What Makes Individual Nations Tick (1)

(By Goke Omolade)

Take Nigeria, Africa’s self-immolate giant, and its distorted history. Where does one really begin its litany of missed opportunities and near-misses? Playing back its tape of history; would its experience have been differently pleasant if it had not had  contact with Britain at the outset of its sojourn to nationhood or, better still, if its early father-figures had been united and resolutely far-sighted like the American leaders of the 18th century who fought London to a retreating standstill? If only Nigeria had been fated otherwise by evolving out of its own pace without external and biased forces!

THERE are nations and indeed nation-states alike and there are leaders and rulers in our contemporary world likewise. Peculiarly situated in each of these nations and their actors are each individuality of purpose as well as their foundation of existence. Regardless of geographic proximity, economic alliance or political mutuality; no two nations or leaders are the same or equal in comparative terms. Take, for instance, the whole gamut of the United Nations (UN) where, on paper, there is equality of membership whereas on functional dynamics, each member knows its limits or range of sovereignty.

   On statistical reckoning, the UN’s General Assembly has an expansive bloc of 193 members while its Security Council’s five permanent, veto-power wielders (Britain, China, France, Russia and United States, i.e. America) are a total contrast in entirety. Obviously living up to the billing of the all-symphony-knowing piper calling the tunes; the policy directions and operand of the UN system are pre-purposed by the whim and wishes of the Big Five League Players.

   In normal situations, the above-listed five privileged associates of enormous power jealously guard against inter-interest collision lest the whole world suffers self-destruct as almost experienced in the 1959 Cuban missile crisis during which the then Soviet Union (SU) slugged it out with America.

   Before the advent of the UN system, a failed attempt had earlier been made with the League of Nations idea which the then American Senate dismissively pooh-poohed right on its arrival and ever since has humanity contented itself with the UN status quo and just as then, individual nations have continued to behave true to type in the fervent pursuit of parochially defined nationalistic and undisguised interests. Along this slippery course, nations have stealthily stolen others’ thunders in attempts to outwit each other. Perhaps this was one solid reason why nations such as the SU through Mikhail Gorbachev’s Glasnost and Perestroika and Broz Josef Tito’s Yugoslavia by the Yugomess implosion were finished off. Such were deliberately twisted events which led to the extinction of targeted nations by the superior power of Western-induced antithetical seeds of dislocation and perhaps destruction. Even at that, what really makes respective nations tick? Take the instructive cases of the UN’s Big Five shakers and movers and some other selected nations.

  Regardless of what the cynics or critics may say, America, as the sole, assertive superpower of the 21st century regulates the ethos and dynamics of the world at large and its position became so strengthened with its pivotal role in the annihilation of communism which has earned it (America) broad and wide respectability on the one hand and power of fearsome compulsion on the other. In this era of common universality, virtually every trans-national contact is dollarised and in total sum, America’s entity is decidedly operational on the clean ethics of democratic values, associate freedoms and liberties.

   Beneath these America’s superstructures and resultant structures is that foundational dynamic of pervasive merit and ample opportunities which it readily taps from the swell of its irrepressible immigrant citizens of various nationalities from across the globe. Its collective psyche is fired by the American Dream of making the nation better and more secure which Americans are ever so proud of. Tapping from its divergent but rich societal composition; one’s deprived background is no barrier to one’s set-goal so long as one is purposefully resolute to succeed by daring the unknown. It is in America’s own-designed settings that the haves-not and wretched of the earth can boldly rise to the zenith of their chosen careers.

   When in the late 18th century its first President, George Washington, declined to perpetuate himself beyond the two term-limit of presidency little did he know the weight and width of integrity and respectable aura he was bequeathing to his successive generations? Any wonder why Americans named their nation’s capital after him or the sweet song on the lip of the average American is; God bless America!

  The trio of Britain, France and their big uncle, Germany, largely echo the old world called Europe along with their pristine antecedents of ancient civilization; and by its own standards of perceived interests. Often, Europe’s silver lining can be gauged on which side of the ideological divide/mercantile it ultimately stands to gain from! In fact, in sound inter-relational terms, Europe’s degree of sincerity can be measured between the two hypotheses of Walter Rodney’s How Europe underdeveloped Africa (1972) and Martin Meredith’s State of Africa (2006).

   Within each border, individual modernity is governed by its historical/otherwise landmarks such as Britain’s Magna Charta (1688), France’s triplet of Equality, Liberty and Egalitarian virtues (1789) and Germany’s Iron Chancellor Bismarck’s reign (1870s).

   Typically, the European ruler gets inspired by the three power-strata of first and foremost; Europe, one’s locality and the rest of the world. The indelible marks of Otto von Bismarck, Adolf Hitler; Charles de Gaulle, Vladimir Lenin/Josef Stalin while they lasted upon Europe vis-à-vis the subdued influences of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain as well as Angela Merkel’s Germany loom so conspicuously.

   Boxed to a tight corner of power intrigues, the European ruler is deftly the same because for them, what comes round similarly goes across like a calculating game in a musical chair. Whereas, dealing with an American leader, you know, a priori, where you stand while it is not so with Europeans who habitually speak from both ends of their mouth!

   However, traversing Europe’s historical past, the sharpening interconnectedness between its monarchical entities and its larger spectrum is still as relevant as its democratic institutions which act as checks and balances on any possible excess in the society. The royalties’ effects in say London, Brussels, Madrid, Lisbon are so awesome that what cannot officially be quantified between democratic virtues and monarchical preferences are easily pushed to historical relics and spiritual irrelevances.

   In the far-flung parts of the Asian continent, China and Japan hold sway and one remarkable feature about China is its almost monotonous Hans sub-nationality which is well over three-quarters of its entire population. Strikingly, China within and among its society is strengthened by its identifiable similarities in norms and cultural traits. Nothing thrills the Chinese more than their unassailable and civilised past dating back to two millennia.

  On its own, Japan is quite opposite to China’s near-homogeneity going by its highly stratified ethnic compositions of Aiuns, Nippon Koreans, Burakumins and beyond the glamour of its make-believe Sony, Toyota’s expansive global sales and solid gross national products; Japan is well ways off-course of sound equalities particularly because of its imperial foundation. One basic factor why Japan has come this far in reckoning despite its class discrimination is sequel to its early exposure to industrial advancement and democratic posturing.

   On a continental application, the Asian values of hard work, family ethos of acquiescence, mutual consensus are hard-core qualities that oil the Asian engine of development and the demonstrable examples of Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong are noticeable cues. In fact, Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew’s numerous achievements during his reign as prime minister were so monumental and this was a pointer to forthright leadership.

   Next comes Africa’s pitiable case since time immemorial and having been enervated from its slavery days through its flag-independence era, it has continued to be a dumping ground of sort to the world at large. Virtually every step taken has been on wrong footing. Take Nigeria, Africa’s self-immolate giant, and its distorted history. Where does one really begin its litany of missed opportunities and near-misses? Playing back its tape of history; would its experience have been differently pleasant if it had not had  contact with Britain at the outset of its sojourn to nationhood or, better still, if its early father-figures had been united and resolutely far-sighted like the American leaders of the 18th century who fought London to a retreating standstill? If only Nigeria had been fated otherwise by evolving out of its own pace without external and biased forces!

To be continued.
gokeomolade@hotmail.com

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

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