Legal immigration and human population re-distribution. Introducing the ERICs

  • ERIC countries are Empty Recently Immigrated Countries
  • Australia, USA, Canada are examples 
  • Typically throw-back of European expansion
  • Move people from overpopulated lands to underpopulated ones 
  • Encrouage LEGAL immigration, not illegal. 

Remember BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.  A combined group of ‘rising‘ powers that were not ‘Western’, white majorities. Some random dude at Goldman Sachs [an investment bank] coined the term. Nowadays BRICS countries even hold regular meetings and various get-togethers.   

I propose a new grouping. Called ERIC. Empty Recently Immigrated Countries.  

That includes the likes of: 

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Chile
  • New Zealand
  • The United States of America
  • Canada

There must be more. I just can’t think of them. I don’t include the likes of Mexico because its heavily populated nor do I include Russia because it’s not ‘recently immigrated’. Russia itself could be an exception given Stalin’s purges but not for this post. 

ERIC came about because of mass European expansion and was built on the classic empire building techniques of genocide, colonialism, slavery and mass land grabbing.  

Today things are a little different. These countries are mostly decent places to reside. The original population has been pulverised [read, ethnically cleansed] so no one needs to worry about them folks.  Overall you get the basics: electricity, clean water, some law and order, a bit of education, a semblance of healthcare and infrastructure of some sort etc.  

Over population in some countries demonstrates under population in others.   

ERIC countries have seen lots of inflows from other places. Canada has a ‘points based system’ to migrate there [as an example]. These countries are built off immigration.  

Most ERIC countries have reasonably strict immigration policies these days. Entry into countries like Australia are very difficult [legally or illegally].  

Busier countries such as China and India are highly overpopulated and that population that is likely to grow bigger every year.  The ERICs can hold millions of additional individuals and YES they do not have to be from just other rich European countries.  I think they could be from India, China and other busy and highly populated lands. A re-distribution of the population is important to give future generations improved living conditions.  It may make it worse for current locals in these countries but their enjoyment is built off the ethnic cleansing, colonialism and slavery prior years anyways. Everyone always gets screwed somewhere. But that’s OK we need some progress.  

The artificial word order based on the borders system constricts governments from thinking broadly. Enterprising movers are typically rich and educated or illegals with limited education or refugees from something or another.  

The quality of life in many countries is really bad for the poorest of the poor. The over population makes things a lot worse. It will encourage more illegal immigration [if not dealt with head on] creating trouble beyond what is on offer even today. 

Here is a linguistic run down to help you navigate the MIGRANT keywords.

Illegal – Someone moving from country A to country B without country B’s officials sanctioning the visit/ stay 

Legal – Someone moving from country A to country B with the hosts’ officials permission.   

Resident – someone residing in moved country. Often holding ‘citizenship’ of another country 

Citizen – someone born or may have taken on the citizenry of another country 

Immigrant – like ‘resident’ [as mentioned above] someone who moves from country A to B but can be legal or illegal.  

Expat – or Expatriate. This is when ‘white people’ from rich countries go to other countries. In all intents and purposes, they are legal immigrants but can’t bear the burden of the “i” word.  

Contrary to what people in the ERICs think – most people actually do not move or migrate – but stay where they are. Nor are the levels at the same percentage points like it was when European colonialism was happening or when the ERICs were being created themselves.  Moreover, unlike colonialism and the genocides in the Americas and Australasia there is no butchery or exploitation of the natives. There are no military mis-adventures either.

However, without legal, proactive and purposeful migration ERICs will continue to have illegal, criminal and often dubious migration including the evils of people trafficking, modern slavery and other such issues.   

The host countries should still have a say in who and when and how but in all without allowing for more rapid movements – legally – we are building a time-bomb of illegal mass human migration for the future.  

India’s geopolitical lottery

The western method of measuring importance is twofold. Gross Domestic Product [or, GDP] and sheer power of force. This is why the US, Russia and China are important.  This is why France or the UK are powerful and influential even after they have lost empires. This is why the Ivory Coast and Senegal matter less. This is why China is underestimated by the west and this is why India is not on any western radar. The measures don’t add up.

For the first time in centuries the landmass known as The Republic of India is governed by its inhabitants and not by outsiders. This creates a geopolitical vacuum like no other. This area [since human antiquity] is the reason other civilizations always sought the sub-continental spice, trade and riches.  

No modern country has been blessed with the geopolitical lottery that India has. It is at the intersection of important and critical. If you don’t control India you lost the great power game. This double-triangle shaped country is on one side wedged into Asia and on the other, a peninsula into the Indian Ocean. The landmass has 1.2 odd billion people at any given time. The Europeans, Russians, Chinese, Japanese, Americans and others need this landmass to fully be a great power. The fact India is ‘none of the above‘ means others have to fight extra hard for world domination be it economic, human or political just without this landmass. It sux big time and creates a massive unfilled power vacuum.  

