The demise of the nation state

the waning of the nation state: its inability to withstand countervailing 21st-century forces, and its calamitous loss of influence over human circumstance. 

nation states have lost their moral aura, which is one of the reasons tax evasion has become an accepted fundament of 21st-century commerce. 

27 profitable US companies who paid no taxes

we should not leap too quickly into renovation [of the nation state]. This system has done far less to deliver human security and dignity than we imagine — in some ways, it has been a colossal failure — and there are good reasons why it is ageing so much more quickly than the empires it replaced. 

Rana compares the Empires of the past—and their long life spans—to our current Nation States short lives…

the real delusion is the belief that things can carry on as they are.

The first step will be ceasing to pretend that there is no alternative. 

Anecdotally people in my life talk openly about dismantling and doing away with boarders and nation states.

Very significant was the structure of the postwar state itself, which possessed a historically unique level of control over the domestic economy. Capital could not flow unchecked across borders and foreign currency speculation was negligible compared to today. Governments, in other words, had substantial control over money flows, and if they spoke of changing things, it was because they actually could. 

white supremacists and radical Islamists alike take up arms against contamination and corruption. 

By creating the very concept of the nation radical groups can form around that concept.

The stakes could not be higher. So it is easy to see why western governments are so desperate to prove what everyone doubts: that they are still in control. 

He [Trump] cannot make America great again, but he does have Twitter, through which he can establish a lone-gun personality cult – blaming women, leftists and brown people for the state’s impotence. He cannot heal America’s social divisions, but he still controls the security apparatus, which can be deployed to help him look “tough” – declaring war on crime, deporting foreigners, hardening borders. He cannot put more money into the hands of the poor who voted for him, but he can hand out mythological currency instead; even his poorest voters, after all, possess one significant asset – US citizenship – whose value he can “talk up”, as he previously talked up casinos and hotels. Like Putin or Orbán, Trump imbues citizenship with new martial power, and makes a big show of withholding it from people who want it: what is scarcer, obviously, is more precious. Citizens who have nothing are persuaded that they have a lot. 

The west’s commitment to nation states has been self-servingly partial. For many decades, it was content to see large areas of the world suffer under terrifying parodies of well-established Western states; it cannot complain that those areas now display little loyalty to the nation-state idea. Especially since they have also borne the most traumatic consequences of climate change, a phenomenon for which they were least responsible and least equipped to withstand. 

both [cold war] superpowers actively destroyed any constraints on international action, maintaining a level of international lawlessness worthy of the “scramble for Africa”. Without such constraints, their disproportionate power produced exactly what one would expect: gangsterism. The end of the cold war did nothing to change American behaviour: the US is today dependent on lawlessness in international society, and on the perpetual warfare-against-the-weak that is its consequence. 

This is a key point Rana makes: Nation States have no higher body, like the UN, to which they are actually accountable to in large part because of the US and USSR

The true extent of our insecurity will be revealed as the relative power of the US further declines, and it can no longer do anything to control the chaos it helped create. 

we must also think more seriously about global redistribution: not aid, which is exceptional, but the systematic transfer of wealth from rich to poor for the improved security of all, as happens in national societies. 

Citizenship is itself the primordial kind of injustice in the world. It functions as an extreme form of inherited property and, like other systems in which inherited privilege is overwhelmingly determinant, it arouses little allegiance in those who inherit nothing. 

97% of citizenship is inherited, which means that the essential horizons of life on this planet are already determined at birth. 

People born on third base who think they hit a triple

Deregulating human movement is an essential corollary of the deregulation of capital: it is unjust to preserve the freedom to move capital out of a place and simultaneously forbid people from following.





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