A guest post by Schalom Libertad (http://contested-terrain.net)
In response to BobfromBrockley's post on "left ideas," where he identified national sovereignty as one of the "bad influences" on the left, Norman Geras comes to the defense of the nation-state writing:
Pending the discovery of some better way for groups of people to band together for mutual protection, the sharing of other social aims, resources and facilities, and the voluntary pursuit of common cultural ways, states based on national (or sometimes multi-national) collectivities are the best way we have.
What's amazing about this statement is its completely abstract character. As I wrote in a comment on Bob's post:
It would have been more honest to start with an observation of how national sovereignty fails to achieve any of those listed objectives. The incredible gulf between rich and poor of "the same nation" is only the most obvious example to look at to see [this] failure, but many more [examples] come to mind, say the incredible disproportion of poor, blacks, latinos and immigrants whose only opportunity for social advance is to put their lives at risk in service of the military.
Why does Geras resort to a Rousseauian fable about the consensually "banding together" of people, who emerge out of the state of nature, to protect their collective interests? Not only do we know that the emergence of nation-states is one of conquest and domination, their contemporary existence, which we experience daily, continues to show its power. This is no secret, and certainly not to a university professor in the social sciences. So, it is a mystery why Geras chose to defend the nation-state on the grounds of abstract arguments divorced from the reality we all experience.