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What is Balkanization? How does a country/political entity/area become Balkanized? What does Balkanization mean specifically for the future of the United States?

Edit: "The Balkanization of the United States" as a general concept has gained an uptick in radical circles of discourse as far as I can tell; however, I have not heard this phrase before and do not have any other real context other than that I can find on search engines.

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    Because terms get pretty fluid when politics are involved, it would help if you could provide the inspiration/source/context where someone used the term, specifically. Jan 9 at 18:15
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    Well, "Balkanized" as a word has a lot of discussion using it, which is based on a specific historic example. What have you read and what do you think you already know?
    – user2578
    Jan 9 at 18:17
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    This is the use that I can recall; from BBC's Dec. 27, 2017 Obama warns against irresponsible social media use "'One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases. The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn't lead to a Balkanisation of society and allows ways of finding common ground,' he said."
    – uhoh
    Jan 10 at 0:10
  • Seems like a read of the Wikipedia page on "Balkanization" would answer this question.
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 12 at 14:41

9 Answers 9

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The term 'Balkanization' refers to a geographical area being or becoming inhabited by various ethnic or political groups with deep hostility towards each other and a general inability to form stable political boundaries and structures.

The name comes from the Balkans, which were controlled by the Ottoman Empire before that empire crumbled. The retreat of the Ottomans left Serbians fighting Kosovars, Albanians fighting Greeks, Greeks fighting Turks, etc. Parts of the former Ottoman Empire were then occupied by Austria-Hungary, which led to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand -- the trigger but not the cause of the First World War. A few decades earlier, Bismarck was quoted as saying the Balkans were not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.

This characterization might be slightly unfair, but it has stuck.

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    None of USSR's republics were in the Balkans region. The closest one is Moldavia and it still falls short.
    – alamar
    Jan 9 at 19:13
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    The term Balkanization is often used in the sense of a division of political power into many small geographic units rather than being united in a single larger political entity of greater political expanse. An ethnically and politically divided empire under the tight rule of a central government, is not Balkanized.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 9 at 19:56
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    Ethnic rivalries in the Balkans were inflamed by British and European colonial powers, they didn't;t just spring into hostilities on their own Must have missed that bit of Balkan history. Do you have any, you know, sources, to back that up? FWIW while Austria-Hungary was European, it, like Germany, mostly "lost out" in the big European colonization drives of the 16-19th century. In any case I await with bated breath to hear what the "perfidious UK" had to with the mess - keeping in mind the Ottoman Empire sat on it for centuries. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balkans Jan 9 at 20:19
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    @TedWrigley , yeah, sure, different ethnic groups never ever fought against each other anywhere in the world, they all lived in perfect peace and harmony, they were pure and innocent, until those evil European powers started convincing them to hate each other... What a magnificent tale. Just who do you expect will believe that?
    – vsz
    Jan 9 at 23:47
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    Whilst it's definitely true that the British empire took a "divide and conquer" approach, and in many places these invented divisions lead to violent conflict between groups (Rwanda being the most glaring example of this), Britain had relatively little influence in the Balkans during the 20th century. Other imperial powers contributed more to ethnic tension in the region.
    – James_pic
    Jan 10 at 10:03
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What does "the Balkanization of the United States" mean?

The phrase Balkanization of the United States is used in two very different senses with very different connotations and implications.

One sense involves geographic fragmentation of governmental authority leading potentially to a weaker central government or secession.

Another sense involves ethnic fragmentation leading to something on the continuum between a multi-cultural society and a "tribal" society.

To some extent the second sense of the phrase is a "dog whistle" intended to convey a message about ethnic fragmentation that bemoans the fall of a unified Anglo and Christian national identity to the main audience, while causing people who don't share the views of the person used it to see it as a message about federalism and "subsidiarity".

Balkanization As Geographic Fragmentation Of Governmental Authority

Balkanization means:

Division of a place or country into several small political units, often unfriendly to one another. The term balkanization comes from the name of the Balkan Peninsula, which was divided into several small nations in the early twentieth century.

Usually, the term Balkanization refers to the existence of multiple small sovereign entities in a geographic region. But, in the context of "the Balkanization of the United States" what is referred to is a shift of power from the federal government to state governments, and to a greater amount of diversity in policies between individual states or blocks of states or governmental subdivisions within states.

