The End of the Nation-State

The nation-state experiment has become empires in disguise

Written by by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~and published in Medium.com March 26, 2022

Dali- Time Warp

Talk about a handicap. Our species is struggling under the massive weight of unacknowledged failure. The denied awareness that almost all of our preeminent Western systems are failing haunts and deforms us.

We hide that failure under the individual daily and weekly disasters that are the bread and butter of our deformed media empires. These disasters are normal, so there is no need to be too concerned. We have become very good at ignoring the signs of our demise.

No matter how bad the individual disasters, all generated directly or indirectly by our systemic failures, we are never more than three minutes away from the artificial world of Capitalist Realism. So the irony of American commercials for trucks endlessly repeating between images of war and desperate immigrants never registers.

We impulse buy in the face of imminent disasters. But which set of images are actual.

Even the constant American mass killings resulting from a population told they must have assault weapons because murder is entertainment is no threat. They will be interrupted by commercials for the good life. That is reality.

Endless horror inundates us, but we’ve learned that these are individual events with no more significant meaning. Stupidity is the standard, and any logical connection between destructive attitudes and terrible events is only a product of conspiracies.

Freedom has become only the right to hate anything different than what our favorite talking heads repeat. But there is no logic, and the only continuity is stupidity and hatred. You need to listen carefully as the message may change.

We must admit the systemic failures pulling us into an apocalyptic collapse. Why must we suppress our fear of nuclear war by insane tyrants attempting brutal conquest? Why must we accept that this is just something that happens?

Destruction of the planet is not something that just happens. It can so easily be considered just another story, which means that there is no way to stop it. Our self-destruction is already being accepted, with a significant portion of the population working to achieve it.

Systemic failure is becoming endemic as if that is something that can be lived with even as we die. Failing systems are cancer that we will not survive.

Unless we aggressively force the removal of failing systems, we will lose all hope. There are so many that feel helpless, but that is the propaganda from our failing systems. That is the inertia of dysfunctional systems that protect those directly supported by those systems.

We need to fix the problems and eliminate the failing systems before it is too late. Unfortunately, removing the despots will not work as there are too many of them, from big to small. Most are limited only by the size of the country they have taken over. But with enough brutality and willingness to kill people for their benefit, they can build large missiles and buy nuclear weapons.

Kim Jong-un of North Korea is usually ignored, except by the Japanese because he keeps shooting missiles in their direction, but could manage to start a nuclear war all by himself.

Putin was always dangerous and a significant threat to the existing world order with his intense destabilization attacks on the US and Great Britain. But Russia has been relegated to third world status for almost thirty years.

That Putin could place a ‘useful fool’ in the White House for one term is a direct cause of the Ukraine war and our current planetary threat. Our most extensive failed system is the 18th-century concept of the nation-state.

Nation-states cause every problem currently threatening us with an apocalypse. Whatever its pretense, nation-state governments are oligarchic, autocratic, failing, or all three. Whatever value they once had is now gone.

Things do not stay the same. We should know that by now. Despite the demented portion of our population that wants to revert to the past, we know we must manage change, or we will not survive.

Functional governments are, effectively, local, i.e., metropolitan governments: the larger the national government, the more dangerous and less functional. No large nation-state is considered anything other than a failure by its population.

The Ranking Of The Best Governments In The World

Country Legatum Index Government Ranking

Switzerland 1, New Zealand 2, Denmark 3, Sweden 4, Finland 5, Luxembourg 6, Canada 7, Norway 8, United Kingdom 9, Australia 10.

Note that no large countries with large populations are in the top ten. Both Canada and Australia are geographically large but relatively sparsely populated. The US ranks 10th in government and wealth, but this was before the Trump disaster and America’s steep decline.

China ranks 3rd economically but is very low in government and wellbeing.

We cannot afford to carry this weight of dysfunctionality anymore. It is killing us.

We must call the nation-state experiment a failure.

Cities work. Towns and villages work. Global alliances work for trade and economies of scale. Nation-states bring insanity.

We can argue that the evolution of the nation-states brought rights and standards to regional populations except when they didn’t. As a representative nation-state concept replacing monarchies and early republics, the great American Experiment was the peak but has not worked out.

