Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism, Technology > The Dangers of Believing in the Existence of Non-Existent Nations: 1

The Dangers of Believing in the Existence of Non-Existent Nations: 1

One of my more important insights into systemic large-scale human stupidity is about what people are willing to believe in or, to be more precise, their persistence in belief about stuff that clearly do not exist. The vast majority of suffering throughout history (and the present) can almost always be traced back to belief in their own bullshit- whether it is about gods, prophets, religions, morals, social mores, authority, ideologies etc. One of the contemporary examples of this stupidity concerns people continuing to believe in the existence of nation-states that clearly do not exist. As I will show you, this particular thread of self-delusion is unusually dangerous not only to those affected by belief in it, but also those who act on that belief.

But before we go further, let us try to quickly define what a modern nation-state is and is not. A modern nation-state, such as those that came into being after the industrial revolution (especially after the late 1800s) are entities unlike any that preceded them. Their uniqueness is not a consequence of people being stupider in earlier eras, but rather a consequence of socio-economic and technological changes subsequent to industrialization. Modern nation-states are defined by the protean reach of the state machinery (or bureaucracy) into the day-to-day lives of their ordinary citizens or subjects. To put it another way, “sovereign” governments that cannot support an almost all-pervasive and moderately functional bureaucracy cannot function as modern nation-states.

But why is this definition important? Well.. it comes down to what socio-economic systems they can support and the consequences thereof. For example, the existence of capitalism in any form requires that most people are engaged in wage work. This is not possible unless an invasive and functional bureaucracy can systemically control, pauperize and immiserate the majority of the population. The same is true for state communism and is the reason why nation states such as the USSR were not fundamentally different from the USA. But this feature of the modern nation-state comes at a peculiar cost. People who rule and govern modern nation-states start believing in their own bullshit, especially the part about it being the “only way”. They so desperately want to see everyone else in the world doing things the “same way” that they often make, and act on, decisions that have no link to reality. As you will see in the rest of this post, such willful ignorance and stupidity comes at a huge human cost and is ultimately as dangerous to the believers as those initially screwed over by their stupidity.

Consider the following examples of modern nation states that do not really exist even though the rest of the world, especially the west, act as if they do.

Iraq: What can I say.. It began as a country carved out of post-WW1 ottoman concessions to the then victorious allies and suffered multiple rounds of uprisings and low-intensity civil wars even before WW2 started. After WW2, the broken european nations had to relinquish indirect control to local leaders sparking, you guessed it, another round of uprisings and coups which led to Saddam Hussein who was able to keep the lid on things for a couple of decades. After that we had the USA-initiated Gulf War 1 , then a Gulf War 2 which was followed by a decade-long and still running civil war. This part of the world has not experienced anything remotely approaching a semi-functional nation-state since 1991 and YET the most of the world pretends that this nation-state actually exists. They do so even when the “official” elected government has no authority even 30 km north of their capital city, Baghdad. The northern part of this supposedly modern nation-state has been an almost autonomous Kurdish proto-state for over a decade. Then there is the now hard-to-ignore fact that most of the middle of that country is run by an semi-centralized entity that calls itself ISIL or Da‘ish. Given that there is little possibility of this situation changing substantially in the near future, shouldn’t we just stop believing that Iraq exists. I mean.. what harm can come from acknowledging what has been obvious for the last three decades or more. Perhaps it will be easier to deal with three entities that have some control over the territory they claim than one entity that has no authority over most of the country?

Afghanistan: Seriously.. how can this place be even considered to be a nation-state? For starters- it was carved out by the British and other western powers in the 19th century out of parts of central Asia that were too hard to colonize. It also does not help that most of this place has, since time immemorial, been occupied by numerous related but largely independent tribes engaged in continuous low-intensity conflicts with each other. Sure.. there have had kings and even emperors- but those individuals had little real authority beyond their capital city. To put it another way, most of the people in that region have never experienced anything close to living under a nation-state. I would hasten to add that the boundaries of this nation-state are hard to define because they are arbitrary and often passes through inhospitable terrain. Then there is the issue of Pakistan, its eastern neighbor, who has a lot of socio-economic and military influence in the eastern part of this country. To make matters even more complicated, most of this influence is based on transient and often fragile working arrangements with local tribal leaders. So how is a “country” whose government’s writ does not run beyond its own capital city and whose borders are poorly defined and uncontrolled considered a nation-state? Iraq had two decades of despotic centralized rule under Saddam Hussein. I don’t believe the nation-state known as Afghanistan had even that..

