POLI: Future of nation-states

The Low Golden Willow (phoenix@ugcs.caltech.edu)
Mon, 18 Aug 1997 22:48:41 -0700 (PDT)

Well, I finished the Jacobs book. Short synthesis: she feels multicity
nation-states as they exist today are doomed. Empire size ones like the
US will have their cities strangled due to lack of accurate feedback,
and trading nations will turn into oversized city-states. "Transactions
of decline" such as perpetual high levels of military spending, and
continual transfer payments to undeveloped/stagnating/elderly parts of
the country, drain the productivity of healthy cities. European
monetary union probably wasn't too visible in 1984; I'm sure she would
have been appalled by the prospect.

The main hope she sees is if nations could somehow become more flexible
about splitting up, "trading the power of survival for the power of
reproduction" since they won't be surviving anyway. Obviously the US
won't be splitting into city-states anytime soon, with or without
surviving free trade/defense/environmental pacts. But she raises the
concept of "pattern states", nations which adopt a new structure and are
then imitated. E.g. Britain's parliamentary system, the US's structure,
the Soviet Union.

Possibly (this is me now) Canada or the UK could serve as patterns, and
should be watched or encouraged if possible. Quebec splitting off and
developing, or Scotland or Wales doing the same, could be a profound
example. Of course growing a healthy city takes a fair amount of time.

Jacobs seemed to make, without trying to, many good purely practical
arguments for libertarianism at a national level. (In a world of
private currencies, if she's right each city would come to be dmiinated
by one local currency, which would serve the purpose.) In earlier books
she outlined possible need for intelligent guidance at the city level.

Absent "matter compilers", and possibly even with them, it seems to me
that dense collections of people and specialized producers will continue
to be necessary, if not more important, not to mention more fun for most
humans. City issues could be somewhat important for future

(Etymologically an extreme understatement.)
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*> http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~phoenix
(Apologies for any lack of coherence; I'm tired, but want to throw more
ideas out there.)

A dream of a meme
is a wonderful theme
or so we always do deem;
But a ream in a beam
causes termites to teem
or so it to me does seem.