November 10th, 2014

conspiracy theories

What do we do with the nation state?

The discussions about governance, devolution, and independence that have been going on are fascinating.

Close to home we've had the referendum on Scottish independence, which has then triggered lots of discussions about how power in the UK should be devolved, how much control should go to each area, and what those areas should be.

Meanwhile, this has triggered a "not-a-referendum" in Catalonia (happened yesterday against the wishes of the Spanish government with 82% in favour!), and various other areas are bound to push forward as well. And of course we also have referenda going on in Ukraine/Crimea earlier this year under even less pleasant circumstances. Oh, and Sardinia would like to be run by the Swiss rather than the Italians, because the Swiss are more competent.

And the answer to me, is to normalise the flexibility of the nation state. To get rid of the idea that they are in any way 'fixed' just because at some point a line was drawn.

Now, this isn't to say that we just erase all the lines on the map. I'd expect that most areas of most countries are happy just the way they are. But rather than assuming that things are fixed, and changing them requires drastic circumstances and legal grey areas, why not lay out a process by which regions can make decisions about how they want to associate with each other.

So if Rheinland-Pfalz and Luxembourg decide they have more in common than not, and that the costs of realigning with each other are worth it, then they can merge. Or if London, Kent, and the rest of the South-East counties decide that frankly they're fed up with the whining of the rest of the UK, they can form their own new country.

Which, again, isn't to say that I think it would happen on a weekly basis. Many/most people have an attachment to the countries they are used to. Change is scary. Many of those countries 'work' reasonably well.

But having a process in place that makes it possible, and changing our thinking from "Countries exist because countries exist" to "Countries are made up of people, and those people should self-organise in the ways that they believe work best" would be a step in the right direction. And anything which changes these events (which do happen, and look like they will happen more frequently as time goes on) from "Triggering massive movements of troops and inducing panic in the populace" to "Expensive and argumentative, but essentially peaceful" is a good thing.

Note: I do not expect this to happen, at least not any time soon. Having had the thought though, I was slightly surprised that I couldn't think of any SFnal examples which had nations this fluid. Any examples people can think of?

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.

Interesting Links for 10-11-2014