State vs. Nation

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The State, as a political entity must be differentiated from the concept of “nation”, which is an anthropological/psychological concept.

Nation refers essentially to the people – to their commonness, and not necessarily bound with the concept of “territories” or other physical attributes.

State is a legal concept – its existence requires recognition from the international community of States. Nation, on the other hand, is a racial or ethnic concept. Nation being an anthropological entity is used to denote a group of people with shared characteristics – like a shared language, a shared system of beliefs (e.g. religious beliefs, a common sense of history and a common culture). This sense of commonness is the basis of nationhood and forms the basic premises of nationalism as a political philosophy.

Nation-State” is therefore different from “State”. Nation-State refers to a community of men and women who share a common sense of history and culture, living in a definite territory, who has a government of their own, and free from external control.

Considering all these, we could therefore reasonably say that:

  1. Before a State could exist, the existence of a nation (within the territory of the State) must be presupposed (at least one nation of men and women).

  2. There can be a nation even without a state (e.g. the case of the Moros in Mindanao, the case of Quebec in Canada, the East Timorese in Indonesia prior to their independence, the Jews prior to WWII, the Palestinians prior to early 2000, etc.).

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