Many people are desperately looking for jobs in such economic downturn, including some acquaintances of mine. I have heard a lot of stories recently. Those fine young men, living in constant fear, anxiety, and depression, are struggling for months without a decent job. It is disheartening for me to see those great potentials to be lost in this transition, for I firmly believe they absolutely deserve way more than this.
Meanwhile, I am also aware that the destination they fiercely long for is unfortunately the starting point of banality, at least to most of people. I for one have well witnessed the mediocre nature of most desktop work myself. The state of inundating wholly into something grammatical or mechanical tranquilizes our intellectual curiosity. Sooner or later whatever “extra” ordinary ideas that pop out of your mind would be brutally pinched off one by one and you will be gradually sliding into the confined hourglass as a weightless granule of sand.
Of course, most people beg to differ about the definition of “job”. I have observed smart people rejoiced on their success in stepping into this middle class trap in rapture. Their fear of being the outcast from the expected social structure easily overruns their intelligent audacity. As much as they are dubious about the new journey they are about to take, a sense of grave relief submerges their minds, for social recognition and social security are guaranteed on board.
We humans have to live under the boundary of various definitions. If looking for a job brings recognition and security to us, we would feel like going after that as an inevitable part of the life. It is as if a man in a lonely raft finally gaze afar the land from the horizon. However, only a handful would think ahead about the discovery of the land and the land after the land. Everyone wants to discover a continent rather than a deceiving island. It is rather the irrational nature of us, the courage, the willingness for risk, that could ignite those with a flair for the magnum explosion to go on with further expedition.
But the question is, if not A, then what is B? Perfect abstraction scales down to everyday life and then becomes the origin of this sophomoric perplexity that confounds the few pitiful mortal souls. Invalidating the definition of your social being means the choice of a drastic unknown destiny. The world is too wondrous to be comprehended by its humble organic creations, yet our drive to discover every little detail of the significance of everything is simply inexplicable with rationality. I do feel sorry for those who is suffocating in the purgatory of joblessness; and I also do share the joy with those who were immersed in the excitement for finding a contracted employment. Maybe it’s a folly not to stay in the social ouroboros after all; but I want out, emotionally.
In the beginning, people speak different and act different for they live in distance. For instance in Europe nobles wouldn’t really bother teaching the peasants the same language they speak; and peasants wouldn’t really mind if the government post something that they could not understand on the city wall. After some successful political marriage it was pretty common in Medieval Europe that different regions (some don’t even share geographical borders) with different local languages and people share the same lord. Think about the Habsburg Dynasty. They had half Europe at the time. They even used different court languages to govern their vast dominion. It was the political norm for the feudal system in Europe, way before the emergence of modern nationalism. People were much more relaxed at the definition of border and nationality (though religion was a pretty serious matter for the identity). The definition of modern nationhood, one nation one people on language, came with the drastic French Revolution at the end of 18th century. As increasingly centralized polity imposed deliberate assimilation policy upon different local groups (i.e. like the spread of French in France or Belgium), local groups would also be awakened to resist the alien influence. In most cases the big power won. That’s why you got Germans are Germans, French are French, Italians are Italian nowadays. Occasionally locals managed to resist the imposition. That’s how those small nationalism movement emerged, such as the Flemish, the Baltic countries, the Basque, etc. After this what I call dramatic shuffling, the modern international political structure came to the stasis. People would move even for the sake of switching to different ethnic regime in between some artificial boundaries (like the Turk/Greek swap deal, or the expulsion of the Germans in Eastern Europe). In those wild days, borders change all the time, people come and go, some becomes prominent, some disappears, few stays the same. Nationhood and the border were not as sacred and eternal as we take for granted nowadays.
After years of struggle with the rise of modern nationalism, in today’s politics, most countries have one predominant majority of identity and language. A nation, defined by its geographical border is sacred and inviolable. This is the first thing that would cross over people’s mind when thinking of their country. What’s more, the few surviving local groups want to be out of their masters after the failed attempt of assimilation. Then big countries split into a number of small countries, like the case of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and even Georgia. As extreme as they appear, those peanuts size national movements are merely the extending tail of the whole modern nationalism movement starting 200 years ago.
But what’s the real trend now? As mentioned above, modern nationalism is coming to a dead end. Only small groups of laggards are still whining about the pie they didn’t taste, like Basque, Kosovo, or even Catalonia. The rest majority of people in the modern civilization are, on the contrary, a bit bored and tired of such modern tradition, especially after two biggest national wars. So people started to eye on the next step to find something to associate with… This is when things get out of control…
Out of control how? Out of control when people start to think that all humans should be treated equally and multiculturalism in a post-nationalism era is beautiful. So nationhood becomes less and less important now and borders are the symbols of old rigid outdated system. Intellectuals plan to break down the old ethnocentrism and build up something way larger to stimulate another rapid development just like nationalism did to us back then, as larger scale in polity brings larger potential of scientific advancement (people stay more focused). The first thing that needs to be gone is the nationhood and then the borders. But so far only the integration of European Union makes sense to me as the potential 1+1>2 game to reinvigorate Europe. The rest of those movements? There are simple too much discrepancy among the groups of people involved. Clustering the nationhood and borders only makes sense when the groups involved are somewhat in common at culture, IQ, economy etc. The whole ethnocentrism still remains strong despite being at the downward spiral, and we need to take that into consideration. The concept of nationhood would remain, but the entity of an independent polity would be upgraded. But then again, if it could not even be enforced effectively in Europe, then we certainly should forget about unconditional multiculturalism and think of other options to sustain our modern civilization.
