The Individual, Communities and Decentralisation

In one of his recent speeches, the political-scientist and classical liberal thinker Francis Fukuyama argues that humans are not self-centred individuals, not in the first place. While liberalism as a set of ideas is based on views and arguments that humans are self-interested creatures regarding economic interactions, Fukuyama argues that humans are “social animals” who prefer to be members of communities and feel strong attachments to each other.

When looking on science in general, what Fukuyama argues is true. Yes, humans can be self-interested and driven by different interests as economic and social ones, such as personal wealth and work-life career. However, as when it comes to “human nature”, the case is that humans are not atomic creatures but very social and tribal ones. (at the same time, the case is that liberal thinkers have argued in similar ways through history). In fact, most of our time on Earth we have lived in clans, tribes and families. Political nations and nation-states are thereby very modern constructions and “unnatural” conditions for homo sapiens.

Biologically and evolutionary seen, humans, are not created to naturally be organised in nations nor other more advanced and complex polities as the European Union. For example, historian Yuval Harari argues that every social interaction involving more than 100 humans needs some symbolism and knowledge via language, education, social awareness, etc. Metamodernist thinkers as Hanzi Freinacht argue that humans are “dividual” or “transindividual” where we are both individuals and active in different collectives.

For liberalism, where the individual is seen as the main subject and starting point for moral and social actions, aspects as nationalism, populism, and authoritarianism are problematic and challenging. For example, liberal and universal values as freedom, human rights and personal autonomy are in accordance with liberal ideology comprehending all humanity. Still, we as humans are not always living with universal values because almost one-third of humanity, mainly due to China's situation, lives in dictatorships. There is no world citizenship in juridical meaning, with concrete freedoms, rights and obligations. A “global government” with a world court, police force and safety net to protect the individual as a world citizen is also still a “utopian idea”.

One could say that the global reality is that humans are only attached to different nations and nation-states as primary sources of identification and organisation. However, neither does such reality exists at the moment for several reasons.

One reason is that nationalism, as the idea that every nation is unique and should have its own state, is actually not reflecting the reality because there are 193 official nation-states as members of the United Nations. Meaning that there are many groups as ethnic, religious and political ones without “own sovereign nation-states”. If nationalism were fully implemented, our planet would not be consisting of 193 nation-states but maybe 9843 or 13569, who knows?

Also, today there are no “fully sovereign” states. For example, conservative globalist Dalibor Rohac argues that globalism concerning networks, institutions, and agreements between sovereign states is common for democratic and open societies like Sweden. On the other side, ideals or better said fantasises of “full sovereignty” are closer to, for example, North Korea. Nation-states do have more or less full sovereignty in taxation and education. Still, there is no national sovereignty regarding global problems and challenges regarding impacts and consequences of climate change, artificial intelligence and terrorism.

A second aspect is that being an official nation-state does not mean that being that in practice. For example, Syria is an internationally recognized UN-member state but not a “real” nation-state in practice because most of its citizens to not identify themselves as “civic Syrians “ in the first place. Instead, religion, tribalism and other formations dominate in Syria, which has been more visible during the war in Syria.

Another example is EU-states, especially in the Eurozone area. When looking on older or “traditional” definitions of a nation-state, one could say that EU-states today are far from that ideal because of supranational integration, cooperation, and institutions as the EU Court of Justice.

To make things even more complicated, the case is that many Europeans do not have national-identification as the only or primary one. For example, many Catalans and Scots tend to identify themselves as Catalans and Europeans, Scots and Europeans, while being negative towards Spain and the United Kingdom as polities. In Croatia, one can find people saying that “Brussels is the new Belgrade” (concerning Yugoslav era) and find people in coastal areas who prefer more regional identifications and decisions made in Brussels before those made in country’s capital Zagreb.

A modern development impacting humans and nations is decentralisation, including aspects as Internet, cryptocurrencies and blockchains. For example, in communities as Bitnation and SEEDS, the idea is that individuals can become citizens in decentralised entities that are not states nor politically and geographically limited communities. Thereby, individuals can join such communities and have several citizenships at the same time.

Decentralisation is having a “liquifying” impact on how humans are organising themselves because decentralised communities with democratic procedures and constitutions enable humans to cooperate and conduct governance beyond current nations — both locally and globally at the same time.

Thereby, decentralisation offers humans the ability that also is in line with liberal ideas — to be free and sovereign individuals and members of different communities aiming for conducting governance in different policy areas and solving problems regarding climate change.

Decentralisation also enables a “liquid democracy” to be performed. Humans can delegate their votes to different individuals and organisations in different policy areas and have liquid identifications depending on different interests and problems.

Much of the current debate in the aftermath of “Brexit and Trump” is that people should be more devoted to their communities as towns and nations. But the modern reality based on the decentralising process and disruptive technologies offer something more complex and efficient — democratic organising beyond nations and political parties to act as cosmopolitan citizens of our planet with “glocal” awareness about different problems and challenges. A process that includes possibilities to co-create common global institutions and economic system necessary to achieve a peaceful, democratic and sustainable world.

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Vladan Lausevic

Vladan Lausevic

I am active as a social and policy entrepreneur. SEEDS ambassador. Motto: I have no identity, I have only identities.