Monday, June 4, 2012

"By the end of this century, I suspect the U.S. and most other nation-states will have, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist."

By Doug Casey

There have been a fair number of references to the subject of "phyles" in this publication. But it occurs to me that I've never discussed the topic myself in any detail. Especially how phyles are likely to replace the nation-state, one of mankind's worst inventions.

Now might be a good time to discuss the subject. We'll have an almost unremitting stream of bad news, on multiple fronts, for years to come. So it might be good to keep a hopeful prospect in mind – although I hate to use the word "hope," as much as it's been degraded by OBAMA! and the kleptocrats, incompetents, and sociopaths that surround him.

Let's start by looking at where we've been. I trust you'll excuse my skating over all of human political history in a few paragraphs, but my object is to provide a framework for where we're going, rather than an anthropological monograph.

Mankind has, so far, gone through three main stages of political organization since Day One, say 200,000 years ago, when anatomically modern men started appearing. We can call them Tribes, Kingdoms, and Nation-States.

Karl Marx had a lot of things wrong, especially his moral philosophy. But one of the acute observations he made was that the means of production are perhaps the most important determinant of how a society is structured. Based on that, so far in history, only two really important things have happened: the Agricultural Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. Everything else is just a footnote.

Let's see how these things relate.

The Agricultural Revolution and the End of Tribes

In prehistoric times, the largest political/economic group was the tribe. In that man is a social creature, it was natural enough to be loyal to the tribe. It made sense. Almost everyone in the tribe was genetically related, and the group was essential for mutual survival in the wilderness. That made them the totality of people that counted in a person's life – except for "others" from alien tribes, who were in competition for scarce resources and might want to kill you for good measure.

Tribes tend to be natural meritocracies, with the smartest and the strongest assuming leadership. But they're also natural democracies, small enough that everyone can have a say on important issues. Tribes are small enough that everybody knows everyone else, and knows what their weak and strong points are. Everyone falls into a niche of marginal advantage, doing what they do best, simply because that's necessary to survive. Bad actors are ostracized or fail to wake up, in a pool of their own blood, some morning. Tribes are socially constraining but, considering the many faults of human nature, a natural and useful form of organization in a society with primitive technology.

As people built their pool of capital and technology over many generations, however, populations grew. At the end of the last Ice Age, around 12,000 years ago, all over the world, there was a population explosion. People started living in towns and relying on agriculture as opposed to hunting and gathering. Large groups of people living together formed hierarchies, with a king of some description on top of the heap.

Those who adapted to the new agricultural technology and the new political structure accumulated the excess resources necessary for waging extended warfare against tribes still living at a subsistence level. The more evolved societies had the numbers and the weapons to completely triumph over the laggards. If you wanted to stay tribal, you'd better live in the middle of nowhere, someplace devoid of the resources others might want. Otherwise it was a sure thing that a nearby kingdom would enslave you and steal your property.

The Industrial Revolution and the End of Kingdoms

From around 12,000 B.C. to roughly the mid-1600s, the world's cultures were organized under strong men, ranging from petty lords to kings, pharaohs, or emperors.

It's odd, to me at least, how much the human animal seems to like the idea of monarchy. It's mythologized, especially in a medieval context, as a system with noble kings, fair princesses, and brave knights riding out of castles on a hill to right injustices. As my friend Rick Maybury likes to point out, quite accurately, the reality differs quite a bit from the myth. The king is rarely more than a successful thug, a Tony Soprano at best, or perhaps a little Stalin. The princess was an unbathed hag in a chastity belt, the knight a hired killer, and the shining castle on the hill the headquarters of a concentration camp, with plenty of dungeons for the politically incorrect.

With kingdoms, loyalties weren't so much to the "country" – a nebulous and arbitrary concept ­– but to the ruler. You were the subject of a king, first and foremost. Your linguistic, ethnic, religious, and other affiliations were secondary. It's strange how, when people think of the kingdom period of history, they think only in terms of what the ruling classes did and had. Even though, if you were born then, the chances were 98% you'd be a simple peasant who owned nothing, knew nothing beyond what his betters told him, and sent most of his surplus production to his rulers. But, again, the gradual accumulation of capital and knowledge made the next step possible: the Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution and the End of the Nation-State

As the means of production changed, with the substitution of machines for muscle, the amount of wealth took a huge leap forward. The average man still might not have had much, but the possibility to do something other than beat the earth with a stick for his whole life opened up, largely as a result of the Renaissance.

Then the game changed totally with the American and French Revolutions.

Read the rest here.


  1. By the end of this century? If that turns out ot be true then it sure won't do me any good.

  2. Excellent post by Doug Casey. The problem in America is the one-size fits all mantra simply no longer works for a certain 'in the know' subset.

    Why should I pay triple real estate property taxes over just a decade ago to fund 3 hots and a cot schools with people I have zero connection to, and are govt. indoctrination centers to boot?

    The 'so called' Defense industry and Homeland Security is a sad joke. The game played is for lobbyists(incl. former congressmen on pensions or senior ex. political appointees, military generals on pensions) fronting for companies to 'invent' needs, politician-bureaucrat-judges palms are greased it is implemented and shazam a bunch of costly goods and services are sold that not only cost every American, but expand the police state.

