was formulated to legitimize such ambitions and to place social revolution on the agenda.[16]

In reality, although the Communist International entertained this principle of imperialism, many Communists could not bring themselves to support bourgeois leaders for any cause whatever. Unable to restrain themselves, they kept founding Communist parties in various colonies around the world and referring to "class struggle," despite its theoretical incompatibility with the project of national liberation. Marxism is not interested in nations as such, for Marx and Engels saw the nation as the optimum market area of a particular bourgeoisie -- a social entity that would be overcome under socialism.[17] However, Bolshevik theory always asserted that the principle of self-determination meant the "right to secede." Rosa Luxemburg and her Polish Social Democrats rejected Lenin's slogan of national secession, which he formulated only for revolutionary purposes and intended to apply only when it suited the interests of the proletariat.

Yet from liberals came the same principle of self-determination. The idea was the special enthusiasm of President Woodrow Wilson, a Southern-born Democrat, some of whose ideas may have originated in the Confederacy. Wilson justified American participation in World War I as a move to advance the cause of democracy, which to his mind required a peace settlement guaranteeing every "people" the right to choose its own political system. Though he tried earnestly to apply this principle, Wilson discovered that it was far more complicated than he had supposed.[18] His Fourteen Points made it clear that the right of self-determination would apply only to peoples living in the defeated countries. Even so, the map of Europe that emerged from the process was not primarily based on the political will of the European peoples but on that of the war's victors.

The League of Nations did adopt Wilson's most cherished doctrines, at least as a declaratory position, and so did its successor, the United Nations, which incorporated the rhetoric of self-determination in its Charter. However, the United Nations in practice almost always defends the territorial integrity of states. Secretary-General U Thant put the matter bluntly, stating that "the United Nations has never accepted and does not accept and I do not believe it will ever accept the principle of secession of a part of its Member State."[19] A successor, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, when asked whether everyone who wants a state should have one, replied, "Certainly not. If every ethnic, linguistic, or religious group would ask for a statehood, we would have 2,000 states at the end of the century. It is not in the interests of the international community."[20]

Thus we see ambiguous views of self-determination in Marxism-Leninism, in democratic theory, and even in the policies of the United Nations. There is abundant ideological material available to nationalists who wish to claim legitimacy for their cause, yet the international community has always viewed secession with great misgivings.

Still, if we classify the nationalist doctrines as ideological, we must acknowledge that antinationalism can also be ideological. Benedict Anderson has suggested that liberals are clinging to myths when they condemn secession for its violence and justify the status quo as nonviolent. He reminds us that the dominant rulers perpetrated violence while assembling their empires and subordinating national minorities. He also contests as ideological the assertion that small countries created by secession are less viable economically than large states or that global capitalism is a peaceable system. Nevertheless, an antinationalist proponent of democracy can accept some of his points yet conclude that secession offers no advantage over other options.

Motivational Factors

Finally, we should go beyond considering the structural and ideological grounding for nationalism by taking account also of motivation -- those factors that stimulate the sense of nationhood and the assertion of its primacy over other social solidarities, such as family, social class, or gender.

National identity may be rooted in various types of solidarity or even material interests. Ernest Gellner accorded a special place to language in this process. He rightly noted that much was accomplished by stitching together a single French or Italian language, making the wider society into a unified field of communication. Even today language is often of great importance, not only as a symbol of status but virtually as a material interest, in that many economic resources usually must be expended to acquire proficiency in a foreign language.

The hierarchy of world languages. Gellner suggested that a key motive of nationalists is to advance the place of their language in the global hierarchy. A child who is brought up speaking English as a first language has many advantages over a youth who speaks only an uncommon African tongue, plus a smattering of Swahili. The African child may benefit significantly from a movement that successfully promotes the use of Swahili in universities, publishing houses, and bicycle assembly instruction booklets.

If nationalism were only such a set of movements to advance the status of particular languages, the motivation behind it would seem rational. However, in some cases nationalism is not based on the sharing of a common mother tongue. Yugoslavia is a case in point; the Serbs, Croats, and Bosniacs speak mutually intelligible dialects of the same language, yet their country broke apart. Since then, instead of promoting its currency in the world, they have been fiercely tearing it into separate languages. University departments that formerly taught "Serbo-Croatian" now offer only "Serbian" and "Croatian."

Antipathies between ethnic groups cannot be reduced to a single basis -- language (as in Gellner's theory), religion, race, or anything else -- and certainly not to one simple rational argument. What all separatist movements have in common is only a conviction that the existing political order is illegitimate and that their group has been assigned to a lower status than it deserves.

Humiliation. Resentment, envy, and wounded pride form a powerful constellation of motives that may be hard to explain rationally. For example, at a time when pollsters were giving the separatist cause a fifty-fifty chance of winning their referendum in Quebec, the anglophone newspaper columnist Jeffrey Simpson cited public opinion polls showing that Quebecers were not seriously dissatisfied with their circumstances. Thus 91 percent agreed completely or somewhat with the statement that "Canada is a country where it is good to live." Also, 81 percent agreed that "we should be proud of what francophones and anglophones have accomplished in this country. By a margin of 68 to 29 percent, Quebecers agreed that after secession a "majority of people will have to undergo fundamental changes in their lifestyles." In their responses to questions dealing with their financial situation, the well-being of future generations, the level of taxation, job security, and the security of social programs, the majority indicated that they did not expect things to get better if Quebec became a sovereign state. Nevertheless, pollsters declared that there was an even chance a majority might vote for secession.[21]

Simpson claimed that these positive poll results prove that the sovereigntists are ridiculous in claiming that the francophone Quebec people feel "humiliated" by English Canadians. He reasoned that if those Quebecers admit that they benefit objectively from their position inside Canada, they cannot be feeling "humiliated." I think he missed the point. Humiliation is a subjective state of mind not necessarily based on anything substantive. Never mind that anglophones have no intention to humiliate francophones. Never mind that they have done nothing in particular to injure them. If the francophones feel humiliated, they are humiliated, and they may feel a need to do something about it. Many francophones in Quebec resent what they perceive as a lack of legitimacy in the decision-making processes that affect them and feel so offended that they would accept a lower standard of living as the price of restoring legitimacy to their governance.

Resentment, humiliation, and envy need not be logically defensible in order to be powerful motives. Indeed, Liah Greenfeld has suggested that resentment is the fundamental emotion lying behind nationalism. She refers to it by the French term ressentiment,[22] which she defines as "a psychological state resulting from suppressed feelings of envy and hatred (existential envy) and the impossibility of satisfying these feelings."[23]

England, says Greenfeld, developed nationalism independently, largely through its proud rejection of Catholicism, and Protestant Englishmen celebrated their national identity for two hundred years before a comparable state of mind developed elsewhere. All subsequent nationalities, however, have been constructed by those who felt inferior by comparison to some other group.

Greenfeld describes two structural conditions that are necessary for the development of this attitude. The first condition is the belief on the part of the subjects that they are fundamentally equal to the object of their envy. The second condition is that the actual inequality between them is too great to be overcome easily. "The creative power of ressentiment -- and its sociological importance -- consists in that it may eventually lead to the 'transvaluation of values,'" writes Greenfeld. In other words, the person who feels envy and hatred may exalt values that are contrary to those of the group or person he resents.

This is a response that Freudians call reaction formation. If a person is bound to fall short when judged by the prevailing system of values, he may reject those values with a vengeance. Thus a lower-class teenager who resents the achievements of his high-status classmates may engage in malicious, spiteful activities to demonstrate to others and to himself as well that he despises their fancy ways.

Greenfeld's comparative historical research is designed to show that all nationalisms except the original English version arose because certain groups were dissatisfied with their previous identity and felt it necessary to construct a new collective self-image. The dissatisfaction always resulted from comparing one's own society to another nation. She cites vitriolic comments about England by early French intellectuals that are transparent expressions of envy. Later, Germans regarded themselves as beer-drinking yokels in comparison to the sophisticated Frenchmen they hated yet admired. Likewise, Russians, perceiving their society as even more backward, claimed to have a depth of soul far beyond the comprehension of the limited Western European mind.

