Will the world always be divided into nation-states?

Can there ever be a united Earth? Most science fiction authors seem to think so. Whether the setting is the grimmest dystopia or the most cheerful Star Trek-like paradise, most writers assume that within two or three centuries the peoples of Earth will unite politically and to a greater or lesser extent culturally.

But is this possible? If so, how? By a totalitarian government holding dominion over the entire Earth? A theocratic superstate? A multicultural democracy?

Would it be in the world’s best interests to drop the borders? Should various nations with similar political/cultural/linguistic/ethnic backgrounds begin to peacefully merge? Should the entire world eventually merge, whether through peaceful or violent means? Would unification be worth the cost in lives/resources if violence is needed?

What kind of ideology would this superstate have? Would there be an international army/police force/intelligence agency/justice system to keep law and order? To what extent could dissent be tolerated? Could secession be an option?

I personally think it is possible, not in a multicultural state. I think that local traditions and beliefs will inevitably persist to a certain extent, but there needs to be some uniformity of beliefs and values for there to be true unification. I think a good start would be to implement a universal language, whether that’s English, Esperanto, or whatever. It would need to be the language of instruction everywhere in the world, so that in a couple of generations it will be the entire Earth’s primary language. But that would just be the beginning.

Your thoughts?

Nation-states are a relatively recent phenomenon: no reason to think that they’ll be around in the long run.

There likely will be a united Earth, but it’ll take the form of a limited confederation long before it’s a republic or democracy. It’ll be united, because the ever greater scope, speed, and impact of our actions will make necessary ever greater coordination. It’ll be a limited confederation because that allows for broad coordination without surrendering undue amounts of sovereignty or mandating overly much conformity. The limited association also guards against bad government – tyrannical or inept – and allows for greater innovation in governance (which we’re far from figuring out). It’ll come about through a need to regulate trade, pollution, and violence.

Cultural unity will remain a long ways off. Borders will largely come down, resulting in greater elective association (freer citizenship).

A shared language – likely English – is a good idea, politically and economically, so long as it doesn’t kill off other languages: which it likely will. In language and culture, as in genetics, a healthy degree of diversity offers greater odds of survival.

Will it be a good idea? :idunno: We’ll have it; if we’re able to maintain it, it’ll be because it offers greater liberty before laws of our own devising. That’d be good.

Ever is a long time, so perhaps the question isn’t if, but when, how, and under what circumstances. The fastest way it could happen I would think would be either outright conquest by one nation, or a dividing of peoples into two or three mega-states, with one ultimately defeating the others.

Much more likely is the propisition Jaboney mentioned, where gradually larger and larger confederations and entities are built that finally culminate in one nation. Things have gradually moved that direction for a long time, as represented by organizations like the U.N., the E.U., the WTO, and others.

Of course, the one thing that always tends to unite people is the threat of destruction from an outside force, but unless you believe the folks in Roswell there isn’t much sign of that happening anytime soon.

I don’t think that an extra-terrestial threat is necessary, redandy. :wink: Once the global empire starts to take root, anyone who has not submitted to imperial rule and assimilation will be considered a threat.

I have often had this discussion with Baha’is, whose religion teaches that a politically-unified world-state will emerge in the future, and that this is desired by God. Alas, one man’s New Jerusalem is another man’s Whore of Babylon…

What counts as a “nation-state”? For example, assuming the EU continues to unify, at what point will we say that its member nations have become one state rather than 27 (or however many there are in the future)?

On the other hand, what would the world have to do in order to be considered politically unified? For example, talk of a “global economy” is no longer speculative, and an emerging web of treaties regulates more and more aspect of international relations. Even the patterns of everyday life and culture seem to be converging. (Government, education, workplace customs, and clothing styles in Taiwan follow international–chiefly Western and Japanese–models.) Would it make sense, then, to say that we already live in a world-state (or a “most-of-the-world state”), albeit one which is still very decentralized? This is a bit like asking whether Afghanistan is one country or many, with the crucial distinction that the nations of the world do not yet pretend (as most Afghans do) to be a unified state. Is that it? Is it just a matter of symbols, or is there something else?

I think it’s human nature to organize ourselves into competing identity groups. So I would expect a world-state, if it ever arose, to suffer from various societal cleavages (which need not be geographically-based).

From an online definition:

The “nation” part usually refers to the people, and the “state” part the government, but I think the above definition is pretty straightforward. It gets tricky when those citizens are themselves ethnically/linguistically/religiously/culturally diverse, but ideally all will submit to the sovereignty of the state. I suppose what I mean is that presently the world is divided into a few hundred different sovereign states whose exercise authority only over their own citizens (and others living within their borders). The American police cannot go over to Canada to arrest a man in Canada who committed a crime in Canada, even if he’s American. Two nations without an extradition treaty really demonstrate the point, because a person can commit murder and escape to the other country, and not be touched. If there is a global state, such things would no longer be possible.

