In the beginning life was simple, just land and people. No borders, no restrictions, and no governments breathing down everyone’s neck.
Over time, cultures formed around a common language and geography determined many aspects of lifestyle. As an example, people who lived next to the sea oriented much of their life around fishing, while those further inland spent more time hunting and farming.
Traveling from one region to the next was difficult and dangerous. Before the time of Gutenberg’s printing press, the vast majority of people lived and died within 20 miles of where they grew up because they didn’t have access to reliable maps.
Later, as populations grew, we began to see the need for more sophisticated societies. At the heart of these advancements were cities adding conveniences like streets, water systems, protection from lawless individuals, and justice systems to add a sense of order to all those advancements.
As years progressed, cities banded together with towns and villages nearby to create better systems, form geographical boundaries, and promote common interests. These groupings of cities became countries, and governments sprang up to manage and organize their interests.
Countries were formed around a common geography, common languages, and common systems like currency and transportation.
The term “nation-state” came into play in 1648 with the treaty of Westphalia. This was an important turning point because countries transitioned from rouge protectorates to cultured political systems that recognized each others borders and were empowered to make deals with other nation-states.
Since 1648, countries, operating as nation-states, have become the most powerful entities on the planet. With large militaries to defend their interests and advanced monetary systems to build infrastructure, countries have become complex organisms with self-adapting properties.
However, when Internet started providing borderless connectivity, we began seeing national systems transition into global systems. As the need for borders became less clear, traditional ways of defining a country began to erode and the value of citizenship, less defined.
While countries struggle to maintain their role in the global community, people, as citizens of these nation states, are becoming far more mobile, wanting to be less confined by systems, rules, and geography.
So what comes next? Are we on the verge of yet another shift in global entities?