Indians are so busy being insular and making ends meet that they care two hoots about global geopolitical problems. The governing classes for the most part are either a part of a problem or, as in most cases, too short-staffed to fill tasks that require geopolitical drive. The Foreign ministry is tiny for any global ambition and so is the diplomatic service. Even Indians like Prime Minister Narendra Modi [who loves his globe-trotting] is unable to change that mindset. The Indians are not bothered. That’s a major problem for the ‘West’ and now increasingly for China, Russia and Japan who need balance of power. It’s like having a big huge important discussion with ten people while some big huge elephant in the room is too busy watching TV soap serials to opine.  

This is an oversimplification of course. My broad argument is India punches below its weight. Not to say that it does contribute to world economies, has a massive diaspora, participates in UN peacekeeping efforts and other world events. Increasingly India patrols the waters outside its borders and invests heavily in the Americas, Europe, Russia, Africa and Asia. It feels China’s rise and knows about Western aggression and mismanagement. It seeks a permanent UN security council seat. So, the planners know roughly what to do and I’m sure there is a five and fifty-five year plan, somewhere. But it still punches below its weight and that doesn’t bother the residents.  Then again, why should they care? It’s that jewel in the crown. You don’t need forward military positions if you’re actually the geopolitical jewel in the crown.  

What does this means for the big three major powers? 

China 

The PRC has a delicate balancing act to play. No one in Bejing wants conflict with another massive nuclear power [and that too on its southern border].

However, because the Indians host the Dali Lama and there is little resolution to pestering localised border problems between the two countries in Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh – tensions continue. To overcome the Indian abdication of power politics China has built ports and infrastructure in the Sub-continent in places such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan. China also patrols the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. China competes with India for investment in Africa, Asia and the Americas. In the medium-term China will make sure to keep India out of the UN security council and try not to let it get too close to the Americans or Russians.  

The United States.  

The US is keen to have India play a bigger role in military, political and economic matters. The US does have joint military training and hosts a large Indian diaspora inside it but that and a few warm exchanges at the political level is it. There is a history of mistrust here going back decades. The ups and downs go with political power shifts in New-Delhi and Washington. For the most part, the foreign ministries [the civil service folks] mistrust each other. The American deep state has had a particular dislike for India while the Indian foreign ministry shows little interest beyond what is already on offer. Often this looks like stalemate. The US needs India as a counterweight to China and Russia as well as a burden-sharer on security costs as it goes thru a slow relative decline. Without any takers the US taxpayer continues to foot a geopolitical cost.  

Russia. 

The USSR had a very close alliance with India in the post-war period right up to its dismantling in 1991. Since 1991 the Indo-Russian alliance has become less fuzzy. It’s still there and its warm just not fuzzy. Russia remains a major trading partner and arms supplier to India however the Indians have started moving a lot closer to the US [to some degree] and Israel for military needs. The Russian government need India as a counterweight to the US and China. The less fuzzy relationship also means less focus on the Indian ocean while China dominates the area. To keep its global ambitions alive Russia needs two things. One, more Indians in Russia – a diaspora and two, a wider relationship than just energy and military.  

Others? 

Everyone in geopolitics is out for world domination of some form – bar the Indians – who are like China but live like Jamaica. The deliberate power vacuum is almost unheard of and reminiscent of a reluctant but reasonably powerful US between 1910 and 1945. The only difference is that the Indians don’t give a hoot, unlike the Americans.  

What about the Indians 

If you’re already the epicenter of the political and geopolitical world you don’t need to do much else. Ergo, don’t do much else. The best advice I can give India is secure the borders, grow the economy and build job opportunities. The pointlessness of western-style geopolitics is a waste of time. The seeking of a position with the victors of World War 2 [known as the UN security council] is pointless, forward military adventures or bases are pointless and a huge foreign ministry is more like a foreign misery. The best tip is stay local, think global and trade. Fixing corruption and domestic terrorism are bigger political priorities than a forward position somewhere unnecessary. Let the Americans do all that.  

The best export India can give is its people. The Diaspora will take India abroad. No shots fired, no forward military bases, no clandestine security apparatus, not even those nasty invasions or sanctions the US is so bad at. None. Save the cash and as a bonus you won’t be hated and won’t have killed off a bunch of people. There are more than enough residents to export.

