The term "separatism" refers to the desire of people who are of the same ethnicity, religion, race or another characteristic to separate themselves from a larger group or nation. This desire might be because those people feel oppressed or discriminated against by the larger group, or it might be to create greater unity or self-sufficiency among those in the group. Separatist movements are also called secession movements if the group wants to secede, or withdraw, from the larger political group and form their own state. In other cases, the group might want only to live in its own area within a larger state and maintain autonomy or independence in certain aspects while still being governed in other ways by the state.
Reasons for Separatism
Separatist movements sometimes form in response to cultural oppression, ethnic violence or the denial of rights that have been given to other groups. Other times, separatist movement might be motivated by a desire to be self-governed. Economics, politics and religion also can be motivating factors for separatism, such as when a group feels that wealth is being withheld or certain political parties or religions are dominating a society or country. Another reason might be to right a historical wrong, such as when a group wants to reclaim land that it believes was wrongly taken by another group.
Responses to Separatism
There have been as many types of responses to separatism as there are have been separatist movements. The larger government might try to accommodate the smaller group desires, such as by improving living conditions, increasing access to wealth or granting political rights. In other cases, the state might give in to the separatist movement's demands by allowing the group to secede and form its own state. The government might instead choose to counter the separatist movement through further oppression or even warfare. Whether a separatist movement results in a new, independent state or significant changes in the larger government is influenced by many societal factors.
Many modern nations have been formed from separatist movements, including Israel, Greece, Algeria and Bangladesh. The United States also was a result of separatism. American colonists felt they were being politically and economically oppressed by their English colonial rulers. They wanted to be a self-governing country and successfully fought in the American Revolutionary War to gain their independent from Great Britain. Separatism also caused the American Civil War, because the southern states wanted to secede from the union, but this movement was met with resistance from the union and did not succeed.