While it is apparent that the nation-state is merely an artifact, the conclusions derived from this axiom don’t seem coherent. Bureaucracy and Empire-building predate European colonialism by thousands of years (cf the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire, the Byzantine Empire, etc.). Furthermore there’s no evolutionary drive to support an axiom stating that the highest calling of each individual is to be free; in addition what does “free” even mean? We’re a group primate species and outside of a group, the individual doesn’t last long unless wealthy enough to take advantage of all the industrial aids our civilization has created to keep us insulated from predators and food scarcity.

Moving on, how should we tackle the enormous problems we face today (climate change, denuding the oceans, burning down the rain forests, polluting the oceans, etc.) if we’re all devolving down to individuals pursuing our own tiny personal goals? The fact is, large challenges require large-scale organization, which brings us inevitably back to bureaucracy. Without some organization, well-meaning efforts fall apart very quickly indeed. Anyone remember Occupy Wall Street….?

So while it’s useful to examine our very artificial construct, the Nation-State, a more adequate consideration of how industrialized societies can function more adequately is perhaps more germane than it might seem, unless we’re content to posit mass starvation and random violence on a scale unseen since the last time a civilization collapsed into anarchy (which, by the way, is invariably followed by totalitarianism).

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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