Thus, for example, when Roe v. Wade was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, the United States has a uniform national policy regarding when abortion could be criminalized. But when this case was recently overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court, the result was that U.S. states now had potentially 50 different rules regarding the legality of abortion, which actually manifested in a large number of U.S. states where it is completely prohibited, a large number of U.S. states where the status quo established in Roe v. Wade remained in place, and a few states where some other intermediate rule was adopted.

Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling holding that state bans on same sex marriage were unconstitutional, there was similarly great diversity between U.S. states on the legal status of same sex couples, with some states allowing for same sex marriage, some prohibiting it, and some allowing for legally recognized civil unions and domestic partnerships similar to same sex marriage but different in name and in some legal consequences.

In the case of marijuana regulation, despite U.S. Supreme Court caselaw clearly establishing that the federal government has the legal authority to establish uniform national laws regarding controlled substances, some states began to legalize or to decriminalized marijuana under state law in some circumstances, and the federal government rather than pushing back hard against this state level defiance, as semi-officially taken a stance of tolerating these state level legalizations again creating a diverse state to state set of policies on a major national issue.

Some of the pre-Balkanization policy uniformity that existed in the United States arose from federal policies, but in other cases, it arose simply from states and local governments voluntarily copying each other and from states sharing a "common law" legal system with shared root in English law, or out of political pressure to make the law uniform nationally to the extent possible, especially in the laws of contract and personal property.

For example, while no federal law mandates it, every state has independently adopted the Uniform Commercial Code as state law, and had structured their state level professional ethics regulations in the numbering and form of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct promulgated by the American Bar Association, even though different states have differed in detail in this regard. Other examples of state and local governments copying each other wholesale involve incorporations by reference of various Uniform Building Codes.

Also, in the formation of judge made common law, state judges have tended to view precedents from other U.S. states as persuasive, resulting in great similarity even in the absence of absolutely identical laws, between U.S. states.

But, when you have the Balkanization of the United States, states and local governments start to intentionally make their laws on various subjects different from those of other states and local governments, most often, along the familiar red-blue divide between conservative and liberal leaning U.S. states and localities.

How does a country/political entity/area become Balkanized?

An area becomes more Balkanized when smaller geographic areas start to adopt and implement different laws and policies, because local areas want different policies and because it has become feasible to do so.

Balkanization As Ethnic Fragmentation Of Society

There is also a sense of the term "Balkanization" derived from its earlier meaning defined above, that is more abstract and refers to fragmentation of a society or civilization in contrast to unity of a society, while abandoning the sense of the word to meaning only fragmentation in a geographic sense, and without necessarily referring to governmental fragmentation.

The term Balkanization of the United States (or another country) is for example, also used in a non-geographic sense (e.g. in an opinion piece in the magazine the "National Interest") to refer to a situation in which a common national identify and self-identification becomes secondary to ethnic identities, which one author summed up as follows:

This Balkanisation is, however, a predictable and major threat to any social cohesion within Britain, or the United States. If one identifies as a hyphenated American (a practice which is relatively new, and ascendant with the spread of an evangelical form of liberal individualism), sooner or later, one would be in a tribal conflict with a different hyphen. The key is to remove those hyphens, not to encourage more in the name of liberal individualism. For a country that isn't ethnocentric in nature, but rather credal in its formation, maintaining a form of unionist creed is naturally important. That includes at least some form of homogenization and assimilation. Else, sooner or later, you'd end up with the fate of Yugoslavia.

When used in this sense, Balkanization is being used pejoratively (even though the term itself is not inherently pejorative) to describe the kind of society that the author fears that identity politics will produce - i.e. fear of a "tribal" and ethnically divided society. A more positive spin on the same kind of ethnic diversity in a country like the Britain or the United States calls it a "melting pot" or more pointedly a "salad bowl" vision of the society.

In this sense the rhetoric of Balkanization is being used as a more politically acceptable euphemism for concepts that might otherwise be described a soft core version of "white nationalism" or "racism" or Christian nationalism (a.k.a. Dominionism).

