Of “States,” “Nations,” “Nation-States,” and “Ecumenical Empires.”


IMO a nation-state exists when an ethnic people bound together by language, tradition and history exist almost exclusively within the borders of a particular state (country) that is governed by s coherent system of law. Japan is a nation-state. Korea would be a nation-state if the two halves were united. Germany is not a nation-state. Germans live in great numbers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium (Flemings), arguably the Netherlands whether the Dutch like the idea or not. and in pockets all over central and eastern Europe. A "state"(country)is a territory with borders recognized in international law that is governed by a system of law that has power throughout the state. It is of no consequence whether or not a "state" is ethnically uniform. The Russian Federation is a state but it is not a nation-state.  At the same time it lacks the seemingly endless grasp and reach of authority that characterized such entities as Austria-Hungary, The Ottoman Empire,  The Roman Empire or the British Empire at its greatest size.  In those days before WW2 a globe map of the world seemed mostly to be colored pink.  East Africa was pink from Alexandria to Cape Town without a break.  And now, in a few years, the regular British Army will have 82,000 officers and men.  Incredible!  pl


Bill Cumming urges me to put this former comment up as a topic for discussion.  pl

This entry was posted in government. Bookmark the permalink.

119 Responses to Of “States,” “Nations,” “Nation-States,” and “Ecumenical Empires.”

  1. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I don’t know what exactly an “ethnic people” means.
    Are Moldovans a different people from the Romanians? They say they are now. They sure didn’t two decades ago. Are North Koreans same people as South Koreans? It’s still politically correct to say that they are, but they really are not today and are getting more and more different as time moves on. Are Provencals same as the Parisians? They became the same people, sometimes at the point of the bayonet, over the course of 19th century. Language, history, and tradition change, sometimes very rapidly, over time. A “nation” is a squishy concept that we should not use too flippantly.
    To the degree that political authority of the state is involved in reshaping the nature of “nations,” the concept of “nation-state” should not be divided into two separate concepts. A nation-state, I think, is a state that is conscientiously involved in creating a common nation out of its inhabitants and, by and large, has succeeded. An “empire,” in this sense, is a state that recognizes (explicitly or informally) multiplicity of nations among its population and is content not to attempt creating a common nation and is perhaps involved in using its constituent nations as part of its governing strategy.
    I’d imagine that the advantage of a nation is that it is capable of far greater internal “unity” without too much legislating and politicking. Recognition of the nations as legitimate claimants to political rights means that their competing claims and demands must be recognized, accommodated, and adjudicated through formal legal processes, while those who belong to the common “nation” can be more or less safely assumed to be operating on the same wavelength and expected to do “the right thing” without all the legal formality while being extended the same “benefit of the doubt” as others. If you will, the difference between a “citizen” (a holder of legally recognized set of rights–not always of the same rank, depending on how the legal system is structured) and a “brother.” At the same time, a nation-state can easily put on blinders about those who are not their “brothers.”

  2. turcopolier says:

    Quite a lot of what you say in reply to my post sounds like wishful thinking or an expression of the way you would like people to think and behave.
    You don’t know what an “ethnic people” means. Well, you know what I think it is.
    “an ethnic people bound together by language, tradition and history” When Germany was re-united was there any doubt that they were all still Germans? I remember a lot of hand wringing at the time about whether or no East and West Germans were still the same people. you might want to ask Angela Merkel about that. Are Provencals the same people as the French north of the Loire. I think that is debatable. I have spent a lot of time in village markets listening to the music of the speech of Occitanie. The Langue d’Oc argues for a separate identity. France, after experiencing post -Bonaparte intense centralization by Departments ruled by prefects, has now returned to regional forms that recognize their differences.
    “A nation-state, I think, is a state that is conscientiously involved in creating a common nation out of its inhabitants” As a Southerner I find that concept to be repulsive and a description og cultural tyranny. pl

  3. ALL: First PL for this post and thread!
    Question? Does the membership requirement in the UN contain any standards? Does that membership mean anything under current International Law outside of subscribing to the UN Charter? Was the Ukraine a member of the UN and did that membership have implications for recent events?

  4. Rd. says:

    “IMO a nation-state exists when an ethnic people bound together by language, tradition and history exist almost exclusively”
    should ‘waring’ be part of the above per-requisite? that would fit the US ‘nation state as it sounds like ‘folks’ in US are so badly itching for a war! why? is waring the only thing that defines the character of ‘US nation’?

  5. WP! No doubt myth is important but my hope is for some concept more grounded in current global reality!
    Great links! Thanks!

  6. turcopolier says:

    “warring,” not “waring.” what is your nationality? If you want to criticize us in those terms you should tell us who you are. pl

  7. PL! Thanks for leaving out GENETICS as a basis for ETHNICITY!

  8. turcopolier says:

    No. No. People go to war for what you call myth not for “current global reality.” pl

  9. turcopolier says:

    That was quite deliberate. pl

  10. PL! Accidently left out word thanks! SO THANKS AS ALWAYS FOR YOUR EXPERTISE AND KINDNESS!

  11. turcopolier says:

    Membership in the UN is based on the existence of “states” and nothing else. pl

  12. PL! Unfortunately agree!

  13. KHC!
    A quote from your comment:
    “A nation-state, I think, is a state that is conscientiously involved in creating a common nation out of its inhabitants and, by and large, has succeeded.”
    Like PL I consider this concept personally and professionally very troubling. I have no doubt many leaders and elites in many STATES have that concept as their operating modus vivendi!
    Personally I believe for example that WWI was largely an ETHNIC war. While WWII was largely a RACIAL war. Perhaps I am way off base.

  14. VietnamVet says:

    It is fascinating to watch the return of history; not to mention red colored maps, and to read the comments here at SST.
    The cradle of war is rocking. It is time to be afraid.
    Humans beings remain humans. There has been and will always be movements of people seizing opportunities unless prevented by strong borders; Vietnamese verses the Khmer; Thais verses Malays; English and Russians verses Aborigines. The neo-con ideology is based on righteous of the strength which includes settlement of the West Bank.
    What is new since 1914 are the nuclear weapons and entrepreneurs who have seized control of western democracies and are funding NGO revolts. Ignorant of history, the Elite are incapable of foreseeing the consequences of their actions. They only see the black soil and gas reserves to exploit in Ukraine. Puppet politicians are incapable of sitting down and shifting the borders to separate the ethnic groups in the Balkans once again.
    Sanctions won’t work. Europe needs Russian gas. Tensions will rise. Troops will roll. We are on the brink of destruction, again.

  15. Extract from Wiki:
    “Membership of an ethnic group tends to be associated with shared cultural heritage, ancestry, history, homeland, language (dialect), or ideology, and with symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, physical appearance, etc.
    The largest ethnic groups in modern times can comprise hundreds of millions of individuals (Han Chinese, Arabs, Bengali people) and the smallest can be limited to a few thousand individuals (numerous indigenous peoples worldwide). The larger ethnic groups will tend to form smaller sub-ethnic groups (historically also known as tribes), which over time may become separate ethnic groups themselves through the process of ethnogenesis; ethnic groups derived from the same historical founder population often continue to speak related languages and may be grouped as ethno-linguistic groups or phyla (e.g. Iranian people, Slavic people, Bantu people, Turkic people, Austronesian people, Nilotic people, etc.).”

  16. turcopolier says:

    V V
    Yes we are looking down the barrel of a gun and few seem to understand the danger. pl

  17. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I should have added that I find the idea of a “nation state” at best questionable morally and dangerous . A great deal of tragedy has ensued in pursuit of trying to equate a nation and a state by force–as you have described, something born of repulsive cultural tyranny.

  18. turcopolier says:

    Thanks for the clarification. pl

  19. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Not even that; people like war because they find it exciting.
    I doubt Ms. Nuland subscribes to any myth….

  20. turcopolier says:

    Wallah! Zamiili! the desire for the excitement is part of the mythos of war. I got over that early under the influence of my warrior family. war was my trade and I was good at it. that does not mean that I am a fool with regard to geopolitics and its cost. pl

  21. Thomas says:

    Yes she does, the one of intellectual superiority. The whole Neocon clan worships it.

  22. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Learnt that from Margaret Mitchell.