Greenfeld regards this kind of defense mechanism as creative, and rightly so. Nationalists do not, in general, express their ressentiment in as crude a way as today's urban teenager who slashes the tires of sports cars to prove that he does not want one. Nationalists select and redefine their countrymen's traits, elevating certain features and ignoring others. The construction of a national identity is a job for a humiliated fiction writer, yet when it is done well, it may have historic consequences for his society and for its relations with other societies.

Again, the humiliation of ressentiment need not be based on any slights or slurs intended by the more prestigious rival, which is why it is often suppressed or camouflaged. Understandably, a high-status anglophone journalist such as Jeffrey Simpson may feel baffled when francophone Quebecers seem to take offense without reasonable cause. While they admit to having few objective grievances, they cannot be expected to acknowledge feeling simple envy.

Humiliation is likely to arise in a democracy when a group constituting a local majority holds concerns differing from the rest of the society. Here too French Quebec is an illustrative case. The francophone population is a distinct society in cultural terms, possessing a rich literature and theater as well as local economic interests that are entirely unfamiliar to anglophone Canadians. Most local decision making has devolved to the provincial level, so that Quebecers cannot blame the rest of Canada for many of their problems, and indeed they benefit in material terms from being part of Canada. However, their shared opinions differ from those of the wider Canadian electorate. If, in discussing any subject with the people in their locality, they perceive themselves all to agree, yet they are outvoted in a federal election, they may view the political process itself as illegitimate.

This sense of illegitimacy or humiliation is especially likely to be felt when the local group cares deeply about an issue that is treated as trivial by those who outvote them. For example, one can imagine the outrage of Southerners who had invested large sums in buying slaves, only to be condemned by Northerners who had nothing to lose from abolition. Everyone agrees today that the Southerners were wrong, yet we may understand their desire for some kind of weighting that would allow strongly felt opinions to count more than weakly felt ones. (Indeed, weighted voting might be a good idea -- at least if the slaves' opinions were also counted and weighted according to the intensity of their feelings.) Sometimes people feel resentful even without any rational basis for indignation. Whenever possible, imaginary slights should be rectified, along with the real ones.

The Consequences of Secession

What must we expect to be the long-term effects of secession? Tragically, we must expect secessionist movements to bring wars, in the short term and probably also the long term. Let us consider some of the empirical evidence for this assertion.

Wars and Weaponry: The Legacy of Separatism

A few numbers will illustrate the close relationship between secession and warfare. There were 40 wars fought in 34 countries during 1996, so that in a few countries there were concurrent multiple wars.[24] Many were conflicts between ascribed communities such as clans, linguistic groups, or religions, all of which I call "ethnic groups."[25] In 29 of the 40 wars, the fighting was apparently carried out by ethnic groups[26] as "nationalist" struggles.[27]

Not all internal nationalistic fights represent efforts to secede. The majority are between ethnic groups that want to preserve the existing state apparatus but gain control of it. The ethnic groups themselves may splinter into different factions, with some demanding secession and others not. In 22 of the 40 wars fought in 1996, the rebels intended to gain control of the existing state rather than divide the country.[28] There was also a third, less common, type of war: the chaos in "failed states" (e.g., Somalia) where governments are absent.

However, 16 of the 40 wars in 1996 (40 percent) were wars of secession.[29] (This represents a decline; two years before there had been 39 wars, of which 19 [49 percent] were separatist wars.) Furthermore, all 16 of these 1996 secessionist struggles, with the possible exception of Bougainville's attempt to leave Papua New Guinea, were also ethnic conflicts.[30] Although not all ethnic wars aim for secession, virtually all secessionist wars are based on ethnicity.

Strong separatist movements seem to represent a threat to peace. Of all ongoing wars in the 1990s, between 40 percent and 50 percent involve the armed actions of members of an ethnic community to secede from the country where they live.[31]

In the 16 wars of secession in 1996, some had been going on for a whole generation, while in one or two cases, the whole thing was over within a few weeks. Researchers compiling the database sometimes express their estimates of deaths as a range, rather than a specific number. In such cases, I have used the mean figure in the range. I estimate that by the end of 1994, considerably more than 2.5 million persons had been killed in the 19 countries that were undergoing secessionist wars. Let us add these deaths to approximately 13 million deaths[32] that occurred in the states divided after the two world wars, for a total of 15.5 million deaths, not counting the deaths in secessionist wars between about 1988 and 1994, for which I lack data.

But deaths are not the only price paid for attempting to secede. We must also take account of the injuries and the flood of refugees who flee from every secessionist war. Moreover, weapons and troops are expensive and, when used, destroy costly homes, cities, and sources of income. Few separatist movements achieve the independence they desire, so these costs usually are paid just for trying and failing.

Some see these facts in a different light, claiming that it is wrong to blame separatists for the violence that they bring, since they have reacted as victims of injustice. Secessionists invariably claim to have been gravely wronged, and sometimes this is the case.[33] Even so, past experience does not suggest that secession will necessarily bring peace and prevent further bloodshed.

When world opinion favors secession as a solution, it is usually for the sake of preventing a civil war, though the actual results often fail to fulfill that hope. In only a few cases have states been partitioned without violence. The best examples include Norway's departure from Sweden in 1905, Singapore's departure from Malaysia in 1965, and Czechoslovakia's 1993 split. The most common outcome of dividing a state is violence -- both before the event and thereafter.

Previous Waves of Partitions

In reviewing the outcomes of partitions, I will draw upon Robert K. Schaeffer's thorough comparison of the outcome of secession before the collapse of Communism. The title of his book, Warpaths: The Politics of Partition,[34] reveals the plot of his story, which recounts the separation of several countries that were divided after the world wars -- especially Korea, China, Vietnam, India, Palestine, Cyprus, Germany, India, and Ireland. The decision to divide each of these states was made by outsiders to avoid turning the state over to one of the contending groups, such as the Hindus or Muslims in India, the Communists or non-Communists in Korea, or the Jews or Palestinians in the Middle East.[35] The great powers hoped that the rival groups would ignore each other if both had their own states.

They did not anticipate the scale of social disruption that would result from the partitions. Masses of refugees migrated (17 million across the India-Pakistan border alone), leaving businesses, families, and property behind them and encountering violence along the way and hardship upon their arrival. About one million died.

Even so, many opted to stay in their original areas. Today almost as many Muslims live in India as in Pakistan.[36] Likewise, numerous Catholics remain in Northern Ireland, and a few Protestants remain in the Republic of Ireland.[37] In all these cases, those who opted not to migrate generally experienced greater discrimination than before the partition.[38] The Communist governments discriminated against capitalists, the Jewish government discriminated against Palestinian minorities, and so on. Minorities commonly lost the right to use their language in public affairs or were excluded from military service or government jobs. The newly dominant group, feeling no obligation to protect them, could assert that if the minorities did not like having their citizenship diminished, they should move to the other sibling state where their group, now in charge there, was carrying out discriminatory policies of its own.[39]

So the minorities who did not migrate away had even more grievances than before -- but now they had sympathetic allies in power in an adjacent country who supported their violent struggle. For example, the Korean War began as a civil war, but because the Northern and Southern regions were by then sovereign states, it became an international war. The Vietnam War had a similar basis.

Neither side was satisfied with the location of the new borders, and in some cases their constitutions proclaimed their right to rule the other country. The Irish, Vietnamese, Korean, German, Chinese, and Taiwanese constitutions made overlapping territorial claims. Before the secessions there had been small conflicts involving riots or guerrillas, but when the regions became states, they acquired fully fledged armies and fought big wars.

Moreover, these sibling countries usually had superpower allies who became involved in their wars.[40] The United States became involved in Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan and (without necessarily sending troops) in Middle Eastern wars and in the struggles between India and Pakistan. Worse yet, when superpowers get embroiled in these fights they may try to end them by making nuclear threats. The United States threatened China in the 1950s over the Korean War and the status of Taiwan. The Chinese, worrying that the Soviets might not protect them if the Americans used nuclear weapons, decided to build their own bomb. Mao expected that this action would "boost their courage and scare others." However, as Schaeffer observes,

China didn't scare the United States so much as it scared India, with whom China had a war in the early '60s. China scared India into developing nuclear weapons of its own. The trouble was that, when India developed nuclear weapons, it scared China not so much as it did Pakistan, with whom India has had several wars. The Pakistanis say they're developing nuclear weapons to boost their courage and scare India. But because they called their weapon an "Islamic bomb," they make Israel and other countries nervous. . . . The French assisted the Israelis to develop their nuclear program. Israel developed nuclear weapons to boost their courage and scare the Soviet Union. Of course, they didn't scare the Soviet Union terribly, but they did scare their neighbors, Syria and Iraq. Syria never developed nuclear weapons, but biological ones. Iraq went ahead and began to develop nuclear weapons.

