Saturday, March 15, 2014

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on Nations

What with all the talk lately about national sovereignty and borders, I thought it was about time to quote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who is generally agreed to have been a wise man by just about everybody. I'm not certain of his definition of "nation," but I contrast it with "state." A nation is much the same as an ethnic group, and there are nations with states and without states. France is a nation with its own state, while Catalonia (in Spain) is a nation that doesn't have a state of its own. As these entities get smaller and more and more similar to other entities, it's hard to know where to draw the line between nations. It's not really agreed that Ukraine is a nation, though it's certainly a region. In the past it was often called "Little Russia," and to an outsider, Ukrainians often seem just like a variation of Russian. In an earlier time of international crisis, many Austrians and Germans thought that Austria was not a nation, but just a part of the German nation, and that led to its incorporation as part of the German state.

Whether a nation has its own state or not, it is a nation, and as Solzhenitsyn said, it is a great loss to mankind when a nation disappears, either through destruction or assimilation. Many separatist movements — in Scotland, Catalonia, Kurdistan — the incentives are to give nations a state of their own, both as a matter of principle, and in an effort to prevent or reverse assimilation.

Now we have Ukraine. Is it a nation that should have a state of its own? Is it two nations — Ukraine and a lost portion of Russia? Is Crimea a nation? And then there are the Tatars. These are some of the questions that have to be considered in deciding how to deal with our current crisis.
Quibcag: I'm not sure who the studious girl is, but I found her picture HERE.

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