Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 18th, 2021

The Positive and Negative Role of Ethnicity in Social and Political Development


The Positive and Negative Role of Ethnicity in  Social and Political Development

Traditionally, the word ethnicity refers to minority group affairs and its racial relationship within a political society. Sociologically, there are two main definitions about ethnicity: cultural and racial. Based on cultural definition, ethnicity refers to a group of people who have common cultural features such as religion, language, customs, race and historic commonalities. Based on racial definition, ethnicity refers to a group of people whose common characteristics are race, language, religion, customs and historical commonalities. In any case, ethnicity plays a very significant role in management of social and political orders. It can be considered as threat or opportunity to social and economic development. In third world countries such as Afghanistan, its threatening aspects are more activated. Many of ethnic divisions or movements are originated from ethnocentrism in third world countries. As a result, these countries are faced with multiple crises including identity crisis, security crisis, management crisis, economic crisis, cultural crisis and so on.
In global level, it is said that almost 37% of domestic conflicts are rooted in ethnocentrism. More or less, these conflicts have been witnessed, even, in developed countries including America, Africa, Asia and Europe. these conflicts have largely intensified after collapse of emperor systems and emersion of new nation-states. As the legacy of emperorship has been divided to small countries, the feeling of ethnocentrism has been also promoted Instead of nationalism. As a consequence, many of these countries are not only suffer from lack of national state, national unity and national authority, but also witness a great historic downfall as if changed the cradle of science and civilization to cradle of war and conflicts such as in Afghanistan.  So, in order to build a unified nation in these countries, there is no better alternative than establishment of pluralistic society.
In third world countries, despite having the maximum natural and economic resources, they are not in a proper political and economic condition. These countries, in spite of having numerous commonalities, they have some cultural and political differences which made them vulnerable against dividing policies of colonialists. Nevertheless, there are many multi-ethnic countries in the world which is based on the power of cultural and racial diversity. The United States, the European Union, china, Australia, Canada, Russia, and India and so on are some of the important examples which taken their political and economic power from diversity, not ethnic monopoly. In many of these countries, the ethnic diversity has not only caused social and political challenges but also paved the way for social-economic dynamism.
In Afghanistan, the ethnocentrism has long history but it has largely intensified with emersion of radical groups such as Taliban, Daesh, Al-Qaeda and Haqqani network. In Afghanistan, there are the least ethnic tendencies amongst middle educated class of society as they have relative access to wealth, economy and awareness but the upper political class and lower uneducated class are more vulnerable against ethnocentric traps. So, it seems that ethnocentrism has largely linked to poverty, injustice and low level of literacy in the country. Therefore, the best way for elimination of ethnocentrism is sustainable and balanced economic, cultural and political development. In addition, the ethnic groups should be mixed or homogenized as did so in many other countries. Unfortunately, the four main ethnic groups in Afghanistan are separated in four sides of the city or country while it is very common in today’s world to establish marital and social interactions amongst individuals pertain to different race and culture.
Anyway, ethnocentrism can be one of the biggest issues in today’s human society, especially in multi-ethnic society. If we fail to manage the issue, it leaves a lot of consequences in the country. The first destructive consequence of ethnocentrism is division and destruction. Those nations which are engaged with this illness they will not only forget meritocracy which leads to constructive completion and progress but also pave the way for domination of foreigners in the country. The history shows that the ethnic beseeching supports from the outsiders paved the ground for their domination, as well. When look at the history of world countries, there were many kings families which begged support from foreigners so as to ensure the political power for their sons and families but led to severe dependencies of their countries.
According to experts, there are several ways to prevent from negative consequences of ethnocentrism. The first way which already promoted in many developed country is homogenization and mixture of different ethnic identity groups. In a homogenized society, the black and white can easily choose each other as a friend, as a neighbor or as life partner. Thus, the relationships amongst various ethnic groups are built on the basis of humanitarian criteria, not racial criteria. This method was also used by divine prophets and great philosophers. In fact, the most important criteria which were introduced by prophets were establishment of friendship on the basis of virtue and meritocracy and so they advised people for following the criteria of virtue, not race.
The next method which widely practiced in some of the developed countries is pluralistic approach. Based on this method, all races and cultures can peacefully live together with their own particular race and cultural identities. According to experts, Switzerland is one of the ideal examples for multicultural society. In Switzerland, there is no national language maintaining various cultural identities and ethnic difference while they live in peace and unity.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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