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They worked quite well until democracy came along, which is exactly MfM's point.

The present nationalistic movements of Europe have their roots in early 19th-century romanticism. What WWI did was weaken the European empires sufficiently for their natinalities to assert themselves. The decolonization of the British Empire (especially India and Palestine/Zionism) can be seen as part of the same process.

Multinational empires "worked well" until the French Revolution, because until then absolute rule by monarchs regardless of nationality was accepted. But these monarchs had to regularly assert their rule and suppress nationalistic uprisings. For a while now I have been thinking about a diary on the Spanish nationalities seen from this angle.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 13th, 2006 at 11:07:05 AM EST
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