Fragmentation versus Cohesion
Immediately after World War II there was much interest in the
possibility of forming a world government. When Dag Hammarskjold was
Secretary General of the United Nations he attempted to perform some of
the functions that would move the UN in the direction of world
government. His efforts were strongly opposed by the Soviet
Union, which insisted that the functions of Secretary General should be
shared among three equal officers in what came to be called a "troika."
After he died under largely uninvestigated circumstances while flying
to carry out responsibilities in Africa, the internatinal community put
into early retirement.
During the Soviet period, the world was divided into two main groups,
the nations that centered around NATO (including client states) and
nations that were part of the Soviet Union or were its client states.
In distant third place was a group of nations that sought to remain
uninvolved in this competition. These non-aligned nations were
numerically superior to the NATA nations and the Soviet Union members.
However, they did not greatly impede the forces that tended both to
bifurcate the Eastern block and the Western block, partly because some
of the non-aligned nations were in fact sympathetic to one side or the
other, and partly because their members were remote from the potential
conflict zone that existed between NATO and the USSR. When the USSR
invaded Afghanistan, the cohesion between USSR-tending non-alignved
NATO-tending non-aligned nations was lost.
During this period, many intranational conflicts were held under
control by cold war forces. Afterwards, centrifugal forces that
previously had been under control caused the split-up among their
several components. Yugoslavia is a good example of that kind of
fragmentation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balkans#Cold_War) More
recently, Ukraine has shown the potential to split into the part where
the Ukrainian language predominates and the part where Russophones are
in the majority. In Iraq, a nation that was formed by colonial
interests, conflicts among the three main religious groups create
strong fracture potentials.
Situations wherein the opposed groups are roughly segregated by region
are easier to separate into separate states in a federation. One
suggested solution to the turmoil in Iraq after the demise of Saddam
Hussein was to divide the country into a Sunni area, a Shia area, and a
Situations wherein two or more roughly equal minorities are
interspersed among each other cannot be easily separated, and conflicts
may result in the so-called policy of ethnic cleansing, a euphemism for
Note the importance of Nelson Mandela's embracing the national football
team in South Africa. He was giving all of the people of South Africa a
visible sign that he would act as President of all of the citizens of
South Africa. A person who is understood to be the embodiment of one
minority in such a situation will be perceived by members of other
minorities as a tool of his own minority group. The function of
mediator cannot be performed by someone who has not established his or
her independence from all minority interests.
More to read:
"European Nation-State under Pressure: National Fragmentation or the
Evolution of Supra state Structures?" by David F. J. Campbell
The Crisis of Global Capitalism,
by George Solos
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This page was last revised on 19 August 2016