The Challenge of Nation-Building: Insights from Aristotle

Christian Breede

Abstract


Nation-building has become a very controversial topic in recent years. From the Former Yugoslavia to Iraq and Afghanistan, the topic has generated much debate among policy makers, policy implementers, and academics. The contemporary literature on the issue of nation-building varies substantially on issues such as legitimacy, timing and order of development, and approaches. But nation-building as a concept is not one that is unique to the modern age. Aristotle, in his Politics, addresses the key themes of legitimacy, timing of development, and approaches that emerge from the current literature on nation-building. There are principles in Aristotle’s work that can be directly applied to nation-building efforts today. Ensuring legitimacy through justice, simultaneous development, and an approach consistent with the mean will ensure a state becomes and remains stable. These ideas, first proposed by Aristotle, remain relevant today.

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