Balkanisation and the Internet

Via Robert Wright, here’s an interesting map of what Europe would look like, should all the current Independence movements in Europe get their way:

Conjecture of Europe 2020, by Chirol at ComingAnarchy.com
Conjecture of Europe 2020, by Chirol at ComingAnarchy.com

This illustrates the point Clay Shirky made about how Nation States might break down in the Internet Age, and my comments about how people might choose to constitute politcal units based on something other than brutal geography.

26 thoughts on “Balkanisation and the Internet

  1. Sorry, I'm confused. I thought you said you *did* agree with my perception that there hasn't been much violence there in recent years. If the public image is wrong, ie there *is* still a lot of violence, then I stand corrected.I don't think "balkanisation"​ is, or leads to, a "preconceived notion" though. If anything, it is "post-conceived​", or evidence-based – ie it's a reference to certain historical facts, and nothing more.I think it's dangerous and wrong to not allow people to refer to certain events, however uncomfortable it might be.

  2. Amazing that the discussion for this blog seems to have ended up on FB and not, like, on the actual blog.Yep – any kind of prediction is liable to not come true. But the potential for 'balkanisation'​ (and I mean that in a neutral, historical sense, Andrea) has implications for cultural exchange and multiculturalis​m. Please do click through to the blog itself, and my links to what Clay Shirky says on the matter.

  3. I know this wasn't the point of the post Rob, so forgive me for joining in on this tangent, but I think Andrea makes a very interesting point, one which had never really occurred to me. The basis of the phrase "balkanisation"​ may not have been deliberately offensive, but it is understandable why it would be taken as such. It would be interested to know how many people in that region are aware of the phrase as used in the English-speakin​g world, and how they feel about it.

  4. Is it understandable,​ Richard? Or even interesting? What exactly is so offensive about referring to historical events, and drawing analogies with future ones? Frankly, I think it's offensive to be offended by it.

  5. Ok, well this is what I thought when I read it. I imagined that if something as tragic as the events in the Balkans had happened in my country and this type of event was subsequently referred to as "Britainisation​", I can imagine being offended, even if it WAS based on historical fact. I think the problem is this: there are presumably countless positive aspects to the Balkans as a region, but the word "Balkanisation"​ instantly draws attention to the negative ones. I also think the term may be simply unnecessary. Why not use descriptive, NEUTRAL terms on a case-by-case basis? The phrase "fragmentation of states" would be fine for the example shown in the map. Lastly, note that I was not saying outright "this is offensive". I was merely saying I understand how some might take it as such (as explained), and wondering aloud how many people do, particularly in the region itself.

  6. Sure. Though I don't think I *would* be offended, if Britain were the first country that sprang to people's minds when they thought of violent political disintegration.​ I'd be glad that people remembered the trauma my country had been through. But the main reason I wouldn't be offended is because the term wouldn't mean that the converse was also true: that violent political disintegration was the first thing that sprang to people's minds when they thought of Britain.

  7. Well, yes, but it's not based on nothing. I don't think a statement of fact is necessarily derogatory. I also think it means something a bit more specific and serious than disintegration, considering the violence and loss of life involved.

  8. I don't think that it does. I could be wrong, but I don't think there's been much violence there post-disintegration. At least, this is the public image, so it's hard to see how the term could be implying an essential ongoing quality.

  9. just from my personal experience: I have experienced more violence living in London than in the Balkans. The level of violence is not in question here. I am questioning the very public image. Of course the public image should be contested all the time. Isn't this how we fight stereotypes? The word 'balkanize' is based on a stereotypical notion that the Balkans is an uncivilized and violent society. It is loaded with connotations that, at least in a political article, should be questioned and shown some awareness

  10. I'm not sure why you'd want to question a public image when you agree that it is accurate. As I understand it, the word "balkanise" is based on the region's violent and complex political history, and implies nothing about the society of the region in the present.

