Countries Are Dead, So It's Time to Think Differently

OZY has spent the last nine months reporting from every country on earth for our Around the World project, and we’ve noticed something surprising: “Countries” don’t really mean as much as they once did. Everything from the digital economy to international crime makes our system of national borders feel dated, and the innovative new trends and pioneering rising stars shaping the future start more local than ever before and go global faster. Take Beijing’s emergence as the A.I. capital of the world, for example, or the software disrupting public transport in Kigali and the rest of Africa; there’s also Beirut’s vegan food scene and Dar es Salaam’s urban hip-hop.

» Top New Products

Getting Started In Hydroponics
cs_image_0

Discover  shortcuts  that  will  help  you  build  a  hydroponics  setup  quickly  and  cheaply                                 

$35.00
Stock Market Alerts
cs_image_1

Stock  alerts  are  sent  daily  and  on  weekends  with  an  explanation  of  analysis                                                 

$49.00
Creative Real estate Investing
cs_image_2

Learn  A  Simple  Method  To  Invest  In  Real  Estate  With  No  Credit  Checks                                                               

$97.00
Forex Copy Trading Software
cs_image_3

One  of  the  fastest  and  most  popular  trade  copier  software  for  MT4.                                                                   

$12.00
Paid Online Writing Jobs
cs_image_4

Paid  online  writing  jobs  is  a  website  providing  writing  jobs  for  members.                                                     

$4.95
Make Money With Cell Phone
cs_image_5

Know  how  to  make  money  with  cell  phones?  I  do.  Want  me  to  teach  you?                                                               

$37.00
Profit By Selling Cars
cs_image_6

The  Tips,  Methods  And  Techniques  For  A  Car  Salesman  Make  A  Six  Figure  Income.                                             

$16.97
Dirty Words To Make Him Yours
cs_image_7

33  Powerful  Tricks  that  would  wake  up  the  animal  in  your  man  and  fix  his  hunger  right  on  you               

$47.00
Science Proves Magick Real?
cs_image_8

Discover  The  Shocking  Experimental  Secrets  That  Proves  The  Existence  Of  Magic...                                       

$39.95
How To Flip Websites
cs_image_9

You  can  start  to  flip  websites  for  profit  right  now,  within  the  next  hour.                                                   

$29.95
Delicious Ultimate Diabetic Recipes
cs_image_10

Delicious  Ultimate  Diabetic  Recipes  -  369  recipes  with  guides  and  bonuses                                                     

$2.95
Flat Belly Fix
cs_image_11

Convert  your  body's  bad  fat  into  Good  fat  that  actually  burns  calories.                                                         

$37.00

More than half of us worldwide already live in cities, and by 2050 there will be 20 new megacities of more than 10 million people each, according to the Global Cities Institute, including South Asia’s Chittagong and West Africa’s Abidjan. No, I won’t tell you which nations these megacities happen to be situated in — that’s the point.

Cities are “the most fundamental structure of social organization,” says author and globalization analyst Parag Khanna, noting that “empires come and go, nations crumble all the time, [but] the city’s always there.” Khanna describes countries like Togo and Benin in West Africa as simply “suburbs of the [Nigerian] city of Lagos” and Bulgaria as a “suburb of Istanbul.” The economic, social and cultural connections we have to megacity human hubs are often far more impactful on our lives than the color of the flag raised above our respective parliaments.

Countries are a vestige of the 20th century and it’s time to move on.

So let’s dispense with the pretense that looking at the world through the lens of countries tells us anything at all about people’s lives. Instead, let’s develop a new world order with cities at its heart. No, not necessarily a return to the city-states of the medieval world — though many have argued that places like Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai have kind of nailed that model. Instead, let’s build a system where nations still retain some sway — perhaps over redistributive taxation, the military and the hearts of the nostalgic — and let cities do everything else. I’d like to see a future where a city can negotiate a free trade deal with another and have its own immigration policy. Unions of cities within or between countries could align their legal systems and collectively regulate the private sector. Let’s replace the United Nations with a United Cities, the European Union with the Union of European Cities, and let elected mayors appoint ambassadors to other urban areas.

It’s not dissimilar from what urban expert and co-author of The New Localism, Bruce Katz, describes as a “consortia” of cities that will increasingly work together as problem-solving institutions. Meanwhile, Tom Bell, a law professor at Chapman University and author of Your Next Government, envisages “one possible future” in which “various quasi-sovereign territories” like special economic zones are interconnected, perhaps sharing some “open-source legal operating system” — like a Linux of common law.

The move away from countries toward more dynamic, local political entities isn’t just some anarcho-futurist spasm — cities as hubs of innovation are often held back by nation states that are often politically dysfunctional or have conflicting interests. “There’s never been a city that didn’t want more connectivity between cities,” says Khanna. Some of this urban political backlash is already being seen — whether it’s London’s mayor insisting his city is “open” despite the uncertain outcome of Brexit negotiations or sanctuary cities in the United States that are essentially enforcing their own immigration policy.

Plus, how we categorize the world really matters. When it comes to development policy, we should be comparing entities like Manila and Mumbai, not some amorphous nation-state spaces with borders drawn by Europeans in a previous century. Why do we assume that life in Moscow is more similar to life in Siberia than to life in London whenever we talk about “Russia” as a contiguous unit? Countries are a vestige of the 20th century, and it’s time to move on.

Admittedly, it does look rather neat and tidy when you can perfectly color in a world map with a handful of pastels — and in moving toward loose constellations of cities we would forfeit such a patchwork. But our existing map isn’t as perfect as you’d think. From Western Sahara, a territory claimed by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, to Somaliland, many regions of the earth are not decidedly part of a country. Places like Kosovo, Palestine and Taiwan have limited recognition, while Transnistria and Artsakh have virtually none. Then there are territories controlled by rebel groups that have claimed independence, such as Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, or terror outfits like the Islamic State. Not to mention places that were totally ignored after voting for independence, like Iraqi Kurdistan, Catalonia and the Italian region of Veneto. On top of all that, there are dozens of unresolved border disputes between U.N. members, as well as fully agreed upon nations that barely function as states, from Syria to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Most of these independence movements are driven by nationalism, as the right to self-determination has been interpreted as the right to draw lines in the sand around yourself. Of course, battling the reflex of nationalism will be a major hurdle to my new world order. But what if nationalism was a symptom, not a cause, of our current international woes? Arguably the fact that political borders of nation-states usually align with economic, social and cultural borders (and often linguistic and ethnic borders too) could contribute to the rise of racism and xenophobia. A more flexible system where urban communities are highly connected with each other could remove some of this baggage.

Of course, there are a few logistical issues to figure out about how cities like London and New York could enter into a free trade deal on their own, short of erecting city walls. But it’s not totally unprecedented: Special economic zones within countries already sometimes enable favorable trade and immigration procedures, while Scotland — a country but not a nation-state — has recently suggested that it could have its own immigration policy without requiring full independence to do so. Ironically, “the more borders you have, the more borderless you will become,” says Khanna, because smaller states are inherently more reliant on connectivity and trade for economic survival.

So if you want a global community of free trade and migration, maybe the answer is not fewer borders, but more.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Post Author: martin

Avatar
Martin is an enthusiastic programmer, a webdeveloper and a young entrepreneur. He is intereted into computers for a long time. In the age of 10 he has programmed his first website and since then he has been working on web technologies until now. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of BriefNews.eu and PCHealthBoost.info Online Magazines. His colleagues appreciate him as a passionate workhorse, a fan of new technologies, an eternal optimist and a dreamer, but especially the soul of the team for whom he can do anything in the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.