In the "ethic sense" a country/political entity/area become Balkanized to the extent that a nationalist vision of a common culture for everyone in the nation fails. Those who fear ethnic Balkanization are afraid of "wokeness" or a non-color blind society, of deviation from the religious plurality or majority, and of negative portrayals of the nation's history that could undermine a desire to unite behind a nationalist vision for the country.

What does Balkanization mean specifically for the future of the United States?

In The Geographic Sense

In the United States, this means that different states and blocks of states and local governments could start to adopt very different policies, particularly on social issues like gay rights, public funding for religious schools, abortion, women's rights, transgender rights, parental rights, marriage and divorce, and symbolic treatment of historically racist figures like Confederate war heroes.

This has the potential to be problematic because the United States is set up to be a single commercial marketplace without border controls for customs or immigration of any kind.

If someone is illegal in one state but legal in another, there will be travel, which may or may not be legal, between states to circumvent the restrictive policies of a state.

If a blue state regulates certain kinds of firearms, someone is likely to illegally import the firearms to that state from a state where they are legal.

If a red state bans abortion pills, someone is likely to import the pills to that state from a state where they are legal.

If Maine legalizes polygamy, but other states ban it, this could limit the ability to polygamous families in Maine to travel freely to other states.

On the other hand, to the extent that Balkanization is with respect to policies that don't have much spillover effect and don't interfere with interstate commerce too much, it can allow everyone to live in places which have policies more to their liking without too many negative "macro" effects.

In a Balkanized United States where differences in policy do have great spillovers and impacts on interstate activities, however, the divisions between red states and blue states could become so great that the country becomes effectively ungovernable as a single unit. This might create pressure to divide the United States into one or more actual sovereign states that are not part of the same country.

Of course, one of the big consequences of a division into separate sovereign states is that sovereign states that can't resolve issues between them often resort to war, while subordinate U.S. states resolve their differences in court and in Congress.

In The Ethnic Sense

To say that society is becoming Balkanized in the ethnic sense is to say that society is becoming, in a positive sense, multi-cultural, and in a negative sense, "tribal."

The distinction between the two largely comes down to whether there is tolerance and non-discrimination in the multi-cultural vision, or there is in group favoritism and hostility in the tribal vision.

Critics of ethnic fragmentation often fear the demise of a conservative Anglo Protestant culture in favor of the influence of other ethnic cultures domestic and foreign which they view as undermining the "real" American national identity.

Those who embrace ethnic diversity, in contrast, see this as casting aside the unfair dominance of one ethnicity over others and replacing it with a more egalitarian and rich society.

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    Is this an example of that Chatbot thing? It repeats what o.m. said and then adds a lot of not relevant detail.
    – RedSonja
    Jan 10 at 8:20
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    It's not just state vs. state. Someone from rural upstate New York is more likely to see eye-to-eye with someone from southern Georgia than someone from New York City. Jan 10 at 11:16
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    Note that SCOTUS merely ruled that abortion is not a Constitutional issue. Federal law would override state laws, but (presumably due to Roe v Wade), no federal law was ever made. Roe v Wade was literally "legislating from the bench", i.e., creating legislation where none exists, via court rulings. Nothing stops Congress from creating a unifying law, except that they probably can't agree on one.
    – JamieB
    Jan 10 at 16:23
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    @ohwilleke I'd argue the opposite. Balkanization is driven by subdivisions within the country who feel "pushed around" by federal level laws. Congressional gridlock largely (and intentionally, by design) prevents this. Where you have real problems is when a single party has enough control to push their agenda onto the rest of the country over their objections. That creates Balkanization pressure.
    – JamieB
    Jan 11 at 14:29
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    @RedSonja FWIW, one of the main reasons that I wrote this answer is that I disagreed with the definition of Balkanization provided without supporting authority by o.m. and to address parts of the question (meaning for the U.S.) which are relevant but which o.m. did not address. I did not, of course, use a ChatBot (I wouldn't even know how to do that).
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 11 at 18:35
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While other answers described in general what Balkanization is in a general sense, with respect to the United States, it would look largely like a second succession crisis similar to that of the Civil War, and would be thought that States would form new federations or in the case of some, return to their prior status as Independent Nations (Florida, Texas, California, and Hawaii all were independent nations prior to annexation (in all cases but Hawaii, the former nation requested the annexation into the U.S.).

