Something exciting and revolutionary is happening in the world. It has often been misinterpreted as a worldwide clamor for independence by parts of nations, but in reality it is something quite different. I see it as the death-throes of the old nation states as new federations of autonomous regions develop.
Take the United Kingdom for example. It is in imminent danger of breaking up because of the result of the EU Referendum, with some countries and regions voting to stay in the EU and others, mainly rural areas of England and Wales, voting to leave. Scotland and Northern Ireland, also some cities in England like London, do not want total independence; they want to be member states of the European Union which is moving ever closer to a federation – a United States of Europe.
Catalonia is the latest region to desire to break away from the nation state, in this case Spain, but would probably wish to remain in the European Union. Those voting for Brexit in parts of the UK are going against the general trend, those in Scotland voting to remain in the EU are going with it.
This process of regions and smaller countries breaking away from the nation state and desiring to become autonomous states of a much larger federation could lead to a much more democratic European Union. Devolution has already taken place in the UK, with separate parliaments and assemblies in three of the four nations which make up the country. It therefore makes no sense for the Westminster Parliament and government to insist that two of these devolved nations, namely Scotland and Northern Ireland, should be dragged out of the European Union against the expressed will of their people.
Nation states have throughout history led to wars, as have aspirations for independence. It is high time we forsook the idea that nation states are inviolable and sought new ways of ruling ourselves. Since I was born many countries have ceased to exist, and others have come into being. What does seem to be the case, however, is when federations or unions of states break up into individual states, wars and genocide take place. Not only that, but many smaller parts of larger federations find it difficult to exist on their own, so apply to join another union. Such as some of the former republics of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia who have joined or applied to join the European Union.
I have long favored a federal United States of Europe with legislatures in each member state, but not necessarily the member states as they are now constituted. Before the Referendum I envisaged England, Scotland and Wales becoming member states of a federal EU in their own right, and Northern Ireland united with the Eire as a member state. Now this is complicated by the fact that large areas of England and Wales voted, albeit by a small majority, to leave the EU.
Nevertheless the general trend is, I believe, towards larger federations or unions of states, and also for these member states to be smaller and more democratically accountable to their people than the often diverse nation states with their often remote governments. While the federal government of these unions will be even more remote, the member states will have their own legislatures with enhanced powers. Much as the individual states of the USA have great autonomy from Washington D.C. on a whole range of issues.
Already it is happening. Several states have been accepted into the European Union which broke away from former nation states – Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. Also the Republic of Cyprus, which only has actual authority over part of the island. There is therefore no reason why Scotland or Catalonia should not be accepted as member states of the EU in their own right.
Where this process goes next remains to be seen. Will Bavaria, for instance, go for separate EU membership from the rest of Germany?
There is also, of course, the possibility of groups of states breaking away from one federation and joining another. This is what happened with the former Soviet Baltic republics and the two of the republics of former Yugoslavia. In the future there is always the possibility of the EU splitting to form two or more federations.
The world is in a constant state of flux. There is nothing to be alarmed about countries and regions re-grouping in different formats. What is perhaps more recent is the idea of newly independent regions then applying, voluntarily, to join a larger federation. Ultimately these federations could be linked in a confederation under a World Government.