The Quest for Self-Determination


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Dov Ronen

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All over the world, ethnic groups are striving to break away from the larger political entities that control their affairs.  The quest for self-determination is one of the most persistent, pervasive movements of this century.  Dov Ronen proposes in this interpretive essay that ethnic nationalism is simply the newest form of a basic human drive for self-determination that has been manifested in four other movements since the French Revolution: nineteenth-century nationalism, Marxist-Leninist class self-determination, self-determination for minorities as espoused by Wilson, and decolonization. 
Ronen’s intention in this book is to explain what self-determination is, why people fight for it, and what the implications of the struggle may be.  He looks at the past in order to explain past manifestations and at the future in an attempt to assess the possible impact of today’s ethnic movements on a world that is becoming increasingly interdependent and, in other respects, seems to be moving toward, not away from, integration. Though Ronen’s approach is primarily analytical and philosophical, he uses four cases (the Scots, Biafra, the Palestinians, and South Africa) to illustrate the application of his thesis to current events.
In conclusion, Ronen argues that the disintegrative effects of ethnic nationalism do now contradict but complement the trend toward regional, continental, and even global integration.  He foresees a new world order in which a large number of small sociopolitical entities exist within a few large economic conglomerates.

"This book is a significant contribution to the discussion about contemporary ethnic politics. It throws new light on the concept of 'Self-determination' by showing how people choose their own identity or role for their 'self' in terms of nationality or class, and discussing the conditions under which they tend to switch from one to the other. Students of comparative politics and international relations will find it valuable reading."—Karl W. Deutsch

"This short volume provides a provocative analysis of what the author conceives to be man's historical quest for self-determination. Ronen, a noted scholar on African politics, has lived on three continents and . . . his analysis of this seemingly universal quest derives from his direct experiences as well as scholarly research."—Harry R. Targ, Perspective

"Ronen's book . . . is a challenging, clearly stated, and provocative addition to the literature on nationalism."—Choice

"One of the more significant books I've read in recent years and helps me think that political science is capable of not only methodological but also substantive and theoretical growth."—James C. Davis, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

"Thoughtful and provocative."—Kenneth McRoberts, The American Political Science Review
ISBN: 9780300023640
Publication Date: September 10, 1979
192 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4