August 04, 2011

Chinese Uighurs

Chinese Uighurs

If Western nations practiced sane immigration policies—policies such as Japan’s, say—we should have very few Muslims in residence, and Muslim terrorism would be an issue like cannibalism in the Mato Grosso: deplorable, but far from our everyday concerns.

Folly has its price, and our troubles with Muslim terrorism are the price we pay for the foolish mix of sentimentalism, guilt, ethno-masochism, and missionary universalism we of the West have been cultivating this half-century past.

I don’t mind Islam and I’m not much bothered by Muslim terrorism so long as it is not directed against my civilization. No, I don’t favor it; but what I principally feel about Muslim terrorism is resentment at the fact that I have to think about it at all. I blame that fact on my own nation’s stupid policies, not on Muslims, who no doubt have some sort of case to make.

Secession. I think the Uighurs have every right to rule themselves, as they did briefly in the 1940s. It must be an awful thing to be ruled by foreigners, especially ones as staggeringly bad at government as the Chinese.

I’m quite (gulp!) Wilsonian about this. I’d give every ethny its own government that wanted one. Imperial rule over subject populations sometimes worked in the pre-modern era—the Ottomans pulled it off quite well, as did the British and Austro-Hungarians. There is something in modernity that forbids that old imperial order, though. Diversity—big populations of different ethnies under a common jurisdiction—is a bust in the modern world. Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia are gone. Cyprus is two countries. Belgium soon will be.

Where ethnies are anciently and intricately mixed, as in Northern Ireland, there isn’t much to be done but stagger on under diversity’s horrible affliction, putting up with the occasional massacre. Where a coherent nation can be separated off, though, it should be.

The Uighurs should certainly have their own nation. So should the Kurds, the Catalans, the Scots, the Jews, the South Tyroleans, the Chechens, and any other people sufficiently civilized to run a statelet and sufficiently coherent to think themselves a single ethny.

Such arrangements would, it seems to me, go with the grain of our times. It more and more looks as though the age of big nations is passing. The attempt to make one big nation out of Europe is obviously failing; and the USA’s current troubles are so deep and systemic one cannot but suspect that this whole unwieldy arrangement must soon fall apart, to the general benefit.

(In which case, the Civil War may have only postponed the inevitable. And since I’m on the subject, yes, I think the Confederacy had a good case in law and right, though I also think Lincoln’s wish to preserve the Union was not contemptible. Would the world be a better or worse place today if war had not been joined? I have no idea, though it would surely be different.)

For the Chinese, in any case, with their cratering demographics, it will become increasingly difficult to hold down large subject populations by force. As the Chinese population ages and shrinks, at some point real autonomy for the near abroad will begin to look like an attractive option; then, not much later, it will be unavoidable.

There now. Let the Uighurs have their country. Let there be no mass settlement of them in mine. Let the Chinese withdraw to metropolitan China to rule over Chinese people; and let harmony and peace prevail under heaven. Amen.



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