Monday, March 15, 2021

The Limits of Etho-Nationalism

The countries that make up the former Yugoslavia provide a glimpse into the past of the wold, and the future of the Republican Party - given its current trajectory. I have been reading a book about how the successor states of Yugoslavia have maintained the same governing elite, even as the nominal leaders have been either the Ottoman Empire, Austria / Hungary, Yugoslavia or today's semi-Democracies.


Each of these countries is made up of the same ethnicity (Southern Slavic), differing primarily along religious lines and artificial boundaries. But the leaders of each country maintain their hold on government is by appealing to an ethnic-national "identity", like Serbian or Croatian. To be part of the nationality is to vote for that governmental party NOT because it my provide a good government but because it represents your group versus some "other". And their governments are, primarily, crap. they don't govern well, they don't improve the country. They are primarily driven by rewarding friends and taking from the "others" in society. This has a long history in the region, and the region is stuck in the past with lower levels of wealth and public good because of it.

For Democracy to grow, it will require a bottoms up demand of the governed for better government. This is what happened in the color revolutions in the "-stans" from the mid-2000s and in the Arab Spring in early 2010s. The demand from the governed is necessary to drive change in places like Bosnia and Macedonia. In Slovenia and Croatia, the EU itself works as a brake on ethno-nationalism.

In many ways, the Republican party is going the opposite way of history, albeit fairly effectively. The Republican Party now openly trades on being the Party of the "persecuted white Protestant" people, instead of an American Party. They don't promise to rule better for everyone, but to ensure that their beliefs rule everyone else in the country. It is unhealthy in this country that the every discussion becomes a fight of them versus all others. Even, for fuck's sake, the issue of wearing masks to protect your fellow countrymen.

It is sad for the country because, if the Republicans lose they keep telling their base that the "others" don't believe in freedom or America (which is bullshit). And if they win, they are not held to the standard of maintaining a good government, just a government that is better to old white protestants than it is to anyone else.

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I am pretty sure this has been paraphrased