Other states would form into regional blocks among several states with common issues between them.

Alternatively, the U.S. may have individual states Balkanize. Historically this has happened several times in the past, albeit not recently. Kentucky and later West Virginia were at one point in history part of the State of Virginia and Maine was similarly part of Massachusetts. Per the United States Constitution, no state may be divided without consent so in these cases the state's legislative body must agree to the break up. More modern intrastate secession movements exist in many states, and usually in a part of the state that differs in political opinion from the state's dominant political party.

Given the nature of U.S. politics, these tend to crop up in states with a Democrat dominance in state politics more than in Republican dominated states, though this should not be considered a party politics response, but rather for the root cause of the "succeed from the state" being the rural areas of the state being fed up with the fact that there are far more voters concentrated in a single urban region of the state that has politics that differ from their own and do not have a reliable voice as a permanent political minority. The closest to happen was the proposed state of Jefferson which was a succession of Counties around the California-Oregon border from there respective states and merger into the proposed state. It was slated for a Congressional hearing at one point, but was postponed due to the U.S. entering WWII (The hearing was going to be the Day after Pearl Harbor!) and the support of it lost momentum quickly after that (one reason for this is California's politics would shift more right of center in the post war years and wouldn't go back to the Democrat dominance it is today until the early 90s.).

At a national level, the Balkanization is likely to not happen without some dramatic event. The Civil War has largely settled that once joined, no state has a right to succeed from the Union.

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    In the first sentence, do you mean a succession crisis or a secession crisis?
    – Jasmijn
    Jan 10 at 14:48
  • I meant which ever one makes sense in the context...
    – hszmv
    Jan 10 at 16:19
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    @hszmv: In a US Civil War context, that would be secession. A succession crisis would be a disputed presidential election like in 1876.
    – dan04
    Jan 10 at 22:59
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    The US civil war established that a secession cannot be unilateral. But a consensual divorce is still possible. This would likely be a split in two federations along state lines, separating red and blue states. Both federations would probably consider themselves successor states of the USA.
    – MSalters
    Jan 12 at 11:22
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What does Balkanization mean specifically for the future of the United States?

As noted in o.m.'s answer,

'Balkanization' refers to a geographical area being or becoming inhabited by various ethnic or political groups with deep hostility towards each other.

Suppose you gave people in the US who regularly watch MSNBC the choice of being forced to binge-watch Tucker Carlson for a day vs death by drawing and quartering. They would have to think. The same would apply to people who regularly watch Fox when given a choice between being forced to binge-watch Rachel Maddow vs death. That's Balkanization.

The rural and urban parts of the US do not see eye to eye; it's not even close. The northeast and south do not see eye to eye; once again, it's not even close. The awash with water east and the drought-ridden west do not see eye to eye. That leads to even more Balkanization.

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    +1 While historically Balkanization means division along ethnic and geographical lines, in the context of USA in the here and now, the divisions are really along political and social lines. As exemplified by the current polarization in (social) media, see also the Obama quote about the 'Balkanization of society' in the comment by @uhoh.
    – Ivana
    Jan 10 at 10:00
  • It should be pointed out that the most consistent division in the U.S. is the Urban-Rural divide as it's been a known issue almost since the countries inception.
    – hszmv
    Jan 10 at 13:52
  • "rural and urban parts of the US do not see eye to eye; it's not even close": my experience of discussing politics with people from both parts of the US is that it's a lot closer than most people think. Yes, there are vocal minorities on both sides who will never agree on almost anything, but there is a good deal of common ground to be found. It's just that this doesn't make for good television or compelling social media. As one of my secondary school literature teachers liked to say, "no conflict, no story."
    – phoog
    Jan 13 at 10:08
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+250

The historic origin of the term "Balkanisation" is (mostly) correctly represented in other answers but the current usage of the term is more general and less tied to the historic context.

The historic origin

The geographic region of the Balkans had been mostly controlled by a single imperial power (the Ottoman Turks) since their defeat of the Byzantine empire in 1453. By the end of the next century the Ottomans controlled not just all the balkans but the entire coast of the Black Sea (including Crimea) and European territory including much or Hungary and land close to Vienna.

