Note: Repost from the old blog.
The London Review of Books publishes an excellent piece by Neal Ascherson on Abkhazia advocating independence for that nation*.
The Abkhazians and South Ossetians followed the post-colonial model of separatism. A colony or de facto colony gains its independence (in this case, we are replacing the USSR’s republics with colonies, which is problematic, but the model works the same way).
As soon as independence is declared, the new nation attempts a nation-building exercise and says that it is a coherent whole, typically without consulting the parts of its own body politic.
There are parts of the new nation that may have desired independence from the colony or larger whole (But maybe not; note that Abkhazians so feared Georgian ultranationalism that they voted to retain the USSR.).
Anyway, as soon as the new nation is declared, separatists emerge and announce that they are not part of this new nation, which has barely existed in history anyway, and hence has little to no legitimacy in terms of “territorial integrity”.
The former ferocious independence fighters quickly transform into fascist-like ultranationalists safeguarding the fake sacrosanct borders of the new nation with no historical existence.
In most cases, we progressives need to side with those who chose to break away from the very start.
It is little known, but this is the typical model for separatism in the world today.
This is the model that is operative in multiple separatist conflicts in Burma, India, Pakistan, China, Sudan, Angola, Turkey, Morocco, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Russia, Georgia, Moldova, and any number of other places. These movements never entered into a national compact upon decolonization. They were fighting from Day One.
The article notes that while the South Ossetians may well be comfortable joining Russia, the Abkhazians are not. The Abkhazians want an independent state and have had a de facto one for about 16 years now, but no one wants to give them one. Why not? Because Russia supports the Abkhazians. Russia opposed the Kosovars, so the West lunged to support the Albanians of Kosovo, the only reason being “screw Russia”.
As Georgia is little more than a US (and partially, EU) vassal state, it figures that neo-imperialism in its EU and NATO form are backing up this state’s fake claim to territorial integrity. The article makes clear that incorporating Abkhazia into Georgia at this late date is a lost cause.
Neither are South Ossetia and Abkhazia being colonized by Russia, which is how the idiot Western press puts it. Neither place wants any part of Georgia, and that’s that.
For the moment, they have entered into a completely free marriage of sorts with Russia. Free associational agreements are never examples of colonialism, neo-colonialism or imperialism. They are simply alliances among free actors, states in this case.
This was the error in the ridiculous Cold War model that saw a free and independent Cuba as a colony of some imperialist (to US Cold Warriors) or social imperialist (to silly Maoists) USSR. Cuba was free to leave at any time, and if anyone was exploiting anyone, Cuba (the “colony”) was making out a lot better than the “colonizer”, the USSR.
Colonialism has always been all about the loot, putting the conceit of the British-inspired White man’s burden self-serving model aside for the moment. When the colony is getting the meaty end of the deal, and there is no exploitation of the colony and no coercion by the colonizer, there can be no colonialism or imperialism. Real simple.
The article discusses a particularly idiotic instance of Cold War insanity. Poland grabbed quite a bit of Germany after WW2, to the approval of a vengeful West, who also donated bits of Germany to other states. Germany is lucky to have survived at all. Germans were ethnically cleansed from Poland, and many never lived to tell about it. All in all, it is pretty sordid stuff, but paybacks are a bitch, as they say on the street.
German revanchism would seem to be the rallying cry of the very Nazi sympathizers and German nationalists that had been smashed into discredit by the war. So who would think that as soon as Poland fell into the Warsaw Pact, the West would suddenly throw all its weight behind a German nationalist-revanchist movement with Nazi roots?
Yes, the same West that delightfully chopped up Germany and donated hunks to Poland and twiddled thumbs while 100,000’s of German Poles died in the process, now suddenly decided that the evisceration of Germany and donor operation to Poland was an outrage verging on casus belli for war. Insane? Of course. Realpolitik? You got it.
For decades, the West de facto sided with German neo-Nazism and agitated for a return of Pomerania et al to Germany. Willy Brandt finally put an end to this nonsense once and for all in 1971.
The West’s embrace of Georgian fascist-like ultranationalism falls into this same quicksand of folly.
*The article downplays the differences between the Mingrelian – Georgian languages and the Abkhazian language, describing them only as mutually unintelligible. Mingrelian and Georgian are related and are members of the same family, but they can’t understand each other at all, as Mingrelian and Georgian split 3000 years ago. Beria, Stalin’s famous assassin, was a Mingrelian speaker, while Stalin himself spoke Georgian.
The family is known as Kartvelian and has no known relatives. Abkhazian, on the other hand, is Northwest Caucasian. Northwest Caucasian also has no known relatives, but I suspect a relationship at least with Basque and Yenisien, as I did quite a bit of research on that a while back.
Despite living in close proximity to each other for centuries, Abkhazian is as different from Georgian – Mingrelian as English is from Chinese. And Mingrelian – Georgian and Abkhazian are as different from Turkish, Russian and Arabic (three closely neighboring languages) as English is to Chinese.
Georgian and Mingrelian are written in the very strange Georgian script. Here is an example of it, in this case Mingrelian. Kudos to any reader who can actually read this stuff:
რუსეთ რე ქიანა ბჟადალ ევროპას დო ჩრდილოეთ აზიას. რუსეთ ფართობით მსოფლიოშ უდიდაშ ქიანა რე. ცხოურენს კოჩი. რუსეთც გეშართუნს დიდ გეოგრაფიულ რეგიონეფ: ბჟაიოლ ევროპაშ ხორგული, ბჟადალ ციმბირიშ რზენი, ცენტრალურ ციმბირიშ ნარაზენი. ტერიტორიაშ თია უკებუ გვალამი რეგიონემც: ალტაი, ჩრდილოეთ კავკაცია, კოლიმა, საინი, ურალი. უმაღალაშ კოკი რე იალბუზ
Note: Repost from the old blog.