Countries were relevant back in the days when territory was the most prized thing and war was the best means of acquiring it. Countries evolved as a means of ensuring territorial integrity, via means both explicit (borders enforced by militaries) and implicit (cultural/linguistic homogeneity, leading to xenophobia and other such barriers).
But territories are no longer the most prized thing: economies are. And economies are produced by cities, not countries.
Moreover, the rise of the importance of cities is genuinely a challenge to the institutions of countries, not something that is merely happening in parallel to the ongoing importance of countries. This is because the factors which allow cities to thrive -- internal diversity and external trade -- are almost diametrically opposed to the factors which allow countries to maintain their territorial integrity.
Of these two forms of power, I'm betting on cities.
So a strong economy can import everything it needs, and stand on its own. But that also exposes it to risk, as it cannot truly sustain itself in times of trouble. On the other hand, rural communities can be mostly self-sufficient, but when pushed to that extreme, life becomes harder and not quite as interesting.
So the truth of the matter is that it is a symbiotic relationship. I'm not sure I see any practical value in pitting cities vs. countries.
(For more on this line of thinking, see the Jane Jacobs link in the post you replied to).
How do you see the evolving boundaries of force monopolies between nations, cities and private entities. Pre-nations, it was complicated, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_of_Westphalia
Prior to Westphalia, the borders in Europe were predicated on religious affiliation. This made for a very complicated map. So Westphalia established the idea that a nation could be a superset which included both Catholics and Protestants. This makes for a simpler map -- if one is mapping the boundaries of the newly-established idea of nationhood, and then retroactively mapping that concept onto the past.
However imagine drawing a map of the present, but with pre-Westphalian sensibilities. You'd want to know: where are the Catholics living, and where are the Protestants living? That map has gotten a lot more complicated (even before you try to account for all the Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Pagans, etc.), and at this point the question hardly makes sense outside of certain bits of Ireland.
Analogously, force monopolies are primarily of interest (at a national level) where territorial integrity is the primary name of the game. But if economic exchange (both competitive and cooperative) between cities were to become the acknowledged name of the game, then although force monopolies would almost certainly continue to exist, they'd be of as much interest as (say) the boundaries between different police departments.
In other words, I suspect the mapmakers of the future draw on the basis of something other than force-monopoly boundaries. This may look more complicated to our eyes -- but we might also look more complicated to theirs.
City-level economic exchange of creativity does interact with force monopolies via industrial espionage, now global thanks to networked computer systems.
You're right of course, and this isn't going to stop anytime soon. Moreover, even if the world were to evolve towards city-states rather than nation-states, there would still undoubtedly be inter-state treaties governing things like trade / subsidies, copyright / intellectual property, extradition, tax avoidance, etc. These treaties would govern much of what has traditionally been done at a national level, and would render the local force-monopolisers -- whomever they might be -- as simply instruments of a larger system, rather than autonomous actors in their own right.
Indeed, one could argue that this is already the world that we're living in. We still draw maps and run political dog-and-pony shows based on national boundaries, but we're already living in a world of post-national urban economies and international treaties, both of which are only gaining strength these days.
For instance, Washington, D.C. produces no food of its own (excluding neighborhood gardens) as the District contains no farmland within its borders. The Potomac is polluted, meaning fishing is not a viable source of food either. Virginia and Maryland have farmland, though the counties and cities in either of these states in the DC metro area either do not have farmland or have very little farmland.
All of these counties and cities get their food via truck, train, ship or some combination thereof. Modern transportation has made it so we no longer have to have farmland nearby to avoid spoiled food.
Even if a city would only consume wind and solar, it's quite likely that the majority of solar panels and wind turbines would be installed outside of the cities themselves.
Writing off the nation in exchange for the bright lights of the city is also a dangerous bet, because cities are very fragile.
War has not gone away. We just happen to live an age of global hegemony, so it seems distant right now.
Should farmers decide to not ship out food for some reason, it would be easy for cities to keep them in line if they are facing an existential crisis.
In short, farmers are just as dependent on cities as cities are on them. They trade not out of the goodness of their hearts but for selfish reasons. Even farmers themselves must trade, as not all farmers grow food, and not all farmers that grow food can live on just what they grow. A cotton farmer in Alabama is going to have just as hard a time eating as a banker on Wall Street.
And, here's a secret, every farmer has land and can have a garden. They will eat no matter what. Sure they need that oil and gps, to produce enough food for 10,000 people. But they just need their hands to feed themselves. So no, they aren't going to starve, or even suffer very much.
