Were Reagan and Thatcher the Last Nation-State Leaders?

I keep hearing that Reagan and Thatcher were the last major nation-state leaders. That’s not true, though. The Thatcher / Reagan era was precisely the one when the first cracks appeared on the facade of the nation-state, and neither Reagan nor Thatcher could adapt. They were both trying to escape from the nation-state model but didn’t manage to do so fully.

Both Thatcher and Reagan relied on the idea that the state was no longer responsible for the welfare of the people. However, they still wanted to control morality through the legislative means of the state apparatus. And that’s just not going to work.

There are only two options that can possibly exist: 1. Citizens make their own choices and bear full responsibility for those choices, or 2. The state makes some of the choices for individuals (whom to marry, when and how to reproduce, etc) but then helps them deal with their misfortunes when such misfortunes arise.

The Reaganite model expected citizens to relinquish their choices to the state yet carry all of the responsibility for the results on their own. And that’s as useless as saying, “I want to be in complete control of what I do, make all of my own decisions. Yet I also expect somebody to catch me if as a result of those decisions I slip and fall.” Wishing for a system like this to come to existence is as useless as it was for Reagan to hope that one can successfully legislate morality in a fully market state.

Why I Care

Even with an intact Spain, the number of professorships in Spanish on this continent dropped x3 within just 15 years. If the Scots and Catalonians think anybody will start departments of Scottish and Catalonian Studies after they achieve independence, they are deranged.  Now their culture is still preserved and studied. If they become tiny new countries, nobody will. And since Americans are the only people on the planet who are still interested in preserving the world’s cultural legacy, if Americans don’t study you, you don’t exist.  The possibility that Scots and Catalonians will have resources to develop their own scholarship from scratch is non-existent.

The really funny part in all this is that Catalonians want independence because they say they are haunted by the memories of the time when Castilian-speaking Spaniards persecuted their language and culture. So to honor these memories, they will deliver a mortal blow to this very language and culture and finish the work of their long-dead oppressors.

Of course, as we all know, nationalism appeals to emotions precisely because it is so baseless and stupid that it can’t sustain the light of reason shining on to it even for 2 seconds. Nobody thinks logically when there is a slightest opportunity for joyous flag-waving. It is really curious to observe people who are willing to destroy their own culture for the sake of latching on to a state-form that is in its death throes anyway.