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A Reader Asks About the Nation-state...

From:  Zeynep Demirbilek, [email protected]

I am a trainee journalist in City University in London and currently I am doing a report on "nation-state". I was wondering if you could help me by giving your own point of view about the questions below. Would really appreciate the help.

1- How do you describe a "nation-state"?

2- Is the nation-state still alive and do you think it is needed?

*3- What is the significance of nation-state in contemporary world politics and economics?

Thank you and looking forward to receive your answers.



1] a "nation-state" is the political expression of a nation. A "nation" is a specific ethno-cultural community. It's not entirely ethnic, because individuals of various races can usually be assimilated over time, but it's not entirely cultural either, as the "Universal Nation" ideologues in the U.S. argue. The term is derived from the Latin verb "to be born" and implies a link by blood - an extended family.

2] Nation-states are very much alive - they are the inevitable result of modernization, which puts a premium on linguistic unity. Hence the break-up of the syncretic Marxist post-national polities of Yugoslavia
and the U.S.S.R. On the other hand, the urge to abolish the nation-state is alive too - EU, U.S. immigration policy - and seems to spring from similarly deep psychological causes  - e.g., self-hatred, minority alienation and New Class self-interest etc.  So it's a pitched battle.  (See articles on the topic)

3] My own view is that the nation-state is as essential to liberty as property rights are to free markets.  Without them, you get chaos and an inevitable withdrawal of consent by the governed.

January 31, 2001

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