Letter: Nations who get into in a state

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The Independent Online
NEAL ASCHERSON ('Words fail us as the world drifts towards disorder', 31 January) wants a rational description of the term 'nation'.

Perhaps a fruitful starting point would be to ask what a nation is not. One thing we can say for certain is that very few 'nation-states' are homogeneous nations. The United Kingdom is an example of a multinational state, just as the former Yugoslavia was. Why assume that every nation should have its own state, or, if it has a state, that it should be geographically compatible with the members of that national identity when the historical ebb and flow of populations makes this impossible - except by the horrors of 'ethnic cleansing'?

The essential issue is surely to recognise that national groupings outside their own state or in a multinational state should have their social, linguistic and cultural rights recognised and protected.

Simon Partridge

London N2

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