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Unformatted text preview: te d PASSAGE IV
Since World War II, the nation-s tate has been regarded with approval by every political s ys tem and every
ideology. In the nam e of m odernis ation in the Wes t, of s o m in the Eas tern bloc, and of developm ent in the
Third World, it was expected to guarantee the happines s of individuals as citizens and of peoples as s ocieties .
However, the s tate today appears to have broken down in m any parts of the world. It has failed to guarantee
either s ecurity or s ocial jus tice, and has been unable to prevent either international wars or civil wars . Dis turbed
by the claim s of com m unities within it, the nation-s tate tries to repres s their dem ands and to proclaim its elf as
the only guarantor of s ecurity of all. In the nam e of national unity, territorial integrity, equality of all its citizens and
non-partis an s ecularis m , the s tate can us e its powerful res ources to reject the dem ands of the com m unities ; it
m ay even go s o far as genocide to ens ure that order prevails .
As one obs erves the awakening of com m unities in different parts of the world, one cannot ignore the context in
which identity is s ues aris e. It is no longer a context of s ealed frontiers and is olated regions but is one of
integrated global s ys tem s . In a reaction to this trend towards globalis ation, individuals and com m unities
everywhere are voicing their des ire to exis t, to us e their power of creation and to play an active part in national
and international life.
There are two ways in which the current ups urge in dem ands for the recognition of identities can be looked at.
On the pos itive s ide, the efforts by certain population groups to as s ert their identity can be regarded as
"liberation m ovem ents ", challenging oppres s ion and injus tice. What thes e groups are doing - proclaim ing that
they are different, redis covering the roots of their culture or s trengthening group s olidarity - m ay accordingly be
s een as legitim ate attem pts to es cape from their s tate of s ubjugation and enjoy a certain m eas ure of dignity. On
the downs ide, however, m ilitant action for recognition tends to m ake s uch groups m ore deeply entrenched in
their attitude and to m ake their cultural com partm ents even m ore watertight. The as s ertion of identity then s tarts
turning into s elf-abs orption and is olation, and is liable to s lide into intolerance of others and towards ideas of
"ethnic cleans ing", xenophobia and violence. Whereas continuous variations am ong peoples prevent drawing of clear dividing lines between the groups ,
thos e m ilitating for recognition of their group's identity arbitrarily choos e a lim ited num ber of criteria s uch as
religion, language, s kin colour, and place of origin s o that their m em bers recognis e them s elves prim arily in
term s of the labels attached to the group whos e exis tence is being as s erted. This dis tinction between the group
in ques tion and other groups is es tablis hed by s im plifying the feature s electe...
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This document was uploaded on 03/23/2014.
- Summer '14