Saturday, September 13, 2014

Challenges To The Nation State

European Union
European Union (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The nation state has not been around forever, just like democracy has not been. And so the fact that it is being challenged should not surprise us. These are growing pains.

One major challenge is coming from technology. The individual is greatly empowered through technology, and so the nation state's space needs to shrink. But the nation state is refusing to be a happy, willing partner.

Another challenge is coming from globalization and the redrawing of national boundaries. Europe is a fine example. Europe has the ultimate in infrastructure. It has the roads and the trains and the communications technology. But old cultural identities have not gone away. There are identity movements threatening to break up several countries in Europe right now. I am not sure that is bad news. That is the nation state feeling the pressure.

Scotland is a good example. If Scotland breaks away, I think that will be a vote for the European Union. Defense and monetary policies are best served through larger structures like the European Union, India and the United States. But cultural identities need bigger expressions. That is only healthy.

I don't agree with the methods of the ISIS (at all), but maybe the World War I political boundaries in the Arab world are not sacrosanct after all. Maybe it is good if the Kurds break away. Iraq's boundaries perhaps need to be reimagined.

Sri Lanka is the most literate nation in South Asia. But it has the most complex ethnic problem of anywhere in the world. There has to be peaceful options where an oppressed minority can get justice when a unitary state's majoritarian government is not willing to act fair.

China is another challenge to the nation state. This nation state has lifted more people out of poverty than any other in world history. Give them some credit. Fundamental political reforms are long overdue. I envision a future for China where it has become a multi-party democracy, where it is federal, and Tibet and Taiwan are both part of it. But I feel China can teach America a thing or two about campaign finance reform. When you don't take money out of politics, your democracy is more than a little bit screwed.

Immigration reform failure in America is another challenge to the nation state. America is not keeping up. That is bad news.

Scotland peacefully separating has to become a model for many other parts of the world. If Scotland should move away from London and closer to Brussels, that will be an exercise in deeper, larger political integration. I am all for that.

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