  23. Haralambos says:

    Wow, this reminds me of the debate in linguistics over what constitutes the difference between a language and a dialect. The standard definition for many a century ago was that a language is a collections of mutually intelligible dialects. That does not really work for many people who would like their own “dialect” considered a language. Witness the issues in Spain over Catalan and its status in Catalonia. The same might be said of Portuguese and Gellician. When I lived in Portugal, the Portuguese claimed that Gallician was a dialect of Portuguese, and the Gallicians claimed just the opposite since the Moors had never made it to Santiago de Compostela.
    One way out of this suggested by the Danish linguist Otto Jesperson was the “tongue-in-cheek” definition that “a language is a dialect with an army and a navy” (I quote from memory here). Obviously, that does not cut finely enough in either direction for both the purposes of linguistics or definitions of nation-states, and I have no satisfactory answers to this issue.
    I do recall discussing the horrors of the dissolution of the former Yugoslav republics 20+ years ago with an Australian friend who said he thought Germany and others seemed to believe that the violence there was largely due to the belief that they “were dealing with the bloody Belgians.”
    I will post this under my adopted handle as Haralambos, but, hereafter, I will post under my real name out of respect for those here who fly their true colors: Robert Kenneth Chatel.

  24. kao_hsien_chih says:

    As noted above, I tend to consider the idea of a nation-state morally abhorrent as it often requires creation of often false and/or whitewashed national myths and forceful subjugation or worse of the dissenters. But we have to note that creation and maintenance of national myths is something that is disturbingly common in actual politics and draws way too many fans, both from the locals and the outsiders. (see the Bandera myths of Ukraine or the Zionist myths of Israel)

  25. WP says:

    This is in response to WRC’s hope that reason will prevail under “some concept more grounded in current global reality” and PL’s statement that people go to war over myth, not “global reality.”
    “Myth” is the only reality. There are few global “myths.”
    Over the years I have been posting here, I have often used the term “myth” as an analytical tool for understanding human political behavior. I do this because the idea of a “myth” may be the best predictor of behavior. Myth is the fundamental cognitive tool humans use to make sense of their environment and to organize collective action. I will explain my concept.
    Humans operate in an environment that most often is unintelligible without having a tool with which to communicate fundamental perceptions among one’s colleagues. The colleagues must have at least some common understanding of the same fundamental perception before the group can process and invent a reaction to the tacit perception of their real actual experience. The word “myth” as I use it is a code word for a word tool that can be used as a cognitive tool to communicate an explicit understanding of a common tacit perception.
    Philosopher Michael Polyani partly explained the concept in his book, http://www.amazon.com/Tacit-Dimension-Michael-Polanyi/dp/0226672980/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395784357&sr=1-3&keywords=michael+polanyi where he explored the tacit realm of personal experience. His theory, to which I partly agree, is that there is an actuality of experience in a culture that is within the tacit, unspoken, experience of humans. This tacit world can be understood through some simple examples. People know that business is bad, that the government stinks, or that the future is bright. They know it. They can say it, but they cannot act on it because action must be focused and speakable. What is tacitly known cannot be effectively expressed until a linguistic tool usable for its expression is invented.
    At some point, someone invents a code word or “myth” that can be used explicitly to express what is tacitly known. The invention of the linguistic “myth” then gives the greater group a tool with which to deal with their environment and to act on their common tacit knowledge. So, the tacit knowing that “business is bad” is expressed with mythical words like “over-taxed” that expresses why “business is bad.” The mythical expression becomes a tool that can be used to establish a collective response to what is tacitly known. “Over-taxed” then creates a movement like “Taxed Enough Already Party.” Business may actually be bad for some other reason, but “over-taxed” code provides a handle for framing the tacit knowledge known by the individual members of the group into concrete explicit understanding that can be discussed and acted upon. The existence of a usable tool reduces the anxiety of not being able to express what one knows.
    The existence of the “myth” tool does not necessarily equate to an accurate understanding of causation. The myth that the gods are angry and have brought plague because we have not pressed the witches to death yet does not really address the problem, but it makes the people feel more effective. Its use may not cure the problem tacitly perceived. But myth is the only thing that really explains human behavior as to why so many women were pressed to death. The myth-makers gain power. The myth is effective as an organizational tool.
    Polanyi never arrived at the truly significant consequence of his Tacit-Explicit invention. The Tacit-Explicit invention is a ‘myth” itself that explains the mechanism of how people become leaders and how leaders lead—they invent or use new code word tools, “myths”, to enable their followers to discuss the followers’ tacit knowledge among themselves, thereby creating a new actuality.
    English futurist Robert Theobald also explored this concept in his formulation of “system break.” A system break occurs when the tacit knowledge of a group experiencing rapid changes in actuality are operating under a myth system that is substantially divergent and mis-matched to their tacit knowledge to the extent that the myth simply becomes unworkable as a cognitive tool. Some leader then comes forward, inventing a few words that completely create a new, explicit reality that more closely conforms to the group’s tacit understanding. The old ways then almost instantly falls away and a new way begins to function.
    History is replete with examples of system breaks that have destroyed governments and cultures. One of the most recent is the fall of the Soviet Union. The actuality of the Russian experience tacitly known by the population was fully divergent from the communist myth system. Leaders like Gorbachev came forward with newly defined words, Glasnost and Perestroika, and the whole system collapsed as people began using the new lingo to work through theirs existence. Once the words were invented, the new Russia was hatched. Myth code works and sometimes very fast.
    Putin’s recent speech is a masterful synthesis of code words and “myth” that gives it native hearers much to discuss and to act upon. To see how powerful the speech is at the “myth” level, read the comments to http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/president-putins-speech-to-federal.html As an exercise, read the entire speech noting the myth words, particularly those that deal with greater Russia and eternal connections. A link to the full speech is onvinyardsaker’s the page. Then note the emotional response to the speech of the commenters which seems largely to create words to express the tacit rage against the West and the tacit feeling of helplessness against western Neo-con predation. It is a speech that will, itself, become mythical. Its power to foster collective action in the Ukraine cannot be underestimated. The ideas in the speech are not new. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Naveki.jpg What is newly invented is the synthesis of language defining the actions of the Neo-cons.
    Do not forget that the US is beset with competing myths. Some have been destructive, others constructive. Just take two massively meaningful “myth” words: freedom and liberty. If two people, on an American liberal and the other, an American conservative get together and try to establish a common definition of the terms, they might end up in a fist fight. But, if there were a real threat to the mainland from a real enemy, they would both line up under an American flag and agree to fight to protect our liberty and freedom. What “myth” words do is to avoid having closely define a tacit perception and to enable a group to take concerted action base upon a common, but undefined concept.
    The Russian bear is no longer lingering in its lair licking its wounds. It has gotten stronger and is re-establishing it mythical territory of Greater Russia. Corner it as the Neo-cons have tried to do and it will certainly bite back. Consider Obama’s statement just now broadcast on PBS that “World leaders are agreed that if Russia does not change its course, stronger sanctions will be imposed.” Parse this from the point of view of the target hearers of Putin’s speech. It is scary, clashing of mythical languages. One knows that extreme danger is nigh when the myth system of one system (US) starts parsing that the other system should change or reform.
    Right now, we need some code words that both we and the Russians can use to understand that we are in common danger of the fools leading us to Armageddon. Unless we can stop talking across our respective myths, this August may be much like August 1914, except that the weapons are far more efficient.
    (This medium is the message. This comment is, itself, a myth that may give this Committee of Correspondence a tool with which to parse our tacit perceptions.)

  26. different clue says:

    I am no expert, obviously. But from the flavor of your usage of English I feel as if your mother tongue may be one of the Slavic languages.
    If I am wrong about that, feel free to laugh off my lay amateur guess.

  27. Mark Logan says:

    I suspect them to be shallow trophy seekers. South Park-ian “underpants gnomes”.

  28. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It was largely a religious conflict; Orthodox, Catholic and Sunni Muslim and not a linguistic one in Yugoslavia.
    Chinese are one country even though effectively they speak different languages.
    Portuguese, Galician, Spanish, and Catalan are the same language; write them with Arabic and drop the vowels and you will see that immediately.
    On the other hand, I noticed Persian written in Cyrillic alphabet needlessly emphasizes vowels and destroys the unity of language.
    If you write various dialects of English phonetically and insist on doing so through state policy, quite soon you will create a Cockney Language, a Southern Drawl, and Scottish Borough.
    Write every language using Arabic script and the number of distinct languages immediately goes down.

