Citizenship., Communities, Community relations, Europeans, global climate change, Globalization, Identity, Immigration, Interculturalism, Multiculturalism, National borders, National identity, Nationhood, Politicians, Population mobility, Sovereignty, transnational relationships, Tribalism, Western economies
This is a vast subject governed by innumerable historical beliefs some of which are set in concrete and blood so I am going to discuss this subject in two parts.
If I happen to offend anyone that has lost or might suffer the loss of a love one in defense of their Nation with anything I write in these posts I apologize.
I am not advocating that we should abolish the sense of Nationhood rather that we must look at what it means as there is going to be in the next hundred years a massive remix of people whether we like it or not.
Population mobility is accelerating and across the globe, people have become far more able and willing to re-locate in search of better employment prospects and a higher standard of living; or increasingly as a lifestyle choice where borders have remained open to them.
The theory of development that has been force-fed into dominant economic discourse all over the world is now contributing as to one of the main reasons we see immigration. With the predictions of climate change in the future this immigration can only increase.
In 2010 there were 214 million international migrants and if they continue to grow in number at the same pace there will be over 400 million by 2050 (IOM 2010).
Forced migration, where people have to move as a result of climate change, conflict and war, threaten to dwarf these numbers.
For the world as a whole at the moment 13% primarily considered themselves as “citizens of the world”, 38% put their Nation-State first, and the larger remainder put local or regional identities first.
There is no getting away from it that Identity is becoming more multi-faceted and whereas multiculturalism has been firmly rooted in racial constructs, ideas about difference has developed in other directions.
Sexual orientation, gender, faith and disability and other aspects of identity are now firmly in the public sphere and contributing to notions of personal identity alongside national identity.
Identity is increasingly complex. As well as the now routine hyphenating of nationality, faith and ethnicity, the consequence of people from different identity groups sharing the same society has also led to the growth of ‘mixed race’ or multiple identities.
This group is now the fastest growing minority in Britain and many other countries.
Inter-marrying, building new virtual networks, and creating real and tangible personal relationships at all levels is currently changing nations from the inside out. ( What once was Christian will be Muslim. What once was American will be Spanish Mexican, What once was German will to Northern African and so on.)
States – and especially their political elites – have inevitably tried to cling to the idea of clear national boundaries and governance and any suggestions of the loss of sovereignty or the advent political plurality are quickly contested. (For example the recent Resignation of the Israel Government over changing its Constitution to place Jews in a privileged position of citizenship. )
There are now 20 cities with more than 1 million foreign-born people and another 59 cities worldwide with a presence of 100,000 or more foreign-born residents.
These include 11 cities with an immigrant presence of between 500,000 and 1 million people, for example in Argentina, Canada, USA, Russia and Israel (Clark, 2008,). This is not simply about numerical growth however, migrant communities are also increasingly diverse and this inevitably leads to much greater complexity within nation states, particularly in the Western economies, which are often the target countries for migration.
The extent of population movement is such that all western economies are now characterized by ‘super’ or ‘hyper’ diversity with cities, like London, Stockholm, Toronto, New York and Amsterdam with over 300 language groups.
This is beginning to re-define our notion of multiculturalism which had previously been seen as the then essentially White countries coming to terms with migrants from a limited number of former colonies. Relationships are now much more complex and community relations are multi-faceted, no longer simply revolving around majority/minority visible distinctions underpinned by distinct sociology-economic positions (Cantle 2012).
The reality is however that national and cosmopolitan identities now also need to sit alongside each other – they are not opposed – something that multiculturalism has never acknowledged.
Governmental responses to date have been ambivalent.
The changing nature of personal identities, with the separate components shaped by increasing diversity in terms of faith, present locality, and ethnicity – as well as an apparently declining sense of nationality is changing what it means to be Irish, English, French, American. Take your choice from Australia to Canada and you finds this taking place.
For the most part, Governments have attempted to reinforce their view of national identity through such measures as the teaching of national history and promoting national citizenship and identity. By steadfastly retaining the pretense of the integrity of national borders and governance, and by attempting to deny the interdependence brought by globalization, they reinforce a fear of ‘others’.
They appear not to want to grasp or lag behind the current reality of multi-faceted identities within their communities and may well find that the new phenomenon of social media will begin to create new transnational relationships which transcend traditional power structures.
Already there is clear evidence of a decline in traditional democratic traditions across Europe, with election turnouts and political party membership in decline. There is also some evidence of the growth of new political movements from the indignados in Spain to that led by the comedian Grillo in Italy and the current lack of trust and disconnection from mainstream parties suggests that these movements could grow still further.
In the UK, along with many other countries, there have been attempts to restrict immigration and to ensure that those immigrants that do come are able to speak the native language and past various tests based on attitudes and knowledge of customs and history (Cantle, 2008).
There has been little by way of any systematic attempt to engage with globalization through intercultural education and to enable people to become more at ease with diversity and globalization
Identity remains promoted on the basis that it is fixed and within boundaries.
Sen, Suggests that conflict and violence are sustained today, no less than the past, by the illusion of a unique identity (Sen, 2006).