  11. I do not agree with the public image of the Balkans. I am questioning it, just as I would any other stereotype – for example, that the English are cold and reserved. The world is a much more heterogenous place than the way it is perceived through preconceived notions.

  12. Sorry, I'm confused. I thought you said you *did* agree with my perception that there hasn't been much violence there in recent years. If the public image is wrong, ie there *is* still a lot of violence, then I stand corrected.I don't think "balkanisation" is, or leads to, a "preconceived notion" though. If anything, it is "post-conceived", or evidence-based – ie it's a reference to certain historical facts, and nothing more.I think it's dangerous and wrong to not allow people to refer to certain events, however uncomfortable it might be.

  13. Also, my not being aware of any current violence in the Balkans does not amount to a stereotype. In any case, my view is positive, so I'm really not sure what you're objecting to.

  14. Far more likely that it will lead to the reformation of social (but not geographical) units based on conglomerates: the United States of Yahoo, Googledonia. This is better termed "stripmalling" or — as I'm ripping the conceit of Neal Stephenson — "snow crashing."

  15. I do think that predicting what the internet will lead to is a bit like p'ing into the wind – more often inaccurate than not. A good way to end up with egg on your face.

  16. Amazing that the discussion for this blog seems to have ended up on FB and not, like, on the actual blog.Yep – any kind of prediction is liable to not come true. But the potential for 'balkanisation' (and I mean that in a neutral, historical sense, Andrea) has implications for cultural exchange and multiculturalism. Please do click through to the blog itself, and my links to what Clay Shirky says on the matter.

  17. I know this wasn't the point of the post Rob, so forgive me for joining in on this tangent, but I think Andrea makes a very interesting point, one which had never really occurred to me. The basis of the phrase "balkanisation" may not have been deliberately offensive, but it is understandable why it would be taken as such. It would be interested to know how many people in that region are aware of the phrase as used in the English-speaking world, and how they feel about it.

  18. Is it understandable, Richard? Or even interesting? What exactly is so offensive about referring to historical events, and drawing analogies with future ones? Frankly, I think it's offensive to be offended by it.

  19. Ok, well this is what I thought when I read it. I imagined that if something as tragic as the events in the Balkans had happened in my country and this type of event was subsequently referred to as "Britainisation", I can imagine being offended, even if it WAS based on historical fact. I think the problem is this: there are presumably countless positive aspects to the Balkans as a region, but the word "Balkanisation" instantly draws attention to the negative ones. I also think the term may be simply unnecessary. Why not use descriptive, NEUTRAL terms on a case-by-case basis? The phrase "fragmentation of states" would be fine for the example shown in the map. Lastly, note that I was not saying outright "this is offensive". I was merely saying I understand how some might take it as such (as explained), and wondering aloud how many people do, particularly in the region itself.

  20. Sure. Though I don't think I *would* be offended, if Britain were the first country that sprang to people's minds when they thought of violent political disintegration. I'd be glad that people remembered the trauma my country had been through. But the main reason I wouldn't be offended is because the term wouldn't mean that the converse was also true: that violent political disintegration was the first thing that sprang to people's minds when they thought of Britain.

  21. I am rebelling, and not commenting on Facebook, but here, which is where I think I ought to comment!

    However, I am going to pick up on what’s being said over there: Balkanisation is a term that I think you used with very particular intent in the context of this post. If you had used it carelessly or inappropriately, I’d have something to say about it…

    I think the map above is terribly interesting: it depicts a layer of activity that runs counter to the far more visible layer of EU harmonisation activities. It flags up how numerous these movements are (and he’s surely missed a few), which is not always obvious, especially given that one might be more prone to think of independence movements in their own backyard first (here in Scotland, for example). Fascinating.

  22. Wales too.

    I also note that the new country north of Carlisle would be called “Republic of Scotland”, which I don’t think is accurate. My understanding is that they would keep Liz Windsor as Head of State.

  23. It’s hilarious because some of these populations are remnants from the mesolithic age and share the same DNA and have incredibly similar cultures, beliefs,etc.

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