I wouldn't envy the farmer; being in a position where a potentially violent and desperate brute depends on you is not stable in the long run. You might start out feeling that you've got the power, or that you're at least on equal terms, but that only lasts as long as you can keep the brute content.
Not saying urbans can't impose their will on the countryside. But the resistance would be fierce.
It goes both ways: cities depend on farms and farms depend on cities. Neither can sustain its way of life without the other.
>And, here's a secret, every farmer has land and can have a garden. They will eat no matter what.
Here's a secret: not every farmer owns land. There are about 6 million farm workers in the US and about 3 million owners of farmland.
About half of farms are owner-operated and about half have a landlord renting out the land to a farmer or farmers.
The landlords actually have fairly concentrated holdings, with roughly 8% of the landlords holding half of the rented out land, or about 25% of the total amount of farmland.
In a situation in which farmers refuse to grow food, these landlords would lose their rents and have a very strong incentive to A) kick off the farmers who refuse to grow and B) get someone to grow food since the prices of foods would have gone through the roof.
These farmers will starve.
> Sure they need that oil and gps, to produce enough food for 10,000 people. But they just need their hands to feed themselves. So no, they aren't going to starve, or even suffer very much.
They need oil and gas for things beyond food for themselves. Heating and cooking, for instance, require a good bit of firewood. In colder climates it can take many acres to keep warm. Even in the Southern United States it can get cold enough to kill during the winter.
Many wells are deep enough that they require pumps to get water out. Guess what powers them? Electricity. Since lots of farmers own land in places that couldn't be grown on without irrigation, such as the desert, things are going to start sucking really quick.
Electricity also powers refrigerators and freezers, which enable food to keep for much longer periods of time and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Without trade, are these farmers going to have access to salt to cure meats? Are they going to know how to properly store food without any refrigeration? They certainly won't have the ice cutting industry of the 1800s.
Gas also provides the transportation to get medicine, clothes, blankets, seeds, tools, pesticides, and fertilizer. Without cities, farmers would also not have accurate weather forecasting, something that is quite important for them.
TL;DR I think you vastly underestimate the difficulties of subsistence farming without modern technology or the benefits of trade between cities and farms
Source for statistics: https://www.census.gov/prod/1/statbrief/sb93_10.pdf
Folks who live in the country can garden. A garden can feed you. It takes no electricity and no gas to grow a garden. My Amish neighbors do it every year.
Cured meats is an irrelevant point. Grow beans.
Grains and vegetables can be canned and dried (are canned and dried by my neighbors every year). No electricity needed.
I think you vastly overestimate the difficulties of gardening (not farming) out here. We do it every year here in Iowa. Without all the support you imagine we need.
A lot of it makes sense, one of the big points is that democracy at a state level is broken, but it is still efficient at a city level.
Due to the mobility offered by airlines, the concentration of successful people going to relatively few universities, and the global reach of their companies, many New Yorkers might know more people living in London than they knew living in the majority of U.S. states.
Personally I have always felt that people who live in large cities have a much easier time navigating foreign large cities (even if they don't speak the language) than people from smaller towns in the same country. Using a subway for instance.
"Dead Souls: The Denationalization of the American Elite"
"Debates over national identity are a pervasive characteristic of our time. In part, they raise rhetorical questions, but they also have profound implications for American society and American policy at home and abroad. Different perceptions--especially between the citizenry and the more cosmopolitan elites--of what constitutes national identity generate different national interests and policy priorities.
The views of the general public on issues of national identity differ significantly from those of many elites. The public, overall, is concerned with physical security but also with societal security, which involves the sustainability--within acceptable conditions for evolution--of existing patterns of language, culture, association, religion and national identity. For many elites, these concerns are secondary to participating in the global economy, supporting international trade and migration, strengthening international institutions, promoting American values abroad, and encouraging minority identities and cultures at home. The central distinction between the public and elites is not isolationism versus internationalism, but nationalism versus cosmopolitanism."
I find it sad, as that is the cynical world my children will inherit.
Also, watching the changes in industries I interact with at work over the last decade has been eye opening.
If we separate cities from their region - it just means the money generated in cities won't be used (among other things) for fixing problems in the countryside. It's just hiding the externalities.
Also from history I know of at least 3 unifications of small states and it was beneficial in all cases (at least for the people involved) - see Polish, German, and Italian unification. Why do we think it's different now?
Modern country could manage with <5% of population working the land, but I don't think we have any countries where 95% live in cities. And I don't think it's obviously good idea to force them to migrate (by putting a border between them and their jobs).
