Nation States as necessary holons?


I am still listening to Ken & Cory’s series of videos on gun violence an it brings up so many thoughts and questions for me (especially in the areas where they veer quite far off topic). Here is one of these topics: (around 41:30)
Are nation states necessary holons as part of some kind of world-centric whole? Are “open borders” a bad idea, that is despised even by a large portion of “liberals” (as both Ken and Cory agreed?)

I am looking at the second question a little bit differently than Ken and Cory, as I grew up in Europe during the 60s to 90s. I think the first part would be to define “open borders”, but if we look at the European Union, which to me is really the only real-world example of truly open borders (essentially the border crossings and checks completely disappeared, even though some of them now may be coming back) then I would say that in Europe, the opposite is true (or certainly WAS true until the recent immigration crises): A very large portion of BOTH conservatives AND liberals agreed that these “open borders” were an extremely good thing for Europe and people truly treasured the freedom of movement they brought.
Now: These open borders inside the EU also coincided with strict border controls and limits of immigration into the EU from outside, and that is where the entire backlash started: It was only when immigration from OUTSIDE the EU became an issue, that the open borders inside the EU became an issue again. --So, I think Corey’s and Ken’s perspective is a very US-American perspective and also comes from the fact that the US is such a huge country where you can easily live your life without running into a border control every few hundred kilometers.
But more interestingly, I think the EU example also brings up some thoughts around nation states that I find interesting:

So, to come back to the first question: It seems to me that nation states are somewhat artificial (if historically necessary) units in most of the world (The US may be the exception!)
If I look at the many family members and friends I know who were born in one nation and then moved to another, I find that they have generally no problem integrating (and being accepted) into communities of other nations. This is of course largely due to the fact that their general developmental level is somewhere in the orange to green altitude. However, what I also find is that the Amber altitude seems to organize around much smaller units than the nation state. So: When my friends moved from a large German city into a small rural community in France, their “Germanness” does not seem to pose a big problem (at least after some years of living there), but I do notice how they take on the identity of the much smaller local community (complaining about the big-city Parisians, etc.) and at the same time the identity that they keep from their original home is also a much more localized one. They would continue some Bavarian customs, be proud of their beer, etc.
So: I would say that Amber (and below) organizes around smaller units than the nation state, and while the nation state seems to be an Orange invention, at that altitude people are already quite able to simply adjust to the rules of whatever state they happen to live in. (Orange likes to simply play and win the game, and isn’t very attached to what specific rules or game is played as long as it gives it the opportunity to excel at it)

So, is the nation state (apart from its critical historical role) really the best holon of smaller size after the world (human race)-holon?
Coming back to the EU, I am wondering about another direction that things may go in: If we look at the way the EU was structured and the problems that came up with their immigration crisis, it seems to me that the EU, while loosely being structured around a geographical area, was in reality much more structured around a shared ideal/goal/belief structure. We could see that: As different countries around the edges of the geographical area started to apply to become members, the decisions on membership were much more structured around shared ideals than geographical location.
We can also see that the entire challenge to the EU’s open borders came through immigration of large amounts of people who did not share the same ideals (or at least appeared to Europeans not to share these ideals.)

So, I would say at Amber and below, the primary organizing holons are much smaller than nation states (although they can also cross nation state borders as in shared religions), and at orange and above, there is a stronger focus on holons that are not geographically based but idea/ideal-based and the orange+ technologies are supporting the organization around these values. (because you can easily connect to others who are geaographically far from you but ideologically close)
So: Apart from its historical role (which is of course extremely important and may be the deciding factor for quite a while): Is the nation state really the most logical sub-holon of humanity as a whole?

To complete my thought on the US being somewhat of an exception in regards to nation states: I think the Mythos of “America”, “the founding fathers”, etc. is unmatched anywhere else in the world in holding together otherwise completely disparate populations as a nation state (The very fact that we see ourselves as “Americans” when the entire rest of the world points out that America is a much larger continent of which we are only a small part, shows the power of our nation-state mythos). Most European nations had to go through too many instances of disillusionment to hold on to any such strong mythos about their nations, and most of the rest of the world is dealing with “nations” that were imposed on them from the outside and have very little to do with their natural self-identification. (Of course, China and Japan may also be exceptions, and there may be more–India could have been, but there the stronger religious identification won out)


These are wonderful questions and insights, @Mbohu. Unfortunately I don’t have the time right now to offer a meaningful response, but I thought I would link you to this previous episode of The Ken Show where we talk about the nation state in more detail.


Thanks, Corey. I’ll check it out.