All these factors act and react with one another. The three most important ones are the material means of communication, the demographic evolution and the over-population which can result (always related to the prevailing productive forces and social structure) and lastly, the political relations between nations.
The birth of a nation always originates from a movement of population, emigration, immigration or a split in an existing ethnical group. The two branches thus formed can be submitted to different geographical influences and foreign influences (racial in particular). The relationship between the two groups can be broken. This can lead to the rupture of the ethnical unity and to the formation of two or more languages, of two or more different nations.
Stemming from a probable (but not certain) original unity, humanity has taken on its present ethnical composition by successive splits over the thousands of years that it has required to populate the earth. Similarities and differences between different languages result from such historical development.
Once constituted, a nation evolves, mainly in its social structure and in its civilisation as a whole. An essential feature of the evolution of a nation is the tendency towards a certain unity or homogeneity, towards a fuller existence. However, the different aspects of the nation cannot evolve simultaneously and this evolution can even witness some momentary regressions.
When a new ethnic group appears amidst the anarchical decomposition of the previous unit, its linguistic status is generally that of a group of related dialects : this was the case, for example, of the French ethnic group after the breakdown of the Latin unit.
Once a common language is formed within the group of dialects (which becomes the written language at the same time) it can be considered that the "nationality" has become the "nation". The common language never appears spontaneously throughout the nation : it is the work of intellectual groups and deciders, consciously or otherwise. It is never simply the mother dialect of a single local fraction of the population, but to differing degrees, a combination of different dialects. It is formed on the basis of the central dialects somewhat modified by features of peripheral dialects. Italian is therefore a modified version of the Tuscany tongue, as Serbo-Croat is modified Bosnian. Some tongues, such as French, are more closely connected to the central dialect, whilst others such as German are more a combination of different dialects.
An example of momentary regression is that of the Greek dialects which constituted a first common language, later regressing to its former dialectical state, before a second common language recently appeared.
The term "nationality" can also apply to an ethnic group that has not yet achieved, or has lost, its political unity and its independence. The Norwegians, the Bulgarians, the Hebrews and the Burmese are amongst the many populations that have formed their own national state and that lost their political unity before winning it back again.
The linguistic evolution interacts with the economic, social and political evolution, but they do not just simply coincide. The common Italian tongue exists since the end of the Middle Ages, but the political unity dates back to the end of the nineteenth century.
Some nations, possessing their own common language and enjoying a high level of economic and cultural development have not achieved, or have lost, their political unity. This is the case of the German-speaking and English-speaking ethnic groups. At the same time, other economically backward countries, such as China prior to 1950 and Japan prior to 1868, have retained a more-or-less common language and a distinct national state for centuries or even millennia.
The death of an ethnic group can be caused by a divergent evolution or split, or by pure and simple destruction. The first category includes the Slav and Latin ethnic groups, whose disappearance caused the birth of new nations. The second category includes the Sumerians, the Gauls, the Dalmations, the Tasmanians and the Old Prussians.
A nation no longer exists when its language has completely disappeared from the popular spoken tongue. However, if a language, abandoned for current usage, continues to be commonly used as a scholarly or cultural language and, in particular, has not produced new national languages, it continues to be the base of an ethnic group which can be driven by a vigorous national consciousness. Such is the case of the Hebrew and Egyptian Copte tongues.
The loss of the national territory and the dispersal of the members of a nation, is a major reason for disintegration, but does not necessarily mean the death of the nation, as proved by the Hebrew example once again. In such cases, the existence of a national ideology (religious or other) and the cultural force of this latter, often play an important role in conserving the nation, but they are not indispensable, as proven by the survival of the Mordves and better still, that of the Hungarian gypsies, a scattered fraction of the Kashmir ethnic group.
Over the last one hundred and fifty years, some twenty European nations have thus formed their common language, have won their independence and have reformed their ethnical consciousness. This same trend, this tidal wave, is now sweeping triumphantly through Asia, reaching Africa, and is beginning to appear in America, in Eastern Europe and in Oceania.
Only the supporters of dogmatic economics can believe that the nation is an historical category dating back to a specific era, namely the bourgeois era, a simple product of capitalism. How can one maintain that the Swedish, Russian, Spanish, Korean, and Persian nations are simply a consequence of capitalism and that the history of France begins in 1789 or even at the Renaissance? The time has come to say that the arrival of the industrial civilisation, the arrival of the upper and working classes, the development of public education, the development of relations between human groups on a world-wide scale, have deeply transformed a reality as ancient as humanity itself.
Alongside existing coherent nationalities that were already organised into independent states as early as feudal times, and nationalities whose independence has been obtained in liaison with the establishment of capitalism, appear new movements and national states closely linked to the triumph of socialism. The arrival of the socialist social structure, characterised by a planned state economy and by the development of popular culture, highlights this evolution of ethnic groups in the same direction. More so than even the Nineteenth Century, the Twentieth Century is the century of the nations.
