An Analysis of the Modern Scholarship Typically Differentiating the Utilitarian Ethnic Cleansing From Ideological Ethnic Cleansing

Category: Ethics, Psychology
Last Updated: 28 Feb 2023
Essay type: Scholarship
Pages: 3 Views: 74

Modern scholarship typically differentiates utilitarian ethnic cleansing from ideological ethnic cleansing. Pre-twentieth-century acts of ethnic cleansing typically. Were of the utilitarian type, in which perpetrators were pursuing land, economic wealth, slaves, or simply settling old scores. Modern ethnic cleansing, however, tends to be ideological, whereby the perpetrator proceeds for reasons having to do with race, ethnicity, religion, politics, or some other ideological factor. In most cases, the ideology underpinning an ethnic cleansing is complex; rarely can it be traced solely to religious, political, ethnic, racial, or economic reasons. It is often a combination of some or all of these.

The key to 20th century secessionism lies in transnational phenomena, usually referred to as organizations, institutions, networks, etcetera. These terms are vague too, and in many cases give a wrong idea of ongoing events. For the transnational phenomena referred to I prefer the term regime, in political science used for structures that surpass the boundaries of the state. A widely used definition of the term is Krasner's. According to Krasner a regime consists of: 'implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures around which actors' expectations converge in a given area of international relations. (Krasner 1983)

For political scientists the concept is indeed closely tied to international relations, to relationships between states or state governments. The restriction to international relations is under emerging political realities not practical: many transnational regimes came into being without much state interference, and may even turn themselves against the state. The point is that in the context of secessionism we are not dealing with international regimes but with transnational ones: regimes that transcend states, and do not depend on relationships or agreements between states. Departing from Krasner I would define a regime as consisting of more or less strongly formalized and institutionalized constellations of human interdependencies whose implicit and/or explicit principles, rules and decision-making procedures enable as well as constrain actors in a given area of activity.

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Although the term globalization came into use in the early 1980s, the rise of transnational, global regimes, is of course far older. My hypothesis is that late 20th century secessionism is a complicated way related to the rise of transnational regimes Once established, secessionist movements can make use of transnational regimes to further their cause.

Region-bound identities based on language and history never completely disappeared in national states, not even in a state like France, in which the centrality of Paris was so much stressed, and where regional differences were so much repressed. Regional identities may have been reduced to hardly more than a memory of the past, but even such memories may be invoked when there are economic or political interests to do so. The rise of transnational regimes is in two ways related to the rise of regional, sub-state identities that provide the basis of secessionist movements. In the first place, there is the rising influence of transnational regimes on the daily life of people. The awareness of people that this is so means that people feel more and more that they loose their grip on what governs their daily life. Their life is more and more being determined by forces beyond the state.

For reasons that are still very unclear people confronted with powerful forces that lie beyond their horizon, and certainly beyond their control, tend to turn to purportedly primordial categories, turning to the familiarity of their own ethnic background. In the process they try to gain an identity of their own by going back to the fundamentals of their religion, to a language unspoken for generations, to the comfort of a homeland that may have been theirs in the past. Doing so they construct a new identity. This new identity is indeed a construct that often only flimsily resembles what is believed was past reality. The new identity is cast in terms of primordial attachments, but it is a thoroughly modern phenomena. It needs only a small group of people to turn these feelings into an ethnic movement. Once such a movement has been established it will quickly find the central government on its path. If the movement, as a consequence of a unitary state ideology, is repressed, an escalation process begins. A wish for recognition of an ethnic identity turns into efforts to acquire a certain degree of autonomy. If this is thwarted, violent secessionism is the next step.

Suffice it to say that the causes of ethnic cleansing are varied and complex. No two acts of ethnic cleansing are ever the same. In every case, however, ethnic cleansing is a quick solution to a problem--a solution, unfortunately, built on hate, prejudice, intolerance, and a complete disregard for the sanctity of human life. Is it possible to identify potential ethnic cleansings in their early stages so that preventive measures can be implemented, thus averting the needless destruction of human life?

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An Analysis of the Modern Scholarship Typically Differentiating the Utilitarian Ethnic Cleansing From Ideological Ethnic Cleansing. (2023, Feb 22). Retrieved from

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