Thursday, June 09, 2011

A devolution of modern nation states?

I've been reading Fukayama's new book on the origins of political order and the evolution, first in England, of government with the three pillars of (1) The rule of law, (2) Strong central authority, and (3) Accountability of the leader. This is the form to which advanced modern nation states nominally adhere (even if they hold sham elections, are kleptocracies lacking rule of law, or have no check on central authority - think of Russia, China, former Soviet republics, or many African states.)

It strikes me that an consequence of the ultra-connectivity allowed by the internet may be a devolution of this nation state model, as an echo chamber mechanism allows people with different political or religious philosophies - the modern equivalent of the tribes that have dominated most of human history - to sequester themselves with like minded people reinforcing and making more extreme their world view. Thus we have phenomena like our current failure of U.S. governance as conservative and liberal camps appear to care more about their tribal agendas than the viability of the larger nation state. We seem to be moving in the direction of Afganistan or Iraq, where tribal loyalties are currently preventing the formation of effective modern nation states.

(Added note on 6/10/11 - Today's NYTimes has an interesting related piece by Roger Cohenwhich is well worth reading, from which I pull this quote: a time of economic hardship, the movements in the West with momentum are nationalist — like Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France or the Tea Party movement in the United States. Tribe trumps technology’s integrative tug. But the engine of that tug is remorseless and will in time prevail.

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