However, one question arises : once power struggles between nations have been done away with and peaceful exchanges of all sorts have developed, once a classless society has been established, will we witness a progressive fusion of languages and nations ?
At the moment it is impossible to say whether this will happen, nor indeed whether it would be desirable. One can only suppose that, should this be the case, the nations that are relatively close linguistically would be the first to merge, before a world-wide language and nation would progressively be achieved.
It goes without saying that the numerous languages of international acclaim, recently invented (which are, in fact, Latino-Germanic languages with nothing international about them) are in no way precursors of this possible world-wide tongue.
One can also say that, for the time being, nothing indicates a move in this direction. It would seem probable that geographical and racial factors will never be disrupted and standardised to an extent that would make possible, or desirable, such a world-wide application.
At a time when mass emigration is gradually disappearing and the national culture is felt more strongly within each group, when the attachment to one's mother tongue is intensified by a growing cultural life and national feeling, it is difficult to imagine how such a fusion could take place - unless it is caused by powerful imperialism.
One can at least say that for the coming centuries, this is simply speculation of little interest, the only concrete signification of which is to camouflage national realities and thus to serve imperialism.
It is high time that all the humanists and progressives rid themselves once and for all of such utopian ideas, illusions and abstract visions of humanity. It would be a good thing if they decided to take ethnic differences for what they are : a fundamental factor of humanity.
The struggle between nations is not intrinsically connected to their existence. The fact that language differences exist and the subsequent mutual incomprehension only lead, at worst, to an absence of a relationship and indifference or mistrust. The same thing happens with racial and cultural differences. Conflicts between nations ensue exclusively from economic and psycho-sexual causes.
The balance of power between-nations can be presented in several-ways :
In practice these different procedures, or at least some of them, are frequently combined and the resulting absorption puts an end to, or thwarts, the territorial occupation or physical genocide.
Absorption originates from power struggles : maybe individuals can independently wish for their integration within another nation for different reasons (racial origin, economic interests, sentimental reasons...), but no people as a whole will ever consent to adopting a foreign language and culture. National suicide, whether it be cultural or physical, does not exist.
First, therefore, there is either military conquest, war or at least political struggle. Then the absorption takes place as a result of constant pressure by the dominant ethnical group's state and social authority and by the fact that a small group of leaders set themselves up in the country or numerous colonial groups fight the natives for control of the land.
The state can either play the role of the undisputed instrument of the dominant ethnic group, and the members of the dominated group are deprived of all political rights (as were the populations of the French colonies before the last war, or as are currently the Zulus-Sothos in South Africa), or that of the framework within which the dominant group and the dominated groups confront each other, whilst both populations have the same political rights.
The Belgium state, originally the organ of the French and frenchified bourgeois class (a bourgeois class which had to resign itself to independence after foreign intervention had forbidden all fusion with France) is now being bitterly contested by the French (Wallons) and the Dutch (Flemish). The present equality between the two camps, the opposed political tendencies of the two regions, the recent loss of resources from the Congo, are all factors in favour of the break-up of the Belgian state.
Until 1815, Switzerland was a state comprising German bourgeois and peasants (officially called Swiss League of Upper-Germany") having vassalised some non-native territories (Vaud, for example). In 1815, further foreign populations were added whilst simultaneously the legal equality between territories was established. This federal political structure allows a fairly good cultural situation for the minorities in homogeneous cantons (Geneva, Neuchatel, Vaud, Tessin), whilst the mixed cantons (Berne, Fribourg, Valais, Grisons) are the framework of an intensive German expansion by immigration and assimilation, which has lead to the birth of the Jura Mountains Movement. What is more, there is an evident political predominance and disparity in the economical development in favour of the Germans. Socio-economic causes (principally the role of banker with respected neutrality confided to them by European capitalists, and which assures their prosperity) can maintain for some time to come the existence and the solidity of the Swiss state.
The federal form of a state does not guarantee it against national oppression. The United States of America for example, throughout their length and breadth, are simply a gigantic melting pot of anglicisation, where colonial regions survive and where the ethnic minorities occupy the lowest rung of the economical ladder. Depending upon the former situation of a nation, the status of a federal state is either a step towards total annexation, or a step towards total independence. Moreover, this status has only a progressive value if the federated units correspond, at least approximately, to the ethnic units.
In some countries, several levels of imperialistic domination are superposed. Struggles for national emancipation can present several phases : initially, all the subjugated nations struggle against the dominant nation under the orders of the nation occupying the second place in this hierarchy and in the name of this nationalism. It is only once this objective has been achieved that nationalistic movements of the nations lower down the scale develop against the new leading ethnic group. It is thus, that all the populations of the Indian Empire chased out the English in the name of Hindu nationalism, and it is only recently that the non-Hindu populations, mainly the Dravidian nations, have begun to struggle against Hindu domination. Similarly, recently in Algeria, Arabs and Berbers have fought together in the name of Arab nationalism against French colonialism. The problem of the emancipation of the Berbers against the Arabs was postponed out of necessity.
