Democracy, Nationalism and the Nation State, with Reference to Sri Lanka
By L. C. Arulpragasam - Sat May 05, 7:04 am
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Featured image courtesy British High Commission
The ex-colonies at their independence were presented with a state conforming exactly to their former colonial boundaries. They were expected to build one nation into it – even if there were two or more nations within them. We thus started with a ‘state nation’ and not a nation state; because the state was established first, with the hope that one nation could be fitted into it. Democracy was to be the means by which this was to be achieved. This article seeks, from a historical, constitutional and political perspective, to analyse some of the problems that have arisen in doing so.
Two problems arise. First, the boundaries of the states are completely arbitrary, reflecting the ebb and flow of the tides of colonial fortune rather than true national boundaries. In Africa, new ‘nations’ are expected to contort and convolute themselves to fit into the geometric shapes of these colonial constructs, euphemistically called ‘nation states’….