Tag Archive for colonialism

National Idea & Shared Societies in the Pacific – Beyond Colonialism, Tribalism and Racism


New expert comment on Shared Societies!! Today we have an intervention from the Asia Pacific Forum 2012, the Club de Madrid meeting held in Tahiti for building a more resilient Pacific in the 21st century world order.

The author, David Jackson, makes six points:

  1. The purpose of a country, its national idea, is man-made and politically constructed
  2. The national idea is separate from the machinery of the state – the ministries, the post office andother components of the state system
  3. A shared society requiresan inclusive national idea
  4. Current changes in the world requirethe reshaping of national ideas, learning from the past
  5. Leaders can help to build an inclusive national idea or can hinder it
  6. These concepts offer a potential for the Pacific to move beyond colonialism, tribalismand racism.

National ideas can be based on:

  • Citizenship, like the US or Brazil, where different ethnicities and / orcultures can be American or Brazilian but there is a more-or-less explicit setof American or Brazilian values or norms.
  • Ethnicity, like Israel where the national project is to build a nation-state forthe Jewish people and non Jews are discouraged from becoming citizens.
  • Culture, like France whose national idea emphasises a particular languageand culture open to all who embrace it, but with limited acceptance of othercultures or languages.
  • Unity in Diversity”, like Indonesia and India where the national liberationmovement itself was founded on an acceptance of the equality of differentlanguages, cultures, norms, religions and nations within a common territory.
  • Ideology, like North Korea where the furtherance of communist ideasprovides the premise for the state.
  • Theology, like some Islamic states where the pursuance of a religious idealis the essence of the national idea.
  • Fear, where fear of the “enemy” or even fear of authority is used to buildand maintain a national idea.

With a fixed territory and a single authority the state in turn needs a national idea to underpin its legitimacy to its citizens. Other identities are relegated below the national one. The construction of a national idea can be inclusive or exclusive and it can have a strong acceptance or be rejected by some or most of the population.

Some other  questions arising from the comment are: Does the national idea include all the population living in the country? Do they accept it? Or does it implicitly or explicitly exclude segments of the population?

  • The national idea is separate from the machinery of the state
  • A shared society requires an inclusive national idea
  • But the world has changed and national ideas, even inclusive ones, will need to change with it
  • To create the shared societies of the future. Leaders will need to stand ready to re-adjust their national ideas to fit this new reality

In conclusion, some food for thought: How inclusive is your national idea? How universal is your state system? How rules based is your state system? What are the words of your national anthem? Are they inclusive or exclusive? How does your local government system contribute? What can you do as a leader to build a Shared Society?

Read here the full article – download the PDF: David Jackson – Shared Societies in the Pacific. Beyond colonialism, tribalism and racism


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