  29. Rd. says:

    turcopolier said…
    “warring,” not “waring.” what is your nationality? If you want to criticize us in those terms you should tell us who you are. pl
    Thank you for the correction.. Is the sword and shield already in play? Warring, as you suggest, is the tool of the elites and it is curious how easily they can prod the public into supporting it. Competition bound, seems like, is exploited well.. and btw, Iranian.

  30. Kyle Pearson says:

    I think i understand a bit of what KHC is trying to get at, here. If not, then a similar thought occurred to me that seems to resonate with his observation regarding the Korean people.
    While what is called “North Korea” today does share the Korean language with those folk in the south, they are also in many ways ethnically distinct from the people of the south, and as history shows, the two groups are nearly as often at war with one another as they are unified. The north shares a border with China, but has traditionally tended to maintain a much stronger independence from the Chinese. IIRC (and i’m quite hazy on much of this, so i may be wrong in important ways), Korean history has tended to be characterized by either strong states in the north (who came into direct conflict with the Chinese), or strong states in the south (who welcomed trade, military alliances, and deep cultural exchange with China and Japan). People in the North tend to be tied much more closely to the nomads of the mainland, while people of the south tended to be more closely associated with trade and maritime industries.
    The point being, can they really be said to be the same “ethnicity” in terms of culture? Yes, the two sides share a language, but much of the reason they share so many of their other cultural features is a result of mutual conquest and subjugation of one another, a process which is starkly highlighted today.
    Similar observations could be made, i think, about the Dutch (to distinguish them from Germany), and many of the Slavic countries (Moldova and Romania were mentioned; as i understand things, the only real distinction between Croats and Slavs are their religious histories and external socio-political alliances).
    In some ways, i think these points also carry over to regions within China, and India.
    I am curious how people would characterize the United States. I do not think the US shares a singular culture. Louisiana is a very different place from Texas, New Mexico, or Massachusetts, and Florida is a very different beast than Georgia, or California. Ethnic and linguistic influences on various regions within the US remain strong, even if the vast majority of us do speak English as our mother tongue.

  31. Ryan says:

    A couple of observations, sir.
    “Germans live in great numbers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium (Flemings), arguably the Netherlands whether the Dutch like the idea or not.”
    I believe you to be correct about the Dutch not liking this observation of yours. They would like even less is this one. The Netherlands provided more men for the Waffen SS than any other country.
    “In those days before WW2 a globe map of the world seemed mostly to be colored pink.”
    Indeed, and prior to WWI as well. It’s funny how the Germans are accused of trying to take over the world when these facts are considered.
    Anyway, I like your post and agree with it. I’ve believed the same for years.

  32. Amir says:

    The Dutch are not German. Especially after the Hunger Winter of 1945, there is a strong “anti-german” within the Dutch population. On top of that, within The Netherlands, not European “tribe” is considered Dutch. The inhabitants of Friesland (Frieslanders) with the capital Groningen consider themselves to be separate although these differences are not emphasized. At the end of the day, € greases a lot of things. To top that, the Flemish certainly do not think they are German. There was and is a significant minority of the population that had Far Right and Nazi sympathies but mostly because they were of opinion that the Third Reich would enable them to have an INDEPENDENT Flanders.
    The author seems to confuse the linguistic macro-groups with Nations.
    To quote Caesar (— Caes., De Bell. Gall. I 3.) “Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae, propterea quod a cultu atque humanitate provinciae longissime absunt, minimeque ad eos mercatores saepe commeant atque ea quae ad effeminandos animos pertinent important, proximique sunt Germanis, qui trans Rhenum incolunt, quibuscum continenter bellum gerunt.” thus making a distinction between the Belgians (a mix of Gauls, Kelts and Germans) and Germanic tribes. I presume Caesar was better informed about tribal loyalties than modern “experts”.

  33. WP! Thank you very very much for this brilliant comment!

  34. turcopolier says:

    Yes they are, no matte what they prefer to be. pl

  35. turcopolier says:

    I was at 5th Corps headquarters at Frankfurt in 1969. I studied German at lunch time. The teacher was a former Netherlander who had been a grenadier in he 5th SS Panzergrenadier Division (Wiking). I knew a lot of German from my life in occupied Germany as a child. He talked a lot about the division’s actions at Rostov and Kharkov. After a while I found his assumption concerning my sympathy to be unacceptable. pl

  36. AEL says:

    How would you rate Canada? In my experience, Quebecois and Ontarians are closer to each other culturally/historically than they are to New Yorkers. However, they are separated by language.
    Or are all people north of the Rio Grande part of the same nation (ranging from Newfies to Nevadans?)

  37. YT says:

    Till they are at the receiving end of it…

  38. YT says:

    Through the travail of the ages,
    Midst the pomp and toil of war,
    I have fought and strove and perished
    Countless times upon this star.
    In the form of many people
    In all panoplies of time
    Have I seen the luring vision
    Of the Victory Maid, sublime.
    I have battled for fresh mammoth,
    I have warred for pastures new,
    I have listed to the whispers
    When the race trek instinct grew.
    I have known the call to battle
    In each changeless changing shape
    From the high souled voice of conscience
    To the beastly lust for rape.
    I have sinned and I have suffered,
    Played the hero and the knave;
    Fought for belly, shame, or country,
    And for each have found a grave.
    I cannot name my battles
    For the visions are not clear,
    Yet, I see the twisted faces
    And I feel the rending spear.
    Perhaps I stabbed our Savior
    In His sacred helpless side.
    Yet, I’ve called His name in blessing
    When after times I died.
    In the dimness of the shadows
    Where we hairy heathens warred,
    I can taste in thought the lifeblood;
    We used teeth before the sword.
    While in later clearer vision
    I can sense the coppery sweat,
    Feel the pikes grow wet and slippery
    When our Phalanx, Cyrus met.
    Hear the rattle of the harness
    Where the Persian darts bounced clear,
    See their chariots wheel in panic
    From the Hoplite’s leveled spear.
    See the goal grow monthly longer,
    Reaching for the walls of Tyre.
    Hear the crash of tons of granite,
    Smell the quenchless eastern fire.
    Still more clearly as a Roman,
    Can I see the Legion close,
    As our third rank moved in forward
    And the short sword found our foes.
    Once again I feel the anguish
    Of that blistering treeless plain
    When the Parthian showered death bolts,
    And our discipline was in vain.
    I remember all the suffering
    Of those arrows in my neck.
    Yet, I stabbed a grinning savage
    As I died upon my back.
    Once again I smell the heat sparks
    When my Flemish plate gave way
    And the lance ripped through my entrails
    As on Crecy’s field I lay.
    In the windless, blinding stillness
    Of the glittering tropic sea
    I can see the bubbles rising
    Where we set the captives free.
    Midst the spume of half a tempest
    I have heard the bulwarks go
    When the crashing, point blank round shot
    Sent destruction to our foe.
    I have fought with gun and cutlass
    On the red and slippery deck
    With all Hell aflame within me
    And a rope around my neck.
    And still later as a General
    Have I galloped with Murat
    When we laughed at death and numbers
    Trusting in the Emperor’s Star.
    Till at last our star faded,
    And we shouted to our doom
    Where the sunken road of Ohein
    Closed us in it’s quivering gloom.
    So but now with Tanks a’clatter
    Have I waddled on the foe
    Belching death at twenty paces,
    By the star shell’s ghastly glow.
    So as through a glass, and darkly
    The age long strife I see
    Where I fought in many guises,
    Many names, but always me.
    And I see not in my blindness
    What the objects were I wrought,
    But as God rules o’er our bickerings
    It was through His will I fought.
    So forever in the future,
    Shall I battle as of yore,
    Dying to be born a fighter,
    But to die again, once more.
    Aye, Col. Some Men are simply born for Warre…

  39. YT says:

    RE: “Chinese are one country even though effectively they speak different languages.”
    Even I have a hard figuring it all out…
    A Sinologist I am not.
    A former associate of mine even claimed that the Mandarin we use To-day has more in common with the Manchu tongue (?) while the reign of emperor Taizong sported one closer to the Cantonese dialect(?)
    I cannot come up with any substantial evidence for any-of-the-above.
    The qin emperor, the Napoléon of his time – albeit a more vicious one – buried many a scholar as well burning a great many books, allowed only the script of his own native qin state to be used throughout the realm.
    Heaven knows only how many more ways of speaking & writing the Yellow peoples would have if the other scripts of the 6 conquered states were allowed to flourish.
    & this was all Cathay…

