On the End of the Nation-State

Discussion on creating and maintaining Conflicts of Law

On the End of the Nation-State

Postby editor » Sun Aug 06, 2017 5:54 pm

Sometimes it's hard to know under which topic an article should be filed. With this one there is no question, as it deals with the fundamental question of jural societies, even though the term is not used at all.

There is, however, a new term which our resident etymologist (you know who you are) may wish to explore: phyle

I originally found this article at this address: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-05/doug-casey-end-nation-state

On The End Of The Nation-State
by Doug Casey

There have been a fair number of references to the subject of “phyles” in Casey Research publications over the years. This essay will discuss the topic in detail. Especially how phyles are likely to replace the nation-state, one of mankind’s worst inventions.

Now might be a good time to discuss the subject. We’ll have an almost unremitting stream of bad news, on multiple fronts, for years to come. So it might be good to keep a hopeful prospect in mind.

Let’s start by looking at where we’ve been. I trust you’ll excuse my skating over all of human political history in a few paragraphs, but my object is to provide a framework for where we’re going, rather than an anthropological monograph.

Mankind has, so far, gone through three main stages of political organization since Day One, say 200,000 years ago, when anatomically modern men started appearing. We can call them Tribes, Kingdoms, and Nation-States.

Karl Marx had a lot of things wrong, especially his moral philosophy. But one of the acute observations he made was that the means of production are perhaps the most important determinant of how a society is structured. Based on that, so far in history, only two really important things have happened: the Agricultural Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. Everything else is just a footnote.

Let’s see how these things relate.

The Agricultural Revolution and the End of Tribes

In prehistoric times, the largest political/economic group was the tribe. In that man is a social creature, it was natural enough to be loyal to the tribe. It made sense. Almost everyone in the tribe was genetically related, and the group was essential for mutual survival in the wilderness. That made them the totality of people that counted in a person’s life—except for “others” from alien tribes, who were in competition for scarce resources and might want to kill you for good measure.

Tribes tend to be natural meritocracies, with the smartest and the strongest assuming leadership. But they’re also natural democracies, small enough that everyone can have a say on important issues. Tribes are small enough that everybody knows everyone else, and knows what their weak and strong points are. Everyone falls into a niche of marginal advantage, doing what they do best, simply because that’s necessary to survive. Bad actors are ostracized or fail to wake up, in a pool of their own blood, some morning. Tribes are socially constraining but, considering the many faults of human nature, a natural and useful form of organization in a society with primitive technology.

As people built their pool of capital and technology over many generations, however, populations grew. At the end of the last Ice Age, around 12,000 years ago, all over the world, there was a population explosion. People started living in towns and relying on agriculture as opposed to hunting and gathering. Large groups of people living together formed hierarchies, with a king of some description on top of the heap.

Those who adapted to the new agricultural technology and the new political structure accumulated the excess resources necessary for waging extended warfare against tribes still living at a subsistence level. The more evolved societies had the numbers and the weapons to completely triumph over the laggards. If you wanted to stay tribal, you’d better live in the middle of nowhere, someplace devoid of the resources others might want. Otherwise it was a sure thing that a nearby kingdom would enslave you and steal your property.

The Industrial Revolution and the End of Kingdoms

From around 12,000 B.C. to roughly the mid-1600s, the world’s cultures were organized under strong men, ranging from petty lords to kings, pharaohs, or emperors.

It’s odd, to me at least, how much the human animal seems to like the idea of monarchy. It’s mythologized, especially in a medieval context, as a system with noble kings, fair princesses, and brave knights riding out of castles on a hill to right injustices. As my friend Rick Maybury likes to point out, quite accurately, the reality differs quite a bit from the myth. The king is rarely more than a successful thug, a Tony Soprano at best, or perhaps a little Stalin. The princess was an unbathed hag in a chastity belt, the knight a hired killer, and the shining castle on the hill the headquarters of a concentration camp, with plenty of dungeons for the politically incorrect.

With kingdoms, loyalties weren’t so much to the “country”—a nebulous and arbitrary concept—but to the ruler. You were the subject of a king, first and foremost. Your linguistic, ethnic, religious, and other affiliations were secondary. It’s strange how, when people think of the kingdom period of history, they think only in terms of what the ruling classes did and had. Even though, if you were born then, the chances were 98% you’d be a simple peasant who owned nothing, knew nothing beyond what his betters told him, and sent most of his surplus production to his rulers. But, again, the gradual accumulation of capital and knowledge made the next step possible: the Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution and the End of the Nation-State

As the means of production changed, with the substitution of machines for muscle, the amount of wealth took a huge leap forward. The average man still might not have had much, but the possibility to do something other than beat the earth with a stick for his whole life opened up, largely as a result of the Renaissance.