So partition has led to war and to the development of nuclear weapons by countries that have frequently gone to war with one another. That is an unanticipated consequence of partition.[41]

Outcomes of Secession in the Formerly Socialist Countries

How well do Schaeffer's generalizations of 1990 apply to the wave of secessions following the breakup of the Socialist bloc? Regrettably, they seem to have been prophetic. One main difference between the earlier cases of partition and the recent breakups is that in the former instances, division was imposed by foreign powers, whereas those carrying out the later breakups claimed to be acting in response to popular demand, though plebiscites were not necessarily held.

In fact, apart from the Baltic and some of the Yugoslav republics, the popularity of secession was questionable. Had all Soviet citizens been allowed to vote on the question, almost certainly the majority would have voted for the Soviet Union to remain intact, though with looser constitutional ties than before. (In a referendum, 76 percent had supported renewed union in March of the year the Soviet Union was destroyed.[42]) The same goes for Czechoslovakia: Neither the number of Czechs nor the number of Slovaks who wanted secession constituted a majority.

The case was more complicated in Yugoslavia, where plebiscites of sometimes questionable legitimacy were held after the governments had already broken down.[43] Some communities (e.g., the Serbs in Bosnia) boycotted the referendum that turned them into unwilling citizens of a new state instead of Yugoslavia or Serbia.[44]

Nevertheless, unlike Schaeffer's cases, all these decisions to separate were made not by outsiders but by indigenous national politicians. In some cases (such as Georgia) they were forced by circumstance, not preference, to separate. More often, however, they were animated by fervent nationalism. And, though they may have exaggerated their own popularity, they did enjoy the support of an ethnic political constituency. Their democratic pretension, which lent some legitimacy to separatism, did not prevent violence.

The Baltic republics had already experienced some repression from Soviet hard-liners before the coup attempt of August 1991, but thereafter their move toward independence was unimpeded. Of all the Soviet republics, their cause had the greatest legitimacy, for Stalin had fraudulently annexed them.

Ukraine and Belarus also seceded without significant violence, though not without serious military danger. Belarus surrendered the nuclear weapons on its soil to Russia for safekeeping or disposal, as did Kazakhstan, but Ukraine dickered over the terms for giving up its bombs and drove an even harder bargain over the disposition of the Soviet Black Sea fleet. Ukraine remains torn by an internal struggle between Russians living in the Crimea, who wish to secede and rejoin Russia, and other Ukrainians, particularly those in western areas.

The other formerly Soviet republics experienced worse internal conflict. Moldova broke into civil war, as many of its citizens wanted their new state to join their ethnic kindred in Romania, while Ukrainians and Russians fought to separate from Moldova.

Before the Soviet Union collapsed, Armenia and Azerbaijan had already been at war over Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave in Azerbaijan whose population is Armenian. This war continued until 1994, producing more than 20,000 deaths.

Georgia was wracked by three different civil wars. The first began in 1990 in South Ossetia, which tried to secede from Georgia and join North Ossetia, a part of Russia. A second war was led by the ousted president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, and continued until his death in 1994; its course was complicated by the intrigues of several factional guerrilla movements. The third war began in 1992 when the so-called "Republic of Abkhazia" declared independence and drove the Georgian government army from its territory for a time.

All Central Asian republics except Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan saw organized political violence and endemic violent crime after they became autonomous. The most seriously affected was Tajikistan, where a full civil war based on ethnicity broke out in 1992, resulting in between 20,000 and 50,000 deaths.

Russia, with about half the size and population of the Soviet Union, contains twenty-one autonomous republics, inhabited mainly by non-Russians. Groups in other regions also aspire toward independence, especially those with a distinct ethnic identity and possession of some valuable natural resource. The Muslims living in an oil-rich region on the Volga, who desired an independent Tatarstan, declared economic independence and nearly attempted secession.[45] Nearby Bashkortostan, another oil-rich region, also moved toward independence. The same goes for Karelia, a Finnish-speaking republic with extensive mineral and forest properties, and Sakha-Yakutia, a huge part of eastern Siberia with almost all Soviet diamond mines, plus gold, oil, gas, and coal. Since 20 percent of Russia's population are ethnic minorities controlling over half the territory and much of its raw materials, separatism understandably appeals to them.[46]

Chechnya declared its independence in 1991. Its declaration was studiously ignored by the rest of the world's states and nothing seemed likely to come of it. However, in December 1994 Boris Yeltsin ordered his forces to occupy Chechnya, and this launched a civil war costing 80,000 to 120,000 lives.

The potential exists for another dangerous policy based on ethnic nationalism -- Russian irredentism, or the attempt to reunite Slavic peoples in the independent formerly Soviet republics. Russians are numerous in Kazakhstan, parts of other republics in Central Asia and the north Caucasus, Moldova, Estonia, and Latvia. Many are nationalists who seriously contemplate reviving the Soviet Union under a fascist-type regime. Russians by no means adopted a hands-off policy toward the newly independent states. According to Helsinki Watch, Russians, in the guise of peacekeepers, provided military and financial support to breakaway groups in Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, North Ossetia, and Tajikistan.[47]

These, then, are the early consequences and prospects following the Soviet breakup. To judge from the record of previous partitions in which the successor states themselves subsequently nearly split (e.g., from the breakaway Pakistan broke away Bangladesh; from the breakaway Croatia broke away Krajina; the breakaway Bosnia-Herzegovina broke into three warring states that NATO then tried to hold together by force), additional secessionist movements must be anticipated in the newly separate states. What financial and human cost will be paid for secessionist movements?

The Price of Secession

When a separatist attempt succeeds, do the benefits exceed the costs? We cannot evaluate the intangible but symbolically satisfying effects. However, if we consider only the objective results, the net payoff, even of successful partitions, must be considered negative. Partition rarely puts an end to the fighting. (Seemingly interminable struggles and terrorism are still continuing in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Kashmir, and Korea, for example, generations after partition.) Moreover, the new states resulting from the partition are generally less democratic than the unified states they replaced.[48] Nor do the new states benefit economically after the price of the war has been paid, though sometimes one of the sibling states benefits, while the other becomes poorer, as in the Baltic republics and Russia. It is not that small countries are economically disadvantaged but rather that the process of dividing any country, regardless of its size, is economically disruptive.

The reorganization of the economy was especially painful in the breakup of the Soviet Union, where centralized planning had not provided for any competition between firms. A factory might have obtained its supplies from a single source located thousands of miles away (the cost of transportation was rarely taken into account) and shipped its products to a single buyer.[49] When the republics seceded, these trade arrangements were broken, though no alternative enterprises existed in the new countries that could become substitute suppliers. Other exchanges also began to break down. Ukraine stopped selling vegetable oil to Krasnoyarsk in Russia, for example, and so Krasnoyarsk stopped accepting Ukrainian nuclear waste.[50] Every republic suffered economically from the breakup.

Secession is sometimes described as "political divorce" and the analogy aptly describes the acrimony typical of both kinds of rupture. In secessions and divorces alike, those who have contributed to the joint assets tend to resent the breakup and to consider themselves the losers, regardless of how the common property is divided. Still, divorced spouses can move apart and avoid dealing further with each other, whereas after a secession, most members of the rival ethnic groups go on living where they are, confronting each other and having to handle their conflicts.[51] In the two new sovereign states, fewer political mechanisms exist than before for resolving grievances. An ethnic community that has seceded no longer is represented in the other state's parliament or political parties, so it must try to negotiate settlements through diplomatic channels -- far weaker instruments than domestic political institutions. Secession destroys existing dispute-resolution systems while increasing the need for them.