  40. confusedponderer says:

    “The Dutch are not German”
    Inded, they aren’t. Much like the Brits, they’re more like cousins.
    As with the Brits, there are strong cultural and historical differences.
    With the dutch, you IMO notice the differences best when you go from germany to the areas, like the Ardennes, where the regions blur, and then to the Netherlands proper.
    People there speak French, German and Flamish. They mix and generally get along, but retain their indivudual characteristics, cultures and ways.
    In the flamish parts of the Ardennes, for instance, they celebrate Carnival, much like in the Rhineland, but in Flemish. That has litle to do with them being ‘German’ and a lot more with them being Catholic.
    If you go to the Netherlands proper however, you notice a strong Calvinist streak that you don’t have in either Germany or that part of the Ardennes.
    In fact, durch anti-German sentiment in the Netherlands after the war was quite substantial. The story of Prince Claus of the Netherlands is instructive.
    “The pair were married on 10 March 1966. Their wedding day saw violent protests, including such memorable slogans as “Claus, ‘raus!” (Claus, get out!) and “Mijn fiets terug” (Give me back my bike), a reference to the memory of occupying German soldiers confiscating Dutch bicycles. A smoke bomb was thrown at the wedding carriage by a group of Provos.”
    Fortunately, we’re on friendlier terms again.

  41. Kyle Pearson says:

    History belies your assertion about “the Chinese,” Babak.
    China is effectively four or five ethnic/economic zones. South China and North China are both “Han” Chinese, but the people who speak Cantonese and Hokkien are very, very different in cultural terms than the people of the North, who speak languages more closely related to traditional Han languages.
    Similarly, the Han peoples who occupy Qinghai and Sichuan are starkly different, culturally, than the either of the former (North/South) peoples, while the Han of the far south (Yunnan, Guizhou) are culturally closer to the peoples of Northern Burma and Laos than they are to the people of Gansu, or Heilongjiang.
    Yes, all of these people speak “Han” languages. But history proves that, in the absence of a strong central government, each of these regions pulls away from the others and forms its own socio-economic zone, and establishes a new sphere of influence with peoples outside of what is traditionally considered China. Northern Vietnam is one example of this process at work, as is Northern Burma, and Laos.
    I do not think that an identity which is imposed by force qualifies as a “cultural” identity. Over time, an imposed identity may eventually come to be accepted by people as part of their culture, but the advantage of the word “culture” has always seemed to me how it describes the facets of identity and social cohesion that pull groups of people towards one another (and away from others) unconsciously, with what i would describe as more-or-less natural processes which are intimately linked with language, but not exclusive to it.
    Am i alone in believing that?

  42. Kyle Pearson says:

    I do not understand how you can assert that “Han Chinese” are a single ethnicity.
    There are common cultural elements shared by Han Chinese, but there are very few – perhaps even none – that are shared by all of them.
    Yes, the script is strange, and used by all; but i think culture goes a far way beyond how one writes the language, doesn’t it?

  43. jamzo says:

    is there a nation state which is not comprised of more than one ethnic group?

  44. WP! My favorite [actually being facetious] current myth is that Globalization yields only benefits and no costs!

  45. KP!
    Korean friends tell me there are more Han Chinese in S.Korea today than in N.Korea!

  46. Amir! Just noting for the record the Kaiser took refuge post abdication in the Netherlands in 1918 for the rest of his life. A museum to his life is also there.

  47. PL! Most Germans I met in FRG in the period 1968-1970 with
    WWII service told me they were on the Eastern Front. But hey someone was shooting Americans in 1944-45!

  48. Ulenspiegel says:

    “IMO a nation-state exists when an ethnic people bound together by language, tradition and history exist almost exclusively within the borders of a particular state (country) that is governed by s coherent system of law.”
    As chemist, who has to live and argue with a set of more or less useful definitions when it comes to interesting aspects like structure, isomers etc., I have a problem with this definition:
    A nation state can exist when almost all of its citizens belong to the same ethnic people. However, there is no problem that some parts of the ethnic people are minorities in other nation states.
    Only because there are Germans in Austria or Switzerland, does of cause not mean that Germany is not a nation state. The definition becomes quite useless IMHO because the author of the definition confused essential creteria with sufficient creteria.
    BTW: As German from Lower Saxony I would not make a statement that citizens of the Netherlands are German. 🙂
    However, both, the Netherlands and Germany have a strong Frisian community which here and there ignores national borders. 🙂
    In addition, as German living in Austria, I would also refrain from calling an post WWII-Austrian as German. 1919 this was correct, almost 100 years later it is not longer.

  49. turcopolier says:

    Canada is not a nation-state. Neither is the USA. pl

  50. turcopolier says:

    you are entitled to your opinion. I will be interested to learn what the other Germans here write. I offered you another way to look at these definitions but you clearly are not interested.
    “The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit.[1] The state is a political and geopolitical entity, while the nation is a cultural and ethnic one; the term “nation state” implies that the two coincide geographically. Nation state formation took place at different times in different parts of the world, but has become the dominant form of state organization.
    The concept and actuality of the nation state can be compared and contrasted with that of the multinational state, city state,[2][3][4] empire, confederation, and other state forms with which it may overlap. The key distinction from the other forms is the identification of a people with a polity.” wiki on Nation State
    The wiki article appears to agree with me. By the definition in this wiki Germany is not a nation state.

  51. turcopolier says:

    Iceland would be a possibility. pl

  52. Agree and therefor would immediately as US President seek a full redesign of the UN! And its Security Council!

  53. WP,
    ‘It has gotten stronger and is re-establishing it mythical territory of Greater Russia.’
    But with respect, this is not the obvious reading of what Putin said in his speech. I would recommend recent discussions by Dr Patrick Armstrong, available on the ‘Russia: Other Points of View’ site.
    Having served for three decades as a Canadian government analyst first of Soviet then of Russian policy, Dr Armstrong has for some years written regular ‘Sitreps’ on developments in the former Soviet space that some of us have found invaluable. His analyses have had quite a good track record of being prescient, not least in his discussions of the 2008 Georgian War.
    An extract from his discussion of Putin’s speech in Dr Armstrong’s most recent ‘Sitrep’:
    ‘Putin said he has no intention of absorbing other parts of Ukraine but this must be considered conditional. The warning is here: “But it should be above all in Ukraine’s own interest to ensure that these people’s [ie Russophones] rights and interests are fully protected. This is the guarantee of Ukraine’s state stability and territorial integrity.” If it gets bad, he will. Yatsenyuk has said he will disarm the extremists. Let’s hope that he does but I think he’s the von Papen of this revolution and I doubt he’ll be around in six months.’
    (See http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2014/03/ru.html )
    The speech is not about restoring the ‘mythical territory of Greater Russia’. The day after it voted to dismiss President Yanukovich, the Verkhovna Rada voted to abolish the 2012 language law, allowing regions, if they so chose, to use other official languages in addition to Ukrainian.
    In his speech, Putin noted that the politicians involved had been ‘immediately “disciplined”’ by their ‘foreign sponsors’, but went on to make clear that he thought it likely that the campaign against the Russian language would be renewed.
    What Putin was producing was a blunt warning alike to the nationalists now running things in Kiev and their ‘foreign sponsors’. The status quo in Ukraine was acceptable both to Russophones in the country, and also Russia itself, so long as the Russian cultural heritage was respected.
    The attack on this heritage made the Crimean Russians decide they wanted out. If it is renewed, many more in the South and East may want to follow them. If there turn out to be areas where a Russophone majority concludes that its ‘rights and interests’ are not going to be protected in Ukraine, and want to leave, then Russia may well behave as it has with the Crimea.
    This it seems likely is also part of the point of the military manoeuvres conducted by the Russian Army – to let both discontented Russophones and also the nationalists and their Western backers know that, as Obama might have put it, ‘all options are on the table’ if the nationalists continue trying to push their luck.
    You have simply assumed, as many in the U.S. and E.U. have done, that when following the warning Dr Armstrong quotes Putin went on to say that ‘we want peace and harmony to reign in Ukraine, and we are ready to work together with other countries to do everything possible to facilitate and support this’, he was lying. But you cannot simply assume this – you must produce textual or other evidence to back up your view.
    If people in the U.S. and E.U. are determined at one and the same time to attribute to Putin objectives he does not have, while not paying adequate attention to his blunt warning to get the ‘Banderista’ genie they have so disastrously unleashed back in the bottle, then there may indeed be hell to pay.
    I very much hope that Dr Armstrong is being excessively pessimistic in his assessment of the difficulties of ensuring that ‘moderate’ nationalists end up in the driving seat in Kiev.
    But given that the predominant response to what Putin has claimed has been supercilious denial, it remains unclear that people in the West have faced up to the difficulty of the problem, and the urgency of doing something about it.