Yemen: Yet another example of a place that has seen human occupation and civilizations for thousands of years, but which is not a nation-state. Sure.. it, like Iraq and Afghanistan, has nominally been the part of many old empires. But its peculiar geographical characteristics have made it hard to define and has also resulted in a history filled with many small and localized kingdoms and fiefdoms. It does not help that this place has always been politically highly decentralized and geographically rather vague. A look at satellite views of its official borders with neighboring countries is helpful for understanding the later part of the previous sentence. Then there is the whole issue of who has been ruling, or not ruling, that country since WW2. While it started as a nominal arab-style tribal monarchy in the 1920s after a complicated civil war, things went to hell by the 1960s resulting in another much larger civil war and re-partitioning of the country, followed by a reunification which led to a rekindling of the low-intensity civil war which led to another country where the governments writ does not run beyond the capital city. Yet this place is considered by the west to be a nation-state.

In the next part of this short series, I will try to write about similar “nation-states” such as Ukraine and Libya.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. Nexus
    February 21, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    Countries like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and many others only exist on paper the populations there dont have any loyalty to the central government. Generally this countries can only keep united by a strong and brutal dictator.

    They may not exist in reality but they the existence of them in paper makes it easier to western powers and others to deal with this people.

  2. P Ray
    February 23, 2015 at 4:18 am

    The idea of a modern nation state is so that people know who they have to bribe to gain an advantage.
    It also implies a certain amount of guaranteed reciprocation.

    So it’s safe to say that those countries, could not get away for long either in terms of supplying hopium, or getting the ponzi started.

    I suspect Daesh will be quite successful, since people will be participating in their themed real life LARP, the “Daesh Dinar Dash”.

    Since they have their own oil too, they can keep going.
    Just the same way FARC has a drug/diamond trade.

    Maybe, the circumstance of Daesh becoming a prime target, is because they are currently controlling oil that other people would prefer to control themselves.

  3. the dude
    February 23, 2015 at 10:42 am
  4. February 24, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Your first three examples are right on. But let’s look at why they remain important to the greater scheme of things.

    Iraq=Oil. I believe that is plenty of explanation.

    Afghanistan: Both the UN and the Pentagon conducted studies which believe that a Trillion-dollar recoverable mineral reserve exists there. As capitalist corporatism must have new and inexpensive (to them) sources of raw materials, especially the rare earth minerals so vital to modern electronnics, these findings merit attempting to “civilize” (read: impose colonization) the “nation” in order to harvest this bounty. It’s not been widely reported in the US media, but US troops were defending a Chinese-operated copper mine in a region close to the border with China. The rationale behind this operation must be fascinating, considering the other issues between then US and China.

    Yemen: The Southern Doorway to the Suez Canal is vital to the relative stability of global commerce. It would never do to force oil-laden supertankers to have to cruise around the entire African continent to avoid a few poorly-equiped Somali pirates. Yemen must be secure enough for US Special Forces and other covert war operatives to operate against the Somalis and preserve this vital trade route for EU bank profits.

    A hundred years ago, colonial nations would ship large portions of their military to impose the conditions necessary for corporatism to function profitably. The 1973 Oil Embargo ended the efficacy of such operations, making them almost as expensive as any realizable gain from the colony. Cost-benefit analysis no longer sees this as a viable option. It’s only when a nation’s tax payers can be conned or manipulated into funding such operations that the private sector (which will be the only participant realizing any gain) needs.

    But there is no room for error in such actions, as the US has discovered the hard way in Iraq and Afghanistan. There isn’t enough reserve to recover from mistakes, nor to expand operations to take advantage of newly discovered opportunities. And, eventually, the people taken advantage grow restless and rebellious against such plans, and force an end to them no matter whether the corporate gains are realized or not.