 

The Korea’s, realpolitik and the solution

As World War II was coming to a close in 1945 the Korean landmass was still in a state of flux. In 1910 after Russia lost the Russian-Japanese war, Korea ended up part of Imperial Japan. After 1945, The USSR occupied the northern half of the Korean landmass while the United States occupied the southern half.  By 1948 and 1949 [and] after some meddling both the US and USSR had left… or had they?  

The Kremlin encouraged the leadership under Kim Il-Sung to develop a Soviet style economy and implicitly supported unification under him. A force managed to unify the entire peninsula marching north to south. The Americans were not too far away – across the Sea of Japan in US-occupied Japan.

 

The US began to dread this development as another Communist threat, particularly, in the light of its rabidly fundamentalist anti-Communist mindset. Another force, this time, under the guise of the UN was soon pushing back ‘Communists’ and occupiers going south to north. But before they could march to the border with China – the Chinese intervened and pushed the UN [aka. US] back to where we currently have a line in the land called the DMZ or Demilitarized zone. To this day, the North is propped up by China and the south by the US. Crazily, North Korea and South Korea remain at war. It never ended they just reached an uneasy peace. 

North Korea 

North Korea also known as the DPRK or Democratic People’s Republic of Korea borders the PRC [People’s Republic of China], The Russian Federation and across the Sea of Japan is Japan. To the south is actually, in their mind, the rest of the DPRK. The conflict popularly known in the West as ‘The Korean War’ never really concluded. The Republic of Korea [known as South Korea] is American occupied territory.  

That’s really the point. The North or DPRK sees the Americans as an unnecessary occupation of the southern part of their country.

South Korea 

The Republic of Korea or South Korea has Japan across the Sea of Japan while across the Yellow Sea is China.  To the north is the DMZ and North Korea… an unhealthy totalitarian authority run brutally by the Kim dynasty. The South fear being overrun by the North and they host thousands of US soldiers and military hardware both as a counterweight to North Korea and China.  

An irony of development shows that while South Korea is financially wealthy, technologically advanced and a major economy the North feels isolated and behind the times. That said, the US taxpayer has been picking up the South Korean defence tab for decades thus allowing the country to focus on health, infrastructure and education. While the South muck about on LG smartphones the North host a tech of another variety – indigenous intercontinental nuclear missiles. No small feat.  

Other players 

Russia. The Russians have a tiny land border with North Korea. In fact, the city of Vladivostok is closer to Japan and the Koreas than it is to St. Petersburg. Although the Russians have a history intervening in the Koreas the Russians have kept away from taking sides since the fall of the USSR. History has taught them that the situation is volatile and any problems there could see issues at the border. Although the North acts as a barrier to the Americans to the South the regime in the North is volatile and unpredictable. It may still be worth keeping the regime over the Americans. 

China. The People’s Republic has been propping up the Kim dynasty in the North for decades. The investment means the Americans are further south and not at China’s doorstep. However, the regime has now somewhat gone rouge and the unpredictability of the ruler means that the dividends are mixed now. Furthermore, any belligerence by the North could impact China’s reputation and if the younger Kim’s missiles go in the wrong direction they could hit China itself. It may still be worth keeping the regime over the Americans.  

Japan. Japan was the imperial force occupying the Korean landmass from 1910 to about 1945. Both Koreas feel that was one of the most traumatic of occupations and hold resentment towards the Japanese. Japan and South Korea have somewhat made-up but that’s on and off at times. South Korea and Japan do share one thing. Mistrust of the North and US-occupation. Japan also has thousands of US troops and hardware.  

USA. The US saw South Korea and Japan as forward military positions to keep the Communist barbarians at bay back in the 1950s. It also helped them own the Pacific by keeping troops in Asia.  However, the US presence itself is the lightning rod fuelling the Korean drama. Without the US the Koreas may have scuffed it out before the nukes. Maybe China and Russia would not care if the South had won – had the US not been present there. Today, the US is deeply involved in a local crisis stuck in a rut paying for it with taxpayer dollars that it doesn’t have. The forward position no longer really works and there is little room to manoeuvre. The dividends here ceased paying off a number of years ago.  

How do we solve a potential crisis? 

The only solution is talks between the two powers. The two powers are the DPRK [North Korea] and the USA. Without a formal peace treaty ending the war and a firm recognition of the DMZ as a de-facto ‘border’ of two countries there is no solution. The US will have to [at some point] vacate the Korean landmass forcing the North and the South to come to terms with reality.  

Right now, all the North sees is an existential crisis. They are surrounded by nuclear powers in China, Russia and the US [Japan and South Korea are US proxies]. The US has a history of bombing places it hates and doing all sorts of regime change efforts… unless of course you have nukes. That is the saving grace for the Kim dynasty and the North as a country. The South now has its own strong military but no nukes. It too faces an existential crisis but because the South is such an oversized player in the global economy any attack on the South will result in a potential collapse of global economies in addition to a loss of lives.  