And here we come to it. I agree completely, which is why I think a multicultural state is not sustainable. There needs to be one identity group with enough internal cohesion and power that it can conquer and dominate all the other groups. This would involve forcibly imposing language and culture on the conquered peoples. If successful, the conquerors and the conquered will eventually (perhaps after a few generations) no longer perceive themselves as separate identity groups.

With your crappo currency, you can’t afford it any more. Haha. Broke. Haha. Off to the dustbin of history with you.

BroonAdministration

(I am drunk this morning)

Gao Bo Han:

I don’t think this is possible, by virtue of that aspect of human nature mentioned above. Let’s say white people, or Chinese, or whatever, take over the world and kill everybody else. Will the world then be unified? No, because in that case the victors would begin to identify more with some subcategory based on region, language, religion, or appearance, and the divisions would appear all over again. That’s because our concept of identity only makes sense in the context of inter-group competition. (A flag only makes sense if there are other flags to be distinguished from it.)

That said, we might be able to organize our inter-group competition better, steering it into less destructive arenas. Love not war, so to speak.

Speaking of flags, I am not sure to what extent “sovereignty” exists other than as a declaration, a flag-like symbol. Nation-states as we know them tend to be constrained by various considerations. Serbian Kosovo would be an extreme example, but think also of the relationship of Canada to its provinces, and of the various countries which DO have extradition treaties (like the EU). Is “sovereignty” then just a word which is sometimes “flown” about, like a flag? Is it a matter of degree? (What degree?)

A united earth? Well, it’s just my opinion but since we can’t even get neighbors to agree, I think this is very doubtful. Now, I mean neighbors on an intimate level. My fence. My BBQ smoke. Kids cutting across the lawn.
Well, If we extrapolate this unwilling attidude to a national scale, I think it is easy to see that world peace in this format is but a dream. Look back on history and decide if any group of countries can consistently maintain cooperation. Even in the U.S., this has not occurred. Recall we had a civil war over the issue. Even today, the U.S. fights to control the various cultural aspects of the citizens. i.e. wild horses and mules in the N.W., Crab fish off the east coast; salmon harvest in the NW. There are many more and this is on a local scale. Now multiply these and other problems around the world. There is absolutely no way that agreement can be reached. Even if the U.S. gave up all right to world resources, there would be an unending fight.
So, what should the world do?

If you are waiting for me to answer, don’t hold your breath.

[quote=“Enigma”]A united earth? Well, it’s just my opinion but since we can’t even get neighbors to agree, I think this is very doubtful. Now, I mean neighbors on an intimate level. My fence. My BBQ smoke. Kids cutting across the lawn.
Well, If we extrapolate this unwilling attidude to a national scale, I think it is easy to see that world peace in this format is but a dream. Look back on history and decide if any group of countries can consistently maintain cooperation. Even in the U.S., this has not occurred. Recall we had a civil war over the issue. Even today, the U.S. fights to control the various cultural aspects of the citizens. i.e. wild horses and mules in the N.W., Crab fish off the east coast; salmon harvest in the NW. There are many more and this is on a local scale. Now multiply these and other problems around the world. There is absolutely no way that agreement can be reached. Even if the U.S. gave up all right to world resources, there would be an unending fight.
So, what should the world do?

If you are waiting for me to answer, don’t hold your breath.[/quote]

So, you are saying there are civil wars happening over horses, mules, crabs and salmon within the United States? No-one is saying that there won’t continue to be disagreements, only that (as within existing nations) the disagreements will be settled by peaceable means (enforced, if necessary)

One of the arguments during the founding of the US was whether such a large country could be held together by representative government, or whether democracy was necessarily limited to small polities.

I always thought that was a convenient conceit on the part of the author. It’s difficult enough to invent one imaginary culture, so why bother thinking up another 172 that never enter the plot?

Mountain people don’t read the laws regarding grain elevators. Desert people can’t live without customs on foot washing and cactus harvesting. City people don’t really care about the rules of logging roads or the culling of rabid monkeys.

We will have a homogeneous society when our environment becomes homogeneous or when our individual spheres of interest become much, much larger than 50 miles in diameter and 60-100 years long.

And if there’s one thing that evolution has taught us it’s that diversity is king.

So, to answer the question: I don’t think there will ever be a single-nation Earth, unless it’s a transitory accident like when everybody stops talking at the same time. And that’s a good thing.

