We are a planet of countries. A world of 192-195 nation-states (the number is not definitive, opinions vary) un-unified right now, but moving together. For some this represents a great threat, a loss of status, a terrible dilution of loved and revered national identity.
But what will be the loss when there is no United States of America, when there is no China or Russia or for that matter Tuvalu? Is the loss any greater for Mexico than it would be for Uganda, or Armenia? More importantly, what exactly do we loose?
I doubt very much that the residents of Canada will suddenly be free of taxes when the country is formally dissolved. Nor will the citizens of Venezuela loose their homes, nor the people of Cape Verde suffer the disappearance of the Atlantic ocean. In fact I doubt that formal dissolution will be anything but a footnote, a ledger mark in the accounting annals of Earth. A movement of revenue and debt from one column to another. This is nothing new, the combinations of countries and erosions of national individuality have been going on quietly since the dawn of time.
With every trade agreement, offer of aid or mutual support pact, countries have been quietly shedding their independence to share in the common wealth. It makes simple sense, which of the current 192 UN recognized nations could easily stand alone providing all their own food, products, and services that their people have come to expect? Which would want to?
Certainly not the US, most of our energy hungry society is fueled by “foreign” sources. However, if we went “independent” we could sit back smugly and watch all the lovely Israeli oranges, rich Brazilian coffee and far Asian Flat panel TVs go to others. No thanks, I’d rather be independent as a person. As soon as each of us invests in fashions from Paris, glass from Venice or springs from Taiwan, we bankroll the pleasantly slippery slope to Globalization. There, I said it, the bad, bad word.
It’s a little strange that this one little world in the vastness of the universe has so much trouble un-dividing itself. Could luminescent squid-worms from a neighboring star tell us apart? Am I obviously Earth-American to a sentient vegetable from the Andromeda galaxy? And yet, I stand out starkly even on the streets of London or Tehran, American imperialist dog the bringer of secular doom, Coca Cola and Kentucky fried chicken.
Globalization is vilified in the United States. It’s cast as a thief of jobs and income. A pollution of our “sacred waters,” ignored when we need a new blender but descried when a failing automobile plant is closed and shipped to Argentina. Rarely is it seen as a mighty combination of wealth and intelligence to combat the challenges of the future.
That appears to be the definition of ignorance when in reality the world has been trying to unify and globalize itself since before the beginning of recorded history. It’s tried countless wars and conquests, some almost world-wide to tie itself together with force and pitiless steel. It’s tried trade and negotiation, with some success, but it’s the relentless pressure of people that will win the day. That same pressure of needs, wants, ideas and dreams of living bodies that has colonized every livable foot of the planet, will one day crush the national borders out of existence. There just won’t be room for borders any more.
It may not come for thousands of years, or it may come in as little as hundreds. But as those borders become more inconvenient we will pick away at them, eroding their strength until the final stroke of doom lays them aside to become like old men in armchairs shouting at the evening news.
So, “is that a problem?” When 30 million would-be residents flood over the borders of the US, or the European Union contemplates another national banking rescue, or China’s strict currency control affects markets as far away as California, it certainly seems to be. But aren’t these difficulties really more like suddenly having to do the dishes after dinner or dealing with your mother not making your bed anymore, just signs of coming of age?
For myself, I think of these events as evolution in action. Our natal eggshells are cracking and it’s hard even to peek out. However, soon we will be pushed out by our own hunger and determination. Eggshell fragments still stuck to our head, we’ll wobble around for a while but soon we’ll find we really haven’t lost anything, and have a whole lot to gain.
Copyright Prentiss Gray 2011