Suprisingly we do, and not just microstates. Belgium is listed at 97.5%: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urbanization_by_country
If you set the threshold at 90% instead of 95%, that includes much of South America: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela.
I just think introducing new borders is painful (I can speak from my family experience with new borders - I live in Poland), and dismantling borders is great (personal experience with EU).
The only real barrier left, IMHO, is linguistic. English works in most cases but not all, and especially in some European regions there is still a heavy preference for localized languages.
(now when we are talking fantasies)
Let's say we found aliens living in the next solar system. That would be the beginning of the global human state. Even if they're not hostile, humanity as a whole world need to band together to figure out just what to do about them.
What you're looking for is pan-national governmental institutions. There are plenty of those.
Anyway, I predict when other people are discovered in another solar system, then each nation on Earth will attempt to have a relationship with them and it will be business as usual. Why would America or China agree on the best policy vs interstellar trade? They agree on so little else!
The fundamental axiom of geopolitics is that when confronted with a threat, humans consistently identify with the people they are closest to and most like. Family first, then tribe, village, region, country.
The size of the threat begets a corresponding organizational response. We don't cooperate all that well with China now, but you can better believe that if there were a compelling reason to, like, say, aliens in our back yard, we'd figure it out in a hurry.
Geneva plus Lac Léman region (Lausanne, Montreux) on the one end. Seperated by the "Röstigraben" from the German part of the Swiss Plateau, which itself is culturally divided by the Brünig-Napf-Reuss line.
Russia GDP in 2015: $1,235.858 billion
Seems we're not the only ones thinking that way.
Look for instance these two articles:
Any attempt to balance things out would require devolving powers to the English regions, which nobody seems to want.
Absolutely not, the separation of powers is both unclear and inconsistent among the devolved nations. It's also not really constitutionally guaranteed. The devolved assemblies have very limited powers over taxation and welfare spending.
I loved this description of the UK:
"an archipelagic supergroup comprised of four variously willing members."
mentioned in this article:
The thirty or so years of recent low-level civil war in Northern Ireland are not mentioned there, or indeed anywhere in mainstream UK politics.
The 19th century Empire was run centrally from Whitehall. Gradually it rolled back in the 20th century: Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Israel, various Arab middle eastern countries, and so on. This has left the country with an imperial-derived system suited for paternalistically ruling people it considers inferior from a distance. It's just that the distance has scoped down. People within the UK and even within England are starting to regard it as distant and uninterested, especially in the recent floods this year and the last. It's on a much smaller scale than the Katrina disaster but I think the resentment is starting to build in a similar way.
Small-government conservativism in the UK means considering abandoning Liverpool as it's too far away.
Westminster still very much holds the leash, and reserve the right to yank it at their leisure.
> London as a separate federal part
Not the first time I've heard the suggestion of ejecting London from the Union :)
This impressed me on several levels. :-)
To make it work properly would probably require a different currency, so London£ could free-float to the sky like the Swiss Franc while the rest of the UK had a weaker £ more suited to export-driven economy. A large chunk of the economy would be exporting power and water to Londonistan.
London would become even more like Singapore or Dubai than it already is: skyscrapers for the mega-rich surrounded by immigrant guestworkers.
With rising costs of defense tech and automation allowing small crews, defense is about money. Tax money to be specific.
Bitcoin is making money transactions difficult to follow. International banking and tax havens are also a thing. Either we are going to see private armies and private countries, or countries shift taxation away from income and transactions. And start to tax something more traceable.
Location is prized and traceable. Water, electricity, internet bandwidth, everything that moves through fixed cable is also good candidate. Then comes traffic. If we rely on liquid fuels, road traffic could be taxed without tracing. But planes and ships are probably going to see some tax entering/exiting a port.
The article seems to be right for the wrong reasons. Country formation is usually very Machiavellian business.
Yeah, and big consumer companies (FMCG and the like) have already noticed that for a while and approach regional markets with high density populations the same way - they are are indeed many more shared needs than differences. Once you go out of the metropolitan areas, however, you see way more differences driven by local cultures.
Anecdotal example: When talking to people from other countries (but same professional background and income bracket, tech conferences for me specifically) the differences are often very visible and also major than talking to someone from the countryside. Sure, there's always stuff that's different (and the ribbing under friends and colleagues of "quality of life/size of your house" versus "only 30mins to work instad of 60+/small apartment" never gets old - at least here in Germany)
So yes - for exactly the topics mentioned: transportation, housing, etc it's absolutely true - but not necessarily for most aspects of life.