    So if corporatist plans for the world are to have any chance of succeeding as planned, they will have to take a lesson from the Classic Pirates of the 16th and 17th Centuries: Everyone in the crew shares in the spoils. The game of “Let’s you and him fight for my profit” isn’t going to work anymore.

  5. February 25, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Marxism transcends nation states and recognizes why they rise and fall. I wrote a lengthy and provocative blog post discussing the Soviet Union. Learn how a modern nation state and superpower was built step by step. The Cold War technically began after WW2 but in reality started with the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917.


  6. doclove
    February 27, 2015 at 7:00 am

    Advocatus Diaboli,
    You almost sound like a conservative.I say this because you recognize that these multi-cultural, multi ethnic(race) and multi religious states are not working and probably would work better if they were natural nations of one culture, one ethnicity(race) and one religion. Our ruling elites don’t want that though. You are beginning to discover that humans are essentially hairless crosses between bonobos and chimpanzess and are more intelligent than either but also more self destructive than bonobos and chimpanzees because we humans are more tribal and warlike. Humans have a tendency to fight for their tribe over their economic interests. Even Captain Capitalism, Aaron Clarey, who is a capitalist while you are a socialist mentioned this and knows this. We humans are like bonobos for our sexual nature and like chimpanzees in our warlike nature,

    I served in the U.S. Army in both Iraq and Afghanistan though I am no longer in the military. The reason Pakistan has so much control over eastern Afghanistan is that there are Pashtuns on both sides of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan who cross fairly freely only occasionally being shot up and killed. The majority of Pashtuns live in Pakistan and are 15% of the population and the minority of Pashtuns who live in Afghanistan are 50% of Afghanistan people. The Pashtuns are over represented percentage wise in the Pakistan military. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan are a collection of different ethnicities.

    Iraq has Indo-European Muslims living in Asia called the Kurds living in the north who are more racially and linguistically connected to Europeans although culturally very little related to Europeans except for Bosnians and Albanians who are both Muslim like the Kurds, The Kurds are even more related to the Persians of Iran and the Dari and Pashtuns of Afghanistan and the Tajiks of Tajikistan genetically and linguistically. The Persians are mostly Shia Muslims while the Kurds, Dari , Tajiks and Pashtuns are mostly Sunni Muslims. The Iranians with their mostly Persian Shia population help the Shias in Iraq and Afghanistan as much as they can. The Arabs in the middle and south are Semites and are not racially and linguistically related to the Kurds although because of Islam they culturally are to a limited extent.. The middle of Iraq is Sunni Arab Semites for the most part and the south of Iraq is mostly Shia Arab Semites.

    • P Ray
      February 27, 2015 at 10:49 pm

      Isn’t Aaron Clarey (CaptainCapitalism) the same guy who doxxed Barbarossa and Stardusk?
      I believe they look like they belong in the same tribe, but in the competition for approval by women men do a lot of things to “put down their competition” …

      • doclove
        February 28, 2015 at 6:10 am

        I do not know who Barbarossa and Stardusk are, and I do not know if Aaron Clarey, Captain Capitalism, doxxed them. I agree with you that sadly, men do a lot of things “to put down their competition” to get women. It explains a lot but not all of why the USA and the rest of the West also is falling apart.

      • February 28, 2015 at 10:27 am

        Craptain Capitalism demanded “they show their faces.” The crybabies at AVfM don’t have the brainpower to actually engage MGTOW and their corrupt boomer ways are holding MGTOW back. Many men identifying as MGTOW’s didn’t want to be associated with the racism and pedastalizaion of womyn that was rampant at AVfM-control freak Elam was throwing a shit fit as he often does.

        Ironically it was the MGTOW’s who didn’t want to play “identity politics” as in the ideas should be what is recognized, not the man’s looks. However, now that those guys are doxxed, I’d sooner believe that Stardusk and Barbarosssa are triple digit guys before I’d believe Roosh or Clarey. In fact as Roosh and Clarey are drunks (Clarey is often blotto in his videos) and lacking in proper hygiene-most prostitutes would rather have Stardusk or BarBar as customers.

        There is a much longer vid that goes through the events leading to the doxxing, but you guys will find this one funnier…

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