Monday, November 23, 2009

Eric Cartman And Ethnic Conflict

Here's Cartman doing some scary math:

Much of my research for my dissertation actually concerns this very phenomenon -- though I seriously doubt I will be citing Cartman any time soon. The basic point is that you often see widespread violence and conflict initiated by the majority in states. At the surface, this seems strange. Why, after all, is the majority scared? They're the majority!

It turns out that when ethnic groups demand independence and a state of their own, governments get very antsy about the future. They start imagining what the world will look like when that minority wins that state, sitting on its border. And they get scared. Why? Because winning a state is a force multiplier. And one of the reasons it's a force multiplier is that it allows for co-ethnic diasporas to immigrate to the new "homeland", thereby giving the ethnic group a much wider demographic base for military and economic affairs.

Given this state of affairs, it's much better, from the central government's perspective, to keep that minority down within the existing borders than allow it to escape and threaten it from without. Numbers matter. They really, really matter.

If you prefer, I'll let Enver Pasha -- a senior military leader in the Ottoman Empire, and an important figure in the Young Turks movement -- tell it. Here he is talking about why the Ottomans should not let the Armenians form a state of their own (you may recall that the Ottomans ended up committing genocide against their Armenian population):
In my opinion this is a very big mistake. If today in the Caucasus a small Armenia possessing a population of five to six hundred thousand and sufficient territory is formed, in the future this government, together with the Armenians that will come mainly from America and from elsewhere, will have a population of millions. And in the east we will have another Bulgaria and it will be a worse enemy than Russia because all the Armenians’ interests and ambitions are in our country. Consequently, in order to remove this danger, the formation of even the smallest Armenian government must be prevented.


Laila said...

haha you have got to love Southpark, "Do I look like a minority to you!"

also Ahsan I was wondering, could you recommend any good books about the Armenian genocide? It's definitely a topic I could learn more about.

Ahsan said...

Donald Bloxham is the source I've used most extensively for my research.

Umair Javed said...

interesting observation, although it relies on the premise that the diaspora have some deep rooted territorial inclinations to begin with...apart from Israel and Pakistan, and maybe the Former Yugoslav republics, i cant think of any other case where diaspora migrations have been a characteristic of state-building

btw i blog at

i've been following your blog for about six months...keep up the good work