Then the game changed totally with the American and French Revolutions. People no longer felt they were owned by some ruler; instead they now gave their loyalty to a new institution, the nation-state. Some innate atavism, probably dating back to before humans branched from the chimpanzees about 3 million years ago, seems to dictate the Naked Ape to give his loyalty to something bigger than himself. Which has delivered us to today’s prevailing norm, the nation-state, a group of people who tend to share language, religion, and ethnicity. The idea of the nation-state is especially effective when it’s organized as a “democracy,” where the average person is given the illusion he has some measure of control over where the leviathan is headed.

On the plus side, by the end of the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution had provided the common man with the personal freedom, as well as the capital and technology, to improve things at a rapidly accelerating pace.

What caused the sea change?

I’ll speculate it was largely due to an intellectual factor, the invention of the printing press; and a physical factor, the widespread use of gunpowder. The printing press destroyed the monopoly the elites had on knowledge; the average man could now see that they were no smarter or “better” than he was. If he was going to fight them (conflict is, after all, what politics is all about), it didn’t have to be just because he was told to, but because he was motivated by an idea. And now, with gunpowder, he was on an equal footing with the ruler’s knights and professional soldiers.

Right now I believe we’re at the cusp of another change, at least as important as the ones that took place around 12,000 years ago and several hundred years ago. Even though things are starting to look truly grim for the individual, with collapsing economic structures and increasingly virulent governments, I suspect help is on the way from historical evolution. Just as the agricultural revolution put an end to tribalism and the industrial revolution killed the kingdom, I think we’re heading for another multipronged revolution that’s going to make the nation-state an anachronism. It won’t happen next month, or next year. But I’ll bet the pattern will start becoming clear within the lifetime of many now reading this.

What pattern am I talking about? Once again, a reference to the evil genius Karl Marx, with his concept of the “withering away of the State.” By the end of this century, I suspect the US and most other nation-states will have, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist.

The Problem with the State—And Your Nation-State

Of course, while I suspect that many of you are sympathetic to that sentiment, you also think the concept is too far out, and that I’m guilty of wishful thinking. People believe the state is necessary and—generally—good. They never even question whether the institution is permanent.

My view is that the institution of the state itself is a bad thing. It’s not a question of getting the right people into the government; the institution itself is hopelessly flawed and necessarily corrupts the people that compose it, as well as the people it rules. This statement invariably shocks people, who believe that government is both a necessary and permanent part of the cosmic firmament.

The problem is that government is based on coercion, and it is, at a minimum, suboptimal to base a social structure on institutionalized coercion. Let me urge you to read the Tannehills’ superb The Market for Liberty, which is available for free, download here.

One of the huge changes brought by the printing press and advanced exponentially by the Internet is that people are able to readily pursue different interests and points of view. As a result, they have less and less in common: living within the same political borders is no longer enough to make them countrymen. That’s a big change from pre-agricultural times when members of the same tribe had quite a bit—almost everything—in common. But this has been increasingly diluted in the times of the kingdom and the nation-state. If you’re honest, you may find you have very little in common with most of your countrymen besides superficialities and trivialities.

Ponder that point for a minute. What do you have in common with your fellow countrymen? A mode of living, (perhaps) a common language, possibly some shared experiences and myths, and a common ruler. But very little of any real meaning or importance. To start with, they’re more likely to be an active danger to you than the citizens of a presumed “enemy” country, say, like Iran. If you earn a good living, certainly if you own a business and have assets, your fellow Americans are the ones who actually present the clear and present danger. The average American (about 50% of them now) pays no income tax. Even if he’s not actually a direct or indirect employee of the government, he’s a net recipient of its largesse, which is to say your wealth, through Social Security and other welfare programs.

Over the years, I’ve found I have much more in common with people of my own social or economic station or occupation in France, Argentina, or Hong Kong, than with an American union worker in Detroit or a resident of the LA barrios. I suspect many of you would agree with that observation. What’s actually important in relationships is shared values, principles, interests, and philosophy. Geographical proximity, and a common nationality, is meaningless—no more than an accident of birth. I have much more loyalty to a friend in the Congo—although we’re different colors, have different cultures, different native languages, and different life experiences—than I do to the Americans who live down the highway in the trailer park. I see the world the same way my Congolese friend does; he’s an asset to my life. I’m necessarily at odds with many of “my fellow Americans”; they’re an active and growing liability.

