The depression as a stress-test for nation-states

Does the financial implosion mean the end of the road for nation-states as we know them? John ‘Global Guerillas’ Robb seems to think it might be, as they’re now caught between two increasingly powerful forces:

1. A dominant, turbulent, and uncontrollable global super-network, that is pressuring/weakening/buffeting nation-states from above.
2. Super-empowered individuals/groups rising up from below that are ready to pounce on or exploit any demonstration of nation-state weakness.

As Robb points out, many of the responses to the situation thus far have been based in the same sort of political thinking that dominated the early 20th Century, and suggests that decentralisation is more likely to be a successful tactic:

… decentralization that both improves resilience and accelerates (parallelizes) innovation offers a greater chance of success.   Nation-states that ease the process of decentralization will likely have both the easiest transition to the new fluid environment and the best long term prospects (wealth creation).

In other words, nation-states are most likely to survive by becoming less like nation-states; whether those massive institutions will be able to let go of the reins that easily remains to be seen.

2 thoughts on “The depression as a stress-test for nation-states”

  1. Decentralizing isn’t going to be as easy as it sounds. My experience with trying to get people to accept distributed, decentralized systems solutions is that people get very uncomfortable when they can’t point at one person in an organization or one node in a network and say, “That’s the boss, whom the orders come from.” The names of system architectures are clear on this predilection for centralism: “master/slave”, “supervisor/user”, “client/server”, “cpu/peripheral”, and so on. Two-way, asynchronous communication between peer nodes is always a hard sell because it’s perceived as more difficult and more problematic. I think that’s one of the reasons there’s such prejudice against peer-to-peer networks: the concept’s too anarchic for a lot of people to accept.

    I expect a lot of attempts to decentralize existing organizations will fail, sabotaged by internal attempts to graft centralization over distribution, because it feels more comfortable. And new organizations designed from scratch to be decentralized will not escape unwitting sabotage, as unconscious prejudice causes mistakes to be made that prevent proper distributed operation. Even the internet, which began as a bunch of peer nodes in a sea of local connections, now has a “top-level”, and hierarchical organization of subnets.

  2. People in the US are ready to retire on the government dole. That’s why we voted for Obama. Let the government take care of us. Don’t expect us to behave responsibly, that is for suckers. Decentralization sounds like too much work. I like to get a government check. Leave me alone.

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