Every individual, every community considers itself special. It has to with self-image and a lore which goes with it. The vision of grandeur, is some-times based in a recall of a past which was glorious. On other occasions some collective virtue is picked up and held out as an ideal where other communities should be aspiring to arrive. The list is endless. Some country is seen as a land of the rising sun, another as having a series of imperial leaders who rushed across the world (as known then) waving the ethnic flag. Several cities in different parts of the world believe that when the sun rose for the ‘first time’, rays of the sun hit that city the first. These sentiments can’t be grudged because aspirations are very often en-capsuled in mythologies. If the mythologies were to be suitably analysed community psyches could be far better understood. Unfortunately, the history of nation building (which is essentially a post nineteenth century phenomena) is overladen by the historical framework of reference of the leader who had a prime role in the national identity movement. In many cases the identity has had to be modified. Central Asian state are a good example, there are others. What began as the German unification and the Italian unification about a century and half ago has had many versions especially in the third world countries. Interestingly nationalism was in many cases was the successor to the European phase of imperialism.
Geography helped to resolve many of these identities as they did in the case of Australia and New Zealand. The unification of hundreds of islands as ‘Indonesia’, was an exceptional phenomena. It did however leave certain contentious issues. Philippines and China are still arguing over the sovereignty affiliations of certain islands. Border dispute takes many forms and as a Sanskrit proverb states, “it is the strong and the brave which avail the land”. Ultimately, logic takes a back seat and the real world forces call the shots.
History can be evoked selectively. It’s done. There are also cases of unions and federations because of centrifugal forces. Even smaller countries have split up further into smaller countries and there is a constant struggle between the ethnic centrifugal and the imperial centripetal forces.
Technology seems to bind but only up to a point. Fundamentals of technology can vary from the assumptions of the scientific insights which were used. The technology of a Boeing is not the same as the technology of an Ilyushin aircraft. The American spacecraft returns to the earth to land in water. The Russian aircraft returns to earth on hard land.