All over the world in the late twentieth century, perhaps more than ever before, the puzzling phenomena of intergroup relations command attention. Civil rights, “internal colonialism,” desegregation, integration, discrimination, pluralism, genocide, apartheid—these are terms the student of contemporary life must learn to use. Western European nations discovered that “guest workers,” whom they have employed by the millions, are something more than cogs in an economic machine. England, with a steady migration of people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Africa, and the West Indies, found herself faced with problems of a color bar and passed an unprecedented law limiting immigration. Pressures against persons of Indian descent in the new nations of East Africa not only reshaped intergroup relations in those lands but influenced Britain’s restrictive immigration policy. The South African government boldly defends a policy of apartheid but keeps stumbling over the problem of economic interdependence among the races. The United States, rapidly becoming a thoroughly urbanized society, discovers that problems of racial inequalities have become nationwide. The Soviet Union not only struggles with questions of equity and control of her own racial and cultural minorities but finds that her ancient fear of the “Mongol hordes,” now the Chinese, intrudes into international relations. And, as Lucien Pye observes (1975, p. 502):
What is often overlooked is that the Chinese on their side have an equally powerful historic fear of tribal peoples moving down into their agricultural domains. The Great Wall of China is a monument to this fear, and now that the Chinese are reacting again to a threat from the north it is understandable that the historic imagery of the dangerous “barbarians” of the border regions, that is, some of their national minorities, has again come alive in the Chinese imagination.