The cartographer lists two conditions as necessary for a successful devolutionary/secessionist movement:
First, the state must be well off economically and able to hold it’s own, i.e. it must have more to gain than lose. Hence, states like Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria are the two richest in Germany, essentially subsidizing the rest would have more motivation than the poor underdeveloped east German states which feed off the rest. The second condition is that the region must have a well developed and unique identity which comes in the form of a strong dialect or different language, history of independence or autonomy and other characteristics that go into defining a culture. Thus, Bavaria (which is actually what most people think about when they think of Germany) is both rich and has a long cultural past and different identity. It has its own dialect, a history of independence and a host of other unique traits including traditional song, dance, clothes etc that other regions lack.I was recently reading an article about World War II. Specifically, I was reading an article about the horrific paroxysms of ghoulish violence that constituted World War II, something about which it's good, if unpleasant, to be reminded from time to time. That violence is epitomized by the Holocaust, of course, but there was far more to it than that: fire-bombings, mass starvation, death marches through the countryside, castration, rape, torture... For all intents and purposes, Armageddon came to Europe in the 1940s.
That was less than 70 years ago; it's still within living memory. But since that time Western Europe has become the most stable, peaceful, and prosperous region in the world. The European Union is developing into a real trans-national sovereignty, something I don't believed has ever happened in a non-colonialist context in the history of the world. But all of this stability and prosperity has been so world-historically anomalous; if, in 70 years, we've gone from the Warsaw Ghetto to dickering over farm subsidies in Brussels, would an inverse movement - away from peace, away from cultural and economic integration - be just as possible?
The map above actually represents a benign vision of the future; European stability is a precondition for the success of the separatist movements this map highlights. But it makes me wonder if the stability and current shape of Europe is something we take too much for granted. There's one sure bet, at any rate: if you try to predict the future simply by extrapolating current trends, you're bound to be wrong.
By the way: Brittany has a separatist movement??
(Via The Map Room via Andrew Sullivan.)