  54. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Playing with fire, the vainglorious ass, Obama, has derided Russia by calling it merely a “regional power”:
    Well, maybe, but it’s a mighty damn big “region” and a well-armed “regional power” that has had a belly full of being pushed into a corner by ahistorical Jacobin asses such as our Maximal Leader. Great thumping words, President Obama, you posturing fool.
    So now it seems that not only must we hope for the counsels of restraint from Gen. Dempsey, but we must also hope for a policy of levelheadedness and unemotional situational awareness from President Putin and his advisors. Because for sure we are not seeing any of those admirable character traits on display from our own Misleaders, North American or European.
    I spent the days of my youth with the ultimate Sword of Damocles, nuclear war, suspended balefully over my head. And now these feckless buffoons casually toy with this again? Tell me who the grownups are again, please.

  55. kao_hsien_chih says:

    And a good thing that we are not. There are, however, many that seem to wish that we are and are apparently willing to force us to resemble one. That is a great danger.

  56. WP says:

    Dr. Armstrong’s selection of key sentences as the heart of Putin’s speech is similar to my view as the locus of the heart of the speech. The warning in the speech is clear: make Ukraine a happy place for its ethnic Russians, or else. Putin’s speech was delivered by a professional willing to exert his will on the world. It cannot be ignored.
    I do not think Putin’s clear warning will be heeded or understood. If the West does not cool its jets, Putin will be forced by circumstances to act on his warning.
    The operative Western myth working right now does not seem to recognize of be able to heed the warning. Obama’s speech being broadcast this morning is a case in point that supports my view. Essentially its message is “I am big and you are small [merely a regional power]–you must do what I say.” The approach will not generate a happy life for the Russians in Ukraine that Putin clearly says he must have to stand down.
    Russia is not a regional power, it is a nuclear power that can turn us to dust. In the context of Putin’s speech and the emotional sentiments of its hearers, Obama’s proclamation is unprofessional and inflammatory.
    Due to Western actions and “support”, I too, along with Dr. Armstrong, am pessimistic that moderate rulers, from Russia’s point of view, will end up in control in Kiev. Moderate as defined by Russia’s point of view is what counts.
    It will be the continued operations of the Western governments and NGO’s to “support democracy” that will over-perform and cause Putin to act on his threat. Dr. Armstrong’s second excerpt, “Are we ready to consistently defend our national interests, or will we forever give in, retreat to who knows where?” is the operative one. What Putin says is enough already…next time I will not sit by and suffer your subversion of my sphere of influence. Russia is done with retreating. My sense is Putin has now willed to stand fast and to call the bully out.
    Obama seems to be deaf.
    I stand by my prediction. Putin will act soon to take a large part of the remainder of the Ukraine because he must due to the West’s unprofessional practices. When he does, I cannot predict whether it will be war or not.

  57. kao_hsien_chih says:

    There is a lot of business going back and forth between South Korea and China, while there is hardly any between NK and China–NK is remarkably guarded towards the Chinese, whom they regard almost as a potential adversary. Not unreasonable from their viewpoint, since China seems to prefer a North Korea that it can control when it needs to for its own advantage and can be kept quiet when it is inconvenient, while the latter wants to make noise (or at least threaten to) when it is least convenient so that they can extract concessions. While China does not want to liquidate NK itself, it does want to reserve the right to punish or even liquidate its leadership if and when it needs to.

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments.
    My sense of it have been that all those culturally diverse people consider themselves Han.
    But YT could shed more light on it.
    I think modern European states imposed a common identity by force: in France, in England, in Germany, in Russia, and in Italy; to name a few.

  59. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There was a rally outside of Rotterdam immediately after the defeat of the Dutch and the occupation of Holland by Germany in which thousands of Dutch yelled that they bore no malice towards Germany.
    They were all NAZIs; in Holland, in Belgium, in France, in Italy, in Hungary, in Romania, in Ukraine, in Yugoslavia yearning to belong to the Master Race.
    After the defeat of NAZISM, they found religion; e.g. in Hungary the Hungarians claimed to have saved thousands of Jews – more Jews than the entire population of Jews in Hungary before WWII.
    In France, they had de Gaulle behind which they hide their collaborationism and their anti-Semitism, in Germany the appeal to “dictatorship made me do it..”

  60. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Perhaps you could take the trouble of explaining to me why the Great Emperor – Shi, Hwang-Ti – is so despised?
    For myself, I see that he put an end to these constant wars that consumed so many lives and would have consumed many more if they had continued.
    He did what the Tokugawa Shogun achieved centuries later in Japan.

  61. Babak Makkinejad says:

    As you have observed, after 80 years of experimentation, very likely both the Russian leaders and Russian people are profoundly conservative.
    I would speculate that they wish to be left alone to work on developing their country and their state.
    If I am correct in my surmise, then it would be very likely that Putin would only react to the deterioration of Russian security interests in Ukraine but not proactively take more actions at the present time.
    Listening to what is coming out of US and EU leaderships, it seems to me that they are unwilling to accommodate Russian interests.
    If not then I would expect Russia to take over as much of Ukraine as possible – under invented or genuine incidents.
    It did not and does not have to be this way.
    But it would be very likely; it seems to me.

  62. Thomas says:

    “This life’s not for living
    It’s for fighting and for wars”
    Hold On by YES 90125

  63. kao_hsien_chih says:

    The official contempt to Shihuangdi was the case during the imperial era, in part because of the tradition of justifying the “mandate of heaven” of the present, which meant having to dishonor the memories (so to speak) of the previous dynasties’ late rulers. Unfortunately, Shihuangdi was, in effect, the last ruler of the Qin (since his two successors were mere puppets and/or incompetents) so he had to be villified.
    The official propaganda of the post imperial China has been notably different. The one ancient Chinese hero that the PRC government worships, so to speak, is not Confucius. It is Shihuangdi for precisely the reasons that you suggest.

  64. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I think China is still a “nation state” in progress. The “Han”-ness of China has been continuously emphasized and at times enforced by force by the central government. (I suppose this is one reason why the memory of the Shihuangdi remains controversial…and at the same time, the same nation-state building impulse today is increasingly glorifying him.) But how much this Han-ness adds up to has always remained controversial, as I understand it.
    This idea is facing a huge challenge in form of Taiwan today, of course–quite literally. The Taiwanese are Han and they don’t dispute that. They don’t want to part with China. But they don’t want to be part of the Chinese state. And for goodness’ sake, this is where the idea of a “nation state” becomes unpleasant again.

  65. fanto says:

    VV – I like your comments, but I do not believe that ‘troops will roll’ –

  66. fanto says:

    WP, your lengthy comment is interesting, BUT – if I understand you correctly, your use of the word “myth” is synonymous with the word “symbol” – and the whole explanation of Polanyi and yours, boils down to the evangkeic “in the beginning was the Word, and Word became…”
    Am I wrong in thinking this way?

  67. Kyle Pearson says:

    I contest that China has ever considered itself a “nation state.” Going long back in history (at least to the Sui dynasty, and perhaps centuries before), the very idea of “Zhong-guo” (中國) is that of an empire that is comprised of many different ethnicities. Even the most ardently nationalist of Han peoples, these days, will openly admit that Mongolians, Uighur, Zhuang, and Miao peoples (to name only a few) are not Han, but are “Zhongguo” peoples.
    That is: they acknowledge their ethnic, linguistic, and cultural distinction, but assert that they are nevertheless equal members of the state (國).
    Of course there are problems with discrimination, minority rights, and cultural suppression, but those are common in any state the size of China (or the US, or India, or…).

