A separatist multicultural/racial society is susceptible to dormant ethnonational, cultural, or religious conflict that may become politicised. O’Leary [BBC Radio 4: 5 May 94] observed about self-determination that “the world’s political order dictates [that] the difference between a nation and a national minority [is that]… the latter is told to accommodate to the powers that be. If national minorities do not accept that fate, their plight or their fight is theirs and theirs alone.” Ethno-national disputes may initially be presented to the mainstream society, or interpreted internationally, as issues of human or civic rights like oppression or injustice. In Ulster, an ethno-national movement developed from a civil rights campaign, reinforced by religious sectarianism. This is a basis for the contention that wherever it is still possible, a nation-state should neither acquire nor promote multiculturalism, which could lead to separatism, or ultimately, demands for self-determination. The demands on the still essentially homogenous nation-states of the West to acquire, or to accept, increasing multiculturalism, and the future likelihood of ethno-national conflicts, arise from:

The pace of change in the world’s economy, and particularly the need to generate employment, both nationally and internationally. Although the West is relatively prosperous, it has had, and is likely to continue to have, periods of long-term unemployment and a permanent underclass, which can be as much as about twenty percent of the working population. These high levels of unemployment could be due to the increasing world population, a decline in unskilled/low skilled employment, the ease of transfer of technological manufacturing know-how from the West, the global mobility of investment, and the longer-term 136rise of China and India as major trading competitors, with world demand remaining static.

A heightened awareness of human rights that promote enhanced claims for political, socioeconomic, and other rights in multicultural societies by immigrants and minority groups, and the self-determination aspirations of stateless national groups.

The growing tide of people on the move—from agricultural regions to cities, and across national borders and continents. This has given rise to substantial economic migration and increasing numbers of economic refugees. Inward migration can be eased by the export of manufacturing investment to developing countries, but at the cost of domestic employment and social welfare in the developed countries, with their longer-term political and social repercussions.

The collapse of Communism and the break-up of the former USSR and its satellites, which has resulted in the re-emergence of independent nation-states in the Baltic/Belarus/Ukraine/Caucasus and of the Islamic states of its former Central Asian republics.

The probable longer-term geopolitical incentive to secure supplies of non-renewable, and as yet undeveloped, natural resources needed by the industrialised West, notably energy.