Some might read this and find a disturbing lack of loyalty to the state. It sounds seditious. Professional jingoists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, or almost anyone around the Washington Beltway go white with rage when they hear talk like this. The fact is that loyalty to a state, just because you happen to have been born in its bailiwick, is simply stupid.

As far as I can tell, there are only two federal crimes specified in the US Constitution: counterfeiting and treason. That’s a far cry from today’s world, where almost every real and imagined crime has been federalized, underscoring that the whole document is a meaningless dead letter, little more than a historical artifact. Even so, that also confirms that the Constitution was quite imperfect, even in its original form. Counterfeiting is simple fraud. Why should it be singled out especially as a crime? (Okay, that opens up a whole new can of worms… but not one I’ll go into here.) Treason is usually defined as an attempt to overthrow a government or withdraw loyalty from a sovereign. A rather odd proviso to have when the framers of the Constitution had done just that only a few years before, one would think.

The way I see it, Thomas Paine had it right when he said: “My country is wherever liberty lives.”

But where does liberty live today? Actually, it no longer has a home. It’s become a true refugee since America, which was an excellent idea that grew roots in a country of that name, degenerated into the United States. Which is just another unfortunate nation-state. And it’s on the slippery slope.
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Re: On the End of the Nation-State

Postby notmartha » Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:32 pm

Term of Art entry for Phyle is here:

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1138

I'll comment on the article after I read more on Casey Research.

I'll probably also do an entry for nation, as that word has totally morphed too.

ETA:

Term of Art entry for Nation is here:

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1139
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Re: On the End of the Nation-State

Postby notmartha » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:31 am

After careful consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that Doug Casey’s “phyle” societies would be an experiment in social chaos.

Based solely on the two articles I’ve read, I perceive Mr. Casey’s worldview to be of an atheistic/anarchist perspective. This is an antithesis to my monotheistic/Biblical perspective. I’ll address “phyles” in relation to each worldview.

First, the atheistic, or let’s call it the scientific perspective.

Mr. Casey’s “phyles” aren’t phyles at all. Here are the definitions, and here is how he describes them:

“Okay, well, a phyle is a group of people that's self-defined by whatever values they share. A phyle is not limited by race or language or geography - or, most importantly, by borders on maps or other such fictions - although it could be, if its members chose to be so limited. The word phyle was coined by science fiction author Neal Stephenson in his masterwork, The Diamond Age. It comes from a Greek word meaning "tribe" or "clan." But it would be at least as apt if they were called philes, stemming from the Greek word philia, which means "love"- the same root in the word "philosophy." The basic idea is that man is a social animal, and we tend to prefer to run with others who are like us - or who love what we love. Birds of a feather flock together, in either case.”

The word “phyle” is from the same Greek root as “phylum” meaning “tribe.” The term is used in the scientific classification of the animal kingdom (in which Mr. Casey includes man), being synonymous with “class”.

Kingdom>>Phylum (Class)>>Order>>Family>>Genre>>Species>>Varieties

“Phyles” are not exclusive of kingdoms, and are not “self-defined” as Mr. Casey states. They are grouped together based on their natural characteristics, not some artificial manmade likenesses. He should probably coin the new term, “philes,” rather than redefine an ancient term, “phyles,” to fit his idea of social groups of lovers of like things.

I pretty much agree with everything Mr. Casey writes in regard to the arbitrariness of manmade governments, kingdoms, countries, maps, states, and nation-states. However, I fail to see any difference between those and his “phyle” vision. The problem with synthetically grouping classes based on “shared values, principles, interests, and philosophy” is that it is completely subjective. When there is an absence of objective reality, there is confusion, and confusion breeds chaos.

Ok, now for a monotheistic Biblical view…

During the times of the Old Testament, Israel was structured as the covenanted people of God, living under Laws handed down by God to a nation made up of 12 tribes, which included kin by blood or adoption. The patriarch of each tribe, answerable to the Lord, was to be the leader (not ruler) of the tribe. But alas, man thought he had a better way of doing things, and the Israelites screamed for a king (which, by the way, is from the Teutonic cynn meaning “kin”), which the Lord gave them but with warnings:

1 Samuel 8:11-18 (KJV)

“And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”

The Israelites didn’t heed the warnings and got their king. The king was not to make laws, he was just to see that God’s laws were enforced, and was subject to these same laws. The whole idea that man can make laws to govern other men is anti-Biblical. But it doesn’t stop disobedient, foolish men from trying to usurp God’s sovereignty.

