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Thread: What will come after our current system of nation-states?

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    Deus Meumque Jus
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    What will come after our current system of nation-states?

    The topic of the thread says it all - I'm curious what's to come after our system of nation states. If you have thoughts of your own, or are familiar with any theorist/theory that has speculated on this question, please share.

    Personally, I think it's a pretty open ended question with many possibilities. I'm not convinced that we'll ever have a much tighter 'global' system than already exists, as once a territorial unit of land becomes too large there becomes too many competing priorities. This seems to be the case in the EU where the health of varying members varies so widely that it creates tension between the strongest and weakest members. I can't imagine this dynamic ever being applied on a global scale. We are simply too tribal and nationalistic. Perhaps we will continually organize ourselves into bigger blocs.

    And yet I don't see the state system going away either, save environmental calamity. If the structure of human society is ever to be re-ordered, I guess that it will likely come from a major change in climate, or composition of the earth's atmosphere. Something which affects humanity so much that the current system will largely break down. That's not to say that we'll become extinct, but maybe that it will mark a new era of human history.

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    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    A frightening thought would be superstates like in Orwell's novel 1984. The EU would be close to the area of Orwell's superstate of Eurasia if Russia joined them. An expansion of China could create a superstate like Orwell's Eastasia if they expanded their influence over a few countries. Orwell's superstate of Oceania would be much less likely as it would require uniting all the nations of both Americas, Southern Africa, and Australia.

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    Veteran Member jonatha's Avatar
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    Lots of sci-fi says a relative handful of powerful multinational corporations

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    the baby-eater
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    This immediately brings this article to mind: The Demise of the Nation State, by Rana Dasgupta.

    Among many other interesting ideas, Dasgupta argues that nation states have been undermined by globalisation. 20th century government was characterised by "spectacular state-run projects in the fields of education, healthcare, welfare and culture". 21st century government is characterised by its tendency to dismantle the work of the previous century in service to multinational corporations. Basically, governments sold their people out.

    Dasgupta suggests that, in order to return to the nation-building work of the 20th century, we need global government in order to control global trade with uniform laws and taxation. However this is purely prescriptive; just because it is a good idea, doesn't mean it's going to happen. Global government might never eventuate and nothing would emerge to stop the growth and consolidation of corporate power.
    Last edited by bigfield; 05-01-2020 at 01:11 PM. Reason: "and"

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfield View Post
    This immediately brings this article to mind: The Demise of the Nation State, by Rana Dasgupta.

    Among many other interesting ideas, Dasgupta argues that nation states have been undermined by globalisation. 20th century government was characterised by "spectacular state-run projects in the fields of education, healthcare, welfare and culture". 21st century government is characterised by its tendency to dismantle the work of the previous century in service to multinational corporations. Basically, governments sold their people out.

    Dasgupta suggests that, in order to return to the nation-building work of the 20th century, we need global government in order to control global trade with uniform laws and taxation. However this is purely prescriptive; just because it is a good idea, doesn't mean it's going to happen. Global government might never eventuate and nothing would emerge to stop the growth of consolidation of corporate power.
    That's an interesting perspective and something I hadn't thought about. I posted the same thread on Historum under the speculation section and had a few people reply with similar ideas. It definitely sounds like there's some weight to it, even now the U.S. is essentially under corporate rule. The E.U. seems a little more resilient in this respect.

    And God knows all the ways that corporate culture and realities dictate how people live.

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    What I would like to see is a democratic world federation. Colonies on the Moon and Mars and elsewhere could also join once they are created.

    What I have read is that in the late 20th and early 21st century, the world more than anything resembles the geopolitics of the Middle Ages. See:

    Future Shock? Welcome to the New Middle Ages

    Imagine a world with a strong China reshaping Asia; India confidently extending its reach from Africa to Indonesia; Islam spreading its influence; a Europe replete with crises of legitimacy; sovereign city-states holding wealth and driving innovation; and private mercenary armies, religious radicals and humanitarian bodies playing by their own rules as they compete for hearts, minds and wallets.

    It sounds familiar today. But it was just as true slightly less than a millennium ago at the height of the Middle Ages.

    In recent years it has become conventional wisdom that the post-cold-war world will see rising powers such as China and Brazil create what international relations experts call a “multi-polar” order. Yet for the next 10 or 20 years, it is not at all clear that the future many imagine will come to pass – namely that the relative US decline will continue, Europe will muddle along, China and India will grow ever stronger, and other straight-line projections.

    In fact, the world we are moving into in 2011 is one not just with many more prominent nations, but one with numerous centres of power in other ways. It is, in short, a neo-medieval world. The 21st century will resemble nothing more than the 12th century.

    ...

    Now, globalisation is again doing much the same, diffusing power away from the west in particular, but also from states and towards cities, companies, religious groups, humanitarian non-governmental organisations and super-empowered individuals, from terrorists to philanthropists. This force of entropy will not be reversed for decades – if not for centuries. As was the case a millennium ago, diplomacy now takes place among anyone who is someone; its prerequisite is not sovereignty but authority.

    Some see contrary trends in the light of the financial crisis. But given the power of the forces pushing a new medievalism, it is too simple to speak of a “return of the state” evident in the bail-out of Wall Street and the stimulus packages of governments. Far more revealing about the future is the crumbling of most of the post-colonial world from Africa to the Middle East to South Asia, where over-population, corrupt governance, ethnic grievances and collapsing infrastructure are pushing many states towards failure.

    From Congo and Sudan to Pakistan, many “states” are likely to see a move towards a hybrid public-private system of governance. Take Afghanistan, where a postmodern arrangement between international extractive companies, the Kabul government, local warlords and foreign peacekeepers seems as likely an outcome as any – a neo-medieval model also being used in Africa and elsewhere too.
    Very interesting read. I think the author might well be onto something. Several of the previous posts mention corporations, but the author here seems to think that non-state actors in general, not just corporations, but cities, religious groups (and religious fanatics), and other non-governmental organizations, will increase in importance.

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    I once asked in PD if we could ever get a one world government and how would it work. Nobody wanted it. Americans would not want to be outvoted by the rest of the world.

    But it may be an inevitable necessity. But with so many ethnic conflicts, and regional disparities, I don’t see how it could happen.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    They already exist primarily for the middling classes; the very wealthy and the very poor change their national location opportunistically, when they can or see the need to. I suspect the new reality will be much more decentralized than our political mythology proposes we have now.

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