Assimilation hardly ever takes place in one go, by the brutal substitution of one language by another. It takes place through the intermediary stage of bilingualism. From one generation to another, the national mono-lingualism becomes a bilingualism with a national predominance, and then a foreign predominance, and finally a foreign mono-lingualism. At a social group level, bilingualism is nothing other than a relatively rapid means of passing from one language to another.
Once the assimilation has been completed, the fact remains that the language does not correspond with the temperament, the mental structure, of the assimilated people. It is only several generations later, after the disappearance of the former tongue, that the assimilation, reinforced by inter-breeding and the adoption of new morals, can be truly achieved and will no longer represent an oppression.
If the assimilated population was too numerous or too different from the assimilative people, a modification of the latter's language can take place, with the constitution of a new ethnic group.
In an independent nation, not submitted to any assimilation, the national consciousness is the natural expression of the subconscious, the rationalisation of the real and deep bonds that unite its members, whilst on the other hand, in a dependent nation, submitted to assimilation, the members suffer from a confused feeling, a national subconscious, almost completely repressed by the foreign national consciousness, taking over its place under the pressure of the foreign state and the education it dispenses, under the pressure of the assimilated upper-classes.
There can be no true physical health, no harmonious development of the personality, unless one destroys the repression and the linguistic-cultural alienation which are amongst the greatest evils from which have suffered and suffer still the majority of the human race.
This exploitation comes in several forms :
The most frequent and the most intensive is the exploitation of the colonies. Colonisation initially signifies the destruction of the native socio-economic system, the latter sometimes being far superior to that of the occupant : for example, the socialist state of the Kitchuas in Peru, destroyed by the feudal Spanish state. The natives are then reduced to a condition close to slavery, submitted to chronic starvation and used as cheap labour, if not canon fodder for later wars. The country is considered solely as a source of raw materials, of exotic produce, and as a market for home-produced finished products. It remains under-developed and lacking in major industries.
The case of semi-colonisation is similar; although being formally politically independent, all the principal riches, the key sectors of the economy and effectively speaking the Government itself, are in the hands of foreign companies. Almost all the Latin American countries are in this position, as are several Arab countries (Saudi Kingdom, Oman, Jordan...) towards the Anglo-Americans.
In the post-capitalist, socialist countries, an almost identical structure can exist : one of the states acts a camouflage for the foreign domination and a part of the national production is withdrawn, either by mixed state companies, by commercial agreements between states, or by means of a common market (COMECON). Such are Czechoslovakia and Hungary in relation to Russia.
There is also the case of under-developed countries, integrated, without inequality, into a foreign state. The inferiority complex resulting from the domination or the assimilation, the close and unequal contacts between populations with different temperaments provoke a relative idleness, a sort of lethargy and distaste to act, a latent non-participation. This results in under-production and ruin in the face of foreign competition. The countries concerned receive lower investments and become victim of the dominant state's economic politics.
The economy is orientated, not in order to satisfy the needs of the local population, but in the interest of the foreign nation and its ruling class. The country is often doomed to a mono-production guaranteeing its dependence. The following countries are in this position : Sardinia towards Italy, Occitania towards France, Scotland towards England, Lithuania and Turkestan towards Russia.
Lastly, there are a certain number of fairly developed countries whose evolution is blocked by their annexation to an economically weaker country, and which they are more or less obliged to support. For example, Catalonia and Euzkadia (Basque) annexed to Spain.
Generally speaking, all inclusion of an ethnic group into an economic or political unity, where another economic group is predominant, signifies in fact economic suppression, even if this economic-political unity is supposed to be more advanced. Thus, by the destruction of their economic system, by pure and simple constraint, by the pressure brought to bear by an entire cultural atmosphere, the Polynesians, American Indians, some Caucasians and Turks, have been obliged to devote themselves to tasks they were loath to do, in order to be able to buy objects they neither wanted nor needed, or which in any case they appreciated a lot less than their former way of life. One can only explain by a retort to the Russian socialist imperialism, the sending in mass to German camps during the last war of several Russian peoples : Tchetchenes, Mongols from the Volga, Turks from Crimea and from Ciscaucasia.
One should be aware of a fundamental factor : the economic needs (and capacities) are not the same for every nation. Numerous achievements belonging to European civilisations may not necessarily prove interest to other nations, for example, a railway network for the Polynesians or refrigerators for Eskimos. For a large number of Equatorial or tropical peoples, requirements in clothing, heating and housing are reduced to very little and can be satisfied by light work. Food requirements can be satisfied in different ways, depending on the density of the population and its natural resources.
If we suppose that in each nation, the orientation and management of the economy are effectively within the hands of the people, one can be sure that in the quality, the organisation and the discipline of work, in the quantity and nature of production, different choices will be made, depending on geographical conditions, the temperament and tastes of each nation.
All the economic and social problems (and cultural problems) are thus stated differently within each nation. In other words, alongside the relativity in time and in space, historical relativity and geographical relativity weigh heavily in defining each problem and each solution.
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