Nation state


The nation state is reaching the end of its relevance. Soon it will be replaced and will be relegated to history in the same way as tribes, clans, city states and empires. What will take its place I do not know.

A nation state is a sovereign state, recognised in international law and represented by a centralised government, where most of the citizens or subjects are united by factors which define a nation, such as language or common descent.

This is a circular argument which allows us to define a nation state by any set of characteristics.

Apparently, I live in a nation of two countries, a principality and a province. Over 300 different languages are spoken here and there are schools in which no pupil has English as their first language. Back in 2001 over 8% of the population were born overseas and nearly 13% could not be considered as having a common descent.

We are a nation of very different cultures. I find London alien to where I live and can’t wait to get back home. I am sure that people of Shetland, Ballymena and Oakhampton will feel the same way and find it difficult to associate with many of the cultural aspects of the capital. There is no one single culture that permeates through a nation state.

Then there is the politics. In the UK we have about half the population who want to stay in the European Union and about half, or just over, who want to leave. Some lean to the left of politics and some lean to the right. Some are royalist and some are republican. There is no one single political opinion that binds the nation state.

The nation state is a myth that we tell ourselves. We believe that it is a mechanism to group like minded people together when instead it is a way to create separation and division. The nation state pits people against people, neighbour against neighbour, ideology against ideology. We are too blind to see it and not clever enough to find a way out of it.

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