He argues that, the world is increasingly divided between religions (or ‘cultures’ or ‘civilizations’), which ignore the relevance of other ways in which people see themselves through class, gender, profession, language, literature, science, music, morals or politics. He challenges ‘the appalling effects of the miniaturization of people’ and the denial of the real possibilities of reasoned choices.
Interculturalism should be part of this response and has been proposed on the basis of a progressive vision (Cantle, 2012) to support the necessary changes, replacing multiculturalism which became completely out of step with this new world order.
The era of transnational relationships, the growth of diasporas, new and pervasive international communications and travel, mean that such policies are no longer tenable. ‘Interculturalism’ can provide a new positive model to mediate change across regions and nations and recognize the multivariate relationships across all aspects of diversity.
When power resides with a global elite, and the economic crisis links our fate across borders, we are, it seems, all ‘citizens of the world. A ‘global village’ mediated through electronic communication.
Globalism, global civil society, global consciousness and cosmopolitanism were to sweep away tribalism of nations to clear the path for a new and better world in which humanity would finally achieve unity and share happiness.
Globalization frees and unites us. Increased freedom of movement, a revolution of communication, the hyper-acceleration of cultural production, have together created a fertile ground for innumerable imagined communities, unrestricted by the limits of geography.
What is now called globalization is only the backlash of an age-old process, constantly fostered by capitalist expansion, which started with the constitution of rival national units, at least in the core of the world economy.
It is very hard to find any trace of this optimistic view of globalization
For me the world economy is evidence of the pervasive ideas of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization as panacea for all the problems our countries faces today.
World-wide solidarity among workers, disadvantaged and oppressed appears to remain an ideal than a reality and anti-immigrant sentiment is on the rise in the many parts of the world.
The world is certainly globalized and is still globalizing but the old nations and nation-states have not withered away.
If you take Europe it does not exist except as a discursively constructed object of consciousness so it follows that Europeans also do not exist as a people with shared past, other than conflict. Europeaness consists as much in the way of values, interests,and beliefs, modes of justification, etc are mediated and negotiated as in a specific set of identifications. European identity or being European has not seriously undermined the centrality of nationalism in the modern world.
There is little point in contesting the ‘emptiness’ of so many arguments for global citizenship. It is easier to be a global citizen if you are secure in your rights as a national citizen.
The logic that ‘only if the rich get richer will the poor live better! is a joke.
So why are Nation-states forfeiting their sovereignty in order to support global and regional markets, by selling their natural resources and future infrastructure to Sovereign Wealth Funds. The idea that the Welfare State has failed its citizens is sold through the mechanism of the Public Private Partnership, to pave the way for the take over of public assets by private interests.
The handing over common owned resources by interlinking of rivers, mining projects and disinvestment corroborated by the stock market fly in the face of Nationhood. (see previous Posts) For example in 2007, the total volume of trade by private corporations world over was over $1171 trillion. The sum of the earnings of all countries was a mere $66 trillion, almost twenty times less!
It needs to be understood that the financial power of the multi-nationals’ private business is huge.
The sovereignty of the state is no longer linked to a territory, nor are today’s communication technologies or military strategy, and this dislocation does in fact bring about a crisis in the old European concept of the political Nation.
The nation’ is frequently presented under the banner of Globalization as an outdated inconvenience, a domain of racism and intolerance.
New kinds of national identity are being forged.
A conversion from an ethnic to a multicultural and cosmopolitan community are evolving with alternative forms of belonging. That modernity is almost unthinkable without capitalism (despite any such attempt to render modernity as a democratizing force tied to a conception and experience of time).
Divisions in society are no longer based on citizenship, but rather on economic factors: access to employment, housing conditions and education opportunities.
So is it time for us to redefine the meaning of Nationhood. To rewrite and rethink our individual and collective destinies. Can we turn away from the future of the past and embody the logic of a future to come.
States now need to come to terms with the new circumstances that confront them.
The composition of western societies has become far more dynamic and complex. Ideas about personal and collective identity have inevitably begun to change as a consequence.
While states attempt to assert their relevance in a global age through both multiculturalism and top-down nationalism, new models of identity and strategies of participation need to be developed to deal with the co-existing phenomena of national experience and cosmopolitanism.
We all know that it is all but impossible for races and cultures that have differences going to the root of their immigration to be assimilated into a united whole.
It is my view that a Nation without a written Constitution that enshrines equality across the board can no longer offer Nationhood.
Because the concept of Citizenship and Sovereignty that emerged during the 17th/19th Century have become outdated and remains to this day significantly flawed.
The state remains a very powerful force in the lives of many people and is the most significant unit of democracy in the developed world. For many, being a citizen of a particular state, having absorbed the traditions and cultures, being subject to its laws and economic regulation and taking part in the polity, a sense of belonging is still very evident. This is a key point.
As an elite of politicians, businessmen and media executives literally fly over the great unwashed it is important to recognize that the nation, by now understood as both an antagonistic and unequal grouping as well as the potential for collective sovereignty, really is dead for many of those in positions of global power.
Nationalism will have to develop a new way of comprehending the world.
The answer to all of this will have to wait for the next post.
Because our Politicians are driven by the economy and not by what their people need to live fulfilled lives.
In the Corporate world Nations only exist in the contested space of conversation. In part two we will address this concept.