Over the next centuries their boundaries shrank as other major European powers grew in strength. But by the 1800s most of the Balkans was still under their control and had been for a long time, despite many nationalist movements and big power rivalry. even by the end of that 19th century and despite major great power conflicts much of the balkans was still under single Ottoman control. This ended rapidly in the early 20th century as most of that territory was lost.

Those losses, though, were characterised by a range of shifting alliances from competing nationalist and ethnic interests leaving new countries who often fought each other. The key point being that relatively uniform control of the region was replaced by a shifting, factious mix of competing ethnic and nationalist groups whose interests rarely aligned (spectacularly illustrated in the first world war as some new countries sided with the germans and Ottomans, others with the Russians, French and British.

The current usage of the term

The point–and one relevant to modern uses of the word "Balkanisation"–was that a relatively uniform entity had fallen apart to be replaced by a fractious mix of smaller groups who disagreed violently on many issues and fought among themselves.

The modern use of the word balkanisation is not just restricted to geographic or ethnic issues, though that is its origin. In use the term has been extended to any situation where something that was once uniform or monolithic has broken apart into something much more fragmented. And especially where that fragmentation has led to far more conflict or disputation among the new components of the previously uniform entity.

Once could describe the development of science as a process that balkanised the subject. Once, much science was done by generalists but covered many topics. But, as specialisation became more common, what was once somewhat uniform became dominated by separate specialties like physics, biology and chemistry which in turn balkanised into narrow sub-specialties where there is no longer any uniformity of understanding or method across the whole subject.

As for US politics, it is a distraction to think geographically or in terms of political control of the country or states. It is reasonable to describe american society as "balkanising" if society is splitting into separate, fractious groups of any sort who are frequently in conflict and rarely seem to understand each other. A society that was once widely seen to have shared, relatively uniform values and interests appears to be fragmented into many sub groups whose interests appear to be in conflict and who have few shared values or interests.

That, I think, is what is meant by the balkanisation of america. Whether that leads to actual political or geographic secession by some groups from the state is a different issue. It is OK to describe the current state of US politics as balkanisation even if it never leads to new states or actual fighting.

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To start with, Balkanization is a common term in European/Western political discourse. The same word exists in French for example and has the same connotations.

Two things stand out, to me, when this term is used:

The presence of an external unification factor, previously:

In the case of the Balkans, that what patched things together was first the Ottoman Empire, then a mixture of the Turkey and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

These were empires that presided over an "enforced coalition" of peoples that a) did not really like each other and b) had not had to learn to live together.

In Yugoslavia, up to the 90s - a time at which Balkanization became very used again - that role was fulfilled by Tito. In the larger region, many of the countries were member of the Warsaw Pact.

Subsequently, fragmentation and rancor beyond outsider expectations:

Seen from the larger European polity the persistent squabbles and bitterness don't seem to be very reasonable. We don't necessarily expect everyone to stick together - in the case of Yugoslavia the desire of Europe to have them do so, rather than assist in negotiating a more amiable partition, may have been counterproductive - but we are surprised at how badly everyone gets along:

  • The size of the resulting states seems sub-optimal for larger European countries like France, UK or Germany.
  • The bitterness and hatred displayed during the Yugoslavia breakup are stunning. Another aspect is how fractal this is: the Balkans aren't big to start with, and therefore Yugoslavia is even less so. So split into multiple parts: Bosnia, Servia, Kosovo, etc. Then try to resplit within regions: Kosovo Serbs want to resplit again.
  • The sheer pettiness of some disputes, like the Greek fuss about Macedonia's naming also leaves us to scratch our heads.

What wouldn't count as Balkanization:

  • Czechoslovakia => Czech and Slovakia split. OK, it seems odd they split up. But the divorce was amiable => not Balkanization.
  • South vs North Korea. Irregardless if this was fully due to the local political systems or whether it was Cold War rivalry, those 2 countries have plenty of reasons to dislike each other.
  • French - Germany in 1914. Not small states, plenty of reasons to fear each other.

What about the US?