In the KJV New Testament the Greek word “phyle” was translated as tribe and kindred. The tribes of Israel were by now scattered, their kings long dead. But the “blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15) was at hand. Those that follow and accept Christ as King are born into a new “phyle,” under the Kingdom/Kingship of God. In the Kingdom of God there are/is:

- No arbitrary classifications based on subjective reasoning.
- A shared kinship, all believers being the sons and daughters of the Father.
- A shared faith and allegiance.
- No man-made constitutions, statutes, “laws,” etc. There is one lawgiver (James 4:12).
- No artificial man-made maps of capriciously claimed domains.
- No synthetic planes of jurisdictionas Christ is given all power in heaven and in earth (Mat 28:18)
- No “Sovereigns” but the Immortal Sovereign Ruler Himself.
- No confusion that leads to chaos.


So while I believe Mr. Casey’s “phyles” are likely an exercise in futility, the Lord’s ordained phyles result in paradise.
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Re: On the End of the Nation-State

Postby notmartha » Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:28 pm

I read an essay recently that ties nicely into the OP, about a "new" form of "tribalism" in America. The author describes himself as "gay but Catholic, conservative but independent, a Brit but American, religious but secular" (take from that what you will...) The essay originally appeared in the September 18, 2017 issue of New York Magazine, and can be found at this link. It's a longer essay, I'm just going to post a teaser here. Discussion is welcome.


America Wasn’t Built for Humans

Tribalism was an urge our Founding Fathers assumed we could overcome. And so it has become our greatest vulnerability.

By Andrew Sullivan

From time to time, I’ve wondered what it must be like to live in a truly tribal society. Watching Iraq or Syria these past few years, you get curious about how the collective mind can come so undone. What’s it like to see the contours of someone’s face, or hear his accent, or learn the town he’s from, and almost reflexively know that he is your foe? How do you live peacefully for years among fellow citizens and then find yourself suddenly engaged in the mass murder of humans who look similar to you, live around you, and believe in the same God, but whose small differences in theology mean they must be killed before they kill you? In the Balkans, a long period of relative peace imposed by communism was shattered by brutal sectarian and ethnic warfare, as previously intermingled citizens split into unreconcilable groups. The same has happened in a developed democratic society — Northern Ireland — and in one of the most successful countries in Africa, Kenya.

Tribal loyalties turned Beirut, Lebanon’s beautiful, cosmopolitan capital, into an urban wasteland in the 1970s; they caused close to a million deaths in a few months in Rwanda in the 1990s; they are turning Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, into an enabler of ethnic cleansing right now in Myanmar. British imperialists long knew that the best way to divide and conquer was by creating “countries” riven with tribal differences. Not that they were immune: Even in successful modern democracies like Britain and Spain, the tribes of Scots and Catalans still threaten a viable nation-state. In all these places, the people involved have been full citizens of their respective nations, but their deepest loyalty is to something else.

But then we don’t really have to wonder what it’s like to live in a tribal society anymore, do we? Because we already do. Over the past couple of decades in America, the enduring, complicated divides of ideology, geography, party, class, religion, and race have mutated into something deeper, simpler to map, and therefore much more ominous. I don’t just mean the rise of political polarization (although that’s how it often expresses itself), nor the rise of political violence (the domestic terrorism of the late 1960s and ’70s was far worse), nor even this country’s ancient black-white racial conflict (though its potency endures).

I mean a new and compounding combination of all these differences into two coherent tribes, eerily balanced in political power, fighting not just to advance their own side but to provoke, condemn, and defeat the other.

I mean two tribes whose mutual incomprehension and loathing can drown out their love of country, each of whom scans current events almost entirely to see if they advance not so much their country’s interests but their own. I mean two tribes where one contains most racial minorities and the other is disproportionately white; where one tribe lives on the coasts and in the cities and the other is scattered across a rural and exurban expanse; where one tribe holds on to traditional faith and the other is increasingly contemptuous of religion altogether; where one is viscerally nationalist and the other’s outlook is increasingly global; where each dominates a major political party; and, most dangerously, where both are growing in intensity as they move further apart.

The project of American democracy — to live beyond such tribal identities, to construct a society based on the individual, to see ourselves as citizens of a people’s republic, to place religion off-limits, and even in recent years to embrace a multiracial and post-religious society — was always an extremely precarious endeavor. [NM- see the Terms of Art entry for Democracy to see why this statement is oxymoronic] It rested, from the beginning, on an 18th-century hope that deep divides can be bridged by a culture of compromise, and that emotion can be defeated by reason. It failed once, spectacularly, in the most brutal civil war any Western democracy has experienced in modern times. And here we are, in an equally tribal era, with a deeply divisive president who is suddenly scrambling Washington’s political alignments, about to find out if we can prevent it from failing again.



Again, read the rest HERE.
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