Is the nation-state on the skids?

The above is the question posed by a website, the joint product of the University of Technology Sydney and the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. The answer, srictly speaking, is Yes.  I won’t attempt to summarise Julian Cribbs’ 2,000 word article here — a catalogue of many different reasons — but to give my own key reason here.   This, I’m amused to see, is not part of Cribbs’ list.

Nation-states — as we know them today — will gradually fade away as big business pares them down to much diminished sizes. It’s already the case that advanced governments cannot possibly afford the welfare and state benefit commitments that they’ve already made to the old. Unlike private pensions, they don’t have massive invested funds.  They’re only ;paid for on a hand-to-mouth basis out of annual taxation and they’re pretty well at the limit to that out of personal income tax.

So the answer is very simple.  As multinational corporations continue to move their operations and headquarters around the world from one country to another in order to find lower corporate taxes then governments will have to compete with one another by slimming down further and further — and further — becoming more efficient.  How far they can go is impossible to forecast because automation has a lot longer to go yet. But governments will be very different from those of today.

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