Friday, May 12, 2017

nationalism and the myth of nation states

I spoke about nationalism in my previous post. I want to say a bit more on the subject. What I have to say is unpalatable but it needs to be said.

Nationalism is no longer a viable proposition because generally speaking nation states as they existed between the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 and 1945 no longer exist.

A nation state is a political entity that is capable of asserting its independence. This requires both the military capacity and the political willingness to do so. According to this criterion the only independent nation states that exist in today’s world are the United States, Russia, China and (possibly) India.

The idea that any other country has this capability is pure fantasy. 

Let us assume that Italy, or Japan, or Brazil, or France or Britain decided that as a matter of national survival they needed to wage war against some other state. Could they do so? The answer of course is that they could not. They would need to ask the United States for permission to do so. It is unthinkable that any of these countries could fight a war, even a war for national survival, without first seeking Washington’s approval and then seeking US aid. In other words not one of these countries is a true nation state. They are mere vassal states.

In 1982 Britain was only with great difficulty able to defeat a Third World nation, Argentina. It was a near run thing and Britain won because from Argentina’s point of view it was not a war for survival and it was therefore not worth making it a fight to the finish. If Britain faced the same situation today she would have to abandon the Falklands. Britain also no longer has its own nuclear deterrent. Britain’s Trident missiles belong to the United States. The recent controversy over whether Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister would or would not use nuclear weapons was irrelevant, No British prime minister could use nuclear weapons without Washington’s permission. The Trident missiles allow Britain to indulge in the fantasy that Britain is a great power. In fact Britain is not even a proper nation state, merely an American vassal.

The Second World War marked the end of the nation state system. It marked the end of European nation states. Western Europe became part of the American Empire. The EU is merely a means by which that empire can be controlled more easily and more conveniently.

The problem of nationalism today is how can you have nationalism without nation states that are in control of their own destinies?


  1. Controlling your own destiny is not just about the ability to wage war if you need to do so, it's also about a number things, like independent banking system, for example. If you take that into consideration, Russia is not quite an independent nation state. Yes, we do have a lot of nuclear missiles and other weaponry which prevents other countries from bashing us more then they probably would like to, but our economy is extremely vulnerable, and in terms of economy we can't really defend ourselves for too long. Our awful economy is the main reason the US wouldn't think of stopping this conflict and initiating talks to reach some sort of an agreement: they know they can attack our economy endlessly. This is not the 1940s, and Russia is not the Soviet Union, and nuclear weapons don't guarantee complete safety. One day somebody will get tired of it, and things will change dramatically.

    1. Yes, very good points. The United States really does not tolerate the existence of any independent nation states.

  2. "The problem of nationalism today is how can you have nationalism without nation states that are in control of their own destinies?"

    Which is why we're Brexiting and nation state is now the trend again in Europe at least. Australia is a nation state already, despite pretend bonds with other nations and blocs.

    1. Australia is a nation state already, despite pretend bonds with other nations and blocs.

      If only Australians could be persuaded to believe that we have the right to pursue our own interests. Or more urgently, if only we could be persuaded that our interests do not automatically coincide with those of the United States.