Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Michael Mann is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is author of The Sources of Social Power
 (Cambridge, 1986, 1993) and Fascists (Cambridge, 2004).

From Inside Cover: "This book presents a new theory of ethnic cleansing based on the most terrible cases - colonial genocides, Armenia, the Nazi Holocaust, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, and Rwanda - and cases of lesser violence - early modern Europe, contemporary India, and Indonesia. Murderous cleansing is modern - it is "the dark side of democracy." It results where the demos (democracy) is confused with the ethnos (the ethnic group). Danger arises where two rival ethnonational movements each claims "its own" state over the same territory. Conflict escalates where either the weaker side fights rather than submit because of aid from outside or the stronger side believes it can deploy sudden, overwhelming force. But the state must also be factionalized and radicalized by external pressures like wars. Premeditation is rare, since perpetrators feel "forced" into escalation when their milder plans are frustrated. Escalation is not simply the work of "evil elites" or "primitive peoples." It results from complex interactions among leaders, militants, and "core constituencies" of ethnonationalism. Understanding this complex process helps us devise policies to avoid ethnic cleansing in the future."

Nadesan Satyendra in A Simple Question, 1998 "..During the past 50 years and more, ethnic identity has in fact determined the way in which both the Sinhala people and the Tamil people have exercised their political right of universal franchise. In this period, no Tamil has ever been elected to a predominantly Sinhala electorate and no Sinhalese has ever been elected to a predominantly Tamil electorate - apart, that is, from multi member constituencies. The political reality is that the practice of 'democracy' within the confines of an unitary state has led to rule by a permanent Sinhala majority..."


TAMIL NATION LIBRARY: Conflict Resolution

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"...Where a significant minority movement is already making collective political demands on a state dominated by another ethnic or religious group, these demands will neither wither away nor be repressed, once aired and organized. The nation-state ideal is too strongly entrenched in the modern world for them to be simply repressed or ignored...... I predict that Indonesia will be unable to assimilate or repress Aceh or West Papuan autonomy movements; India will be unable to assimilate or repress Muslim Kashmiris or several of its small border peoples; Sri Lanka will be unable to assimilate or repress Tamils..."

From the Preface - [see also Chapter 1 in PDF]

"Since my previous work had neglected the extremes of human behavior, I had not thought much about good and evil. Like most people, I had tended to keep them in entirely separate categories from each other as well as from ordinary life. Having studied ethnic cleansing, I am now not so sure. Though I am not attempting here to morally blur good and evil, in the real world they are connected. Evil does not arrive from outside of our civilization, from a separate realm we are tempted to call "primitive." Evil is generated by civilization itself.

Consider the words of three prominent historical figures. We tend to think of President Thomas Jefferson as embodying Enlightened reason. Indeed, it was in the name of the advance of civilization that he declared that the "barbarities" of the native American Indians  "justified extermination."

A century later,President Theodore Roosevelt, a decent modern man, agreed, saying of the Indians, "extermination was as ultimately beneficial as it was inevitable."

Forty years on, a third leader said, "It is the curse of greatness that it must step over dead bodies to create new life." This was SS Chief Heinrich Himmler, who is rightly considered as the personification of evil. Yet he and his colleague Adolf Hitler said they were only following in the Americans' footsteps.

As I will argue here, murderous ethnic cleansing has been a central problem of our civilization, our modernity, our conceptions of progress, and our attempts to introduce democracy. It is our dark side.

As we will see, perpetrators of ethnic cleansing do not descend among us as a separate species of evildoers. They are created by conflicts central to modernity that involve unexpected escalations and frustrations during which individuals are forced into a series of more particular moral choices.

Some eventually choose paths that they know will produce terrible results. We can denounce them, but it is just as important to understand why they did it. And the rest of us (including myself) can breathe a sigh of relief that we ourselves have not been forced into such choices, for many of us would also fail them. The proposition underlying this book is that murderous ethnic cleansing comes from our civilization and from people, most of whom have been not unlike ourselves..."

From the Conclusion...

"...Where a significant minority movement is already making collective political demands on a state dominated by another ethnic or religious group, these demands will neither wither away nor be repressed, once aired and organized. The nation-state ideal is too strongly entrenched in the modern world for them to be simply repressed or ignored. Many governments, from Russia, to India, to Israel, to the United States, still do not recognize this. They should. The less developed the country, the more likely the demand will grow as the country moves into a world that adores nation-states. The ideal will doubtless spread to some ethnic groups at present largely uninfected by it.