Well, first of all, Balkanization is a figure of speech. The term denotes unexpected fractiousness, border separations and rancor. It is not an exact fit for the US - most notably Americans previously coexisted well enough except for racial tensions - and what the user intends to communicate varies for each person using the term.

You could argue that the US is a hodgepodge of regions and ideologies cobbled together under a huge, continent-wide, country. Except for the size, pretty much the same as many countries. But certainly that is a unification factor. The US Constitution is an - internal, freely chosen, revered - unifying factor, but references to it in reconciliatory terms seems slipping these days.

Border separations? Authors have made good copy hawking books about coming civil wars, secession movements. I'd say that proponents of such partitioning are in the minority, but accusing "the other side" of wanting secession - or imposing "their dictatorship" - gets more traction. In a more prosaic fashion, a book like the Big Sort denoting how Americans increasingly can't coexist with "the other side" (disclaimer: I have not read it) seem like they're very much on to something. Even the online dating industry is on to the problem.

More generally, and without sliding into a full-on drama about wars and borders, one can look at the pettiness, rancor and inefficiency of modern US politics:

  • Senator Manchin is so toxic to some Dems that they would rather ditch him and lose their Senate majority.

  • McCarthy's Speaker election drama within the Reps. This isn't even party vs party, this is within a party. This is fractal Balkanization at its finest.

  • The Dems couldn't possibly vote for McCarthy, oh no. They voted for their guy en bloc knowing that he'd never get in. And, rather than having a McCarthy beholden to some notion of bipartisanship, as tenuous as that would have been, they ended with the same exact McCarthy beholden to a splinter group of whackos like Gaetz.

  • Fairly frequent budget governmental freezes that achieve nothing besides playing to the faithful, even as poll after poll seems to berate Congress for being incapable of getting things done.

So, while applying the term to the USA IS overdramatic with regards to the prospect of border separations and actual wars, it is a colorful way to describe the pettiness and narrow-mindedness of the very vocal minorities of the Democratic and Republican parties.

Still a bit over-dramatic overall, but, eh, that sells, no?

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"Balkanization" is a reference to the collapse of Yugoslavia during the 90's. If you didn't know, Yugoslavia was a nation (in the Balkans) that consisted of many ethnic groups that didn't get along all that well, and during the 90's the nation collapsed. What was once a unified "Yugoslavia" became many smaller nations such as Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, etc.

So, the "Balkanization of America" is a claim that something similar will happen to the US. Whether it's a 'national divorce' wherein 'Red' and 'Blue' states separate and form their own countries; 'regional divorce' where lets say the South secedes, or maybe the West Coast goes their own way, etc. you get the point; or outright civil war (although along political lines, whereas Yugoslavia fell to ethnic tension).

(Balkanization is a term that's been around for longer than the collapse of Yugoslavia, but when your average person mentions 'Balkanization' they are thinking of Yugoslavia since it's an event that many people remember)

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    This is factually incorrect. The term Balkanization was in wide use before the breakup of Yugoslavia. It isn't really accurate about what the terms means in modern usage either.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 9 at 23:31
-4

I believe @o.m.'s and @matt_black's answers hit the nail on the head with respect to the historical definition. Given this context (and also the fact that neutrally "diversifying" the world's historic posterchild for diversity would be meaningless), one cannot view the politicized connotation or epithet positively. As used it means weakening through schism.

To understand the nature and causes of the weakening and fracture of the U.S.: Blame immorality, not states' rights.

Contrary to answers that insinuate that the assertion of states' rights on hot-button issues is evidence of (or constitutes) Balkanization, a nuanced opposite case is true. Balkanization is in general uncorrelated with ethnic differences or any other notable but superficial difference, including all differences in state and local policy that are warranted under the Constitution. Difference alone does not create contention; in fact, the variability of interests across states and regions is a key to the checks and balances that have enabled our common defense thus far. Worthy diversity of interests is in fact crucial to the security and unity of the United States. An unworthy spirit or tendency of controlling or attempting to control or blame others rather than achieving true resolution is at the heart of every Balkanizing influence. The Balkanization of the United States is accomplished and accelerated through various tools:

  • Illiteracy
  • Brainwashing through mainstream media
  • Brainwashing through alternative mainstream media
  • Seeking control through political partisanship
  • Corruption of laws
  • Flagrant violation of Constitutions
  • Cultural degeneracy and disconnection from our roots
  • Putting secret alliances above time-honored, legitimate institutions
  • Open borders and forceful injection of foreign elements
  • Bottomless conspiracy theories instilled through false trust
  • Mockery of founding principles
  • Above all, the immorality of the people.

