The End of the Nation-State

The nation-state is coming to its end. And thank god for that.

For five hundred years, since the emergence of Spain and England as more than a collection of defeated princedoms and duchies but coherent entities with shared customs, religions, allegiances, and language, the nation-state has been the way most societies have ordered their politie

Indeed, nowadays there are as many as 195 recognized states in the United Nations, but many of those are known as failed states–Somalia, Haiti, Syria, and Yemen, for example—and one organization that measures such things, a Fund for Peace think tank in America, found in 2023 that two dozen others are so fragile that they cannot provide a full range of basic state functions, plus another 84 that have one or more warning signs of failure. In other words, the arrangement of government by nations that the West has foisted on the world has not been much of a success, in view of the fact that in fully 64 per cent there is no fully cohesive state and in many of the others either internal or external pressures have eroded the essentials of such a state.

But we don’t have to go traipsing around to find the best example: it is here. The America of 2024 could no longer be called a nation, in the sense of a common culture, common loyalties, common beliefs, common religion, common ideology, common vision, common allegiance, or even common language.  It does not have a common agreement on what marriages should be or how many genders there are (ABC news in 2024 counted 53 in use), or what the country’s history has been or even what year it started, or what constitutes a crime; it does not have a working system for public education in any state; it does not even have defended borders, the minimum task that a civil body must fulfill to be a nation.

People might move around as usual, some facades in the Washington Potemkin village might still be standing, but the core, the nation that was supposed to be at the heart of it all, is slowly vanishing.  In the U. S., as in most European countries, loyalty to nation has quietly withered away, to be replaced by loyalty to a cause, a race, a religion, a job, an ideology, or simply a market. Patriotism is for posing politicians.

Public confidence in the institutions of the nation is at an all-time low, with those professing great or a lot of trust in the Supreme Court at 27 per cent, the Presidency 26 per cent and the Congress 8 per cent;  the three branches of government in America muster trust from less than a quarter of its people, what we might dismiss caustically as “like a Third-World country.” Other areas fare hardly better:  newspapers gain only 18 per cent and TV news 14 per cent; banks, public schools and organized labor earn 26 per cent. In fact taken all together, only a little over a quarter of the American public can muster confidence in any of the systems and organizations that run their lives. They do not trust them.

It comes as no surprise then, to know that rates of suicide, alcohol use, and drugs are at all-time highs in 2024.  Suicide rates have increased every year of the 21st century, standing at more than 50,000 people in 2024—and here’s the indicator of the depth of the problem: the large majority of them are white men, and many of those in the 55 to 70 age range, just the population that should be running the country; the other large group were adolescents, just the population that should be inheriting it.  Drug deaths—not suicides, accidents—are running about 110,000 in these past few years, a great many from fentanyl, originating in China (which was simultaneously poisoning American youth through TikTok), and opioids, legal and illegal.  Alcohol “use disorder” (addiction, sickness) affected almost 30 million Americans, and more than 140,000 died each year.  Two-thirds of all adults then were either addicted to drugs or liquor or had someone in the family who was—that’s around 175 million people, an astounding figure.

The American economy is teetering, no matter what Jerome Powell professes, with the American dollar threatened abroad by the rise of the growing BRICS alliance using other currencies –Brazil, Russia, India, China, and now with Saudi Arabia and theUnited Arab Emirates—and the national debt crippling faith in the Federal Reserve system at home.  Month by month it has gotten through the post-pandemic years, largely dependent on creative fiddling by the hedge-fund-and-big-bank accord rather than manufacturing or production of anything, but the basic sickness of the economy was immune to healing.  No one could be confident that the teetering was going to end, and almost everyone realized that the national instruments, including Congress and the Presidency, were helpless—and the national debt, at the bottom of it all, was an astounding $34 trillion, and mounting every year.

In the March 2024 issue of Chronicles magazine, its managing editor wondered that no one was talking about observing the 250th anniversary of the country’s birth in 2026, although the Bicentennial in 1976 was a much-ballyhooed event with large public support.  No one. “Perhaps,” she said, “Americans don’t want to take part in the hypocrisy of celebrating the ‘birthday’ of an already dead regime….I don’t mean that the country called the United States no longer exists. I mean that its soul has been drained out…

“We cannot, rightly, call this doppelganger going by the name ‘United States of America’ the same regime as the regime of our founders. Celebrating the occasion of America’s birth as if it had not already slipped away and become something else is to take part in a lie.”

As in the U.S., so in most of the other nations of the West, including those of Europe.  No country was without its “populist” uprising, consisting of those left out of the “neoliberal” techno-economy of the 21st century whose earnings hadn’t even kept up with inflation.  What little remained of borders in the European Union were shattered by waves of mass migration from the Middle East and Africa in the 2010’s, and as in America common cultural, linguistic, and religious ties were overwhelmed, and nationalism as a unifying ideal ceased to exist.

On top of it all, an organization centered in Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum, had been working since the 1970’s with considerable financial clout to create a world managed by multinational corporations and non-governmental organizations, working toward a “Great Reset” in which there would be a “General Redesign of Power” and centralized property ownership—in other words, a world government  without nations—or borders—at all.  It has great influence at the World Health Organization, where a new Pandemic Treaty threatens nation sovereignty, and the World Bank, failing in its attempts to sustain nations everywhere, and it has globalist allies in important positions throughout the richer nations.

The death of the nation state may not come with a bang, and its last, declining whimpers may take a few more years to be final.  But the patient is dying, and every sign is that its final days are near. It served its usefulness for quite some time, but it’s proven useless now. Requiem for a long time in pace.

2 responses
I've been reading a book called "Nonsense on Stilts_ The Gettysburg Address & Lincoln's Imaginary Nation". Paul C. Graham makes the point that America was not a "nation", but a federation of independent/sovereign states which formed a "compact", i.e. rule of law. This was confirmed in the Preamble of the Paris Peace Treaty after the colonies won their independence from Great Britain. The distinction that Graham makes is that the term "nation" refers to a top-down central government in which the states are "subjects"; whereas, in a compact/federation, the federal government serves the states. That is what made American government different from all others in history. Lincoln violated the constitutional protection of slavery, invaded the South with the result that about 650,000 lives were lost. England eliminated slavery the right way, by amending their rule of law. Lincoln's actions changed our form of government from a constitutional republic into what has now blossomed out into what is rapidly becoming a totalitarian system. The constitution is now almost a dead letter, and the rule of law, the justice system consists of about 80% (my guess) of specious case laws which are used as precedent for increasing federal power. The founders gave the federal government a very short list of powers contained in Article 1, Section 8. So many additional powers have been added that we are under persecution, both political and religious, by our own government. Romans 1:18ff is the story of what happens when truth suppression saturates the thinking of citizens.
Just read an article by Kevin Orlin Johnson delineating the astonishing similarities between this president and Abraham Lincoln, also a hollow construct put in place to serve those actually in charge. Neither man bears any personal resemblance to his public persona. I am struck once again, however, by the dire necessity of using such revelations as a means of clarifying and refining our own thinking, and with it our lives, and with them our decisions, we who are alive and remain in this beleaguered, much-beloved country of ours.