I WANT to raise a basic question: will nationalism itself survive?
Will it be supplanted by new collective modes of organization and ideologies?
I think nationalism will continue to exist. In the last century, no power has succeeded in overcoming it. The internationalist Soviet Union has collapsed and left nothing behind but a rampant, racist nationalism. Communism succeeded only when it took a ride on nationalism, like in Vietnam and China. Religion succeeded when it took a hike on nationalism, like in Iran.
Wherein lies the power of nationalism? It seems that the human being needs a sense of belonging, belonging to a certain culture, tradition, historic memories (real or invented), homeland, language.
I SHALL pose the question in a different way: will the nation-state survive?
In factual terms, the nation-state is an anachronism. It came into being during the last three centuries because the economic need for a large local market, the military need for an adequate army and so forth required a state the size of, say, France. But now almost all these functions have been taken over by regional blocs like the EU.
This is the reason for a curious phenomenon: while nation-states join larger unions, they themselves break up into smaller units. Scots, Corsicans, the Flemish, Catalonians, Basques, Chechnians, French Canadians and many many more are seeking independence.
Why? A Scotsman thinks that an independent Scotland can join the EU and reap all the benefits, without having to suffer English snobbery. Local nationalism trumps larger nationalism.
SO WHERE shall we be in 90 years, at the beginning of the 22th century?
In the year of my birth, 1923, an Austrian nobleman named Count Nikolaus Coudenhove-Kalergi called for a pan-European movement in order to create the United States of Europe. At the time, a few years after World War I and a few years before World War II, it sounded like a crazy utopia. Now we have the European Union.
At this moment, the United States of the World sounds like a crazy utopia, too. But there is no escape from some kind of world governance. The global economy needs it to function. Global communications make it possible. Global spying is already with us. Only an effective global authority can save our suffering planet, put an end to wars and civil wars, world-wide epidemics and hunger.
Can world governance be democratic? I certainly hope so. World communications make it possible. Your descendants will vote for a world parliament.
Will the nation-state continue to exist in this brave new world? Yes, it will. Much as nation-states do exist in today's Europe: each with its flag, its anthem, its soccer team, its local administration.
THIS, THEN, is my optimistic vision: Israel, the nation-state of the Israeli people, closely aligned with the nation-state of the Palestinian people, will be a member of a regional Union that will include the Arab states and hopefully Turkey and Iran, as a proud member of the United States of the World.
A democratic, liberal and secular state where your descendants will be proud to proclaim: "I am an Israeli!"
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