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December 31, 2016 / Congau

Minority Issues

Some countries have minorities, others have minority problems. In some countries the smaller ethnic groups are celebrated as a curious addition to national wealth, in others they are suppressed. Now it seems easy to praise the first and blame the latter, but it is not quite that simple. Usually the official perception of the minorities within a state is quite artificial and in either case, whether they are regarded as a problem or a resource, it usually reflects a government’s strategy to consolidate its power.

Typically the minorities are a “problem” in areas where the state is not fully in control, whereas they become an asset when they are no longer a potential threat to the power. Then they may even be granted the honor of assisting the state in increasing its tourism revenues, showing off their colorful costumes as a propaganda tool for a seemingly benevolent government.

Minorities are in a way a modern phenomenon. They have always been there, true, but only in modern times, with the arrival of the national state, did they emerge as something in need of an official attitude. Within empires everyone was a minority anyway and anyone belonged as much or as little as anyone else. There was rarely a need to give them any special attention either in a positive or a negative sense.

The national state makes an issue out of the nationalities. Whether they are suppressed or supported they are pawns of power. They should be just people.

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