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Douthat's "Ten Theses on Immigration"
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January 14, 2016, 05:48 AM
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Ross Douthat blogs:

Ten Theses on Immigration

by Ross Douthat

… 1. The nation-state is real, and (thus far) irreplaceable. Yes, the world of nations is full of arbitrary borders, invented traditions, and convenient mythologies layered atop histories of plunder and pillage. And yes, not every government or polity constitutes a nation (see Iraq, or Belgium, or half of Africa). But as guarantors of public order and personal liberty, as sources of meaning and memory and solidarity, as engines of common purpose in the service of the common good, successful nation-states offer something that few of the transnational institutions or organizations bestriding our globalized world have been able to supply. (The arguable exception of Roman Catholicism is, I fear, only arguable these days.) So amid trends that tend to weaken, balkanize or dissolve nation-states, it should not be assumed that a glorious alternative awaits us if we hurry that dissolution to its end.

I’d argue that it’s even more fundamental than that: the world is organized into 200 separate territorial states, each with armed men employed by its government. It’s interesting to speculate about other ways to organize the world, but it’s not clear that there are other ways to do it. (It’s especially not clear that there are better ways to do it.)

Or consider the single most extraordinary exercise of power of 2015: the German government’s decision to invite a million Muslim mob into Europe. There was a lot of flapdoodle extruded about how Angela Merkel was exemplifying “European values” and the like. But the German Chancellor wasn’t actually acting through the European Union or in concert with other European governments. Instead, she acted with Bismarckian impudence as the head of the national government with the biggest GDP in Europe. She gave an order, one that violated some EU rules by the way, and it got carried out, because that’s what national governments do.

While some leading figures of the American deep state increasingly tend to talk as if they represent the entire planet, their power is grounded in armed men paid for by American taxpayers, men who mostly believe that patriotic stuff about how they are defending America.

And that’s about as good a solution for the inevitability of the state as resting on armed men as we’ve come up with.