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An ethnocracy (or ethnostate) is literally "rule by ethnic group." The clearest examples come from countries with large oppressed groups defined by ethnicity. Membership in the ethnostate and therefore citizenship is primarily based upon tribal affiliation. For example, apartheid-era South Africa had a "white minority" rule over a "black" majority, locking them out of government and business. A similar system was in place in old Rhodesia until the establishment of Zimbabwe. Within the U.S., the Jim Crow South functioned in much the same way, even in areas that were predominantly African-American.

The underlying presumption is that through the shared ethnic, linguistic and cultural homogeneousness, a harmonious society can be formed in which each citizen may find their own place. In such a state, conformity rather than individuality will be valued. The rate of organic change and growth in the society is slowed down as newer ideas take considerably longer to take root or to be embraced as fewer persons would want to be the odd man out.

Civic nationalism[edit]

The ethnocracy should not be confused with a nation which espouses civic nationalism which allows persons without regard to tribal, ethnic or national origin to enter it and assimilate into the cultural life of the country. Such states are heterogeneous in makeup, but homogeneous in embracing a common civic culture and values those allowing for harmonious co-existence of the people. This concept was borne out of the Enlightenment ideals and classical liberalism in Europe. Examples of such states include the United States, Russia, and Argentina.

Blue! No, YELLOOoo…[edit]

Although at odds with liberal conceptions of the state, many countries present a "staatsvolk", or a constitutive people (ethnic hegemon) whose members believe themselves to be the true nation. For example, the official policy of Malaysia is Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy), a special status for the Malay people that does not cover the significant numbers of Chinese, Indian, or some indigenous or quasi-indigenous peoples (Bumiputra policy in Malaysia, which applies to Malays but not entirely to all of the true indigenes, e.g., the orang asli). This also has religious implications, because one of the requirements for being considered a Malay is professing Islam. Many Burmans in Burma consider themselves to be the nation rather than the minority Karens, Kachins, Karenni, Mons, Pao, Rohingya, etc. Many Shona speakers in Zimbabwe believe they and not the minority Ndebele speakers, Europeans or Asians are the nation. Compare jus sanguinis rather than jus soli, where you and generations of your ancestors being born in a country is not sufficient for you to be a full citizen, e.g. Turkish denizens of Germany (although obtaining the German citizenship is relatively easy and many did so) or Korean denizens of Japan. According to the Jewish Israeli scholar Joel Schalit, the State of Israel is an ethnocracy in which Jewish and honorary Jewish Israelis dominate politically and socially and other cultural groups in the country are subjugated.

See Also[edit]