“Imagine there are no countries”, sang John Lennon in his 1971 anthem to nihilism, “Imagine.” Crazy, correct? Lennon himself acknowledged the utopian nature of a borderless world, writing and singing, “You may say that I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.” Forty-eight years later, Lennon’s imaginative and prescient of a world with out nations is starting to look relatively so much a lot much less crazy.
Of the entire myriad changes ushered in by the digital revolution, in all probability essentially the most profound stands out because the one merely starting to reveal itself: the erosion of the nation-state as a strain in people’s lives. Can’t happen? Google “Countries that no longer exist.” The guidelines is very, very prolonged: Biafra, South Vietnam, Kingdom of Prussia, Ottoman Empire, the Soviet Union …
Nothing is eternally. Someday our full picture voltaic system might be swallowed by a black hole and there goes Aunt Helen’s tea cup assortment, Dodger Stadium and Earth itself. Still, no France? No England? No United States? As far-fetched as a result of it sounds, nations do come and go. Today, Venezuela is a failed state. Yemen is teetering. Syria is a wreck and Greece is perpetually on the brink. France is being torn apart for the umpteenth time, this time by Yellow Vest protesters, and America hasn’t been this divided as a result of the late 1960s.
Nations fall for lots of causes; monetary, demographic, political turmoil, navy conquest. The Digital Age has launched one other to the nation-state, the borderless world of our on-line world. Right now, our youngsters or grandkids are attainable inside the completely different room collaborating in Fortnite with 99 of their “friends.” What completely completely different about this? Those buddies are not the kids subsequent door or the kids at school, nonetheless cyber-friends scattered all through the globe. For the first time in human historic previous our sense of group is not restricted by geography.
This is horrifying for some, thrilling for others.
The obvious upside is the cultural understanding and comity one-on-one interaction fosters. When we play collectively, share our music, our pursuits, our hopes and targets, we not solely be taught and develop nonetheless buy an appreciation for not how completely completely different we’re from each other fairly how comparable. Travel has been democratized. Even the agoraphobic can work along with the world.
The draw again is equally profound, the dearth of connection to our bodily group, a weakening of the ties that bind us to our nation, our state, our metropolis, our neighborhood. Abraham Lincoln famously generally known as these intangibles the “mystic chords of memory,” the shared experiences that hyperlink the generations.
Ask your teenager or 20-something how they actually really feel about their nation. Or any nation. You may be in for a shock. The digital revolution is actually revolutionary. Ancient strategies are falling throughout the world as people’s eyes are opened to the unfairness of sexual repression, the freedoms liked by others nonetheless denied to them, the disparity in wealth and pure belongings. New ideas are seeds planted for a higher future. Today, they unfold instantly and globally, correct into the telephones in our arms. The outdated strategies are combating for relevance. Maybe a shedding battle.
The sultan of Brunei — already an anachronism — imposed draconian sharia laws penalties after activists impressed by liberties liked in numerous nations began combating for his or her elementary human rights. Now, gays, lesbians and adulterers face demise by stoning. Thieves face dismemberment and completely different equally medieval measures that have no place inside the 21st century. The world is rallying to the sultan’s oppressed subjects, pressuring him to reverse course. Change is rarely easy nonetheless it is inevitable.
Millions of youthful individuals are rising up in a world associated in strategies unthinkable only some years previously. What does this portend for California, for America, for the world? While my crystal ball is cloudy on the place this may increasingly take us, I am certain it’s someplace very completely completely different from the place we’re instantly.
The penalties for the United States are profound. As more and more extra people develop up seeing themselves as “citizens of the world” fairly than residents of the United States, their attachment to America is a lot much less protected. During the Civil War, slavery virtually tore us in half. Today, we’re dividing ourselves alongside political strains, non secular strains, cultural strains, with hard-won scientific truths dismissed as faux science and hate groups discovering new recruits for failed ideologies along with fascism and communism. If I choose, I can spend my full day wallowing in esoteric pursuits on-line, cat films until my eyes spin, all improbable diversions from the ugly headlines. But all our binge watching, streaming and tweeting is time away from the PTA, the Neighborhood Watch, the volunteer fireplace division or manning a polling station on Election Day. We need boots on the underside at dwelling to make America work.
Does this scare you or excite you?
Either methodology, change is inevitable. As that good psychic Bob Dylan wrote once more in 1964, “you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin’.”
Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays. He will likely be reached at: Doug@DougMcIntyre.com.