The only solution remains talkslong painful ones… A peace treaty and a formal US embassy north of the DMZ with a DPRK embassy in Washington with a phased reduction of US forces from the South. The Kim dynasty is not a regime anyone in South Korea [or frankly, anywhere] wants to live under but someone needs to talk or someone needs to pull the trigger and that may not be a great outcome but it is an outcome and remains a possibility.

 

Where do governments come from?

Arthashastra was originally written by the political philosopher ChanakyaHe worked for and with the emperor Chandragupta Maurya  around the 4th century BCE. Chanakya is broadly credited with working with Chandragupta to articulate the first modern system of governance and government.

Once the Mauryans felt they built enough of an ‘Empire’ consisting much of the northern Indian plains the focus turned to managing it. Managing empires is a mind game that requires a method to the madness. The Mauryans knew who they had attacked and the outposts won however they now needed to consolidate it. Modern nation states did not really formulate until after the 1648 Westphalia treaties – Chanakya & Co. were centuries prior to that event.

I feel his work[s] were a guide to governance enforcement over a vast area of land encompassing a lot of ambiguity over who was technically governed. Remember, we are referring to what is currently Northern India so it covered tribes [including nomadic ones], city-states, wanderers, villages and nobility of all sorts. They knew where their troops were, roughly, but there were no lines in the land.  Things were more ambiguous then than they are today.  

The areas this 2500-year-old Arthashastra covered included:  

  1. The need for centrally controlled governance
  2. Law and order system of some sort
  3. Economics and economic activity management 

To expand on those three areas Chanakya contends: 

  • Need for singular head of government [in this case, a Raja, or monarch]
  • Identifies other important ministers in a governing cabinet
  • A capital city 
  • A civil service or the need for a ‘deep state’ to advise and run the government 
  • Laws covering the people in the lands and a court system
  • Social governance
  • Marriage laws
  • Environmental policy covering national forests and animals
  • Policies to reduce human dissatisfaction or suffering 
  • Spy & military complex covering overt and covert operations
  • Communications: Propaganda distribution and fake news 
  • War is bad. Do anything to prevent it overtly or covertly.
  • Regulated free market economics where people are left to determine trade
  • Tax and spend but a fair tax system including payment in barter
  • State ownership of important industries such as mining

At its heart lay the notion of doing the ‘right thing’ [Dharma] presumably for the peoples of the lands… although I think the right thing may have only applied to men…  Chanakya also had some very dubious views namely some extremely questionable views on women – maybe OK within context of the times, maybe not. 

Over six hundred years later the Italian political philosopher, Niccolò Machiavelli, wrote ‘The Prince‘, ‘The Art of War‘ [plus a ton of lesser known works] – that is widely regarded as the beginning of modern European [thus, now, global] political thinking.  His lasting legacy was the idea of realpolitik – a declared realism in political action and the creation of a strong state system with clinical control over subjects who may or may not be subjugated and of course… war. 

Lets time-travel back in time several centuries to even earlier than Chanakya where we have another ‘Art of War‘.  This one came from Sun Tzu a Chinese military tactician. His thinking was around military tactics and the ‘art’ you need to win at military conflicts and military battles.  

To me, the combination of the three schools of thought has evolved to the modern institutions now known as ‘government’. Namely, the very need for a government, law, order, economics, realpolitik, war and victory.   

So what is a government? 

In the crudest terms it is a group of people cooperating to control as many other people as possible using force, cohesion, influence, persuasion, behavioural changes and mindsets. A government and its policies are simply extensions of tribal ancient human mindsets and nature. Simply put, people run it therefore they work as extensions of our own nature.

Governments claim to represent the people inside its landmass versus other governments. It acts to protect people from themselves and tries to take action for the general benefit. People over the years have given various forms of governance names such as democratic, parliamentary, dictatorship or authoritarian etc. Truthfully, they all do almost exactly the same functions. i.e – even if you try to sabotage a supposedly free democratic government you’ll have the various agencies on your back to prevent you. Its okay to be a voter and to protest but its not okay to bring down the deep state.

The job of government also includes nation-building. Like our own biological DNA that seeks survival in this world – a government seeks survival. Very few governments have willingly completely disbanded.

Is it possible to survive without government?

It certainly is survivable but the risk of no governance is potential chaos and anarchy. We know our own human nature but at the other extreme too much government can also lead to chaos and anarchy only in a different form… a totalitarian form.