But not to all ethnic groups. Most ethnic groups in the world are much too small to achieve their own states. They are already assimilating into the nation-states of others, mostly with relatively little violence. One index of this is the continuing decline in the number of languages spoken in the world, halved to around 5,000 over the past So years and likely to swiftly decline further. Aspirations to collective political rights are not universal. As my third thesis emphasizes, it is rival plausible and achievable claims to political sovereignty that spell difficulties, that is, some past history of sovereignty and some recent continuity of claim. As I have emphasized, serious ethnic conflicts generally occur between old, not newly constructed groups. This limits the claim to around 50 ethnic groups at present lacking their own collective political rights. These will be difficult to stop.

Thus I predict that Indonesia will be unable to assimilate or repress Aceh or West Papuan autonomy movements; India will be unable to assimilate or repress Muslim Kashmiris or several of its small border peoples; Sri Lanka will be unable to assimilate or repress Tamils; Macedonia will be unable to assimilate or repress Albanians; Turkey, Iran, and Iraq will be unable to assimilate or repress Kurdish movements; China will be unable to assimilate or repress Tibetans or Central Asian Muslims; Russia will be unable to repress Chechens; the Khartoum regime will be unable to contain South Sudanese movements. Israel will be unable to repress Palestinians.

None of these regimes should draw much confidence from the fact that the autonomy (or terrorist) movements confronting them may mobilize only a minority among the ethnic out-group, most of whom would rather live quietly under their dominance without causing any political trouble. Silent majorities remain silent; they do not come to the aid of alien imperial regimes. The Indonesian government made serious attempts to arm local clients among the ethnic out-groups but failed to embed them deeply enough within local populations. Nor should the regimes delude themselves that their next military offensive will finally defeat the autonomy movements. It might repress them into quietude for a time, but they will reemerge, supported by the nation-state ideals, the arms trade, and the weapons of the weak of the modern world.

Only some minority movements demand states of their own. Most autonomy aspirations could be satisfied within present state boundaries. This requires that the regime make real concessions of either a confederal or a consociational form: the minority would secure some regional self-government or new entrenched collective rights at the center.

Consociational arrangements involve combinations of guaranteed quotas for minorities in the cabinet, the parliament, the civil service, and the army, plus veto powers over policy held by the dominant ethnic groups. In the extreme, a consociational government might be a "Grand Coalition" of parties representing all the main ethnic groups. Majority ethnic groups are rarely attracted by this prospect, since they can win elections on their own; and even if the Grand Coalition works, it tends to reduce the vitality of political opposition, which is usually considered a precondition of democracy...

Confederal and consociational regime elements are no panaceas. They work better in some places than others. Sometimes they actually strengthen minority ethnic identity and even discontent. Giving a national minority power at the regional level may make it oppress its own regional minorities - including the local minority that is the majority in the central state. In practice, no country will suddenly change its constitution wholesale to a design considered confederally or consociationally ideal. When new constitutions are added to traditional political practices, the mix may produce unintended consequences (see Horowitz, 1999, for a skeptical view of recent attempts at constitutional design).

Regional autonomy may not assuage but encourage demands for independence - a point often made by organic nationalists attached to the integral unity of the state, from Indonesia to the United Kingdom. But mere liberal guarantees of individual rights are inadequate to appease autonomy demands. In these contexts most persons identify with their own ethnic community, so that free first-past-the-post elections produce ethnic domination, since they are ethnic censuses... Effective constitutions must vary case by case, and they must not be set in stone. Any constitution has unintended consequences, some good, others bad...

...In extreme cases, realism suggests that separation into two nation-states may be the least bad immediate solution. This may be so where past violence has created too much distrust for power sharing to emerge peaceably.

That is so in Kosovo, and probably in Aceh and Tibet, but probably not yet in the South Sudan, with little history of its own sovereignty and where the rival identities are weaker.

Of course, separation brings its own problems. Now conflict might be warfare between separate states, while it is difficult to protect those who are made minorities within the new state. Collective guarantees of minority rights are required, policed by international agencies.

