Alexander Eastwood is an ambitious man.
Having become a citizen of St. Charlie in mid-2012, within six months, he led the New Socialist Party government as the republic’s fourth prime minister. He has remained in this office for two-and-a-half years, and in this time, he has overseen the enactment of a series of policies intended to better his country.
A craftsman of bold policy, Eastwood is finally seeing his efforts to mold a highly-efficient government come to their logical conclusion: a transformation of St. Charlie into a presidential republic, fusing the political powers of the former presidency and premiership into the new office of Chancellor of the Federal Republic. He has apparently done this with the best of intentions; addressing his nation’s parliament, he explained such a reform as “com[ing] out of the necessity to simplify our bureaucratic apparatus…in order to remain active.” Changing the nature of the country’s leadership certainly fulfills that aim.
However, there is another part of the latest reform package that, while also aimed at simplifying St. Charlian government, sharpens a long-standing cultural divide. Eastwood is sorting his people into two subdivisions based on their language and culture, admittedly aiming to return to an Italophone state. The way he intends to go about this is through a systematic, anti-democratic betrayal of his citizens, and this will harm St. Charlie domestically and in the eyes of other nations.
The policy in question is that of reducing the number of federations constituting the republic to two. One is to absorb the Italophone territories, with all others becoming part of the other. At this time, there are four federations in Italy, one in the British Isles, and one in Denmark. In the past, cultural and linguistic differences have been serious issues for St. Charlie, causing problems both socially and in administration. In response to foreign critics who claim that the new policy will worsen these tensions, Eastwood offers no refutation; instead, he spins his decision as a way to solve the language problem. “Many people abroad fear that the Federal Republic will become too italophone,” he said in his parliamentary speech. “I sincerely have intention to give life to their fears.” He attempts to justify his position with an appeal to history: St. Charlie was founded by Italians and was always Italian at heart.
In saying so, Eastwood actually reveals ignorance of his nation’s roots; St. Charlie’s early days can only be described as a study in cosmopolitanism. Within a few months of the November Revolution that established the republican state, the British territory, New Branson, was established, with one of its purposes being allowing non-Italians to participate in St. Charlie (source). Early government documents and news sources were in English (note that the nation’s paper of record, the Observer, is still published exclusively in that tongue). The project’s movers and shakers in the “Golden Era” were of multiple nationalities, and many had met in international schools around Europe. Despite the fact that St. Charlie was always multicultural, Eastwood asserts that “St. Charlie was founded…with Italian traditions,” and suggests Italian culture is the source of St. Charlian identity. Although the first citizens were Italian, these claims of tradition cannot be the case when those who joined the nation did so with the understanding that they were part of something international and new.
Since the secession of Koss, there are relatively few non-Italian citizens of St. Charlie, but they are citizens nonetheless, and as their leader, the chancellor has a solemn duty to mind their concerns and needs. By trying to make St. Charlie the all-Italophone nation it never was, Eastwood is denying that these citizens are as valuable as those in the new Italian federation. Instead of striving for reconciliation and social integration, he is segregating them and attempting to engineer national society into something he approves of, but which alienates a fair number of his fellow citizens. This will only serve to strengthen the cultural divide that has caused the republic so many problems.
Of course, this is what Eastwood wants. There are three ways for him to make St. Charlie purely Italophone: teach everyone to speak Italian (which he cannot do), expel those who do not (which he will not do, as even that is a touch too authoritarian), or drive those who do not to leave. Treating those speakers of English, Danish, and who knows what else as undesired citizens will have exactly that result.
Yes, St. Charlie’s cultural problems stem primarily from a divide between the Italians and everyone else. Yes, this should have been dealt with sooner. Nevertheless, exacerbating divisions instead of bridging them will not help St. Charlie. Eastwood is trying to tear St. Charlie’s true traditions – those rooted in cosmopolitanism – apart and replace them with a nation in his own image, turning his back on what his republic was always meant to be. Foreign leaders will not take Chancellor Eastwood seriously if he does so, and St. Charlie will be left lethally efficient, Italian, torn, and isolated.
The views expressed in this editorial are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of the Occidental Chronicle or the policies of the governments of Überstadt or Doria.