If we examine lands where, in theory, there has been little to no government authority, the humans fall back on a system of governance at the most local levels. In Afghanistan after the USSR left in 1989 – the landmass had no effective government but humans worked at the village and tribal level governing themselves with traditional male norms of physical strength. Sure, there is chaos and anarchy but importantly we, as humans, need to fall back on the imagined mechanisms of government for our own sanity.

Outside of human nature there are a number of other vested interests in need of government: 

  1. Govt work is an activity for people to do and earn
  2. Money is to be made [corruption, taxes]
  3. Power for the Raja/ leaders
  4. Fame or celebrity for the Raja/ leaders
  5. Idea of leaving a legacy and enter human history or folklore

At the local levels you have police, fire brigade, ambulances, laws, trash clean-ups, infrastructure, schools and so on as part of a government. The administrations allow you to go about your business in a civil society and create wealth on the condition you give up your privacy. That privacy varies country-by-country, locality-by-locality.  

When the workers of a supposed government become overbearing you have less privacy and feel less secure… it’s kind of like anarchy but on the flip extreme.

As homo sapiens we instinctively we know when governance is overbearing or when the government increases its control over us  because we will notice our privacy erode.

Bottom line – You can live without government but be ready to fight for survival. You cal live with too much government but its no fun.

Liberal Fundamentalism is a ‘thing’

Like all ideologies ‘Liberalism’ is a mindset often made up to assist strangers to cooperate at mass levels and to group similar mindsets together to “look” different from other systems of imagination such as socialism or communism etc. 

The tenants of liberal belief vary greatly across the human species and mean many, many things. In Canada, for example, they actually have a ‘Liberal Party’ who has stormed in and out of government. As a doctrine it is Anglo-French in origin. I mean you can keep going back further all the way to Aristotle and justifying it having a longer history but really, it’s around the 1600s when Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and other philosophers began thinking about this stuff. Later in the 1700s Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations was published and Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire [who’s actual name, btw, was François-Marie Arouet].  

So, what was liberalism in the most classic sense? 

  • Individual rights [individualism] though not human rights
  • Law and order to protect people from other people
  • Rule by government and the law
  • Government control of national institution such as defence, law, communications etc.
  • Material self-interest with low regulations on trade

Since the 1800s Liberal thinking evolved with the advent of John Stuart Mill’s writings. Mill brought into the equation liberty and social liberty versus authoritarianism and the importance of a free press. The 1800s also saw Karl Marx’s Das Capital… by the 1900s many social causes came up including the onset of Socialism, Communism, Fascism and so on.  

Eventually democracy, quazi-social capitalism, quazi-capitalism and free press movements got mixed with the liberal movement. Today, a liberal movement adds political racial movements and political sexual orientation movements as part of that agenda. There will typically be a push to ‘accept us for who we are’ often at the expense of opponents of the ideals. Like all good ideologies and religions, it has a sense of belonging and a sense of activism and distinguishing marks against the unbelievers. The idyllic known as ‘The West’ is the bastion of modern liberalism.  

Going back to the liberal philosophers you’ll of course note that they were all European white men. Not necessarily a bad thing but the fact that they all also benefited from imperialism and colonialism shouts ‘bull’ to me. JS Mill was actually an employee of the British East India Company – think about it. This publicly traded company conquered Bengal until the Crown nationalised it.  Liberalism was always a western philosophy and today remains a western ideal. 

Is it even possible to be a liberal fundamentalist?  

I think it is…  

Fundamentalists take things to the extreme.  Forced political correctness at home and wars abroad are just two hallmarks of liberal fundamentalism.  

Bombing Libya, invading Iraq, bombing the Commies out of Vietnam, intervening in Egypt and a whole host of various sanctions and other pushy ideals on societies and peoples because they are not western or liberal is a form of fundamentalism and radicalism not often mentioned. They originate from the British Empire’s original concept of ‘civilising the natives‘ for their own good that started when classical liberalism was still in it’s infancy during the 1600s.

Modern liberal fundamentalism like all extremist ideologies and beliefs can be risky if allowed to continue unchecked often the liberals ways and means differ domestically vs. internationally.

 

The 1648 treaty of Westphalia and international borders 

A border is an interesting thing. As per my post on ‘would you die for a country?’ you’ll realise a border is no more than an imagined line in our minds. That’s possibly why we have so many issues with borders such as recognition of borders and so on. One party sees the line go here while the other person sees it go there. At best, a border is an administrative boundary of some form plus a tribal statement of ownership.  

See the image below – three countries intersect.  Imagined or actual?

