Politics of Western Europe November 17, 1994 Polit

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Politics of Western Europe November 17, 1994   Politics of Western Europe BLOOD AND BELONGING   This is a critique of the book, Blood and Belonging, by Michael  Ignatieff.  This paper will explain the subject of the book and its  relevance, discuss Michael Ignatieff's methods and conclusions on the  subject and finally include a personal critique of the book by the  author of this paper.   The author of the book travels on what he terms "the six  journeys."  On these "journeys" he encounters different cultures, as he   travels to six different coinciding areas of the world.  He examines  the unique expression of nationalism that each populace displays by  interviewing various members of that particular society.  The six areas  that he travels to are specifically chosen for the clarity which  nationalism is expressed in society.  Nationalism is a factor  contributing toward both present possible future instability in these  areas. These areas are former Yugoslavia (specifically Croatia and  Serbia), Germany, Ukraine, Quebec, Kurdistan and Northern Ireland.   According to Ignatieff, in Croatia and Serbia there is a desire for a  separate identity between the two nations. The fear of losing one's  national identity has caused ethnic hatred.  A terror so strong and  historically persistent, it has driven  people to a desperate state to  do anything.  This is a large contributor to the reasons for the extreme  violence present there today.  The author states, "A Croat, thus, is  someone who is not a Serb.  A Serb is someone who is not a Croat."    This quotation profoundly expresses the short-sighted mentality present  in their conflict. In his travels in Germany, the author points out an important  question.  Does the nation make the state, or the state the nation?   This question by far does not stop here, especially when Germany is the  subject.  The essence of the German people is seen by some as aggressive  and offensive, thus the existence of the German problem. If the nation  makes the state then Germany will always be a threat.  If the state  makes the nation, then the aggressive nature of the German nation, which  lead the world into two global wars, can be harnessed and redirected.   The question has its roots and answers in the recent reunification of  Germany. The Ukraine is  concerned with not being Russian.  It is here  Ignatieff receives a complete vision of what nationalism is.  He states,  "I understand what nationalism really is: the dream that a whole nation  could be like a congregation; singing the same hymns, listening to the  same gospel, sharing the same emotions, linked not only to each other  but to the dead buried beneath their feet." Quebec is a model that presents a possible future of the state  system.  Ignatieff uses the example of Quebec to illustrate the  relationship between nationalism and federalism.  He implies that "if  federalism fails in Canada it can fail anywhere."  If the balance  between "ethnic and civil principles" is not maintained in Canada, who  is not an impoverished country and has a large, successful economy; then  perhaps the modern world has not transcended the grasps of nationalism. The Kurds represent a nation without a state, who find  themselves surrounded by other nations who are more aggressive  nationalists.  The term Kurdistan is a definition of the areas used by  Ignatieff to explain the area of major Kurdish populace concentration.   There is no real borders, no flag, no government and Kurds must  acknowledge the state in which they reside (i.e., - Syria, Turkey, Iran  and Iraq), of which, is not Kurdistan. Finally, the sixth journey ends in Northern Ireland.  He makes  the observation that this is the ideal place to conclude his project.   Northern Ireland contains a recurrence of the themes that seemed so  prevalent in the other journeys.  In Ireland ethnicity, religion and  politics are all bound into one expression or identity.  These are also  evident in the five previous studies. Is  Michael Ignatieff's work relevant?  The answer to this  question is, yes it is.  The issue is important.  Nationalism presents  itself as a phenomenon.  The questions of why people need to retain a  cultural identity and the way they go about preserving it is still  unanswerable.  Evermore unfathomable is the violence permeated through  nationalistic expressions, which are

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