Secession also damages interpersonal relations. In peacetime, many people regard their ethnicity as a matter of little salience. They may even change from one supposedly ascribed ethnic community to another several times during their lifetime, converting to a different religion or marrying out.[52] In mixed marriages, a common way of avoiding friction is to evade the issue by refusing to identify oneself as belonging to either group. Secessionists, however, insist that everyone's ethnicity must be permanent and salient in social situations; they make it impossible for people to preserve harmony in their homes. In such situations, interethnic marriages typically break up or the families flee. The same must be said of interethnic friendships and business partnerships. The interpersonal costs of secession are always high.

International Law and Secession

A recitation of the problems that typically follow secession rarely influences the aspirations of separatists, who typically say that international law favors their cause. Does international law justify secession?

We turn to a 1994 book by the British expert Rosalyn Higgins, who was appointed to the International Court of Justice only months after her book appeared in print.[53] Higgins notes that the UN Charter's call for "self-determination" actually only applied to states, not peoples, and merely meant that no government should be dominated by another government.

Who Is Entitled to Self-Determination?

The meaning of "self-determination" gradually changed, however, under the impetus of decolonization. By 1966, the General Assembly had passed resolutions favoring the right of "peoples" to self-determination -- and not only peoples who were subject to colonial rule.[54] However, self-determination was never intended to refer only to independence or secession but simply meant the right to decide freely.[55] Higgins argues that there is no legal right of secession where there is representative government.[56] (Not all legal experts agree; many regard self-determination as justifiable where a representative government is present but the minority nevertheless faces severe human rights violations.) In any case, the UN has consistently indicated that the principle of self-determination must never disrupt the national unity and territorial integrity of a country.[57]

But what exactly is a "people"? Who, indeed, is the "self" that is entitled to "self-determination"? There are several views. Higgins shows that the ICJ understands "a people" to include not just a dissatisfied minority with secessionist aspirations but all those living within the inherited international boundaries of a given state.[58] Lest this firm statement be taken as an affront to aggrieved minorities, she reassures us that,

Of course, all members of distinct minority groups are part of the peoples of the territory. In that sense they too, as individuals, are the holders of the right of self-determination. But minorities as such do not have a right of self-determination. That means, in effect, that they have no right to secession, to independence, or to join with comparable groups in other states.[59]

Individual members of minorities who consider their human rights to have been violated may bring complaints against states that are party to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -- but they may do so only as individuals, not as a class action on behalf of a group.[60]

Despite these clear statements, Higgins leaves room for more ambiguity than she perhaps intended. While these legal principles do not require any state to agree to the secession of any of its member groups, she acknowledges that neither do they prohibit secession or the formation of new states. "And where secession has in fact occurred, and a new state has emerged with its own government, not dependent on another, and functioning effectively over the territory concerned, then recognition will follow." This point suggests that if all parties to the secession agree to it and turn it into an uncontested reality, then the rest of the world will not object.

Such an observation is not helpful in determining when a state ought to allow a subgroup of its citizens to secede, even if it is technically not obligated to do so. Taking her advice, a renegade secessionist group might reasonably try to secede and see how far it can get. If it succeeds, eventually it will be recognized -- whether or not its cause was just. Since this course of action is so obviously dangerous, some additional guidance seems to be needed. Higgins limits the right of self-determination to virtually the entire population living within the currently recognized borders of a state. Such a narrow principle is a minority view within international law, for it would leave so little legal basis for separatism that only renegade groups would attempt it. We are left without clear principles of international law by which to resolve the disputes that will continue to arise over territories and borders.

Territorial Rights

For insight into the question beyond the point where Higgins leaves it, we may turn to an American specialist on international law, Lea Brilmayer, for whom territorial ownership constitutes the key problem in matters of secession. She denies that consent is the primary issue justifying the right to separation.[61] As democratic theorists point out, citizens are not permitted to reject the authority of their government merely by withdrawing consent from it. Nor can a dominant ethnic community repudiate its obligations by withdrawing its consent. Why, then, should it be otherwise for a minority community that claims a right to secede?

Nevertheless, people sometimes do call their governments illegitimate or repressive and say they want out. This is true of secessionists and refugees alike -- two categories of people whom Brilmayer compares. Ordinarily, refugees are free to leave their country if some other country will accept them. This is not the case for secessionists, for in addition to leaving their country they insist upon taking their land with them. In that situation, it is not enough for them to prove that they are truly "a people," nor even to prove that they have been mistreated. They must also prove that they are entitled to the territory that they want to detach from the state. Not every oppressed group can plausibly make such a claim. For example, Turkish guest workers in Germany experience discrimination and constitute an ethnic community, but they would hardly get far if they proposed to secede from Germany. Hong Kong constitutes another example. The territory was leased by Britain from China, and when the lease expired in 1997, the territory reverted to China, whether or not the majority of the inhabitants wanted that. No separatist movement could prevent it, for the ownership of the land was legally incontestable. The Hong Kong people therefore are not entitled to self-determination.[62]

The case for separatism, then, hinges on entitlement to land. In international law, says Brilmayer, a group asserting a land claim must demonstrate that the territory in question was wrongly taken from them at some previous time and that they have a historic grievance. But this argument is a slippery slope, for if one traces history far enough back, one finds countless parcels of land that have been owned by a whole series of different groups, many of whom had wrongly taken it from their immediate predecessors. It would be unreasonable to go back centuries in reallocating land, especially if the descendants of some of the previous owners had long ago dropped their grievance. What is the appropriate cutoff principle for determining which of these claims to recognize? Brilmayer suggests that, at minimum, any claimant group should prove that its land had been wrongfully taken so recently that it had kept its claim alive ever since the violation occurred.

Moreover, the historical grievance is especially weighty in cases in which the claimants' territory was wrongfully annexed, as in most anticolonialist situations. This was also the case in the Baltic states, whose expatriates had unceasingly protested that their country had been stolen from them, until finally the Soviet authorities acknowledged that this was true.

Brilmayer's territorial approach helps resolve some of the issues for which nationalists have no answer. One such issue is the problem of individuals who have to decide for themselves whether their desire to secede is a legitimate wish. Nationalists admit that not every minority within a state is entitled to self-determination, but they claim that a "nationality" or "a people" does have that right, including even the right to secede. There can be no objective way of determining whether or not a group constitutes a nationality. Therefore, this theory defines a "nationality" as a group of people whose members believe they are a nationality. Fair enough. But if the members of a community themselves disagree as to whether they are a nationality or merely a minority, how can they answer that question? It is not helpful to tell individuals to consult their own consciences when the question with which they are grappling is, "What should I believe?"

Neither nationalists nor Brilmayer nor anyone else can answer their question. However, Brilmayer's approach has the advantage of reducing the importance of the question. Instead of evaluating the separatists' arguments about their national identity, her approach advises us to investigate their objective historical claims to land. Such a claim is not necessarily an easy matter to evaluate, since hardly "any territorial boundary anywhere in the world would survive an effort to correct all historical misdeeds."[63] Nevertheless, territorial claims can be adjudicated with considerable objectivity, and Brilmayer's approach gives us a basis for addressing the legitimacy of demands for changing borders. Since we may not expect the present world map to remain frozen for all time, and since we do not want the changes to be effected by the nonlegal actions of adventurists, we need principles for adjudicating the new secessionist claims as they arise, one by one. The treatment of separatism as a land claim issue provides such principles. This criterion would restrict the legitimacy of new secessionist claims without eliminating the basis for them, as Higgins's principles seem virtually to do.

Why Territory?

To focus on territory has an additional benefit: It illuminates some of the issues that have already been mentioned. If the acquisition of territory is the objective of secessionists, what is the main basis for that aspiration? Why do they want the land they are claiming?

Of the countless reasons for wanting land, some of the most obvious reasons are material. Land can be farmed. It can yield gold, oil, minerals, timber, and access to trade routes or to the sea. Controlling land means controlling existing cities and existing populations, as well as providing space for new cities and expanding populations. We need not extend this catalog of self-evident material grounds for wanting territory, many of which surely count among the real motives of separatists.

However, another aspect of territory -- its function as a political catchment area -- plays an even more significant part in the thinking of secessionists. It explains the correlation between waves of secession and of democracy.

Territorial Constituencies and the Distribution of Voters

In democracies, people vote. It is sometimes important where they vote, for within a nation-state, ballots are aggregated in different levels of constituencies (e.g., by province, district, or municipal borough), each of which elects its own government or delegates to government. The nation-state and its subsidiary constituencies are defined territorially.