In some eases it may be better to deflect hatreds onto milder stages of cleansing achieved by mutual negotiation through agreed-upon population and property exchanges, border alterations, and so on than to risk further cleansing by force - as in Kosovo and perhaps Bosnia. This is not now the preferred policy of the UN, NATO, or the United States. But how much longer must their forces continue repressing Croats and Serbs who demand their own statelets and continue harassing the few returning refugees? Might it not be preferable to assist population exchanges and recognize those nation-statelets - even allow them to merge with Croatia and Serbia if they wish (with minority rights guarantees, of course)? After all, we have our nation-states. But solutions must vary according to the type and level of threat. There are no general antidotes.

Can we in the North help the countries of the South avoid the worst scenarios, which are, after all, those of our own past? ..... We should exercise much greater control over our arms sales, both of the heavy weapons of repression by state terrorism and the small-arms weapons of the weak on which paramilitarism and terrorism thrives. We should seek an international regime more sensitive to regional conflicts and to our own imperialist tendencies. We should help reduce inequality in the South; we should not subordinate ethnic conflicts or dissidence against authoritarian regimes to our geopolitical games; we should encourage the institutionalization of conflict of both ethnicity and class. This would imply, for example, more sensitivity to sub-Saharan African poverty, to Arab/Islamic fears of Israel, to indigenous peoples being expropriated by big capital allied to incoming settlers, and so on.

This is pie in the sky, of course. Imperialists, international capitalists, arms smugglers, religious warriors and ethnonationalists are not motivated primarily by noble sentiments. Little of this is at present on the international agenda.

One problem is the United States...  international institutions seek to free capital from the "dead hand" of regulation and economies are given the "shock therapy" of market freedom, almost regardless of the consequences in terms of unemployment, wage levels, worker protections, and political reactions. Where inequalities acquire ethnic overtones, they encourage ethnic conflict between proletarian and imperial ethnic groups... Moreover, the U.S. "war against terrorism" is extremely unbalanced. It aims only at terrorists and not at state terrorists (except for the few rogue states otherwise opposing U.S. foreign policy).

This means the United States is currently intervening on the side of dominant states against their ethnicreligious insurgents. From Palestine to Georgia, to Chechnya, to Kashmir, to the southern Philippines, to Colombia, U.S. policy favors state terrorists. It even gives most of them military aid useful for suppression.

U.S. policy today might be thought of as farsighted...The United States seeks to end cross-border aid to terrorists (i.e., rebels) by sympathizers abroad and by aiding state terrorists. Thus it seeks to sap the will to resist of the weaker party. Can it succeed, forcing rebels into submission or to agree to paltry gains at the negotiating table?

In a few cases it might if a rebel movement is not well entrenched among a dissident people. The Abu Sayyaf movement of the southern Philippines now seems to have little support among the local Muslim minority. Perhaps the United States can assist the Filipino government to suppress it. But it is doubtful that this can work more generally where the demand for rule by the people is deeply entrenched.

Ethnonationalism has grown ever stronger in the world. It is now universally regarded as legitimate for a people (in both senses) to rule itself. Self-determination has become global since President Woodrow Wilson enunciated it in 1917.

Even in the Philippines, the new policy has so far failed to weaken the more deeply rooted Muslim insurgent group, the Moro Liberation Front; indeed, the Filipino government has been forced to adopt a conciliation strategy. I have argued elsewhere that U.S. biases actually increase the flow of terrorists - as well as increasing their propensity to also attack the United States (Mann, 2003). The policy of supporting state terrorists against terrorists is doomed to failure. The disastrous current state of Iraq and Afghanistan also confirm the failure of such policies.

Ethnic and other civil wars are currently getting larger and more difficult to solve. More peace agreements fail than succeed. Stedman et al. (2002) see three obstacles thwarting them - local spoilers (power actors who do not want the agreement to work), neighboring states also acting as spoilers, and local valuable commodities that allow combatants to sustain themselves in the war.

Stedman and his coauthors suggest that the international community should provide economic and military resources to counteract all three. The fighters must be helped to find civilian employment, the economy must be jump-started, the neighbors must be appeased, and so on.

But they also note that the international community is a very long way from committing such resources... The United States pursues its own interests in choosing when to consult multilateral agencies and when to bomb or invade. We are a long way from an international regime capable of enforcing global norms...."


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