Random Thoughts

Frustrated musings about some "international" issues of our day...

What the heck does "self determination" for a people mean, anyway? What defines who will constitute "a people?" Geographic boundaries that are difficult for conquerors to surmount? The history of genetic isolation that leads to our notions of "race" or "ethnicity?" What justifies a certain area being considered a nation? What justifies a certain group of people in an area claiming to be an autonomous nation? Can they claim to speak for all who live within that boundary? Are they really just making a power grab, seeking to place themselves at the top of a new, smaller heap instead of being a minority interest in a larger one?

What determines whether a geographic group of people have a "common interest" or not? Botany (ie, agriculture)? Geology (ie, mineral resources)? A shared set of myths and legends? What of the perpetual minority in any group defined geographically that will most certainly not feel represented by the new security interest?

How does one governing body lay a claim to jurisdiction over an area that proclaims its own independence?

I think these questions are not readily answered in the rarified concerns of idealistic political science or declarations of equality, independence, etc. They are only reasonable questions if they can be answered by following the muddy tracks of the exercise of power. Power is what this is all about, even in a democratic republic, the power to determine for a group of people how their mutual resources will be distributed and utilized. Power to cause the effects that become the environment in which other people live.

Why does this strike me as not having anything to do with "self determination?"


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© Huw Powell

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