If the members of all ethnic communities, all social classes, and all political philosophies were distributed randomly throughout the country, we could simply divide the whole territory into equally populated districts and all these interest groups would be satisfied with their representation in the decision-making structures. Instead, however, people cluster together, forming neighborhoods or regions that differ markedly in terms of language, wealth, religion, cultural traditions, education, and party preference -- factors that may seem relevant to a person in the voting booth. A person living in a dictatorship does not worry about such matters because nothing significant happens in his voting booth. However, when a state becomes democratic, voting becomes important and different possible voting arrangements make enormous differences in the results.

Nevertheless, the academic study of voting systems is an arcane topic. Most people assume that if two voting systems are both democratic, there is no basis for preferring one over the other. Very few citizens ask how best to aggregate votes within a democracy.

Minority groups are sometimes disadvantaged by their spatial distribution. Some of them are too dispersed in the society to win any political representation at all, while others are too concentrated in one area to maintain any sense of unity with the rest of the society. Either of these distributional situations can cause serious difficulties. Unfortunately, if members of an ethnic community take any interest at all in such problems, they may consider only the least promising approaches to solving them -- gerrymandering or secession.

Gerrymandering consists of manipulating the shape of electoral districts so as to maximize the representation of one interest group or party. This kind of operation is carried out by political insiders; ordinary citizens rarely know that it has taken place. Secession, on the other hand, usually is produced by a mass political movement whose participants well understand its objectives, without necessarily understanding its disadvantages or the alternatives to it.

In an ordinary democratic election the majority wins and the minority loses.[64] Ideally, no one is outvoted all the time. Unfortunately, however, the uneven distribution of an ethnic minority throughout the society means that some groups do regularly lose electoral battles.

Dispersed minorities. Consider a group so dispersed throughout the society that nowhere can it elect a representative. The Canadian aboriginal population faces this problem. Although they constitute about three percent of the electorate, they can only rarely elect a native person to the federal parliament. Recently an election reform commission recommended that certain parliamentary seats be reserved for aboriginal voters, whose ballots would be aggregated in their own nationwide constituency, regardless of where they live. This reform has not taken place.

Concentrated minorities. The opposite problem occurs when an ethnic community constitutes only a minority within the entire country but a sizable majority in one locality, as, for example, the francophone Quebecers (Québécois). As a minority within the entire country but a majority in Quebec, the Québécois sometimes lose political battles in Ottawa. By seceding from the rest of the Canada, they would cease to be the consistent loser; as a majority in their own independent state they would consistently win.

There are other ways of addressing their problem -- including the same mechanism that the reformers suggested for Indians: reserved seats for parliamentarians to be elected by francophone voters, regardless of where they live in Canada. This idea has never appealed to the Québécois, who, unlike the aboriginals, are sufficiently concentrated to constitute the great majority of one province. Some 5.5 million of Canada's francophones live in Quebec, but only one million in the rest of Canada. Although all Canadian francophones share a distinct culture, their separatists no longer try to protect the rights of those dispersed through the other provinces. On the assumption that these francophones are doomed to assimilate into anglophone society, the separatists have concentrated on demanding independence for their province on the argument that it is a "nation."

In several similar situations a local majority has adopted the same solution, sacrificing the members of its culture who live elsewhere in the society for the sake of pursuing independence locally. For example, in the Transcaucasus of Russia, as well as in India, nationalities tend to be concentrated in local areas and, accordingly, communal politics usually manifests itself as a claim for territorial independence. Likewise in Sri Lanka, the Tamil separatists opted for the independence of the predominantly Tamil northern and eastern provinces instead of promoting the rights of all members of their community, wherever they live.

Self-Determination as a Guarantee of Winning Elections?

Ethnic groups demand self-determination on many grounds, including a desire to preserve their distinct culture. To claim the right to secede, they should establish the legitimacy of their claim for a piece of land. This requires them to demonstrate a historic grievance connected with the occasion when they were dispossessed. Normally, though not always, the ethnic group making such a claim also constitutes the vast majority of the population within the territory that they seek to recover.

The few exceptions to this generalization -- such as Estonia, Latvia, and Tibet -- are worth noting. These had previously been independent countries at various times.[65] After the Soviet Union and China, respectively, invaded and seized control of these states, they imported millions of their own people into the country. In the two Baltic states, about 35 percent of the inhabitants today are Russian or Slavic. In Tibet the demographic realities are hard to determine. In cities and fertile valleys, Chinese outnumber Tibetans by two or three to one, while in some rural areas, almost all are Tibetan.[66] Naturally, many expatriate Tibetans, Latvians, and Estonians continued to press their territorial claims. In none of these three countries does the legitimacy of the original group's territorial claim depend on its numerical strength, since they were the victims of aggression or fraud. The ICJ cannot rule on such matters unless they have been asked to do so (which would never have happened in these cases), but if it had been asked to do so, both the Baltic and the Tibetan claimants might, on the basis of the fraud, have been granted the right to secede from the state that annexed them. Even so, they would (and in the case of Estonia, already have) run into political problems because their ethnic community in some areas does not constitute a majority of the voters, which is the minimum condition acceptable to nationalists.

The Tibetans and Estonians have taken different approaches to their problems. The Tibetan national government-in-exile is urging greater autonomy from China, but not independence. The Dalai Lama's proposals to end the Chinese occupation of his homeland depart from the usual "one-state-for-one-people" strategy of nationalists. Despite the genocide of more than one million Tibetans by the Chinese Communists, the Dalai Lama's five-point peace plan, announced in 1987, was remarkable for its Buddhist spirit of reconciliation.[67]

The Estonians, on the other hand, not only continued to demand sovereignty, but they achieved it. However, the results do not satisfy everyone. Most Estonians evidently wish they could expel Russian settlers or restrict their voting in Estonian elections. To achieve this effect, they imposed language requirements as a condition for naturalization.[68]

The main explanation for the current popularity of ethnic separatism is the hope of gaining a commanding electoral position in the promised democracy. Indeed, except in such historically exceptional cases as the Baltics,[69] an ethnic group ordinarily does not demand independence unless it can expect to hold a commanding political position in the new state and in its internal territorially defined constituencies.

This observation has implications for preventing secession. Separatists' claim for territory (so essential to legitimating their desire for secession) seems to be a quest for a political constituency in which they have an improved chance of winning elections.[70] It is customary to tabulate ballots within catchment areas that are defined geographically. But suppose ballots were aggregated in constituencies that were not defined territorially but in which the ethnic group had a fair chance to win elections. Might a reform of that kind satisfy members of an ethnic community who would otherwise demand secession?

Let us compare some alternative political arrangements that were practiced by historic multiethnic societies, as well as proposals for non-territorial constituencies in modern democracies.

Multiethnic Alternatives to Territory

All contemporary societies are multiethnic. No existing state is completely homogeneous as a single culture and breeding population; most states actually contain more than five ethnic groups.[71] Nowhere have ethnic groups mixed so completely as to fully assimilate all successive waves of immigrants.[72] Much may be learned by comparing the many possible ways in which multiethnic societies have been organized. What is conspicuous is how few of them were divided into territorial units with boundaries, as nationalists consider normal.

Not only modern states are mixed; the majority of societies throughout history also have been multicultural. William McNeill notes that until our historical epoch, high civilizations were generally polyethnic societies, while homogeneity was typical only of certain isolated barbarian societies. Only slowly, and only in Europe, did the notion arise that a territory ought to be unified as a single society.[73] We may even call most empires and states throughout history "multisocietal," since in general, various ethnic communities have shared the same territory without significantly interacting in their political, religious, linguistic, educational, or kinship affairs. The interactions of their members were normally not social, but only economic, in nature. Can such models of inter-ethnic relations be applied in the modern world?

