by Doug Casey, Casey Research:
Justin’s note: Longtime readers know what Doug Casey thinks of nation states. He says they’ve mostly been an “inefficient, counterproductive, and expensive nuisance” and a “testimony to how thoughtless the average person is.”
He also says nation states are going out of business.
I recently called him up to get an update on where we are today… and what to expect going forward.
Today and tomorrow, I’m sharing our discussion. I think you’ll enjoy…
Justin: So, Doug. Are nation states really in decline?
Doug: They’re definitely in decline, and that’s a good thing—nothing to be concerned about. It’s cause for optimism. The question is why are they falling apart?
Some background. The concept of the nation state came about with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, something that everybody only vaguely remembers from a college history class. Actually, today’s students will probably never even hear of it. That class has likely been replaced with Gender Studies or Black History.
Why was it so important? It redirected the concept of “loyalty” away from an individual—a prince or a king—to the State itself. A geographical area now wasn’t so much the possession of a ruler, as a possession of a State. This really got the concept of nationalism going; nationalism is just tribalism writ large.
That’s how the concept was born. But the idea of a nation state is coming to an end. Now almost anybody can go almost anywhere thanks to jet travel; you’re no longer married to one place, like a medieval serf. And you can communicate with anybody anywhere on the planet thanks to the Internet; that makes it much harder to keep all the sheep thinking the same thing.
So, first, people realized that it’s completely ridiculous and dysfunctional to be loyal to some thug who, through an accident of birth or through military competence, set himself up as a prince. Now they’re discovering that it’s equally stupid to be loyal to a government that’s running a country.
Justin: What should be people be loyal to instead?
Doug: Your loyalty should be to people who share your values or philosophy on life. Whatever is important to you. That could be any of a thousand things, including your religion or occupation. Or maybe just a hobby.
The nation state is now an anachronism, and going out of business. It’s dysfunctional, destructive, and serves less and less of a useful purpose. All it does is tax, regulate, persecute, and conduct wars. People got a bit of a scare a couple weeks ago when it looked like the US might start a nuclear war with the North Koreans, or the Russians. Perhaps they’ll threaten China next. That’s all State-on-State action.
Every government on the planet wants to maintain its power, and fights against losing power. We saw that recently with Spain and Catalonia. We’re seeing that with Syria, which should be several different entities, probably based on religion. A few years ago in the Central African Republic, where the Christians and the Muslims were hacking each other up with machetes for control of the government. Incidentally, I was headed there from Paris just then, and it was simply impossible. It’s not even a real country. If even 1% of Americans—in fact anyone on the planet—has even heard of the place, I’d be surprised. But it’s a nation state, with equal voting rights with the US and China in the UN.
This will happen all over the Third World. Every one of these so-called countries are completely arbitrary and artificial constructs. And they’re all bankrupt. Including the US.
Justin: I agree that the idea of a nation state is completely obsolete. But, as you know, governments are becoming more intrusive and controlling. Doesn’t that support the idea that nation states are getting more powerful, not weaker?
Doug: Absolutely. In every country, citizens have much less freedom than they did 100 years ago. The number of laws and regulations has exploded. Equally bad, the income tax is everywhere—it didn’t exist almost anywhere before the 19th century. Even worse, money everywhere is now just a fiction. Before the early 20th century money was completely international. It was gold, which was accepted everywhere. And in those days you didn’t need a passport—just enough money to travel and maintain yourself.
The standard of living was lower in those days. But things have improved because of technology, despite government draining capital away from enterprises, and misallocating it for political purposes.
Technology has advanced tremendously over the last hundred years. But a lot of people conflate the increase in standards of living with the growth of governments. Governments have grown not because they created new wealth, but because they’ve confiscated wealth and used it against their subjects.
But now most of them are bankrupt—even though they’ve taken taxes from trivial levels to monstrous levels. Even with the huge additional amounts they’ve stolen by inflating their currencies, they’re still bankrupt. I suspect we’re reaching the end game—but that’s another story.
So, you’re right. Freedom has been in decline throughout the world. I mean you can’t even arm yourself today without getting permission from the State. And, historically, a major sign of a free man was his right to be armed. Snowflakes, cupcakes, and SJWs are afraid to be armed; they have a slave mentality.
It’s disturbing and the situation is getting worse; this is all going to come apart. We’re going to have a crisis that reconstitutes everything in a new form. The US peaked in the ’50s, has been in decline since the ’70s, and its descent is accelerating. Actually, Western Civilization peaked just before World War One, and it’s in even bigger trouble. That’s a real tragedy, since about 98% of everything of value in the world is a product of it.