Now, strictly speaking… in the physical world there actually are no borders. Oddly, even hardnosed atheists who can’t fathom the meaning of ‘god’ can stomach the meaning of a country. Whilst ‘god’ may actually have more ‘evidence’ of existence than countries and borders they continue to believe in border crossing agents authority over them.

Some borders are like dynamite [India-Pakistan, Israel-West Bank]. Other borders are just ready to go to war… [North-South Korea].  In all these cases humans pay close attention to the border… because it has wider consequences… in other words, tons of humans will willingly die and kill for it – maybe even dragging other humans into the process.  Worse still, the environmental impact can be very, very serious too if humans start throwing nuclear, atomic or biological weapons at one another.   

To be clear we are not talking about religions, nations or countries per se… [although they too are related, somewhat because they also form part of our human imagination stream] but the focus here is on the actual border line.  In other words, the political map of the world.  

 That world political map – fake news at its finest 

The map you may know from popular culture is shown above. It was designed in Europe. It’s got Europe slap-bang at the center. Interesting still, the northern hemisphere is disproportionately larger than the southern one. Europe [including Russia, Canada – and Greenland] is so huge that Greenland often appears to be of the same size as the entire continent of Africa. India and Brazil look tiny compared to what they should be per the physical reality shown by satellites and so on… This in the most technical of terms is known popularly as “fake news” but of course no one thinks so because they are so used to seeing this image. Its about power projection so that the ‘physical reality’ gets distorted enough to create a ‘mental reality’ that helps small European countries match up to the likes of Russia, China and India.   

 Bias and more fakeness – Falkland Islands and Kashmir 

The above map of India shows an interesting paradox. The Kashmir section of the map of India shows odd shades of colour and dotted lines indicating dispute between neighbours.  Now, if you grow up in India, like I did, that’s not what the school text books or the maps on TV show you. There is a definitive map of the state of Jammu and Kashmir shown in Indian school textbooks.  However, the Pakistanis have their own map while China has its own map.  It’s obvious why non India news companies/ other countries etc.  may be tempted to trigger the ‘if it displeases all parties it’s probably right’ move. It does not side with anyone and shows the areas as disputed.

But if that were true should not every map highlight all the disputes?

Take a look at a map of Northern Ireland in 1995 – that was never shown as a ‘dotted line’ with the Republic to the south and the Falkland Islands were always a part of the UK and not Argentina…  and nor were they ever called Islas Malvinas as the Argentine government call those islands. Clearly the most widespread version of the political map out there is the Anglo version where you’d modify your important parts and leave the rest. The Argentine one obviously does not show the Malvinas as part of the UK.

 The treaty of Westphalia

To me, this event in 1648 to end the Thirty Years War in Europe marks the beginning of the notion [or, nation!] of ‘sovereignty‘ – the idea  is – up to this imagined line is my stuff and beyond that line if your headache. You don’t mess with me and I don’t mess with you as long as you don’t walk into my space, or else!

Prior to that Treaty all such concepts remained very arbitrary with rulers controlling city states and areas. There was simply a lot of ‘space’ between rulers and ruled. In addition, there were just less people around back then and of those people most were just simply unaccounted for, worthless, undocumented pheasants.

This means if you were the Queen of England in 1555 [as Mary I was the Queen] you’d be Queen in name and celebrity but you had limited ‘power’ in the physical land and in the minds [mental structures] of the people. Often the people were mostly poor, ill-educated and just living by with short often harsh lives. Who’s really worried about the drama elsewhere? That drama was the problem for the landed nobility.  

Pre-Westphalia 

Since humans are amazing at re-wiring history… When borders were invented in the 1600s at Westphalia – people began wondering what borders may have used to look like in the past.  Eventually bright sparks began painting around the Nile in Egypt saying thats the border with the civilization there then here is what the Greeks controlled and here were the Romans… after Europe they began to imagine similar borders in Asia etc. As you go further back in both recorded and oral human history – the idea of borders and sovereignty in history gets more wishy-washy so the imposition of borders over the past is simply to fill educational gaps we think we need and create a new future history of the past.

Post-Westphalia 

In the years after 1648, the Europeans continued to break the imagined borders for years by invading each other willy nilly.

European expansionism and borders 

How did these ideas got exported from what is now a region in Germany [Westphalia] to the rest of the world? As Imperial powers, the Europeans, took their ideas with them.  The British, for example, landed in Bengal and there is literally no way such a small group of white Britishers could ‘rule’ the roost over that many Bengalies then the all that sub continental landmass without controlling the mindset. Of course, other factors were at play like ‘divide and rule’ or keeping the local princes in place and playing on the Indian obsession of the superiority of the ‘white skin’ [that’s a controversial statement but I think it’s true].

