The Death of the Nation State. The Rise of the Sectarian State!
We are living through the death of the Nation State. That nation state is dying because of the rise of tribal affiliation driven by increasing connectivity, reaction to oppression and to the growth of post-modernism. However, we have not fully contemplated or comprehended how far this can go and what the consequences are.
Mobile and internet technologies are actually accelerating this phenomenon as they allow cultural and religiously affiliated groups the communicate, share and inform each other access borders. It creates a treasure trove of ethnic heritage and information accessible anywhere by anyone who wants to affiliate. It is a partial explanation as to why moslem youth in Europe go back to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria to fight in tribal wars.
Much has already been written about the tribal, religious and sectarian affiliations in the Middle East. Those strong bonds are rewriting, or clarifying, the map of the Middle East at a dizzying pace. We are devolving from a world of States called Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iran etc to Sunnistan, Shiiastan, Radical Sunni-stan, Kurdish-stan, and a host of others. The future map of the Middle East will reflect long term tribal and religious affiliations and conflicts before long. The collapse of the Iraqi military is just the latest domino to fall as uncommitted soldiers retreated to tribal affiliations. Sykes-Picot’s walls are falling fast, and with them the stability the ruling families installed by the British and the French and reinforced by the United States.
However, it is not just the Middle East. Putin’s gambit in Crimea can be seen in the same light. Putin’s rhetoric on ethnic Russia is exactly the same as the Shiites and Sunnis, connecting landmasses that are inhabited by ethnically and culturally similar populations. This is, in fact, what happened in Eastern Europe and the former Baltic states over the last 15 years. Does anyone remember Yugoslavia? Amazingly, we all ignore the lesson of German reunification in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Germany reunited almost effortlessly in the grand scope of history. Why? because the cultural and ethnic similarities were not wiped out by years of communist control and Soviet influence. The cultural affinities lied latently like burning embers waiting to erupt and reconnect with the core flame.
But it is not just totalitarian regimes like the Arab states and Russia that are redrawing borders along ethnic lines. Nor is it only formerly united and recently divorced ethnic populations like Germany and Ireland. France is doing it as well. Make no mistake, Le Pen’s victory in France is not about the Nation State of France, it is about restoring the homogeneity and ethnic affiliation of the French. It is a reflection of deep tribal affiliation as well as cultural norms and mores that have been undermined and threatened by massive moslem immigration to France. France too is moving to be a sectarian state, which presents a striking question as to what do you do with ethnic populations in France that is distinctly not French.
It is not just France, The Tea Party in America is a reflection of the same phenomenon on a smaller scale…so far. America’s Tea Party is a longing for the America and Americana that was the cultural, religious and economic fabric of the United States for two-plus centuries. We can try to be politically correct about it but it will defer a discussion that is being forced on everyone. Obama-care, Obamanomics and perhaps Obama himself make many Americans uneasy. That is why immigration is such a lightening rod issue. After looking at the Middle East, Russia and France, do you not believe that the borders inside America could be redrawn on cultural lines?
The Democratic Nation State turns out to be a wonderful way to govern and unite up until the point where the very fabric of your populations’ cultural, social, economic, religious, ethical and governing mores are threatened. At that point, those segments of population who long for more tribal affiliation rather than a quadrennial turn at the polling station, start to rebel.
What I find amazing is that the United States and Europe effectively advocates this deconstruction of the Nation State. When they propose a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, they are effectively saying that a nation state cannot comprise two distinct peoples with different cultural heritage, religions, economies and social fabrics. Yet, they somehow do not look in the mirror and see what this means for their own countries and societies.
Well, the nation state is giving way to the sectarian state and it should cause all leaders to ask some very hard questions about diplomacy, defense and economics in this fast changing world. Whether you like it or not, ignoring it is not an option.
[Originally published on 18th June 2014 by MIchael Eisenberg]