For thousands upon thousands of years, the only certainity apart from death and taxes has been national borders. Given an expanse of land, our first instinct is to create parcels of it with real or virtual borders under the control of a single entity - an emperor, a republic, a title holder.
Just as individuals could not imagine or reconcile themselves to infinity, our social id could not countenance a truly borderless world.
Yet, with tentative baby steps, we are moving towards a world without borders. Where the Earth consisted of thousands of feifs, earldoms, kingdoms, principalities, and so on, we now how roughly two hundred nations of roughly equal footing with roughly equal rights to coexist.
This post identifies the tiny shoots of planetwide nationhood which are springing up between the huge monoliths of patriotism, nationalism, and tribalism.
The recent turmoil caused by Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, far right parties in Italy seem to undermine this thesis but I invite you to see the forest where we were focused on trees.
Finding kindred spirits and discovering that one is not alone is a powerful tool for engagement. Right now, the world is in the process of separating itself into two halves - progressive and conservative. People are using the internet to find each other effectively sorting themselves into supra-nations where a citizen conservative may have the same passport as a fellow progressive but shares a mindset with someone of the other side of the planet. Their present citizenship is, therefore, an artifact of bureaucracy, not of mind.
Desirable and Deplorable
The Internet also provides instant visibility into the quirks and qualities of distant, hitherto unfamiliar lands. For example, did you know that Slavs squat as do Indians? I did not. When I discovered memes about the Slavic Squat, I learnt a little bit about the basic oneness of humanity.
Hearing about sexual harassment of women on Tokyo trains made me realize that it's not just Indian men who are uniquely boorish.
Twitter power users use insights gleaned from one culture to inform their commentary on other cultures.
We are not as unique as we thought we were.
Watching memes jump across national boundaries and social classes is a powerful reminder that information, finally free, has enabled humans to integrate with each other across borders. We no longer have to wait for months to hear about a coming change.
Take the #MeToo movement.
What started as a Hollywood special is now referenced in so many other creative circles to protest against sexual predation by the powerful on the weak. It has even trancended gender to reveal that men can be targets of sexual assault.
Free flow of information is now the sunlight used to disinfect the ills of humanity.
Even companies are acting to undermine national boundaries. Since May 25th, numerous companies have updated their terms and conditions to comply with GDPR-the European Union's rules on data privacy and stewardship.
This, by itself, would be uninteresting if companies simply agreed to implement GDPR for residents of the EU and left the rules unchanged for the rest of us.
In fact, many companies have taken the next step of extending some or all GDPR protections to everyone across the globe. Imagine the scope of this change - I, who has never lived in Europe, is now enjoying the same privileges as accorded to a born and raised European.
On paper, I am a citizen of my country of birth, I may reside in one country, and be served by the laws of a third country. There is beauty in wondering which legal entity I actually fall under.
Notwithstanding Donald Trump's rhetoric about not being a country without borders, GDPR compliance serves as another small strike against borders.
A small mid-twentieth century experiment to connect American universities is catalysing the next phase of consolidation among countries. It might take a millenium for this process to complete but the evidence is unmistakable.
We are moving towards a world government and single planetwide nation state.