Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Imagine, no countries

Here is the natural progression of human political structures through the ages.
  1. A million years ago humans lived as hunter-gatherers. We foraged & hunted for food. Humans lived in tribes, each tribe going up to a maximum of 50 to 100 people.
  2. Sometime around 10,000 ago, we had advanced to an agricultural lifestyle. Agriculture gave humans more control over their food supply, required settled occupation of territory and encouraged larger social groups with the emergence of towns & city-states.
  3. From couple of thousands to hundreds of years ago, the world progressed to having kingdoms & territories. Mostly imperialistic, a king or queen ruled over a certain territory exercising absolute control.
  4. Kingdoms evolved into nations. With a few exceptions, most of the present day nations are a collection of kingdoms we saw in stage 3. A perfect example would be that of India.
What’s next? Following the simple progression, here’s what next:
  1. Some years from now we will have even larger political groups. Power could be distributed among continents or some other larger divisions. We are seeing this effect already in some cases such as the European Union.
  2. And very soon after that, we will have the world as a single political unit. Of course, it sounds absurd and preposterous at this time, but the time will come.
We can see an exponentially decreasing time span through stages 1-4. So we can really expect to breeze through stages 5 & 6, possibly in this century itself. Of course we may have achieved Singularity till then, which might put all of this in an entirely different context.

If countries themselves are so ephemeral, most of them not more than a hundred years old, where does this put concepts like “pride for my country” & “greatest country in the world” & “country with a rich culture”?

7 comments:

Sanjit said...

I guess it is plain economics that will guide who are together and who not (as u also mentioned about the european union). Not sure whether political and cultural boundaries will disappear any sooner. Ya America seems to have exported its culture to far off corners of this world but I dont think that is any threat to the existent cultures. Also, I think humanbeings need to associate to something they call their own, some community they can say they belong to as that gives most men and women a sort of recognition, a sense of identity. Also most such associations are based on cultural or linguistic lines and how good it feels when ur community as a whole receives recognition in this world where people monger for greater attention and recognition as days go by.

Yes, countries are recent phenomenon but cultures are not.

Nikhil said...

I am not so sure of cultural boundaries falling (though they might become less powerful with the emergence of a new "technology" culture). My main point was that of rigid political boundaries, or nations.

But since you raised the point, I can also see a definite trend towards unification of culture & languages. Take for instance in the fall of local language schools in India. Isn't this generation definitely more a "world" citizen than the previous. What makes you think the trend is going to stop?

DNair said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DNair said...

I would agree with the idea of technology serving as a "flattening" factor. You would agree with me if you have read Thomas Friedman..

DNair said...

Please do not get surprised. am Kedar's colleague..and that is how I got to know about the blog.
Thank you.

Nikhil said...

Yeah I have read Friedman's "The World is flat". Nice book!!! And yeah I think technology will be the number one unifying factor (it is already now)

Sailesh Ganesh said...

Cant disagree with the extrapolation. Notice how a person came to be defined over the years - from his village to district to state to country to hemisphere (?) to world! There is a good chance that a common federation will emerge in the future. but the other hand, perhaps as the entire world marches towards becoming as a single community, the differences between people might become more stark and we might see a regression! My gut feeling says that there will be ebbs and flows, but eventually the world will become one politically.