The British offered the Indian princes [in return for tax and homage] a new mindset:

  1. Make them feel part of something bigger [the British Empire]
  2. Pay tax, provide troops and keep your privileges 
  3. The British race is more superior, accept that and we’ll let you administer your affairs

For the Indian princes it was a boon

  1. Hindus could avoid being overrun by the Muslims
  2. Muslims could avoid being overrun by the Hindus
  3. You still ruled as long as you paid homage to the masters
  4. Part of something bigger and you could become a ‘Sir’ or something
  5. You were just fine

But also, the British along with their European counterparts [and also competitors] brought the concepts of Westphalia with them. They drew borders and painted a land mass split between them. They convinced and agreed with each other what colour they were on that map thus those borders.   

It was said the sun never set on the British Empire.  Are we really considering that to be the case? I call bull on that one.  The planners in Westminster were simply good illusionists. What control did anyone in 1908 London have over millions in India, the land mass of Baffin Island [in Canada] or the land of Queensland [now in Australia]? Zero is the answer.  No one wanted to go to Baffin Island. Even today what control does Ottawa have over Baffin Island [it’s up by the North Pole]? Not that much. The British just painted it all pink after some snappy chappy showed up and put a Union Jack on some permafrost.

Just because the British were great illusionists does not mean they were the ‘bad guys’. Far from it – why not hoodwink if others were fine with accepting the nonsense? If someone is giving me a million acres of land in exchange for a few titles and a couple of maps? Why not?

These borders were such powerful a ‘thing’ that when independence eventually came the ruled actually needed official ‘independence‘ from the colonial powers. This meant lowering the flag, moving out the civil servants, the troops and so on. Mostly it meant the controlling power accepting they need to go – be it with grace [Canada], with war [USA], with bloodshed [India-Pakistan], with malicious intent [Africa, Middle East] etc. 

Once independent many of these newly free governments suddenly went from the idea of arbitrary borders to a world with borders and discovered the fine art of border dispute management and building something insane such as a ‘nation state’… national flags, a national bird, national anthems and all that hogwash.

That brings us to today. 

The post-Westphalian border system 

The American empire after the Cold War is kinda odd. The US does not want the headache of controlling the natives but it does want ‘forward military bases’. Their goal is to protect the mainland by having clear blue water from the barbarians. Forward bases in Europe [NATO] and Japan/ South Korea gives them the illusion of control across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and makes them [the US]  feel safer. The barbarians were no longer at the gate… so if you want a war first you attack our proxies [Europe/ S. Korea/ Japan] then cross the oceans before you can touch the homeland [Mexico is the only real US border – Canada is another US proxy].

That US safety myth was broken initially with Pearl Harbour [thus the need to move the border to Japan itself] then with 9/11 and the advent of the ‘global jihad’. The so-called non state actors don’t care about oceans and other peoples countries – they attack individuals directly – so the forward bases and oceanic stuff was quickly flushed down the toilet. The biggest downside of this US government policy is you get drawn into local disputes like the North Korea versus South Korea fight[where the US is itself a lightning rod]. Over in Ukraine there is a big US-Russia conflict because the US border extends to Estonia and Poland via the US proxy known as NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation]. 

China and India [plus others outside the old Westphalian system] typically look not too far from their own neighbourhoods [even the South China Sea is in the Chinese ‘hood]. China’s recent endeavours in things like ‘One Belt One Road‘ is an even smaller footprint than the American Empire. It negates the need of forward military bases per-se [at least as of today].  All you need is economic investment [no questions asked] then go trade with them. It is cheap, effective and if things fall apart you fly in your military [and drones] in and get your people out.  Simple and cheap.

Globalisation 

Globalisation is not new. It’s been around since humans started moving about and trading pigs for chairs. Modern technology has forced a challenge on the Westphalian model. People move, trade and communicate anywhere with a lot of ease. Governments have become a hindrance. Traders see sales not borders… after all… they are imagined…. right? All that has really happened with globalisation is people in the West began to give meaning to an ancient activity that has always been there and will always be there… proper trade!

Like how India was ‘discovered’ and like how America was ‘discovered’ when they were always there… The West has been waking up to international trade and commerce it never knew existed without its own overt control and rules of engagement.

The imagined border in the image below is part of the the India-China border – probably Tibet somewhere thousands of feet above sea level.

Would you die for a country?

What exactly is a ‘country‘, a ‘nation‘, a ‘state‘ and so on? Many of us just make these wild assumptions that if we are born in Country A one is automatically a “national” or “citizen” of some country or the other. 

