10 August 2018

Ethiopia: Separatism - a Blessing or a Curse?

In recent times, separatist tendencies have been rising in different regions of the world.

From Spain, to the United Kingdom, to the European Union as a whole, to countries as diverse as Sri Lanka, Kenya or Ethiopia--ideas of separating from the country (or the union) and 'going it alone', have become rather more popular in the last years.

But why?

There must be reasons for this trend. And perhaps it is not a bad thing after all? Would creating a new state solve many of the problems in

these countries?

So, let us first briefly examine the reasons why some might think it is a good idea to have a state of their own.

Of course, one of the main reasons is often discontent. The people may feel that the government of their country is not doing enough for them,

marginalizing or discriminating them. On the other hand, they may feel that the country their region is currently part of, is a burden to them, and so, if they could separate from it, and manage their own affairs, they would do rather better economically.

Considering this, it is perhaps not surprising that some have argued that, in part at least, the government is usually also responsible for the rise of separatist tendencies in a country.

But, be that as it may. Is separatism a good thing and such

tendency should be welcomed, not feared or loathed?

Some say that it is understandable that there are ideas of separatism among certain ethnic groups in some societies.

That may be so--everything has a cause.

But we have to understand the dangers of separatism. It can destroy a society.

Many wars and conflicts have, at least in part, been caused by separatist ideas. Whether--or to what extent--the 'ruling class' was responsible, or how and why these ideas gained popularity, is rather beside the point here. The fact is that they have resulted in war and conflict--throughout the history of the world.

But not only from history, can we learn the damage separatist ideas can do.

We can also look at current world affairs.

One of the most notable examples is Spain.

Many Catalans--a huge ethnic group with a lot of economic power--want to separate from Spain and have a state of their own. These ideas have become more and more popular in the last years. Many feel that they would do rather better if their prosperous region, that includes Barcelona, were to become an independent state. Whether they are right or not, depends, of course, on the view of the political analyst.

But that is beside the point. The fact is that now, the society has become quite unstable: unrests, protests, violence .... The society is being damaged.

Of course, there are countless other examples from history, including the formation of Eritrea or East Timor, or, more recently, the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

We can see that, once these societal dynamics have developed too far, the ideas of separatism become too strong in the society, it cannot be stopped,

the separation has to be done, and that can result in chaos, war, civil war, a destroyed society.

It is not difficult to see that, if investigated closely, it is clear that separatism has not brought any society prosperity and peace--as the advocates like to claim--but, rather, war and conflict, or, at least, instability and economic uncertainty.

This means that every government should be extremely careful in handling separatist tendencies in the society.

Thus, it is understandable that, traditionally, governments have taken such tendencies very seriously.

Some have argued that, often, they are too heavy-handed, and that has, doubtless, sometimes been the case.

But, on the other hand, we must understand the gravity of the danger that separatism poses to a society.

Governments should be commended not criticizedfor taking it very seriously, and responding accordingly.

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