Reader’s comment: First things first

In response to Patrick Benham-Crosswell: Get a grip on defence, Mrs May, and unite the party, Reborn wrote:

Ultimately, the only reason for the existence of the nation state is for defending its taxpayers from threats from overseas or within that state.

Defence and policing are the sine qua non of any state.

The desirables of education, healthcare etc, must be secondary, or that state will cease to exist before long.




  • JabbaPapa

    Ultimately, the only reason for the existence of the nation state is for defending its taxpayers from threats from overseas or within that state

    That task of “the State” existed LONG before the invention of the Nation State as such, so that it is incorrect to describe this task as being a particular characteristic of these political organisations.

    Nation States have also existed, in the Warsaw Pact most notably, where that principle was completely defied, given that they subjected their citizens to threats from the USSR and created threats for their citizens in the form of secret police, concentration camps, even death camps rather than defending them from such things.

    • Owen_Morgan

      No, I think Reborn is right. England was the first European nation-state, probably with Denmark second and Scotland third. England coalesced into a nation-state primarily as a response to invasion, when smaller, regional kingdoms fell like dominoes, until Wessex, by the skin of its teeth, defeated the invaders. Paradoxically, England’s status as a nation-state was its downfall, since it became even more of a prize and one which could now be largely conquered in a single campaign, as Sven Forkbeard and William the B*st*rd both showed.

      As for the Warsaw Pact, that was a parodic subversion of the concept of the nation-state. While the assorted communists who signed up purported to represent their nations, they had no mandate to do so. After all, communism was, by definition, international socialism. The first communist president of Bulgaria, in fact, was Georgi Dimitrov, who had previously been the director of the Comintern, the basic function of which was to remind communists worldwide that they worked for Moscow and that national deviations from the Moscow line were forbidden.

      • JabbaPapa

        England was the first European nation-state, probably with Denmark second and Scotland third

        erm, no, that’s just wrong

        The Nation State as such emerged from the ashes and ruin of the French Revolution, and so is an invention of the 19th Century. (The United States of America was not originally founded as a Nation State, but as a Federal Union of 13 independent States)

        The Nation State isn’t simply the organisation of a certain people into an organised political structure, or what, was Ancient Babylon a “nation state” too ?

        The concept of the Nation State is organically tied to the notion of citizenship, to the notion that all citizens are nationals and vice-versa, that the Ruler of the State (King, President, Emperor, Triumvir, whatever) is also defined by his citizenship and his nationality, and that no matter what the internal organisation of the State may be, the participation of all citizens with both the Nation and the State is unconditional and universal (withstanding the possibility of certain types of punishments for crimes).

        Such a concept simply did not exist prior to the 19th Century.

        And please can you show me how the Warsaw Pact countries violated these basic principles of what it is that defines the “Nation State”, else show me if I’ve forgotten anything vital in my description ? The only modern State that I can think of that isn’t a “Nation State” according to the criteria I’ve given is Vatican City State, because there is no such thing as Vatican Nationality.

        • paul parmenter

          I was going to question what anyone meant by the term “nation state” until I read your comment. Because I think it is a very slippery concept.

          But having read your comment, helpful though it is, I still think it is slippery. Maybe it is like what they say about an elephant: difficult to describe, but you are in no doubt about it when you run into one (or it stands on your foot). At least in that sense, I think I would recognise the UK as being a nation state of some sort at one time. But maybe no longer. So is there anything to be defended here? And against what, that has not already been imposed on us?

          • JabbaPapa

            So is there anything to be defended here?

            This is certainly a legitimate question — It’s not a given that Nation States are the best possible kind of political organisation of countries.

            So far though, it’s hard to think of a better model that would work in modern times — Feudalism worked well in its time, at least until it was ruined by corruption and central authoritarianism, though it most certainly would not work now, not with our need for massive infrastructures to support modern life. (though the micro-states seem to muddle along, so that smaller structures than our current Nation States are at least theoretically viable)

            It’s quite clear that EU-type superstates are NOT an improvement upon the Nation State model.

      • JabbaPapa

        England was the first European nation-state

        Otherwise, I’d probably correct you here also by suggesting that England was the first modern democracy. I’d suggest though that “a modern democracy” and “a nation state” are not simply one and the same thing.

      • Reborn

        Exactly,
        Although very far from being communistic, the EU has rather a lot in common
        with the USSR & its satellites.

  • Ravenscar

    “Defence and policing are the sine qua non of any state.”

    yeah but don’t tell us, tell the bloody government and the previous executives and going back to Wilson.

  • What I have always said. The Defence of the Realm is the primary duty of any government. Without the country being secure, the government can’t guarantee to do anything else.