Even in Star Trek universe you need the inhuman “others.”
If not the Kligons, then the Romunlans. If they are not around then the Borg.

The only way you’ll have an united Earth is if there is an outside threat that requires a unified Earth to overcome it. Other then that humans will just forms tribes and fight each other for no other reason then because it is in their nature to do as such.

I don’t think that gao bo han was talking about everybody living in love, peace and grooviness, or the lion laying down with the lamb; but simply asking if there will eventually be a single overriding body governing the whole Earth. It would presumably be a federal body, such as the US, Canada, or Australia (the direction the EU is heading) with local bodies and the central gov’t having their own defined areas of responsibility.

Sure people will still have disagreements and push their own parochial interests- the only difference is that it gets decided by politics, not war.

There’s been a lot of talk about whether a world of many nation states will be replaced by a world of one “nation” state, but not so much about whether the current format will continue. Most of the talk has been about something like what we have now, writ large (only without the military forces, only police forces).

The question was “Will the world always be divided into nation states”. I think the answer is almost certainly no. That doesn’t mean there will necessarily be a single nation-state writ large. I think there probably won’t.

Someone pointed out earlier that the nation state is a modern (literally in terms of historical epochs) historically specific invention. The current international system (or the one that is coming to an end if you believe we are in a time of major change) is generally held to date from the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which ended the 30 Years War and 80 Years War - although there are of course revisionists and dissenters. Regardless of the significance of Westphalia to our current international system, systems come and go and our current one will come to an end too - it would be supremely arrogant to think differently. The only question is how will it evolve or what will replace it.

One of the significant properties of the modern nation state is its supposed monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Ok, you could say that parents have a legitimate right to use force on their children (send/take them to bed) or you have a legitimate right to throw a burglar out of your house, but within the terms of the system, these are essentially rights granted by the state and legislation can change that.

Prior to Westphalia, nations existed. But they weren’t sovereign nation states. In England’s case, that’s why Henry VIII had to tell the pope to fuck off so he could form the Church of England with him as its supreme head. A precursor to what was formalised and systematised later. Before the Reformation, though England existed with a legislature, King, borders and an army (though not a standing army I think), it didn’t have supreme sovereignty. The king was part of a feudal chain of command ending in the Pope.

For a while, sovereign states existed with supreme authority within their own borders and waging war when they didn’t like what was going on beyond those borders. Although they’ve never been the only ones to use force, they’ve claimed to be the only ones to legitimately use force - Bin Laden’s army is supposedly illegitimate, Bush’s army is supposedly legitimate.

Can we really say that’s true post WWII? There are loads of international institutions that constrain nation states, world wide - UN, WTO, IMF, WB etc and many regional ones - EU, AU, ASEAN etc. Not all nations are members of all these organisations, and those that are have joined by choice - but at this point it would be very difficult to uninvent them or the treaties that created them. Bush himself struck a blow for the decline of the nation state (aside from the decline of The US by fighting a war too far) by asserting his right to intervene in another sovereign state. According to the premises of the war, Iraq clearly didn’t have the right to do what it wanted within its own borders.

So the question is what will replace the current international system, which is already evolving. I think increasing numbers of parallel global institutions as well as regional and local ones, ultimately creating a global system is likely. The global institutions are unlikely to have the universal power over the people of the world that nation states did at their height (education, health, crime, punishment, social security, birth, marriage, death etc) and there will still be conflicts, probably ones involving force - it’s just it won’t be classical nation states fighting them. Which brings us to Al Qaeda and The War Against Terror.

:loco: :loco: :loco: :roflmao: :roflmao: :roflmao: :wanker: :wanker: :joker:
Uhh…yeah…only since around 3,000 B.C…pretty new stuff on the scene…amazing… :loco: :unamused:

You’re thinking of states, not nation states. The nation is as important as the state there and in their modern, sovereign, national form, nation states have existed since the 17th century.

No need to be rude, especially when you’re demonstrating ignorance.

[quote=“fruitloop”]You’re thinking of states, not nation states. The nation is as important as the state there and in their modern, sovereign, national form, nation states have existed since the 17th century.

No need to be rude, especially when you’re demonstrating ignorance.[/quote]Fruitloop -
Sorry…you are wrong…and I may even be a bit loose in saying 3,000 B.C., even the Chinese, and this is just to use the Asian model, “nation state” model existed prior to 3,000 B.C…or B.C.E. for the pc crowd.
Political entities that might be categorized as “nation-states” have existed for a long long time.

Probably … if we first get rid of all the dictators, goons, tirans, extreme religious morons, etc …

United against what?

Marsians … Orionists? Orionese …