Why Nation States Are Irrelevant in the 21st Century
Part 1/2 on the State of the “Nation”
Regardless of where you live this will ultimately seem familiar to you: you live in a country, with a rich history wrought with wars and triumphs that make you proud to be from ________.
Your county is probably also a connected region of states, territories or provinces that at one time in their history came together to overcome a threat, grow smarter or rely on the independent functions of economic value of each of the areas, and made your county whole. Sure, there are countries that are formed through conquest and sucession, but that’s really the same point as I just made when you think about it and about why the military campaign started in the first place — same thing either way. Now, these regions came together under a monarch or a central government and sought to craft a legal framework that recognised the unique combination of geographic regions which came to make this brand spanking new country (or classify the expected production based on the resources in the kingdom). This is a common pattern throughout the world, and it’s really pointless when we understand how we use countries now and what they really represent to the global economy and global community. We can breakdown why we don’t need countries by explaining and exploring why we have independent nations conceptually, from this we can see how this system only stagnates and limits our collective human potential in the short and long run.
Historical Migration Patterns
Many countries throughout the world have been other countries, kingdoms or states in the past transition through history until we settled on the 196 independent states that we currently have. Much of this clustering of human population was due to migration patterns influenced by the availability of food, the extractive resources of an area and fresh water and/or access to open water as a means of transportation and trade. These made up the central aspects in which human populations love to develop around.
Yes, there are areas that have populations without these core factors but in most cases, they were only made accessible by the development of technology and from population growth stemming an area that did have some or all of these aspects. This is the rudimentary reality for pre-industrial migration patterns. As far as nations go there aren’t nations that do not axis on these developmental factors. These attracting factors of population evolved as our economic organization changed, we will discuss this in greater detail later on but the underlying concept is what needs to understood and most importantly transformed as we progress our understanding of social organization.
Human history is most commonly broken up into ages. Most of which are defined by a method of production or a material we mastered to advance our civilization, think stone, iron, bronze ages but also the industrial and silicon chip ages as well. The last two are eras but they accelerate the time-periods so much that the contrast in the standard of living might as well be ages. These ages are all hinged on our ability to convert natural resources into valuable products, the only thing that has changed is our efficiency and the proximity to the resource extraction. What really drove the development of states is the ownership of the key resources of the age in which nations are formed, in unison with the other factors that we are exploring in this post. The resource struggle has transformed in the age of modern states, we see less nations moving directly through military campaigns to expand territory and see more and more trade deals backed by corporations which the seek land ownership of fixed site resources (extractive resources like oil, natural gas and mineral ore). This is simply the new level of territorial growth which has traditional fuelled the creation of nations.
The need for resources fuels the wars of the past and wars of the present, war is the extreme in which we as a collective society come to secure more resources for our community. I use the term ‘collective society’ to mean the world as a global collection of states or unique identities, the isolation of each as independent, and as the core aspect of the article, it will develop as the progression of idea evolves; I used the term ‘community’ here to both justify the internal mentality of states and embody the internal interconnection of any given state at the human scale. Resource War: Is like your neighbourhood going after the neighbourhood across the highway because your playground is depleted and they have a new one. Overly simplistic? Yes, but it embodies how geography is most commonly, the only thing that creates the adversarial nature for resource warring states. Would you feel jealous of the other neighbour if your kids couldn’t go to the playground? would the right for your kids getting access to the other playground motivate you to support collective action to get the playground? Of course there are other factors that would drive nations to war but as I shall explain in the next paragraph they are largely single point narratives used on the collective group mentality of a country to justify acts of aggression. This is the formation of tribalism and how it motivates communities into action for resources; we will explore the underwriting concepts that fuel tribalism and how it commonly presents it’s self in modern nations and traditionally.
**It is worth noting that several military occupations and action currently going on in the world are derived from a combination of resource control through corporate expansion and ideological push for western style democracy as a neo-imperialism tactic, but this isn’t the focus of this article. http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/19/opinion/iraq-war-oil-juhasz/
Cultural Protection and Ethnic Identity
One of the prevailing binders of nations is cultural identity and ethnic groupings, through human migration patterns we developed genetic variations that changed our “racial” (see my article on race to understand why this noted as such) identities through the adaptive attributes of the human body accentuated by the depth of a couple thousands of years isolated in regions of the planet. These are just larger communities of people that shared the same climate and relative diet for a long period of time without moving too far. The identity that a person acknowledge is an extrapolation of the historically tied realities of the genetic and cultural groups that tie them to a geographic region and the culture that developed in those regions, localized by the historical events of social progress, and the ease of information transfer between distinct communities within the region/ larger global community.
Think of it this way: you live in a valley and another village lives on the hill, this area has an abundance of apples. The people at the top of the hill use the apples to make pie and those valley uses the apples to make cider. Both of these communities have a deep appreciation of apples. However, they adamantly think their way of preparing apples is best, so they don’t communicate much. Generation after generation children are born in the respective communities and are told their way of apple prep is best and that it was better than the other communities so they don’t associate much. These people are going to develop the mentality that evolves their preferred way of making apples while rejecting the other group because of the fundamental differences between the two areas, which is the way they make apples. Much like race, culture is the mutation and selective development of an ideal human condition based on factors like food, spirituality, race and relationship value and since the variables are universal it is not truly different. The mentality that it is, is called tribalism, in which communities are anchored around commonality and protect the integrity of the group through the individual inputs, collective efforts to develop each other and the cohesion of group.
Do apples seem silly? Now, replace apples with religious faith, race, historical perspectives, cultural routine like clothing and customs. It’s easy to develop rivalry or separation because as common events affect both groups they are most likely preserve the perspective of their community, thus perpetuating the insulation of community toward self-oriented growth. The persistent issue is that these minute differences fuel the conflicts that we all feel the brunt of and create a scoped vision of reality that is inclusive solely to our perspective. This doesn’t mean tolerance as much as it means being understanding and reflective to the contrast between ‘us’ and ‘them’ and treating people the way we would like to be treated, in the same situation. Alienating our differences creates the context for radicalization which in turn creates the context for us to feel victimized, it is a perpetual cycle of difference that fuels the chaos of our times and instability of our society.
Of course, I’m oversimplifying a complex issue but we are examining the underwriting concept in which we organize our communities based on shared commonality, which could be any of the substitutes I suggested to replace apples. And yes, these are motivations that have traditionally lead to wars and other social conflicts but in any strife, the mentality of preserving “our own” be it identity, resources or cultural practice are subjectively interpreted to the community in which it is experienced, thus furthering the development of culture and its identity.