  68. Kyle Pearson says:

    There are at least 100 million minorities within the borders of China, Babak, and that doesn’t even account for people of mixed Han ethnicity.
    Yes, that remains a small fraction of the total number of Chinese (8% or so, divided into many different groups of various sizes, and scattered across the entire geographic region), but it is still a substantial number.
    And of course, even what we call “Han Chinese” is not a single ethnicity. The Tang Dynasty, for instance, was essentially a unification of Turkic nomad peoples with the Northern Han that created a new Chinese identity. Far southern China is essentially a border region where Han Chinese have been intermarrying with local groups for millenia.
    As one example, many people in the south refuse to eat beef, while many people in the north take it as a necessary staple. Rice vs. millet (or noodles). There is a wide variety of cultural differences that, to outsiders, can be easily glossed over as “more similar than distinct.”
    I deeply believe Western ethnocentrism and historical exceptionalism has exacerbated these misperceptions. Among Western scholars, Chinese histiography is undergoing a radical shift in perspective, and interpretation. I think you’d be surprised at the shift in perspective it can give.

  69. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I’m thinking more of Taiwan, not so much China–although some of this logic applies to parts of China itself, up to a point (more on that below).
    While China may not be same as Han, all Han, most (PRC) Chinese I run into seem to believe, must be Chinese. Taiwan is defying that notion, by openly claiming that they are Han, but not China and this attitude is increasingly becoming widespread among the Taiwanese. There will have to be some sort of reckoning and one can only hope that this is not going to be violent.
    Within China itself, while not quite at the level of homogenizing force of 19th century France, there is a wide variety of officially enforced doctrines of “political correctness,” PRC style. Some are pretty overt (unchallengeable one party rule of the CCP, even if the party might be reformed to accommodate some aspects of popular discontent, Singapore-style), others rather less so (the officially embellished version of Chinese victimhood in 20th century, especially vis-a-vis Japan–while about 80-90% is true, a lot of uncomfortable subtlety is swept under the rug, helped out by the Japan’s own political correctness). The idea of “Chinaness” (whether embodied in Mao, Sun, or Qin Shihuangdi)–not quite ethnocentric the way most nationalism is, but almost a worship of a mythic version of the Chinese state (in some sense, literally so–as per the strange relationship between Chinese state and the Roman Catholic Church)–I suppose it’s a bit like the “official” US history of the Civil War–that cannot be questioned. These are not quite the making of a conventional “nation state,” but attempts to create something close to it, around a set of shared myths that are beyond question. This idea of quasi-nation state does not make me feel much more comfortable than the more conventional thing.

  70. Ulenspiegel says:

    the Idealtypus of a nation state would follow your definition, my problem is that nowhere such a construct exists on mother earth, therefore, I am thinking more about the essentials of the existing constructs.
    Here, the obvious useful minimum is that the majority of the population of one state is provided by one ethic people.

  71. YT says:

    Never expected a 鬼佬/紅毛 (“Gwai Loh/ Ang Mo”) to be a Sinologist…
    You put many of my “brethren” to SHAME.
    My thanks.

  72. YT says:

    Babak, Mr. Kao, Kyle,
    RE: They don’t want to part with China. But they don’t want to be part of the Chinese state. And for goodness’ sake, this is where the idea of a “nation state” becomes unpleasant again.
    Apparently these sentiments are also shared amongst the youth in Hong Kong…
    Especially after the central govt imposed teaching of propagandist history in Hong Kong schools back in ’12.
    Perhaps they miss the press freedoms they had prior to “Perfidious” Albion leaving?
    Guess it’s not only the Japs who indulge in revisionist histories…

  73. YT says:

    RE: As one example, many people in the south refuse to eat beef, while many people in the north take it as a necessary staple. Rice vs. millet (or noodles). There is a wide variety of cultural differences that, to outsiders, can be easily glossed over as “more similar than distinct.”
    My, aren’t you the culinary expert?
    (I recall the above documentary having an interpretation by a native of Albion but…)

  74. YT says:

    To all the Messieurs,
    “The ruler regard the people as paramount, while the people view food above all.”
    The Book of Han, Chap. XLIII. on Li Yiji

  75. YT says:

    Ah, sad indeed if we were to look back on History…
    & here we are in this present era blaming your brethren for the probable (future??) destruction of Israel…

  76. YT says:

    Mr. Kao,
    Yet the Chinese govt seem compassionate to the Joseonjok (조선족) within their own borders… at least that is my impression…
    nork WAS a buffer against stalin Russia, South Korea & Uncle Sam.

  77. YT says:

    Thanks, Thomas.

  78. YT says:

    Ah yes…
    So that they may utilize the same brutal methods as he (i.e. the qin emperor), the present governors?
    Perhaps they are short on memory & need recall that his vicious reign was short-lived & it led to further chaos…
    “When things reach an extreme, they can only move in the opposite direction.”

  79. YT says:

    Funny how this belief persists even now after enron & the iraq war…

  80. rjj says:

    A no malice rally after the Rotterdam blitz? Zeal or prudence?

  81. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Both Japan and Senegal are examples of a Nation-State.
    Korea would have been but for the great powers rivalry.
    Italy would be if it gives Tyrol back to Austria.

  82. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments and I agree with them regarding T’ang and the expansion into South. But that was 1000 years ago and one has to look at what happened under Sung where what we perceive to be “China” was born.
    I cannot take culinary preferences to be material; I think far more important are those cultural elements that pertain to the interior life of the human beings.
    Do you know anything of the Japanese Historiography of China?
    I was told that there is a vigorous and important scholarly tradition in Japan of Chinese History. I would be curious to learn what their take is on Han, China, etc..

  83. Babak Makkinejad says:

    3000 years of bafflement in the Far East as well as in the Middle East; viz. How to establish and maintain the Rule of Law.
    There is a religious duty imposed on Muslims in the Quran to “Promote Virtue and Resist Evil”; it is even enshrined in the Iranian Constitution.
    In practice it has been used to oppress the individual rather than oppose the depredations of the state or other arbitrary rulers.

  84. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think South Koreans consider North Koreans to be Korean – they blame US, China, Russia, Japan for the partition of their country.
    They are secretly pleased that North Korea has nuclear weapons. Their thinking is that someday Korean peninsula would be reunited under one government with the South contributing industrial might while the north the nuclear might; together the Koreans can tell those powers where to go.
    I agree that Koreans are genetically a very mixed population – contrary to their own myth of a “single racially pure people”. But they have not just the same language, but also the same religion – Shamanism.

  85. dan bradburd says:

    Italy? It’s 19th and 20th century history would belie that. The unification of Italy was not peaceful, and parts were added–the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies–and parts cut out–the Savoy. There was a Sardinian independence movement in the 1980s and 90s, and although there is a national language, what are now called ‘dialects’ are, in fact, mutually unintelligible languages.

  86. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Watch the footage please; did they have to gather in so many numbers and yell so enthusiastically?

  87. Babak Makkinejad says:

    What else could they do to the “Son-in-Law” country?

  88. walrus says:

    I would like to suggest that peace based on the Westphalian model of States and international relations is almost dead. I think the Straussians in Washington are doing their level best to kill it.
    As Sir Michael Howard observed; peace is an invented condition of mankind. Since the treaty of Westphalia, our model for peace has been based on the concept of the States making treaties among themselves and imposing the conditions of those agreements on their respective populations.
    It follows in Professor Howards analysis that any situation that weakens the capabilities of the State to govern their populations must jeopardise peace. This is precisely what we are seeing in Ukraine and Syria now and have seen elsewhere many times – failed States descending on their minorities or neighbours.
    In the case of Ukraine and Syria this destabilisation has been deliberatly fomented by America and European powers using exactly the same tactics as the former Soviet Union, right down to the “popular front” model of Government currently installed in Kiev. However this is but a single symptom. Taken together, it is quite clear that from at least as early as 1997, the “Project For A New American Century” folk are running America.
    What is also clear, from their studied Straussian contempt for any form of international law and human rights, except for when it suits them, is that they believe America to be capable of being world hegemon and intend to make it so. To put that another way, they have no use for the Westphalian model, Nuremberg, the U.N. or any other institution or country that might limit ther desires. That much is clear from President Obamas deliberate, low life, trashy and contemptible insult to Russia by referring to it as (merely) a “regional power”.
    Folks, this is just the beginning of a contest that, at best, can only end with the majority of Americans being much worse off and has the capacity to destroy most life on the planet. How can Washington be made to stop this insanity before it is carried to its fatal conclusion?