    And is it any wonder that the 2008-2009 bailout saved the bacon of the very wealthy, rather than letting the system reset, as it should have been allowed to do? Take a look at who is funding both the Obama and Romney campaigns think there will be any change in spending on Defense, Homeland Security, or bailing out big banks/corporations? Of course not.

    Oh, and nothing will be done about the massively inflated Fiat currency system that is the true basis of why America and indeed most every other global economy is in so much hot water. Both Obama and Romney are 'advised' by Keynesian economic advisers that feed off of, and love the Fed. The politicians, lobbyists, those benefitting will print, print, print, all the while lying about it.

  3. What nonsense! The historical analysis is, for starters, way too broad brush. One cannot reduce all forms of political organization to tribes and states. More significantly, Mr. Casey appears to want to reject any significant need for political function. He wants to deny any need for any organization devoted to protecting him from enemies abroad or even at home. But, whatever he might have in common with his African friend, Mr. Casey needs to be far more concerned about the thug in his local trailer park. That thug may be dedicated at the moment to depriving Mr. Casey of his property via the ballot box, but and end to the state, and an end to voting won't necessarily end the desire for Mr. Casey's property. And what is Mr. Casey to do? Hire another thug to protect him? And who protects him from THAT thug?

    Sorry, Mr. Casey, the state is not going to whither away. If, as Mr. Casey proposes, the people withdraw their loyalty to the state, the state will be compelled to assert its power more rather than less. In the vast majority of cases, governments fall from within, not without.

    Mr. Casey can withhold his loyalty from the state if he chooses, but he cannot withhold his money without serious consequences.

    1. Mr. Wenzel is an equal opportunity moderator allowing statists to post away, very refreshing actually.

      >And what is Mr. Casey to do?
      Smith & Wesson

      >If, as Mr. Casey proposes, the people withdraw their loyalty to the state, the state will be compelled to assert its power more rather than less

      They already are, or are laying the infrastructure to do so by turning local police depts. into militarized SWAT teams, drone surveillance, building a giant Utah data center to house info. on every man-woman-child-pet in the world. And you seem to thing this is gem dandy.

      >Mr. Casey can withhold his loyalty from the state if he chooses, but he cannot withhold his money without serious consequences.

      Oh, you just wait and see, it is coming!

    2. If by the demise of the state you mean the rise of a mafiosi then I suppose that is a real possibility. Mr. Casey's Smith and Wesson will not protect him from an army of Smith and Wessons. Numbers prevail over rights. We can be reduced to a nation of Hatfields and McCoy's I suppose, but I wouldn't regard that as an advance even upon our present, very flawed, system.

      The answer is a republic, a system in which the power of the government is severely restricted by institutional restraints. The present system is collapsing. The totalitarians then will seek to restructer with even greater government controls, but it also represents the opportunity for proponents of liberty to turn our country in the other direction. More liberty is achieveable, perfect liberty is not.

      Nature does not readily support individual liberty as groups are more powerful. Individual liberty is an achievement of a culture, not a God-given right.

    3. robb - the demise of the state does not necessarily mean rise of mafiosi (in fact, mafiosi are MUCH better than any modern democratic state; for one, they steal less; secondly, they don't wage total wars which leave millions dead; finally, they are recognized by the population for the criminals they are).

      The decline of state will give opportunity for private security and arbitrage to take over. The difference between these and states is that they are inherently limited in their powers (being subject to the same natural law as all other people), and that private security is not monopolistic.

      And, no, republic is a failed experiment, based on the fallacious notion that people can be trusted to create just laws. It has been proven that there's no need to have human-created laws at all, because the system of natural law is unique and logically derivable from the requirement of universality, and from some well-established facts of nature (such as ability of humans to act in their own interests). No need to legislate when you can arrive to the same conclusion every time, no matter who is doing derivation as long as he uses logically correct reasoning.

      "Groups are more powerful" is no longer true. Just watch the spectacle of the bunch of poorly equipped and not exactly well-organized Arabs tying up the by far mightiest military machine in knots. They're winning these wars, too. And we've seen nothing yet - with the age of homebuilt smart weapons quickly coming (aided by advances in public-domain robotics, microprocessors, high-density batteries, and tabletop CNC mills and 3D printers) the prevailing mode of war will become assassination of enemy leaders by anonymous non-governmental actors.

  4. The issue with Mr. Casey's monologue is the broad brush he paints on medievil Europe and the various monarchies, principalities and city-"states" it had. As Rothbard and others have chronicled, these ruling bodies, by virtue of their decentralization and strong cultural attachment to principles that limited their power, often surpass democracies and republics from a libertarian perspective. The Industrial Revolution was made possible by the rise of capitalist trade. Look no further than the high middle ages for the genesis of international trade across Europe rather than the historical locations in the middle east or Mediterranean.

  5. I enjoyed reading this article until the end. I wish he had gone more into what is going to replace the nation-state instead of just complaining about it.