The critical need for universal rights must be completely separate from any national political system that will only undercut those rights. Instead, we have the rudimentary infrastructure in the International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court, or International Commission of Jurists.

In many cases in existence for decades, nation-states regularly ignore these courts unless massive military power is brought down on them. Eliminate the nation-states and the tribal laws used politically to brutalize and exploit people commonly enacted in the more backward parts of the United States and other neofascist or theocratic nations.

Large regional nations built on empires of conquest are human failures. But unfortunately, the cost of ethnic minority oppression and mass exploitation for a small elite is universal in the 21st century for all regional nations.

China, built on twenty-five hundred years of empire, is the most successful but only by heavily modifying socialist and capitalist economics. Nevertheless, by maintaining, at least, the principle of the commons and shared ownership as a priority, it is steadily beating the elitist capitalist nations. But that is achieved with great suffering among minorities and the routine planetary destruction that is killing us all.

The sudden rush to conquest by Russia attempting to restore its regional empire in the face of the collapsing American empire shows the bankruptcy of the nation-state system. Instead, the squabbling of the national rulers is solely focused on maintaining their power and massive wealth, with even lip service to representative governmental forms no longer required.

Biden’s strident defense of democratic states in his NATO speech sounds almost as false as Putin’s use of nazism in justifying the Russian conquest of Ukraine. The best that we can achieve under the failed nation-state system is the lesser evil, but that is no longer good enough.

Biden’s minders immediately ‘walked back’ his statement that Putin cannot remain in power. A dangerous precedent will be set if oppression and military conquest are reasons to remove a ruler from power.

The result of this doubletalk for everyone else is suffering, death, and the growing fear of nuclear war for no meaningful purpose except the greed of the oligarchic elite.

Our Fascist Future?

Tucker Carlson Has Seen the Future, and It Is Fascist

Orban’s Hungary is the road map for American authoritarianism.

Photo by Matt Hardy on Pexels.com

Written by Jonathon Chatt and published in The Intelligencer 8/4/2021

In 1919, the progressive journalist Lincoln Steffens visited the nascent Soviet Union and declared, “I have seen the future and it works.” Tucker Carlson’s weeklong visit to Budapest, where he is using his Fox News show as an infomercial for Viktor Orban’s illiberal regime, is being conducted in much the same spirit. “If you care about Western civilization and democracy and families, and the ferocious assault on all three of those things by the leaders of our global institutions, you should know what is happening here right now,” Carlson gushed to his viewers.

Of course, “democracy” is not a category description any small-d democrat would apply to Hungary, a state that has “dropped any pretense of respecting democratic institutions” under Orban, according to Freedom House, which no longer categorizes it as a democracy at all.

These are not mere details, and Carlson is not overlooking them. He is laying down a marker in the highest profile way he can that Orban’s iron fist is the future the Republican Party should want. The splashy imprimatur of a Fox News prime-time personality, who is probably the right’s most influential media figure, is an important milestone in the Republican Party’s long evolution into authoritarianism.

It is certainly not Hungary’s economy that has attracted a growing number of American right-wing admirers. Hungary has fallen behind its central European peers as Orban’s corruption and crude populism have spurred many of the nation’s wealthier citizens to leave. Nor is there much conservative inspiration to be mined from Orban’s pandemic management, which has been simultaneously more heavy-handed and less effective than other European governments’.

The Trump administration lavished Orban with praise. Trump has even likened the Hungarian strongman to himself, calling him a “tough man, but he is a respected man … probably, like me, a little bit controversial, but that’s okay. You’ve done a good job, and you’ve kept your country safe.” Trump’s ambassador in Budapest confessed frankly that his boss envies Orban’s ability to bully and suppress his critics: “I can tell you, knowing the president for a good 25 or 30 years, that he would love to have the situation that Viktor Orbán has, but he doesn’t.”

The right’s entrancement with Orban has emerged fitfully over the last decade. One could find defenses of the Hungarian regime in places like the New York Postthe Federalist, the Heritage Foundation, and National Review. Yet, until recently, open support for Orban’s Hungary was an idiosyncratic minority position on the American right.