  89. kao_hsien_chih says:

    “Shamanism” isn’t much of a religion, but a hodgepodge of folk beliefs that varies significantly from one town to the next. Hardly something to build a “nation” around. Besides, most South Koreans have another “religion” besides their folk beliefs, or, in some cases, several. Estimates of adherents to various religious denominations in the South almost invariably add up to well over 100% because too many people belong to multiple religions.
    There are some (well, actually, quite a lot) deluded people in the South who think whatever that belongs to the North also belongs to the South because of the “same people” myth. At the same time, they are also deluded enough to believe that the large ethnic Korean minority in Northeastern China secretly want to join a united Korea. This is absurd since the Korean-Chinese are possibly the most assimilated ethnic minority in China: they are thoroughly loyal to PRC and consider both Koreas to be foreign countries. I don’t know how much, if any, stock should be placed in their crazy ideas.
    The “son-in-law country” idea, in practice, worked out quite differently from what it sounds like. Technically, rulers of Korea were relations of the Chinese rulers only during the Mongol period. The Mongols did not trust Koreans enough, despite this relationship. A Korean prince, also a relation of the Mongol Khan, was always appointed throughout this period as the “King of Shenyang,” just across the border in northeastern China. This prince would be the replacement king should the Korean king behave in a manner incompatible with the wishes of the great khan, and more than once did the King of Shenyang actually replace the Korean king (and at least once, towards the end of the Mongol rule in China, did the Korean king actually defeat an “invasion force” led by this prince.) In more modern history, the blood relations actually shifted southeastward: In 1910, Japan did not merely annex Korea, but it deliberately tried to create a new nation that mixed elements of both Japan and Korea: the (former) heir to the Korean throne was betrothed to the niece of the Japanese emperor, for example. That was the beginning of a very complex relationship that has been thoroughly scrubbed from collective memory of the Koreans, in the cause of nationalism.
    I’ve always thought of the Koreans to be like either the Poles (or, increasingly) Ukrainians of the Far East, with a lot of deluded people pushing their country/countries towards ruin out of delusions of grandeur and ignorance, while a handful of leaders aware of the world affairs trying to keep their own people at bay for their own safety, risking the epithet of being a “traitor” if they should fail.

  90. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Many “Italian” officers and men fought loyally for Austria-Hungary against the Italian state during World War I and a lot of them went to Central Europe after the war rather than go back to their home towns that now belonged to Italy.
    Of course, in today’s politics (or, the very recent past), there is/was the Northern League.

  91. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I think there is practically an organized conspiracy to weaken the idea of the state, not just in international relations, but in domestic politics of practically every nation.
    The state’s capacity to rule comes from three sources: the ability to set the laws within its borders; the means to enforce these laws; the willingness of the populace to abide by these laws. These three pillars are mutually supportive: if any one of these goes, the ability of the state to function is seriously hampered.
    For decades now, we have seen the willingness of the populations in many countries (perhaps almost every country) to abide by the laws of their state decline, almost invariably in the name of whatever is deemed “morally right” by the standards of some population, whether the nationalists, religious fundamentalists of all stripes, various political activists, or whatever. Politicians currying for their support undermine the ability of the state (either their own or some other country’s) to function effectively.
    In the realm of international relations, especially, while many countries (Libya, Ukraine, etc.) did have horribly dysfunctional states, it should have been up to the populations of these states to find the solutions to their own mess, not outside interventionists, and certainly not ignorant outside interventionists happily dropping bombs (literal or figurative) only to disappear irresponsibly afterwards. Is it any wonder that things are only going from bad to worse?
    Unfortunately, although more slowly, the same pattern is unfolding in domestic politics of so many countries as well–US included. Politicians do nothing but yell moralistic platitudes past each other, only for the short term benefit of their own supporters, arising mainly from their narcissistic egos being stoked. Nobody is out to fix any problems, or even honestly identify them, for they lack “moral clarity.” Without having born the cost in blood and limbs (not that I can attest to this personally. My apologies to the colonel and other veterans here for my over the top rhetoric), it seems too easy for so many of us to mistake loud yelling for a serious commitment. It will take a massive bloodletting and chaos, on par with the 30 years’ war, to get everyone’s heads screwed on right again.

  92. Thomas says:

    The Westphailian Model is dead with the coup degrace applied by Straussians with their Ukrainian gambit.
    I wish I had an answer on how to stop the insanity, but it looks like there is a time for every purpose.

  93. Thomas says:

    I agree.

  94. KHC! Is there an Inchon Shanghai ferry?

  95. ALL: Thanks to PL for this post and thread. I now realize that an essential element of Western Civilization was the concept of the nation-state. That concept has proved a chimera.
    As Thomas states “The Westphailian Model is dead”!
    Can a replacement be designed in a world of bytes and bits?

  96. kao_hsien_chih says:

    There are several ferry routes between Inchon and various Chinese cities along the Yellow Sea, but I don’t know if there is a direct route between Inchon and Shanghai yet.

  97. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Peace of Westphalia – such as it was – was tied to the physical human and geography of Europe and was a brain-child of the Christian Thinkers.
    Just like a lot of other concepts such as representative government or rule of law, it did not seem to be able to take root outside of Europe (properly, East of the old boundary between Eastern and Western Roman Empires).
    I am not sure that an analogous concepts could be applied to the non-Euro-American world in less that a few hundred years.
    States seem to come and go; Sikhim was gobbled up by the supposedly spiritual Indians, South Sudan and East Timor were created by Euro-Americans, China ate Tibet, North Vietnam did the same to South Vietnam and so on and so forth.
    And I am certain that we have not yet seen the contours of states in Africa – new ones out of smaller ones and vice versa.

  98. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments with much of which I agree.
    I do not think that Koreans understand or experience religion the way Western Asian (Jew, Sikh, Hindu, Christian, Muslim) do.
    For the Korean people, religion is a garment that they take on and off.
    I do not comprehend the basis of their nation-hood; but I think shamanistic beliefs must be an essential ingredient.
    I am aware of what you say is true about the role of Japan in the creation of modern Korea – like Franco in Spain and Stalin in USSR, no one however wishes to admit the positive contributions to Korea that Japan had made. Korea was in a dead-end and the Japanese reformed that state and got it out of its rut.
    But, in my opinion, Japanese were not trying to create a new Han Gook – Nippon Nation or confederacy; they wanted to obliterate Korean language and culture and turn them into Japanese. Japan and the Japanese were to be on top.

  99. Kyle Pearson says:

    Culinary preferences are decidedly material; a nomadic people whose diet consists primarily of meat is going to have a radically different social organization and economic system than a farming community that takes rice and pigs as its main form of sustenance. The foods we eat shape our lives, economies, and perspective on the world (American obesity and the associated fear of it, for instance)in profound ways, and these relationships become more exaggerated and deep the closer one gets to “the land” and the more removed from central, technological society one gets.
    Urban environments are all more-or-less the same, so what you say more-or-less applies, there. But the fact is that urban elites and their means of governance, exchange, and adjudication are strongly shaped by the cultural milieu that surrounds them, and that is certainly shaped by local commodities like meat, grains, and natural resources.
    Houston is a radically different culture than, say, New York. Oil, fishing, and “Mexican food” have a lot to do with that.

  100. Kyle Pearson says:

    And i didn’t intend my comments on the Tang to mean that the influences of those time are still “living” and “active.”
    They are, however, indicative of how different the histories and cultures of the North vs. the South actually are, and do gesture towards the differences in the cultural changes that are taking place in areas like Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang, and Yunnan, and how “Han” culture there is adapting and changing in significantly different ways.

  101. Kyle Pearson says:

    I live in Taiwan, KHC, and i’ve been watching the protests avidly. I have a few friends who have been participating.
    But let’s not kid ourselves: Han chauvinism is quite alive and well, on this little island. I don’t blame the Taiwanese for wanting to maintain the quality of their life, but from the Mainland’s perspective, it’s not just quality of life an “independence” that the Taiwanese want to maintain.
    The reason it’s so hard for Taiwanese to make these arguments is because at root, they share the same perspective on authority and governance that the people of the Mainland do. Taiwan is still very, very close to being a one-party system. The DPP is weak, and the one issue that keeps them alive is the idea of independence. In every other way, they are only poorly-educated technocratic servants to US advisers and consultants.

  102. Kyle Pearson says:

    Thank you for the kind compliment, YT.
    I enjoyed perusing your Facebook page.

