Monday, November 25, 2019

When Do Nation States Give Up On Themselves?

When do nation states give up on themselves? When are they no longer worth fighting for?  When do they simply dissolve, perhaps not into chaos but into smaller units for which the past becomes a vague memory?

Governments, of course, never give up on themselves.  They always consider themselves to the best form of rule and therefore see no reason for anything to change at all.  (Yes, I know a great many people define this as "the elites", but the elites can be anyone those not an elite do not care for.  A government is a distinct unit).  For them, anything that is not themselves represents disorder and chaos and a bad ending.

No, what ultimately holds a nation state together is the belief of its population in the nation state.  The inhabitants the believe in the state, that are willing to abide by (and enforce) its laws, that are willing to die for wars, that are willing to pay its taxes, that are ultimately willing to endure decisions which impact themselves poorly but help the nation state as a whole - these are the ones that hold the nation state together.  Without them, the government at best rules an apathetic population who does not care (to quote a joke from the Cold War Soviet Union days, "We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us") or at worst a population which is actively working to destroy the government.

History, of course, is littered with these:  The back and forth of Chinese Empire (perhaps until the Yuan dynasty), the rise, dissolution, and re-convening of Japan's Sengoku Jidai (Age of War) that accompanied the latter years of the Ashikaga Shogunate, the Western Roman Empire and then the Eastern Roman Empire (or as was said in the 1400s,
'Better the Sultan's turban than the Pope's Tiara"), the Norman conquest of England and the disappearance of the Anglo-Saxon order (after Hereward the Wake we do not hear of more resistance), the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire into what we now call Central Europe, the Fall of Imperial Russia and the the re-fall of Communist Russia and then the Warsaw Pact itself.  All of these, at some point, even if there were (as there often were) a violent takeover, ultimately collapsed because those that lived in them did not support (or came not to support) the previous regime.

Why does that matter, today of all days? I find myself questioning the longevity of most modern nation states, including my own.

I can only speak of my own experience, which perhaps both gives weight to my considerations as well as undermining them as being my own - but with my self, I am finding less and less connection to the concept and idea of my own government on a national scale.

Overall my government - be they one party or the other in power - have taken a much greater concern in how I think, what I believe, and how I live my life rather than in creating and establishing a system where I can live my life.  The circle of my ability to live freely has slowly been eroded over the course of my life to where alone in a room with no windows, no electronic devices is the only place I am free of potential government involvement and action.

Add to that, as the population has grown over the years and the size of lawmaking bodies has not, my representation has grown smaller and smaller. I may be on in 15 million for my state and on in 330,000,000 for the nation:  can it be said that government truly represents my best interests?

I am the first to confess that in many ways I am still very grateful to my country - after all, the concept of God-given rights versus rights granted by the government started no-where else and even while under attack, still seems to be a bedrock - but the trend is not towards government making itself less intrusive but more intrusive, more overbearing rather than less, more controlling instead of more enabling.  And I suspect I am not the only one.

Given this, can we truly not be that far away from a day when we begin to wonder if something else is better than something we have - and act on it?

2 comments:

Glen Filthie said...

You and I are economic units and that's it. Cogs in a massively redundant machine. Your relationship to your nation (and mine) is purely transactional. Every day I am reminded that this is NOT my country. I'm the wrong gender, the wrong age, and the wrong race. Up here in Canada the Usual Suspects are vibrant, diverse, and the future of the country. If anything guys like me are what's wrong with Canada. Up here every second citizen is screwing the heck out of the nation for everything they can get because if they don't - they other guy might get it first.

I personally believe that the third world is going to establish itself within our nations and would argue that maybe it already has - and that we will eventually have to go to war with it as it is already doing with us. Our leaders hate us and will now use mass surveillance and lawfare and brute force to keep the lid on that boiling pot they've created and I can only see that ending one way.

I am deeply curious as to what comes next... and if I will survive it.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

That is a rather accurate comment, Glen - Cogs in a massively redundant machine. I have little illusion that I am viewed as anything but a tax donkey at this point - or at least if some people get their way, that is all I will be.

I am not hopeful for the future, Glen. All I can do is my level best to get out of debt, lay aside things for bad times, and hunker down until the storms pass.