Asian Societies as "Layers"

According to Wolfram Eberhard, who studied the historic settlement patterns of Asia, "the concept 'multiple society,' which usually refers to America, appears to better historic describe Asian social conditions."[74] Eberhard doubted that one could properly refer to India of A.D. 1000 or China of A.D. 1700 as a society. Whereas certain tribes inhabited large areas, they were not divided by borders, but only "frontiers" -- large zones of transition -- and they interacted with people on both sides. The ordinary farmer knew nothing of the language, religion, or customs of the imperial rulers and, for that matter, did not know that he was a member of the Mogul or Chinese empire. He did know that strangers regularly came to demand money, but he did not know that they were "tax collectors"; probably he thought they were just robbers. Moreover, the political boundaries of the Mogul state meant nothing to the Indian farmer, who probably kept in touch with relatives and caste-brothers outside. The Brahman priest also had ties to all the other Brahman priests in other Indian states. The urban Indian merchant had business partners throughout the Middle East, such as the tea merchant in Kabul and the carpet merchant in Baghdad, and when he traveled, he felt quite at home singing the local songs in the brothels of the big cities. He probably had some contact with a few Brahmans and some urban customers in his home area, but no contact with the farmer.

The communities of Asia constituted what Eberhard called "layers" of great geographical expanse. (If writing today he might call them "networks.") Members might have numerous and intimate contacts within their own layer across considerable distances, but little contact with the members of other layers in their own area. Even later, in the nineteenth century, the Chinese immigrants in California or Singapore believed that they lived in "China" -- and indeed, the Chinatown where they lived was truly part of a layer that included villages in Canton and several other parts of Asia. In such cases a layer was stratified in itself and upheld its own laws. Throughout most periods of history, it was considered the duty of a ruler to ensure that members of the various layers obeyed their own sets of laws.

In Canton one would find an Arab community who might be considered a minority ethnic community of China; Eberhard did not look at them in that way. He considered them to be one section of an Arab layer that covered wide areas in the Far East, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Near East, and even parts of Europe. They enjoyed "extra-territoriality" and were regarded as belonging to a different, non-Chinese society. The Chinese rulers recognized certain Arabs as leaders of this community and required them to control their own foreigners and exact payments from them. There may have been considerable interaction between all these layers, or there may have been very little.

In Yunan province of China of the nineteenth century, for example, the Chinese bureaucracy from Peking did rule large lowland areas, but it did not rule the society that lived on the slopes of the mountains. A third society lived at the top of the mountains, again possessing its own institutions, language, values, and religion. These were not "minorities" but truly self-contained societies whose members interacted only occasionally. Studying social change in such a setting, Eberhard traced the flow of new ideas and habits inside specific layers. An innovation such as the compass might be carried across whole continents without leaving any trace along the route if the merchants who carried it did not find anyone of their own social circle where they stopped in their journeys.[75]

Not only the Far East but also the Roman Empire and the medieval empires of Europe as well as the late Habsburg and Ottoman Empires were "multiple societies" of numerous distinct communities.[76]

There was no such thing as secession from this kind of empire because the layers were already politically and socially independent, even though they occupied the same territory as other layers and passed each other, tolerantly but indifferently, in the streets they shared. The Ottoman Empire was especially remarkable for the autonomy in political and social matters that it granted to its various religious communities.

The Ottoman Empire as a Multiple Society

The Ottoman Empire comprised Armenians, Greeks, Bulgars, Arabs, Kurds, and many other distinct societies who spoke their own languages and maintained their own value systems, their own religions, and their own institutions. Only in a political sense did they belong together, as subjects of the sultan.[77] These groups were allowed to organize their own social functions, except that certain rules were imposed by the "ruling class," whose task it was to defend and collect taxes from them.

Ottoman society was divided into communities along religious lines, a structure called the millet system. Non-Muslim subjects were left to devise their own laws and regulate the behavior of their co-religionists, while local Muslims who were not members of the ruling class also formed their own group around those leaders who were responsible for enforcing Muslim laws. Subjects normally dealt with the ruling class through their millet leaders. Each millet maintained its own systems of education, religion, justice, social security, hospitals, and hospices for the poor and aged. Many of these separate institutions remain today, long after the millet courts and legal status were supplanted by nation-states when the empire gradually broke apart.

Besides the Muslim millets, there were three other basic millets -- the Orthodox, which included Slavic, Greek, and Rumanian communities with independent patriarchates; the Jews, whose grand rabbi in Istanbul enjoyed great autonomy; and the Armenian community, with its own national church, which also was given authority over all other subjects, such as the Gypsies, the Assyrians, and the Bogomils of Bosnia. In addition to the major religious organizations there were numerous other smaller religious groups, such as mystic Sufis, Catholics (governed in the previous century by a representative of the pope), and Protestants, who, though living in the empire, were not subjects of the sultan but of such Western powers as France, Holland, and England.[78] By 1910, half the population in the empire was non-Muslim. All these groups enjoyed virtual immunity from Turkish laws. Christian, Jewish, and Druze communities had to pay a tax from which Muslim citizens were exempt; in exchange, however, they were exempt from military service until Ottoman rule neared its end.[79]

Conflicts took place between the various millets, including those representing various sections of Christianity. Throughout the nineteenth century, uprisings against the Ottomans took place throughout the Balkans. In response to these problems it was largely the Young Turks who destroyed their empire, intending to "modernize" their society by making everyone within a given territory subject to the same universalistic laws of a sovereign nation-state. They were reflecting the penetration of Western influence, which by then was restructuring traditional Islamic culture. The end came after World War I by the decision of the war's victors, who dismantled the empire, though some scholars argue today that it need not have collapsed.[80]

The Modernity of Universalism

The "modernistic" principle of universalism has everywhere become the chief enemy of multiple societies. If it were not such a dominant value today, it might still be possible for francophone Canadians, say, or Chechen Russians to maintain their own laws and customs and even elect their own government without bothering to secede.

Still, the universalistic ideal is not entrenched everywhere. For example, Muslims and Hindus in India retain the right to determine many of their own laws separately, including their family laws. Even Westerners are acquainted with particularistic institutions. For example, when a Canadian registers to vote in Toronto, she must declare whether she is Catholic or some other religion. If she says Catholic (whether or not this is true), her taxes support the Catholic schools and she may vote for trustees of the Catholic school board. Otherwise, her taxes and votes belong to the public school system. This arrangement gives Catholics and Protestants control over some aspects of their own lives without requiring them to occupy separate territories. For the purpose of governing school systems, Canadians are like millets.

A Nonterritorial Future for Democracy?

Why were the principles of universalism and territorial sovereignty considered modern? The Young Turks and others who wanted to modernize Asia and the Ottoman Empire insisted on integrating their societies internally, creating a single, unified culture throughout the borders of each state. They tried hard to attain this goal, but rarely did they succeed.

Today the original ethnic communities, having refused to assimilate into a single nationality, are fighting back, demanding homelands of their own and the right to follow their own traditions and speak their own languages. Though they rejected much that the previous nationalists proposed, they evidently accepted the older nationalists' belief in territorial sovereignty. Now they too aspire to hold exclusive jurisdiction over their own territory, which may be a fragment of the state their predecessors established.

They also want democracy and freedom of choice. For this reason especially, they do not wish to revive the multi-ethnic arrangements of poly-ethnic empires whereby traditional groups shared a common territory, yet retained separate cultures. Membership in the millets, or "layers," had been ascribed -- fixed involuntarily at birth -- while a modern democracy must allow individuals to choose their own affiliations. Some modern people actually do change their ethnic identities and loyalties. They would hardly want to be bound by the laws of any ethnic group or religious community. Modernity seems to require that the laws of the land apply universally to all its inhabitants and be accepted by them all -- though some conclude that this modern principle calls for the state's territory to be "cleansed" of ethnic groups who reject the common culture and laws.

Democracy, sovereignty, and universalism form a political system that, for all its admirable qualities, may not accommodate particularistic solidarities. As Alexis de Tocqueville anticipated, democratic states are not necessarily characterized by liberty, tolerance, or pluralism; a populist majority can be ruthlessly tyrannical in demanding uniformity.

