CRF Blog

What Is a Nation in the 21st Century?

by Bill Hayes

In What Is a Nation in the 21st Century? for the New York Times, Michael Goldfarb looks at the problems of national identity in the modern world.

The recent independence referendums in Iraqi Kurdistan and Catalonia, and the predictable heavy-handed responses from the central governments in Baghdad and Madrid, have raised many questions — a catechism without answers — on the meaning of nationhood in the 21st century. What is a nation? What is a nation-state? Is it the same as a country? Are a people, or a tribe, the same thing as a nation? In a globalized economy what does national sovereignty really mean?

My guess is most Americans don’t think of these questions. They live in “One Nation Indivisible,” even if their country doesn’t feel that way these days. But “what is a nation?” is a question that has been asked with urgency in many parts of the world in the almost three decades since the end of the Cold War. [more]