Orban’s regime has forged links with the conservative movement, including a lobbying campaign in Washington and a right-wing think tank in Budapest, where Carlson will deliver a speech Saturday. At this point, American conservatives who denounce Orban’s kleptocracy are now the minority.

What makes this alliance especially chilling is that Hungary is the model of democratic backsliding that has loomed largest in their imaginations of internationalist thinkers. Orban’s corruption of a former democracy occurred step by step. He gerrymandered the electoral map to give his supporters an overwhelming advantage, stacked the judiciary with supporters, leveraged state power to force large businesses to support his party, and installed supporters in charge of the country’s largest media organs. (Think about Trump’s efforts to bully Jeff Bezos into putting a leash on the Washington Post by denying Amazon a lucrative Pentagon contract, and you have a picture of the methods Orban has used, with more success.)

Hungary’s democratic backsliding was slow and gradual, without a single dramatic moment when its character flipped from democracy to dictatorship. Even now, it retains the surface trappings of a democracy without the liberal characteristics that make those processes meaningful. If America ceases to be a democracy, it will likely follow a path similar to Orban’s.

The broad lesson of Trump’s presidency is that clumsy, violent efforts to seize power — such as the January 6 insurrection — will meet with intra-party resistance, but subtler power grabs will not. Republicans decided to shrug at abuses like Trump using American diplomacy as a lever to coerce Ukraine to smear his opponent, refusing to accept the election outcome, or using the presidency to line his own pockets. They have enthusiastically joined in state laws to restrict voting and hand power over elections to party hacks.

What they seem to want is a leader who shares Trump’s contempt for democracy, but possesses a subtler touch. That is the vision Orban offers.

The difference between the left-wing American enthusiasts for Soviet communism a century ago and the conservative enthusiasts for Orbanism today is that at least the former were blinded by devotion to an ideal. They believed and hoped the Soviets were building a workers paradise and allowed this dream to blind them to the terror state that actually existed. Carlson is not ignoring Orban’s iron hand. For him, the repression is the very allure.

After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made

Review by Joseph Langen

When I saw the ad for this book, I had mixed feelings. I am tired of thinking about the mess which has developed in our country, how we have created it and questioning what to do about it. On the other hand if we do not think about what faces us, at best we are stuck with it and at worst the problems will only deepen. I decided to forge ahead and read the book.

One question I had while I was waiting for the book to be available at the library was what the author meant by “the fall.” By the end of the book, I realized that the author never did address this issue directly. After discussing it with my friend Bob over lunch, I realized that the fall referred to losing our preeminent status of leadership in the world and the emergence of China as positioning itself to take our place as the pre-eminent world power. He also notes that we have contributed to China’s rise through our extensive dependence on their capital investment and cheap goods.

He begins the book by chronicling developments in Hungary as it moved from a democracy to an authoritarian system. Among the factors contributing to this change in national focus are developments, many of which we have seen arise in our own country. Among those he mentions are partisan propaganda, packing the courts with right-wing judges, favoring big business over individual citizen needs, demonizing opponents through social media channels, political contributions branded as free speech and attacking as “others” people of color, the poor, immigrants and liberal elites.

The author has lived and worked in a variety of countries around the world and chronicles developments elsewhere which parallel our own slippery path including Hungary, Russia, and China. Our patriot act after 9/11 moved us toward despotic practices which have stayed with us. These include surveillance, restriction of immigration, detaining people without trial, torture of people in custody and killing people in other countries.

We came out in a leadership position after the world wars and cold war. Yet now we find ourselves enveloped in a cold war at home “between people who live in the reality of the world as it is and people who are choosing to live in a false reality made up of base right supremacist grievances and irrational conspiracy theories.”

All of this leaves us in a dire situation with reason to fear for our future. The author leaves us with no clear path toward resolution of the many difficulties facing us including other issues such as global warming, Covid, and ongoing racial tensions. He reminds us that we have faced and overcome many dire situations in the past, many through cooperation of other peoples around the world. We need to come together as an American people and also see ourselves as part the world community rather than feeling exceptional.

The question remains whether we as a society will be able or willing to rise to the challenge.