But there are those among us who consider universalism and sovereignty to be overrated values. Such "postmodern" individuals reject secession in favor of multicultural states, where different groups share the same territory but keep particularistic habits of their own. Thus a postmodern critic, Chantal Mouffe, blames conventional territorial democracy for repressing citizens who differ in their race, class, gender, and ethnicity. Mouffe calls for a radical new democracy based on direct political representation of the multiple layers of affiliations. Such a system would accommodate the change of community identities as they rise and fall during the life of ordinary citizens.[81]

Such a proposal is not a new idea. The compatibility of multicultural politics with democracy was demonstrated by some regions of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where social democrats developed a workable formula for cultural pluralism. Each individual citizen was guaranteed the right to voluntarily choose his or her own ethnicity, and each ethnic community was guaranteed representation in the provincial parliament in proportion to its share of the population, without regard to where its members were located territorially.[82]

To be acceptable today, any proposal for cultural pluralism must be democratically representative, as was the Austrian-Hungarian scheme, and must also provide for freedom of choice. Thus every constituency must be constituted on a voluntary basis. Membership in such a system of representation must be defined not by lines on a map or by birth into a millet or a "layer" but by the free choices of citizens.

Some political theorists anticipate the emergence of just such a nonterritorial democratic system. For example, David J. Elkins's book, Beyond Sovereignty: Territory and Political Economy in the Twenty-First Century,[83] suggests that no contemporary state will be able much longer to hold exclusive jurisdiction over its territory. Indeed, he suggests that nation-states already are on the way out. Likewise, in his book The End of the Nation-State, Jean-Marie Guéhenno argues that for political effectiveness today, "The essential is not to master a territory, but to have access to a network."[84] He speculates about the future of politics and economics in a world where territory has become almost irrelevant: "When there is no longer a territorial imperative, when the place of residence and the investment are no longer a given but a choice, when added value is generated in too abstract a fashion for its creation to be assigned to a precise location, [even] taxation is no longer a sovereign decision."

With globalization, transnational corporations are replacing domestic manufacturing and trade and in turn are regulated by transnational governing institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund. State sovereignty is everywhere dwindling. The United Nations sometimes intervenes in the affairs of a member state against its rulers' wishes, as when it identified "no-fly zones" in Iraq to protect the Kurds.[85]

If today we were deciding whether to dismantle the Mogul, Habsburg, and Ottoman Empires, some of us would vote no. We might choose instead to democratize the layers and millets, making their membership voluntary, accountable to elected leaders, and not restricted to ethnicity as a basis for solidarity. In the twenty-first century this kind of political society may be the most advanced system of governance.

Still, this book is not about one particular version of utopia. The work ahead of us is mainly a somber project: the description and comparison of a variety of separatist movements. Only briefly at the end shall we return to a speculative approach, reflecting on several proposals for reforms that the contributors of this book propose as alternatives to secession.