Some of these topics might appear to pertain to specific modern political parties, but don't be deceived; blaming a party is not a solution. Hegelianism and partisanship are in fact potent ingredients in creating a state of Balkanization, but they are insufficient in and of themselves to do so. Gullible and above all immoral masses of people are the necessary prerequisite--the people that Communists referred to as "useful idiots". Immorality leads directly to idiocy and the enemies of the free world have been exploiting this uncanny causation for generations.

States' rights are not to blame. The United States have been united before, despite ethnic and political differences. Therefore we already have proof that ethnic diversity or differences in local politics do not of themselves create Balkanization. Hot issues such as Roe v. Wade and substance control legislation have been cited in other answers as exemplifying Balkanization. However, departure from the Constitution, not the exercise of states' rights (which is an implementation of the Constitution), is the true cause.

The very idea that the Federal government has authority to refrain from forbidding the elective destruction of unborn life is antithetical to its Constitutional responsibilities. On the other hand there are people who pretend that since the US Supreme Court has punted on the issue, that they are free to do whatever they want on the subject. Both mindsets are in error, because both ignore the fundamental issue of responsibility. Both errors contribute towards the destabilization of the nation, because people are either attempting to assert authority they do not have on the one hand, or are failing to exercise the responsibilities they do have on the other. States do have the right to assert and defend the lives of the unborn, and the Federal government has a blanket responsibility to protect life. In neither case is the door open to the wanton or willful destruction of innocent life. This is codified in the Constitution. It is true that many specific differences in policy on this subject are evidence of Balkanization, but that schism is on account of immorality, not on account of legitimate exercise of states' rights or the Constitution. Both of these, properly exercised, avoid the problems of Balkanization because they avoid calling into question the responsibilities enjoined upon them by the supreme law, and also avoid attempting to assert non-existent rights that would violate those responsibilities.

If we do fulfill our responsibilities under the Constitution, and if we do not attempt to claim as our "rights" things that we in reality have no right to do (because they violate others' rights, as in the case of elective abortions), then we can successfully avoid Balkanization, and yet have myriad different state and local policies and ethnicities and other natural traits as different as they come. We have done so before. It is an absolute fallacy that we are of necessity bound towards contention merely because we have differences of trait and/or opinion, or reside in different states.

To reverse Balkanization, we must reverse the bad habit of blaming the "other" mainstream political party, or of throwing the Founding Fathers under the bus, and instead focus on resolving conflicts in our own lives and ending rebellious attitudes and unbridled anger in ourselves. Discernment will never come any sooner than we change our minds and actions to conform with truth and virtue. Our survival is impossible without discernment and above all, self-control. So we have that the schism of the United States is preventable uniquely through individual morality, which does of course require the fulfillment of our Constitutional responsibilities, tolerance of the exercise of others' rights, and refraining from claiming mythical "rights" that in fact abuse or attempt to control others.

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  • Downvoters, please explain your critiques, if any.
    – pygosceles
    Jan 13 at 18:51
-5

As a Balkan country (Bulgaria - the Balkan mountain crosses it end-to-end) citizen and resident, I can say that the term in the OP is used in most of the developed world as a synonym for increasing corruption and increasing tolerance and acceptance for corruption.

Its usage bursts here and there in political rethorics once in a while. The ususal bursts are in Europe, but US are not spared either.

(I can regretfully say that the euphemism has some facts supporting its usage.)

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    As a citizen in a part of the mentioned "developed world", this is not at all accurate and there are many expressions used to talk about corruption. Balkanization isn't it. Perhaps it's used locally in the Balkan countries.
    – pipe
    Jan 10 at 13:18
  • What you describe may (may) be a consequence of Balkanization. But it is not what OP referes to. By the way: corruption in small states is more visible because the actors are local. This does not exclude the possibility that large states have corruption and generally obscure business practice.
    – EarlGrey
    Jan 11 at 9:18

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