Getting Beyond Nationalism

Again this year, America will dedicate a day shooting fireworks in celebration of leaving its Mother hundreds of years ago. As we reflect on the future of nationalism, we need to rethink the role of nationalism in a global world. In his current TED talk, policy advisor Simon Anholt suggests that issues at smaller scales are often global issues and whether they are, all scales of issues are most intelligently addressed with global collaborations and strategies.

Interestingly, this is a call for a movement away from the industrial era nationalism that once served to progress civilization, and like many old solutions, now becomes a barrier to new solutions on all scales. 

The least of the nationalism problem is its core bias for competition. Competition in apart means protecting national solutions instead of sharing them. It means striving to do alone what only can be done together. It means fighting for talent, resources and markets instead of connecting these with more collective intelligence and momentum for shared benefits.

So many of the advances in technology, science and medicine we see today came about because of unprecedented collaborations instead of competitions across political and national boundaries.

From his talk: 

Why are we so slow at achieving these advances? What's the reason for it? Well, there are, of course, a number of reasons, but perhaps the primary reason is because we're still organized as a species in the same way that we were organized 200 or 300 years ago. There's one superpower left on the planet and that is the seven billion people, the seven billion of us who cause all these problems, the same seven billion, by the way,who will resolve them all. But how are those seven billion organized? They're still organized in 200 or so nation-states, and the nations have governments that make rules and cause us to behave in certain ways. And that's a pretty efficient system, but the problem is that the way that those laws are made and the way those governments thinkis absolutely wrong for the solution of global problems, because it all looks inwards. The politicians that we elect and the politicians we don't elect, on the whole, have minds that microscope. They don't have minds that telescope. They look in. They pretend, they behave, as if they believed that every country was an island that existed quite happily, independently of all the others on its own little planet in its own little solar system. This is the problem: countries competing against each other, countries fighting against each other. This week, as any week you care to look at, you'll find people actually trying to kill each other from country to country, but even when that's not going on, there's competition between countries, each one trying to shaft the next. This is clearly not a good arrangement.We clearly need to change it.

This reality calls for nation states to finally move from memoralizing independence to celebrating and leveraging interdependence.