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January 31, 2001, 04:00 AM
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A Reader Asks About the Nation-state...

From:  Zeynep Demirbilek,

I am a trainee journalist in City University in London and currently I am doing a report on "nation-state". I was wondering if you could help me by giving your own point of view about the questions below. Would really appreciate the help.

1- How do you describe a "nation-state"?

2- Is the nation-state still alive and do you think it is needed?

*3- What is the significance of nation-state in contemporary world politics and economics?

Thank you and looking forward to receive your answers.



1] a "nation-state" is the political expression of a nation. A "nation" is a specific ethno-cultural community. It`s not entirely ethnic, because individuals of various races can usually be assimilated over time, but it`s not entirely cultural either, as the "Universal Nation" ideologues in the U.S. argue. The term is derived from the Latin verb "to be born" and implies a link by blood - an extended family.

2] Nation-states are very much alive - they are the inevitable result of modernization, which puts a premium on linguistic unity. Hence the break-up of the syncretic Marxist post-national polities of Yugoslavia
and the U.S.S.R. On the other hand, the urge to abolish the nation-state is alive too - EU, U.S. immigration policy - and seems to spring from similarly deep psychological causes  - e.g., self-hatred, minority alienation and New Class self-interest etc.  So it`s a pitched battle.  (See articles on the topic)

3] My own view is that the nation-state is as essential to liberty as property rights are to free markets.  Without them, you get chaos and an inevitable withdrawal of consent by the governed.

January 31, 2001