The Evils of Self-Determination
Foreign Policy, No. 89, pp. 21-35, Winter 1992-93
16 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2009 Last revised: 8 Sep 2009
Date Written: July 21, 2009
The author argues that self-determination, long lauded as an essential tool used to cast off the chains of empire and build responsive, democratic societies, now serves to undermine democracy by encouraging ethnic fragmentation. Recognizing that every ethnic group cannot feasibly have its own nation-state, the author encourages the incorporation of many ethnic groups into governments and allows for the necessity of according such groups different levels of autonomy. Pluralism’s moderating effect on political leadership and public policy is enhanced in diverse societies that embrace rather than shun different ethnic groups. The author recommends that the United States and the international community stop lending its moral support to movements for ethnic self-determination.
Keywords: democracy, inclusion, fragmentation, ethnic diversity, unity
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