When you then want to say go to Country B [that may be several miles/ kilometers away] you’ll need to ‘seek permission’ by some unknown person to ‘let you in’ for a short time. If you wanted to work or live there, well, you’ll really need to show credentials then and obtain a “visa” that is given by the local ‘government’ allowing you to work and live in that location.  If you’re lucky the “host government” won’t give you a hard time at the ‘border’. Don’t forget, you’ll be embroiled in endless paperwork all this time to keep you busy. 

Oh, then there is this cottage industry around obtaining ‘citizenship’ of another country. In this instance you need to ‘apply’ where an ‘officer’ representing a ‘government’ will see if you’re worthy. Then you need to pledge some kind of ‘allegiance’ to that new ‘country’. This means you’ve got two ‘nationalities’ unless you the other ‘nation’ forbids multi-nationality meaning they make you ‘give up’ the second one.  

Now on the face of it looking from space you’ll never see the border.  from space the areas are simple geography. Only physical reality is obvious.  Countries therefore are part of our mental reality. Part of the imagined universe.

Remember, baboons, chimps, zebras and even moose amongst other creatures don’t adhere to the same principals… oftentimes carelessly wandering about crossing borders without bother and dignity of the international boundaries.

Of course there are more contentious borders. Israel’s borders with its neighbors, the Indian border with Pakistan especially in Kashmir, North and South Korea amongst others are fought for by human blood and sacrifice. There are areas where borders are less of an issue such a domestic border. Someone crossing between Uttar Pradesh and Bihar [both inside India] have little consequence or contention. Indians crossing into Sri Lanka will arouse a lot more suspicion.  

Definitions:

Country. This is an entity imagined by people. Typically, it’s a ‘legal’ entity often made more concrete by recognition by its inhabitants but equally as important by others [the non-inhabitants]. Nothing is more bothersome if others refuse to accept this vivid imagination. I consider a Country and a State to be of a similar variety. [note, in this instance by State we mean country not province… a domestic state is a province such as Bavaria or New Jersey].

Nation: to me a nation is not a legal entity. It is still imagined by people to be in existence but this is often confused with the legal entity.  There is no legal basis here although you can have ‘nation-states’. A nation state is a “nation” within a state.  The first such entity could be say, France, England, Scotland, Prussia and so on. Now, it’s possible and mostly the case that you have multiple nations inside a state. Even in the so-called “French” nation-state you had no singular ‘nation’.   [More on nations, states and countries in another post].

Both bring with them myths, historic adventures, education conditioning and other factors that force the illusion of a state or nation. You need people to literally die for these entities so how can you without these myths to rally around.

Americans rally around the myth of George Washington for example. A privileged white guy who owned slaves and wanted to pay no taxes to the government of the day [to fund their far flung dubious wars]. He took up arms and fought to gain ‘independence’. Once obtained he and other bunch of wealthy white guys built a white, male-dominated free country and ran it as a ‘democracy’. The Civil War banned slavery. The Civil rights movement and suffragette movements brought the frustrations of non-whites and women into the fore. The US did not become a real democracy [as we know it per 2017] until elections in the 1970s and 1980s because the civil rights movement didn’t take hold really until then in the political and business space. Yet, this historical figure has been appropriated to rally around in the schools across the United States as a struggle for real freedom while the Americans should really be thanking Martin Luther King Jr for modern America not George Washington. But that is what is taught in schools.

So what makes up a country:

  • Myths
  • Folklore
  • [re] Imagined history
  • Honourof membership
  • Systems of government including taxes
  • Other forms of identity
  • Passports
  • Birthplace
  • Education systems
  • Accents
  • Militaries
  • Flags
  • Cultures
  • Etc

Of course, I grossly simplify but to simplify it yet even further a country is nothing more than ancient human tribal mentality – as is a nation, a culture even a religion… [this also applies to companies but more on that elsewhere].  It stems from a desire for us to socalise and find things in common with strangers.

2003 Iraq invasion

The public opinion was generally against the conflict at best divided in the UK in 2003. It was assumed [later turned out right] that the Iraqis had no Weapons of Mass Destruction. The damage, loss of life and years of conflict was the result. But no solider ordered to carry out the invasion questioned Tony Blair’s decision to invade. That is the power of imagination. Letting yourself die for an imagined truth… remember Iraq was never a direct threat to the British Isles even indirectly.

Even the public who opposed the war pubic forgot that they blindly OK’d an invasion of Iraq in 1991 and after 1992 imposed huge economic sanctions and no-fly zones strangling its economy and population to a decade of semi-imprisonment. Directly before the 1990 Iraq invasion of Kuwait we saw a decade long [really nasty] Iraq-Iran war. That area has not seen peace since the late 1970s.  Think about it.  All in the name of imagined myths and legends and it happens over and over and over again.