It is really no exciting news to hear the birth of another new country. Do you know? There are simply 31 widely-recognized plus 5 controversially-recognized and 1 unrecognized new-born countries that are no more than 21 years old (that is born no earlier than 1990, the legal age to do anything in most of US states), prior to 9th July, 2011 (Hong Kong, Macau being unique cases back to China, anything would be unique regarding China anyhow nowadays). Assuming most of the readers live in relatively politically stable regimes and have little sense of how dynamic and volatile global political equilibrium could be, it must be a shock to see there are so many split break-up of old countries and formation of new countries in the past two decades. I say it’s purely amazing. Here is some collective information of those countries:
- 23 widely recognized countries in Eurasia were created mainly due to historical ethnic dispute:
15 countries born out of the dissolution of the former Soviet Union in 1991; they are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.
6 countries born out of dissolution of the former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2006; they are: Slovenia (1991), Croatia (1991), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992), Serbia (1992 as Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, then 2006 as Serbia after split with Montenegro), Macedonia (1991), Montenegro (2006).
- 6 widely recognized countries in Africa and Oceania emerged as a consequence of historical colonial divisions:
6 countries obtained independence status that result from former colonial divisions; they are: Namibia (1990 from South Africa, as it used to a German colony rather than British), Eritrea (1993 from Ethiopia, as it used to Italian colony rather than part of Ethiopia, though the majority inhabitants share same roots, culture and religion), Marshall Islands (1991 from US trusteeship, as it used to be German colony, controlled by Japan after WWI, and US after WWII), Palau (1994, from US trusteeship, as it used to be part of the Caroline Islands under first Spanish, then German, Japanese and later US rule), Micronesia (1990 from US trusteeship, as it used to be ruled by Spanish, German, Japanese, and US, chronologically), East Timor (2002 from Indonesia, as it used to Portuguese colony rather than Dutch East Indies).
- 2 widely recognized countries in Eurasia founded as a result of ethnic unification:
Germany (1990) was founded based on the reunification of former West Germany and former East Germany after the fall of iron curtain. Yemen (1990), which is in deep political chaos at the moment, was established based on the unification of North Yemen and South Yemen, under the leadership the current unpopular president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
- 5 controversially recognized political entities in Europe due to historical ethnic dispute (in an ethno-geographic sense)
Transnistria (1990), declared independence after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, the de facto independence from Moldova reinforced after the Transnistria war in 1992, recognized only by Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia.
Nagorno-Karabakh (1992) proclaimed its independence in the middle of the Nagorno-Karabakh war (1988-1994) between Armenian and Azerbaijani, currently only recgnized by Transnistria, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia.
Abkhazia and South Ossetia (both 2008), both announced their sovereignty soon after the collapse of Soviet Union, both soon engaged in warfare with Georgia shortly after (Abkhazia war and South Ossetia war) and controlled by Georgia after Georgia’s victory, and both gained de facto independence in 2008 with heavy military support from Russia. They are mutually recognized together with Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria. Besides, they are also recognized by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Nauru.
- 1 totally unrecognized political entity in the Horn of Africa
The sad and lonely political regime that is totally forsaken by the global community (the other being Western Sahara and that was under de facto Moroccan control) lies in the upper part of the Horn of Africa, it’s called Somaliland, self-proclaimed independence from the god-forsaken land Somalia after the initial stage of Somali civil war in 1991 (As Somaliland used to be Italian colony rather than British Africa). Interestingly, unlike its former ruling regime Somalia, which turns into a hell place of constant wars and killings and the latest haven of infamous Somali pirates as the forgotten zone/no-go land of human civilization, Somaliland has enjoyed quite nice relative political and social stability, albeit no one really gives a damn.
AND NOW, ONE MORE NEW KID CAME IN TOWN ON 9th July, 2011, what’s the name of that country again? South Sudan?!
Good for the South Sudanese (I guess this is the term, though it is not really a ethnic term), after being long repressed by the Sudanese (North Sudanese?), their arabized north brothers (only a very small of them probably have one or two real Arab paternal ancestor in the past thousand years anyway), it’s time to start a new chapter for the sons and daughters of the ancient Nubians (or just some random tribes from the South). Interestingly, albeit its ambivalent and questionable excuses behind its independence (the endemic momentum for independence is from neither long-going ethnic disputes nor colonial divisions, but rather religious conflicts which are comparable to Nigerian situation in my opinion), South Sudan surely seems to enjoy more international applause than any other new born countries since Montenegro. Most of other countries act like simply can’t wait to greet the new nation with overwhelming ”smile and rapture”.