Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation...
June 26, 2001 9:21 AM   Subscribe

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation... the place for places down on their luck. Of course, I can't help but mention that if you think Georgia's flag blows, do I have a few new flags to add to the list. And take a look at all the overlap going on in Burma! How's an advocate of the repressed to decided?

As for a possible hook for the discussion: what do you think of such movements?
posted by silusGROK (11 comments total)

To be honest I think it all gets a bit silly. Surely we should be looking at uniting nations rather than further fragmentation. Also, in a lot of these nations the right for national self determination just won't work - it will create further problems.

Using Northern Ireland as an example -The republican movement want better rights as a minority and reunification with the south of Ireland. If that happens then the Unionists will look for better rights as a minority and reunification with the UK........and so on and so on. How far back in history do you have to go to prove your rights to a bit of land?
posted by twistedonion at 9:36 AM on June 26, 2001

Not to mention that so many of these proposed nation-states are landlocked... can you spell doomed-to-eternal-poverty?
posted by silusGROK at 9:44 AM on June 26, 2001

Hmm... my mom was born in Abhazia, they have a pretty good flag.
posted by tiaka at 9:48 AM on June 26, 2001

Tiaka... I completely spaced on your being from this area (Ukraine, no?). What do you think of all the states wanting to be carved out of the region?
posted by silusGROK at 10:16 AM on June 26, 2001

But -- if this Organisation happens to represent these Nations and Peoples, then they aren't Unrepresented, are they? In which case, they don't qualify for membership -- but then they're Unrepresented all over again, in which case they do qualify --

My head hurts.
posted by webmutant at 10:23 AM on June 26, 2001

Coming Soon! ... Albanians in Macedonia. It's a rather eerie attitude toward the possibility of new members, although I think the UN should try to grant representation to minorities whose interests aren't promoted by their home nation-state.
posted by rschram at 11:14 AM on June 26, 2001

I think

(a) this is a demonstration that the whole idea of the nation-state needs some serious rethinking;

(b) some of these guys (Mons, Karens, Aceh, "West New Guinea", Tibet are the ones I know best--by extension the others probably too) have some real grievances.
posted by rodii at 11:33 AM on June 26, 2001

There was a novel some years ago that posited the idea of the US opening up statehood to any geographical/political body that qualified regardless of location (I'm not sure, but I'm betting it was Heinlein); the first thing that happened, most of the African countries became... new American states, with all rights and responsibilities thereof. All of Central America, and most of South America not in the Brazilian hegemony followed soon after.

Point being, could this idea (or variation thereof), although a little woogy, be a possible solution for the problems that confront countries in otherwise incredibly challenging situations? Say you're, I dunno, Tibet (everyone loves Tibet, me too). Instead of bitching up a storm in the UN, with those wily Chinese alternating between inscrutability and veiled menace while the oppression continues, they just become (provided that's what they want) Tibet, 51st United State. They get Senators and Reps, get taxed, get defended, can sell goods in our markets easily, can get goods back just as easily, etc, ad infinitum. So now, China has to back right the hell off, because you don't just go around oppressing US citizens, hoss. At first, I think you'd get the real problem children... but if we're going to help them anyway, through UN dues, NGOs, etc., why not let them become Americans, with all that connotes?
posted by UncleFes at 2:52 PM on June 26, 2001

If you remember the novel's name, post it: that sounds like it could be a great read.
posted by silusGROK at 3:11 PM on June 26, 2001

Um, notwithstanding the fact that right now even Puerto Rico can't agree to become State 51, that's actually annexation. Which is the sort of thing Saddam Hussein did.

Anyway, there are some real grievances here, as rodii points out: like the Ottoman Empire, the consolidation of highly diverse communities under the USSR and Indonesia did more harm than good.

tiaka: did you see this piece from the Economist last year, about the mess of Caucasus politics? I remember, in particular, seeing the table in the print edition, describing just how corrupt the government of each nation and breakaway region was. Depressing stuff.

I'm actually interested in the possibility of states that aren't defined geographically, but in terms of affiliation: or the idea of partial statehood, functional nations, or nations by subscription. In a sense, these already exist: there are nations that only exist in order to sustain corporate tax havens, or second passports for fugitives. I don't see why that can't be made "legit", as it were.
posted by holgate at 3:16 PM on June 26, 2001

I'm actually interested in the possibility of states that aren't defined geographically, but in terms of affiliation: or the idea of partial statehood, functional nations, or nations by subscription.

I agree. The idea of nation-membership being defined solely by physical location on the earth's surface seems like an anachronism. There are other ways of defining identity. I'm not saying it's practical, but I'd like to hear some discussion about it.

As holgate notes, most of these cases, along with tons of others that haven't reached the stage of defining themselves as "nations" are residues of colonialism, or more accurately, de-colonialism. When the British conquered Burma, they set one "tribe" (the Burmans) over the others as civil servants supreme. When they left, they left two legacies: a set of geographic boundaries, when in effect penned up a bunch of disparate groups together, and a ruling group eager to maintain their hegemony, which created a focus for everyone else's hatred. It happened with the Kikuyu in Kenya, the Javanese in Indonesia, the Yoruba in Nigeria, and so on, in much the same way.
posted by rodii at 6:47 PM on June 26, 2001

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