  103. Kyle Pearson says:

    It is a complex and interesting situation.
    Many of the better-educated and better-informed people i know here in Taiwan and over on the Mainland believe that the key to this is the development of an opposition party that can run against the CCCP.
    That seems to be the hope of most who wish for greater autonomy, openness, and choice in government.

  104. kao_hsien_chih says:

    True enough about Japan trying to turn Korea into their image for the most part, not so much create a new hybrid culture. To be fair, many Japanese actually liked the theme park version of Korea: several Korean entertainers, singing and dancing in traditional style in some cases, were fairly big in Japan in late 1930s and early 1940s, for example. But nothing more serious than that.
    This is not necessarily different from a lot of what’s going on today, isn’t it? We “Beltway Americans” are, after all, spending awful lot of time and money under delusion that, if we try hard enough, we could turn people around the world to the same essence as we are, whether they are Afghans or rural Louisianians. Yes, they may eat different foods and have different music or something, but, in essence, they are the same, or, they should be made the same, if necessary, by force.
    This sort of “nation-building” is something that I’d become painful aware studying Japanese colonialism in Korea. For all the talk about Japanese “exploitation,” the Japanese didn’t take much because there wasn’t much to take–Korea was too poor and lacked natural resources. But they did spend awful lot of their own resources trying to turn Koreans into Japanese at bayonet point (While building a lot of schools and painting them along the way–literally. At least Koreans didn’t blow them up, for the most part anyways, unlike Afghans.) At its core, the Japanese Empire was driven by the weird messianic but self-indulgent “goodwill” that also characterizes American imperialism of today. (yes, there were many who profited on the side–but on the whole, the empire was an expensive business for the Japanese taxpayer.)

  105. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I should add that there was something very odd about Japanese Empire’s culture and language policy in Korea. It’s simply not true that Japan systematically tried to eliminate Korean language and culture: there were sporadic attempts in 1930s, but they saw that it didn’t go anywhere, so they gave up.
    By early 1940s, they were doing something different. They recruited Korean musicians, poets, and novelists and commissioned them to write patriotic (Japanese) propaganda in Korean. In effect, they were trying to turn Koreans into Korean-speaking Japanese and this effort was apparently more successful than anything they tried…except they lost World War 2 and the rest was history. This experience would have been scrubbed from Koreans’ collective memory, except there was a big controversy among historians about this in 2000s that made this fact public. Many musicians and writers who used to be regarded as great heroes suddenly became dirty traitors overnight.
    One reason I think this would have worked had the Japanese been able to continue for a decade or two is that this is exactly the essence of China’s minority policy. Instruction in minority languages is mandated. Publication and broadcasts in sich languages are heavily subsidized. But a large proportion of what comes out is PRC political propaganda while subversive contents are ruthlessly censored, officially or informally. (I know this to be the case for the Korean minority in China, but I am not as familar with others, though…) Of course, The Korean Chinese are often fluent in Korean and are familiar with Korean culture, but they are thoroughly loyal PRC citizens, thinking only PRC thoughts, even if in Korean, and part of this Chinese quasi-nation.

  106. rjj says:

    Makes sense to me. They don’t have numbers or force. Prudence, toleration, and resistance are national habits. How does taqiyya work?

  107. rjj says:

    perhaps “national” s/b cultural.

  108. Will says:

    “Japan and the Japanese were to be on top.”
    hilarious and yet powderkeg info. The ruling family of Nippon is Korean in origin. this info is highly inflammatory in Japan!

  109. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Kyle Pearson:
    In regards to foods:
    There was this fellow who was claiming that the cuisine of each country gives insight into the people inhabiting that country.
    Unfortunately, he did not elaborate; I wonder if the plain and plainly bad – boiled – cuisine of England sheds any light on the character of the English: honesty, devotion to duty, empiricism etc.
    Put another way, do sausages – the distinct German food – indicate anything about German industriousness, capacity to organize, and slavish adherence to orders.
    And for the very civilized Japanese: the main dishes are noodles, rice, sea weed and fish.
    Is there a connection between those dishes and contemporary Japan?
    I think not.
    At the turn of the last century, the majority of Iranian people ate thick soups – pottage – made of cereals with little or no meat.
    Under the Pahlavi dynasty, rice and meat stew became more widely available; did that indicate a change in the mentality of the Iranians?
    I doubt that very much.

  110. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There are words in Armenian that I recognize as Persian, even though I do not know Armenias; “Azat” (“Azad”, “free” in modern Persian), “Mart” (“Mard” – “man” in modern Persian) etc.
    There are many Middle Persian words in Armenian, I am told, indicating that there were, at one time, many bilingual Armenians.
    Yet, that small kingdom maintained her cultural and linguistic and racial independence for centuries regardless of the much larger country to its South.
    I wonder then if Koreans would have maintained their ethno-linguistic distance from the Japanese had they remained part of Japan.
    We will never know.

  111. YT says:

    Imperialist designs on la Chine & the rest of asie aside.
    I heard this tale since I was but a child that these Japs are descendants of those who were sent by the qin emperor to seek out “immortality” pills.
    “In ancient China, various emperors sought the fabled elixir with varying results. In the qin Dynasty, qin shi huang sent Taoist alchemist Xu Fu with 500 young men and 500 young women to the eastern seas to find the elixir, but he never came back (legend has it that he found Japan instead). When shi huang di visited, he brought 3000 young girls and boys, but none of them ever returned.”
    Apparently some Japs believe this (instead of the Sun Goddess narrative), as do a great no. of the elderly (pre-Baby Boomer) Chinois.
    I’ve always viewed the tale with some skepticism though…

  112. YT says:

    Difficult it is for those who are of foreign stock (i.e. non-Han) to comment on the CCCP, who view nearly all opinions by “outsiders” thru the lens of nationalism…
    Once again, you have my respect.
    As do your associates on both sides of the Straits.

  113. YT says:

    RE: “Right now, we need some code words that both we and the Russians can use to understand that we are in common danger of the fools leading us to Armageddon.”
    WP, Mr. Kao, Walrus, et. al.,
    Perhaps the more sober words of this gentleman might cast some Light…
    “The alternative of hegemony is not necessarily any better. One way to ensure that such weapons [i.e. WMDs] do not proliferate might be to establish a benign hegemony of the United States. But that would also raise problems and solve few. The task is probably too big for a single country. And however benign it might be, the hegemony would cause resentment and fear. Out of it would cause further tensions and further proliferation of WMDs. Even a wider hegemony including Europe and Japan, while softer at the edges. would not seem very different to those on the receiving end of its attentions.”
    Hmm…, no one with any practical solutions still, but at least they’ve recognized the crises at hand, which is a start.

  114. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Ultimate paradox of a Leviathan/benevolent hegemon: in order to maintain order, the Leviathan needs to be immensely powerful, but in order to maintain that power, the Leviathan has to credibly limits its use of that power to only “nonselfish” ends. But what’s the point of all that power if you can’t use it to do what you think is right, to paraphrase one of the founding mothers of the recent neocon movement.

  115. YT says:

    Mr. Pearson,
    You are cordially invited to correspond with yours truly via Facebook as & when it pleases you.
    Do drop me a Message sometime.
    [P.S.: This is NOT an April Fools’ joke.]

  116. YT says:

    RE: “Promote Virtue and Resist Evil”
    I recall a particular reign that was most Benevolent & proved most Beneficial to hoi polloi…
    An anthology that perhaps those governing China ought to reflect upon…?

  117. confusedponderer says:

    iirc it depended in which Wehrkreis you came from. My relatives from the Rhineland often ended up in France and the West. My East Prussian relatives served in Russia.
    But certainly, ‘not having been there at the time’ must have been a proven strategy for many Germans when they later met soldiers from the victors of WW-II.
    Priceless scene from Billy Wilder’s “Eins, Zwei, Drei”:
    “C.R. MacNamara: Just between us, Schlemmer, what did you do during the war?
    Schlemmer: I was in der Untergrund: the underground.
    C.R. MacNamara: Resistance fighter?
    Schlemmer: No, motorman. In the underground, you know, the subway.”
    Which is hilariously resolved later in the movie.
    I am confident that many Russians must have likeweise met many a German who fought in the West.

  118. Thomas says:

    The picture of the Emperor on the second link is one I have in a 1960s Chinese History, it is captioned as the portrait of the Ming Dynasty’s founder.

Comments are closed.