Can the idea of regionalization regain its sway?

Human beings have resided on this planet for millennia; through times human society has taken myriad shapes on this planet. It has experimented with different sort of community to fulfill its different needs. It started from small tribal colonies and gradually went on to expand to colonization of other continents. The need for an expansive landmass, sufficient supplies of natural resources, a need for affiliation with the people of varied ethnic or social backgrounds or fleeing from religious or political persecution were some of the reasons that triggered the era of discovery and migration.

The changing needs of human societies defined how they would look at different times. The rise of nationalism and its affiliated brands aroused the need for airtight compartmentalized nations. Twentieth century proved to be an era when numerous small nations would rise to get their own identities, their own flags and their own heads of states. The end of World War II triggered the era of decolonization and independence.

While these small nations, later known as third world, were gearing to seal their borders from other nations, a counter trend was forming in Europe, which had learned its lesson of division and destruction. Europe had integrated its large industries as one to counter the weight of the new master of the world. Although it was not a regional organization in the true sense but this association proved to be a precursor of EuropeanUnion, the most powerful and true regional organization of today.

Now, nationalism made sense because it was an appeal to human biases, the bias was based on different grounds in different societies –in some places it attracted its appeal from religion, at other places it was inspired by human dialects, at still other places it was based on common skin colour. Hence, theorists and influencers utilized these affiliations to create a concept of affinity and hatred at the same time. These emotions were used to create Us vs Them divide.

But globalization also stirs some sentiments as when an appeal was made to the dividing agenda it was countered by the voice of reason, compassion and unity. There were people who didn’t believe in divisions on these genetic or cultural grounds. They threw away the idea of borders and divisions and preached the idea of oneness of human race and wholesomenessof this planet.

The most queer of these ideas is regionalization. There are many reasons why the idea is so non-compassionate and non-inviting. Firstly, as it doesn’t seek to arouse any of human beings innate passions or biases. It doesn’t seek to reject the aliens and have pride in us. On the other hand, it also doesn’t seek to appeal the inner human goodness to preach the message of oneness. The Us vs Them is very much there in the theory of regionalization but only the sphere of us has been enlarged to include the neighbouring societies.

The other thing that makes regionalization so non-appealing and difficult to adopt is that it is an antithesis to nationalism that was so vehemently promoted by the leaders of the world not so long ago. Nationalism is an extremely appealing subject and has aroused masses to sacrifice their lives as well. As it is said that “nationalism is the greatest of the idols of modern times”. Regionalism seeks to discard the idea of nationalism by seeking to promote cooperation with the very peoplesnationalism had demonized. Most countries have enlivened the nationalism of the masses by arousing the emotions of hatred against their neighbours. We sure do not need to look anywhere else to get live examples of such nationalism. Due to these inherent conflicts the idea of regionalization was sure to backfire, as it has. We cannot be pretending to cooperate with the same countries we are competing to match our arsenal with.

Probably this is the very reason despite the success of European Union the idea has not gained much practical popularity across the globe. The appeal of globalization is not emotions, it is pure logic, pure economics,and pure mercenary. You can convince people to trade with their neighbours with the force of logic and economics, but how would this logic stand its ground against the ideas which attract their force from emotion?

With European Union now crumbling apart, would regionalization ever make a comeback? Can Shanghai Cooperation Organization lead Pakistan and India to actually cooperate?Hence, how the idea of regionalization can hold its ground in a world of emotional chaos still remains a big question.

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