[1]. Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1983), 1.
[2]. Samuel Huntington, "Democracy's Third Wave," Journal of Democracy, 2 (Spring 1991).
[3]. Yves Beigbeder, International Monitoring of Plebiscites, Referenda and National Elections (Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 1994), 2. I will not speculate here on the quality of democracy, but Freedom House makes graduated ratings and, according to its list in January 1998, there were 79 independent "free" countries, plus 59 that were "partially free" where freedom is defined by criteria that depict democracies (see http://www.
[4]. Morton H. Halperin and David J. Scheffer with Patricia L. Small, Self-Determination in the New World Order (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1992), 16-17.
[5]. Nationalistic movements in Western Europe are an exception to this pattern, for they do accept the integration of the European Union.
[6]. Another interpretation of international law denies that countries are created by the recognition of other countries. According to the positivist view, the international community merely responds to reality and recognizes new states only when they have already gained uncontested control over their territory, are accepted by the population, and are actually functioning as independent states. Nations eventually do extend diplomatic recognition to other new states whose existence they may not welcome. However, they sometimes delay such recognition for decades in the hope that the regime may fail. Because such recognition is so fateful, if it is extended with undue haste or without regard for the rights of minorities, the action incurs blame. Germany and Austria have been blamed for the former Yugoslavia's breakup, since they recognized Slovenia and Croatia without ascertaining that minorities were protected. The European Community established the Badinter Commission to design conditions for the recognition of the breakaway states. Croatia fulfilled the criteria formally, though not in realistic terms, and Slovenia and Macedonia did so in a fuller sense. Legally, none of these states gained independence through secession but rather because Yugoslavia ceased to exist.
[7]. Sir Hersch Lauterpacht, Recognition in International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1947).
[8]. Lawrence S. Eastwood, Jr., "Secession: State Practice and International Law after the Dissolution of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia," Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law Vol. 3, No. 2 (Spring 1993): 349.
[9]. The mutual intelligibility of French dialects was largely attained by the seventeenth century, according to Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin in The Coming of the Book. The Impact of Printing, 1450-1800 (London: New Left Books, 1976), 319.
[10]. The popularity of the Lega Nord in calling for the secession of northern Italy allows one to ask again whether its members "are" Italian.
[11]. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, rev. ed. (London: Verso, 1983), esp. 198.
[12]. This divisiveness extends to irredentist movements, which seek union with a neighboring state of similar ethnic composition rather than independence.
[13]. David Held mentioned these examples in "Democracy, the Nation-State and the Global System," in his Political Theory Today (Cambridge, England: Polity, 1991), 202.
[14]. Joseph Stalin, Marxism and the National and Colonial Question (London: Martin Lawrence Ltd., n.d.). Stalin's and Lenin's policies toward nationalities did not remain identical. Initial rhetoric aside, Stalin's actions were more assimilationist than Lenin's.
[15]. V.I. Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (New York: International Publishers, 1939).
[16]. Hilferding noted, "Capitalism itself gradually provides the conquered with the means and ways for their liberation." Rudolf Hilferding, Das Finanzkapital (Berlin: J.H.W. Dietz, 1947), 406.
[17]. John Hans Paasche, The Colonial Question in Bolshevik Revolutionary Strategy: Soviet Russia's International Congresses, 1919 to 1929 (San Francisco: Paasche, 1951, 1990), 13.
[18]. Derek Heater, National Self-Determination: Woodrow Wilson and His Legacy (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994), 75-76.
[19]. U Thant's Press Conference at Dakar, Senegal, January 4, 1970. Reprinted in UN Monthly Chronicle, vol. 7 (Feb. 1970), 36.
[20]. Garry Davis, "'The U.N. Can Do Nothing!' Admits Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali," World Citizen News, Vol. IX, No. 4 (August/September 1995): 1.
[21]. Jeffrey Simpson, "Quebec's Secessionists Are Dramatically at Odds with Public Opinion," The Globe and Mail, August 26, 1995. He referred to a CROP poll of March, 1995 and to a poll conducted in August 1995 for Le Soleil and the Montreal Gazette.
[22]. Friedrich Nietzsche, "Genealogy of Morals," in The Philosophy of Nietzsche (New York: The Modern Library, 1927), 627-809; and Max Scheler, Ressentiment (Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1961).
[23]. Liah Greenfeld, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992), 15.
[24]. Here "war" is defined by the compilers of the database as a political conflict in which armed fighting between state military forces -- or between one state and its opponents or inhabitants -- has led to at least 1,000 deaths during the course of that conflict. See "Introduction," Project Ploughshares, Armed Conflicts Report 1997 (Waterloo, Ontario: Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, 1997), or see
[25]. This term must be used with caution. For example, it may not always be appropriate to call the conflicts in Algeria and Afghanistan "ethnic." I do so here because one side consisted of traditional Muslims, though their adversaries were not another ascribed community but rather a secular political group.
[26]. These were Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burma, Burundi, Congo, Croatia, Georgia, Ghana, India, Indonesia (East Timor), Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, Russia (Chechnya), Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Yemen, and Zaire.
[27]. By "nationalism" I mean the claim of an ascribed community for independent statehood or for hegemony over rival ascribed communities.
[28]. These were Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Georgia (at least with respect to Gamsakhurdia's faction), Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran (the Mujahideen rebels), Iraq (the Shia group in the South), Lebanon, Liberia, Peru, the Philippines, Russia (the Russian-sponsored opponents to Dudayev in Chechnya), Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Tajikistan, and Zaire.
[29]. These were Azerbaijan (by Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh); Bosnia-Herzegovina (by Serbs and -- at least until the spring of 1994 -- Croats); Burma (by tribal groups); Croatia (by Serbs in Krajina); Georgia (by Ossetians and Abkhazians); India (in Kashmir mainly by Muslims, in Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland by tribal groups, in the Punjab by Sikh militants, and in Uttar Pradesh between rioting Hindus and Muslims); Indonesia (to reverse the annexation of East Timor); Iran (by Kurds); Iraq (by Kurds in the North); Israel (by Palestinians); in Northern Ireland (by Catholics seeking a united Ireland); in Papua New Guinea (by Bougainvilleans); the Philippines (by Muslim secessionists); Russia (by Chechens); Somalia (by secessionists demanding a separate Somaliland); Sri Lanka (by Tamils); Sudan (by separatists in the South fighting each other as well as the government); Turkey (by Kurds); and Yemen (by those seeking to reverse a merger).
[30]. Bougainville's valuable copper mine brings material considerations into the independence movement. The so-called racial factors in Bougainville's secessionist movement do exist but are perhaps less important than labor and class-related disputes.
[31]. A better question would be: Of all secessionist movements, what percentage result in warfare? Unfortunately, such an inquiry requires that we list all secessionist movements that are active within a specified period. This effort is fraught with too many methodological difficulties for purposes such as ours. In any case, the majority of secessionist movements eventually dissipate without accomplishing their goals or gaining much attention.
[32]. This is Robert K. Schaeffer's estimate.
[33]. The Tibetans and the East Timorese evidently are especially justified in demanding independence, for each group was forcibly annexed by another country. The Tibetans barely resisted the Chinese invaders, and up to one-third of the East Timorese population died of combat, disease, and starvation after Indonesian troops invaded in 1975.
[34]. Robert K. Schaeffer, Warpaths: The Politics of Partition (New York: Hill and Wang, 1990).
[35]. The British generally believed in the policy of devolution in their colonies, and the world wars stepped up the pace of that process. See Schaeffer, Warpaths, 97.
[36]. David Crystal, ed., The Cambridge Factfinder (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). By my calculations (data from pp. 256 and 296) India's estimated Muslim population in 1992 was nearly 98 million and Pakistan's Muslims numbered about 114 million.
[37]. Crystal, The Cambridge Factfinder, 260, 337. About 28 percent of the Northern Ireland population is Catholic, while about 5 percent of the citizens of the Irish Republic are Protestant.
[38]. See interview with Schaeffer, "Secession and Its Outcomes: A Conversation with Robert Schaeffer That Quebecers Should Read," in Peace Magazine, May/June 1995, 12-15.
[39]. Schaeffer, Warpaths, 172-78.
[40]. Aspiring regional superpowers can be drawn into such conflicts, as India did by intervening in Sri Lanka's secessionist civil war, arguing that Sri Lanka should not undermine India's security. See S. W. R. de A. Samarasinghe, "The Dynamics of Separatism: The Case of Sri Lanka," in Ralph R. Premdas, S. W. R. de A. Samarasinghe, and Alan B. Anderson, Secessionist Movements in Comparative Perspective (London: Pinter, 1990), 57.
[41]. Schaeffer, interview in Peace Magazine, 13-14.
[42]. Raymond L. Garthoff, The Great Transition: American Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1994), 455.
[43]. Croatian, Slovenian and Croatian Serb referenda were held before 1991, in fact, contributing to the breakup of the federal order.
[44]. Regarding the questionable legitimacy of these plebiscites, see Misha Glenny, The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War (London: Penguin, 1992), 162-64.
[45]. See Edward Walker's analysis of the Tatarstan compromise in this volume.
[46]. Fred Weir, Covert Action Quarterly, Summer 1993.
[47]. Suzanne Crow, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc., Daily Report, No. 210, 2 November 1993.
[48]. Exceptions from the rule here are Czechoslovakia and Sweden-Norway.
[49]. Olga Medvedkov, Soviet Urbanization (London: Routledge, 1990).
[50]. Weir, Covert Action Quarterly.
[51]. This was Abraham Lincoln's observation in his first inaugural address.
[52]. Mary Waters, Ethnic Options (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).
[53]. Rosalyn Higgins, Problems and Process: International Law and How We Use It (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), esp. 111- 128.
[54]. F. A. Cassese, Self-Determination of Peoples: A Legal Reappraisal (1993), 34-42.
[55]. The Greek population of dependent Cyprus considered integration with Greece as a possibility; the peoples of Gibraltar have decided to retain their stable arrangement with the United Kingdom; and the peoples of Puerto Rico have chosen a form of association with the United States that lies between statehood and independence.
[56]. Higgins, Problems and Process, 117.
[57]. Higgins, Problems and Process, 121, cites General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) and the Declaration of Principles on Friendly Relations.
[58]. Higgins, Problems and Process, 123.
[59]. Higgins, Problems and Process, 124.
[60]. Higgins, Problems and Process, 126-27. This seems to be the majority view.
[61]. Lea Brilmayer, "Secession and Self-Determination: A Territorial Interpretation," Yale Journal of International Law Vol. 16 (1991): 177-200.
[62]. Of course, all the citizens of China should have the right of self-determination -- representative government and the opportunity to determine their own future.
[63]. Brilmayer, "Secession and Self-Determination," 198-99.
[64]. This generalization does not describe multiparty elections in which no party receives a majority but one party wins a "plurality" of votes. Our point is only that some groups may always find themselves losing.
[65]. Before that, Latvia and Estonia had belonged to Imperial Russia -- and "legally" so, in that possession of territory gained by conquest was not then considered a violation of international law.
[66]. 1995 International Campaign for Tibet. Only a small fraction of the Chinese migrants to Tibet are registered or counted in official records.
[67]. See Petra Kelly, Gert Bastian, and Pat Aiello, eds., The Anguish of Tibet (Berkeley, Calif.: Parallax Press, 1991). The first three points of this proposal call for Tibet to be a zone of peace, for China to end its population transfer policy, and for the Tibetan people's rights and freedoms to be respected. A fourth point advocates the "restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment and the abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and the dumping of nuclear waste." The fifth point, rather than advocating independence, urges the commencement of "earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese people." The Dalai Lama's proposal differs from conventional full-sovereign status, which would seem threatening to China, in that Tibet would be able to form its own army. The five-point peace plan, on the other hand, urges that Tibet be a democratic enclave within China. Its borders would be demilitarized to "satisfy China's legitimate security needs and build trust among the Tibetan, Indian, Chinese, and other people of the region."
[68]. Estonian citizenship laws are in flux, largely because of complaints from the West that the restrictive first laws violate human rights.
[69]. Estonians and Latvians still constitute a strong majority in their new states, though in patchy areas they are a minority.
[70]. Separatists claim to oppose "ethnic nationalism" while favoring instead "civic nationalism." Still, nonfrancophone immigrants to Quebec generally regard this "civic nationalism" as antagonistic to those who prefer English or oppose secession.
[71]. Robert O. Matthews, Arthur G. Rubinoff, and Janice Gross Stein, eds. International Conflict and Conflict Management, 2d ed. (Scarborough, Ontario: Prentice-Hall, 1989), 91.
[72]. William Pfaff, The Wrath of Nations: Civilization and the Furies of Nationalism (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993), 85.
[73]. William H. McNeill, Polyethnicity and National Unity in World History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985).
[74]. Wolfram Eberhard, "Concerns of Historical Sociology," in Sociologus (Berlin) Vol. 14, No. 1, 1964, 3. Reprinted in Reinhard Bendix, ed., State and Society: A Reader in Comparative Political Sociology (Boston: Little, Brown, 1968).
[75]. Eberhard, "Concerns of Historical Sociology," 6-10.
[76]. Stanford Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 151; Pfaff, 99-103.
[77]. Eberhard, "Concerns of Historical Sociology", 9.
[78]. Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire, 151-53; Arnold Toynbee and Kenneth Kirkwood, Turkey (London: Ernest Benn Ltd., 1926), 29.
[79]. Pfaff, The Wrath of Nations, 92-93.
[80]. Pfaff, The Wrath of Nations, 103.
[81]. Chantal Mouffe, ed., Dimensions of Radical Democracy: Pluralism, Citizenship, Community (London: Verso, 1992).
[82]. Karl Renner was the author of this plan. See John Bacher's chapter on Austria-Hungary in this volume.
[83]. David J. Elkins, Beyond Sovereignty: Territory and Political Economy in the Twenty-First Century (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995).
[84]. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, The End of the Nation-State, trans. Victoria Elliott (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995), 8.
[85]. Elkins, Beyond Sovereignty, 25.