The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Monday, April 17, 2006

the End of Nations

“Erich I would have to agree with you on what you said.
The more I look at what is happening in the world the more
I get a feeling of hopleness Yet at the same time I am getting
the feeling that the human race need to go though this to evol
into a better world IF IT SURVIVES.
Charles”
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I’d like to offer my perspective on why I think that nations are a thing of the past, and why I think a “one  world gvernment” is pretty much inevitable..  

Some of it is logical, and some of it has to do with intuitions and belief systems.  I cannot make a complete argument based upon logic alone, but I think I can sketch out the basics of it.
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I think that, in large part, our sense of what is happening in the world, and the ultimate disposition of Man, is based on a basic sense of what we are as living beings.  Those who think we’re basically “bad” are often pessimistic. Those who think we are basically “good” tend toward optimism.  Failed Romantics look at the potential of man, note how far short we fall, and can get quite depressed indeed.  Me?  I don’t think we’re good or bad—I think that’s basically an external judgement about the results of our actions, and varies depending on point of view.

What I do think is that we are creatures driven by the need to avoid pain and gain pleasure.  To survive.  That when the basic drives are satisfied, we tend to begin to address higher, more complex and evolved drives, marching up the Chakras—or Maslow’s hierarchy.
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When humans first evolved a few million years ago, the basic unit was the family, and the tribe.  The family, as the basic biological unit of reproduction, is STILL the primary unit.  Because there are a limited number of actual intimate connections we can make in life (somewhere between twenty and eighty?) tribal/herd size is fairly small, as is the number of our intimate connections to this day.

Nonetheless, the larger the overall unit of association, the greater the safety—in certain senses.  Also, the more differentiation of skills, leading to the ability to specialize effectively.  There are other values too, dealing with security and biodiversity.
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However that stuff layers up, it’s pretty clear that the first social groupings had purely to do with territory.  Villages, states, and eventually the first nations were all a matter of territory: they stretched from HERE to THERE, and communication was a matter of talking, writing letters for strangers to carry, paying someone to take them on horseback—whatever.  But within that nation, there were what used to be totally independent villages and family groupings, subsumed under the umbrella of some overarching government or trade relationship, enabled by the quality of communication and ease of travel.
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And things remained pretty much that way—mostly geopolitical entities, the beginnings of distant colonies, trade, so forth, knitting the world together.  Just remember that, in earlier times, every group of 100 or so used to be a different village.  They just grew or were knitted together. You need isolation to create a truly new and distinct culture.  About 150 years ago we got the telegraph, and that started changing everything.  Instant communication over distance.  In my mind, the body human got its central nervous system at that point.

Radio, telephone, television, the Internet—they followed in a cascade, so that now I can pick up a cell phone and talk to a Masaii in Tanzania.  And that is the effective end of Nations. 
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Oh, Nations will continue to have names, and strut, and preen.  But there are already Multinational companies with greater power than some nations.  Multinational trade unions.  Multinaitonal social service organizations.  Groups like NATO and the United Nations and the European Union seeking to coordinate the  behaviors of separate groups into dynamic agreement.

And OF COURSE they have problems.  Families, made up of separate individuals, have problems.  But what I see as the language, trade, travel, communication, and other barriers fall is that in a few generations there will be the same difference between, say, the United States and Japan that there currently is between Texas and New England.  In some ways?  Tremendous differences.  In others?  Not much at all.
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I’d suspect that everyone alive today, and all of hteir grandchildren, will have to be dead, because those who grew up with the concept of Nations will cling to it—what I suggest is a strange new world, in one sense.  In another, I merely see it as the end result of people trading, intermarrying, fighting, traveling, working, and talking with the folks “on the other side of the mountains” and seeing we are pretty much all the same.

At that point, geopolitical entities start meaning less than groupings based on shared values and interests, shared monetary systems, religions, and what-not, a web of overlapping priorities that will eventually dwarf the question of who you happen to live next to.  Once upon a time, the people “on your block” were your dearest friends, the potential mates for your children, the ones with whom you hunted, farmed, and celebrated.  Now our friends and workmates can be scattered around the country.  This, to me, is the future of mankind—and in the face of that human drive to find commonality, the formal structures of the traditional nation are so 19th century it’s almost amusing.  To me, nations are dinosaurs searching for convenient tarpits.  I feel that I’m already seeing it, but it won’t happen in any kind of straight-line progression, nor can it be micro-managed.

I just think it’s the basic nature of life to evolve into more complex forms, and of human beings to evolve toward enlightenment.  Nations were a temporary solution.

2 comments:

sovereign797 said...

Great post. I agree with you, and your intuition is, in my opinion, right on the money. I would add that more than a mere evolution as a result of communication ease, one world government is the only solution to the fracturing of society, wars, economic, social and political conflicts, manipulation, environmental degredation and a host of other problems we are witnessing as a result of globalization (as we have it today). For example, tainted food from third world countries enters the US and EU markets unregulated, sickening and killing our people. This is well documented, but why and how is it permitted to happen? Because the ease of transporting goods (thanks to the WTO and other free-trade agreements designed to increase corporate profits) prevents nations from effectively regulating these imports and enforcing their own health and safety laws on these goods.

We cannot go backwards and remove the communications and transportation enhancements which permitted this situation to arise. Rather, we must go forward to establish a global regulating mechanism that treats the entire world as a single country, where laws are uniform no matter where you are on the planet. There must only be one currency in order to prevent massive fraud and manipulation of the financial systems. There must be a single minimum wage for all workers no matter where they are. Environmental laws must be uniform across the globe, and penalties for breaking the law must be enforced the same in every corner of the globe. Only in this way can those who would bypass law for their own profit be controlled. As long as nations exist, transnational corporations will evade laws, regulations and requirements to maximize their profits at the expense of the people the supposedly serve.

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