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Тема: Are the differences between nation-states more significant than the similarities? Yavlyayutsya li razlichiya mezhdu gosudarstvami bole glubokimi chem shodstva


Nation, state, nation-state.

National political systems in comparison.

Modern classifying systems in comparison.

Methods and approaches of nation-states comparison.

Nation-state is a fusion of two dissimilar structures and principles, the one political and territorial, the other historical and cultural. The 'state' element here signifies the modern

Rational state which came to fruition in the early modem West as a set of public instiautonomous of other institutions, differentiated, centralized and possessing the monopoly of coercion and extraction in a demarcated and recognized territory. The nation, defined as a named human community with a myth of common ancestry, historical memories and standardized mass culture, possessing a single territory, division of labour and legal rights for all members, includes elements of ethnic culture and modem 'civic' features. The resulting dualism and ambiguities in the concept of the nation affects its subsequent fusion with the state. The more pronounced the civic, territorial elements of the nation the less difficult has been the process of fusion, conversely, the more prominent the ethnic elements the less likelihood of harmony or a close knit between state and nation. Even in the few cases where state and nation are more or less co-extensive in territory and congruent in social and cultural composition, this is more the result of an ethnic nationalism which strove to gain independent statehood for an ethnically defined nation, than a parallel development of state institutions and a civic nationality.

The great majority of so-called nation-states are polyethnic in composition and could more adequately be described as state-nations. This applies particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. Here the decolonized new states must base their nationalist aspirations on the territory and institutions of the state and integrate ethnically heterogenous popu-lations through a civic nationalism. Often lacking an ethnic core on which to build a state, let alone a nation, these nations-to-be are furthest removed from the nation-state goal that has become the criterion of inter-national legitimacy. Next come those new states that possess an ethnic core (Burma, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Iran, Egypt, Zimbabwe) but also significant ethnic minority communities, many of which are politically active and unwilling to accept the culture and ascendancy of the dominant ethnic; here too the prospects of achieving the status of nation-state in the foreseeable future seem remote. The chances of the more advanced and older western states doing so are greater, but they also may suffer from deep internal ethnic cleavages, as in Spain, Belgium and Canada. Nevertheless, they possess the advantage of more solidly entrenched state institutions and widely dif-fused civic ideals; these are also features of polyethnic immigrant societies in the Americas and Australia. While it is common to term the western and even the immigrant societies nation-states, recent developments such as the 'ethnic revival' have revealed the error of this assumption. Only in a very loose and historical sense can they be called nation-states, since they enjoyed that status internationally before ethnic nationalism had spread to their own ethnic minority communities (Bretons, Basques, Scots, Flemish, Quebecqois, etc.). But in reality only some 10 per cent of the world's states can be accorded the status of nation-state, in the strict sense - that is, where state territories and institutions are occupied by members of a single ethnically defined nation with a homogeneous culture. It was the historical error of according that status to certain western seaboard states, notably England and France at the height of their power, that endowed the ideal of the homo-geneous nation-state with such prestige and allowed the internal political agenda to focus on less divisive issues than ethnicity. It remains to this day a powerful, but no longer universal, political ideal.

The term nation-state is used so commonly but defined so variously that it will be well to indicate its usage in this article with some precision and to give historical and contemporary examples of nation-states. To begin with, there is no single basis upon which such systems are established. Many states were formed at a point in time when a people sharing a common history, culture, and language discovered a sense of identity. This was true in the cases of England and France, which were the first nation-states to emerge in the modern period, and of Italy and Germany, which were established as nation-states in the 19th century. In contrast, however, other states, such as India, the former Soviet Union, and Switzerland, have come into existence without a common basis in race, culture, or language. It must also be emphasized that contemporary nation-states are creations of different historical periods and of very varied circumstances. Before the close of the 19th century the effective mobilization of governmental powers on a national basis had occurred only in Eu-rope, the United States, and Japan. It was not until the 20th century and the collapse of the Ottoman, Habsburg, French, and British empires that the world could be fully organized on a national basis.

The characteristics that qualify these variously comand historically differing entities as nation-states and distinguish them from other forms of social and political organization amount in sum to the independent power to compel obedience from the populations within their territories. The state is, in other words, a territorial association that may range in size, in population, and that claims supremacy over all other associations within its boundaries. As an association, the state is pecu-liar in several respects: membership is compulsory for its citizens; it claims a monopoly of the use of armed force within its borders; and its officers, who are the government of the state, claim the right to act in the name of the land and its people.

A definition of the state in terms only of its powers over its members is

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