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The Nation-State Is Back

Over the past two or three decades it has been fashionable for international relations theorists, politicians, and mainstream media pundits to claim that the Westphalian nation state was moribund, obsolete, and rapidly diminishing in importance. They claimed that various transnational and regional mechanisms and institutionsthe European Union being a prime examplewere irreversibly taking over its functions. This was treated both as a fact and as a praiseworthy development. The Western elite class embodied in the guest list of annual bashes at Davos promoted and heartily embraced the globalist outlook in general and the mantra of multiculturalism in particular. 

 
The dictum that we should not feel a special bond for any particular country, nation, race, or culture, but transfer our preferences on the whole world equally, was not new. In 1999, then-Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott felt ready to declare that the United States may not exist “in its current form” in the 21st century, because the very concept of nationhood will have been rendered obsolete. “All countries are basically social arrangements, accommodations to changing circumstances…. they are all artificial and temporary,” he said.
 
This malaise has had many malign manifestations: diversity, antidiscriminationism, inclusivism, LGBTQ+-ism, and countless other isms, all of which required permanent “engagement” abroad and self-hate at home, embodied in open-door immigration. The impulse was neurotic ab initio, and the validation gnostic. It reflected a collective loss of nerve and faith of a diseased society. It was guided by an obsessively self-loathing elite, a phenomenon unprecedented in history.
 
Then came Covid 19 virus. Spontaneouslyand in the case of Europe, almost miraculouslymillions of common people grasped that they were facing a crisis which called for the natural community, the nation, and its natural organized form, the nation-state, to take charge and organize the response. All over the Old Continent, five decades of ever-more-intrusive insistence on the “common European policy” to regulate every aspect of human life and behavior melted like snow in the sun. 
 
“It is easy to be good when the going is good,” a Serbian proverb says, “but when it gets rough, you’ll tell the tough.” When faced with what was perceived as an existential crisis (whether that perception is justified is a separate issue), the people from Finland to Malta, from Ireland to Greece, entrusted the state with the task of organizing collective response. They realized, instinctively, that their state was the only political form capable of protecting their interests as Finns, or Greeks, or etc. Not one in a hundred of them had ever heard of Carl Schmitt, but they knew that an extraordinary challenge demanded an equally extraordinary response. Only a sovereign nation can legitimately transcend the rule of law in the name of public good. No state of exception dictated from Brussels, let alone the East River, would ever be accepted.
 
In “normal” times, common people can afford the luxury of having poorly educated idiots and ideologues lecture them on democracy, human rights, independent institutions, perils of nationalism and all that. They may even half believe the tales of integrations, linkeages and transfers of sovereign powers to transnational or quasifederal institutions such as the EU. But when a real crisis strikes, those who do not recover all sovereign powers immediately, and act accordingly, will suffer the most. 
 
Poor Italy initially appealed for ventilators, gloves, test kits and other equipment to the EU, which cost thousands of Italians their lives. Ultra-Eurofederalist Germany, by contrast, very quickly gave up all pretenses, closed its borders (to hell with the Schengen deal!), ruthlessly kept all lifesaving devices for itself, and kept the epidemic at a manageable level: 50,871 cases andremarkably, only 351 deaths as of March 28.
 
In China, by the end of March there are just a trickle of new cases, mainly among the returning students and expatriates who were duly quarantined. The Middle Country was able to start sending its seasoned medical teams and life-saving equipment to Europe and elsewhere. Since compassion for the gweilo ( Cantonese slur for a Westerner) is not a common Chinese trait, Beijing obviously seeks to fill a power vacuum. That much is already apparent in a remarkable development in the Balkans.
 
On March 17, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic declared that, despite his country’s long-standing objective to join the EU, he could only count on China for support. “That great international solidarity does not exist, European solidarity does not exist,” Vucic said. “It was a fairy tale on paper.” He sent a letter “to the only ones who can help,” asking Chinese President Xi Jinping to deliver desperately needed medical supplies. 
 
Vucic explained that Brussels recently had pressed Belgrade to reduce its trade with China and to increase imports from the EU instead. But when Serbia tried to purchase ventilators, protective suits, and face masks from Europe, it was flatly turned down. “Medical goods can only be exported to non-EU countries with the explicit authorization of the EU governments,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen explained. “This is the right thing to do, because we need that equipment for our own health-care systems.” 
 
In other words, according to a local Serb commentator, “as far as Brussels was concerned, it is the right thing to let the Serbs and other non-EU Europeans perish.” Or cope as best they could, which Vucic didand Xi was happy to oblige. Greeting the first planeload of Chinese doctors and ventilators on March 21, China’s ambassador to Belgrade Chen Bo said the aid was a sign of the “iron friendship” between the two countries.
 
This scenario has been replicated even within the EU itself. There was no response to the request by Italy’s ambassador to the EU for medical equipment, but China promptly dispatched three teams of doctors with supplies to Rome. The second-hardest hit European country, Spain, can also count on our help, Xi Jinping said after a call from Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. China is also shipping aid supplies to Iran, Iraq, the Philippines, and Africa. This epidemic is certain to enhance the ongoing explosion of cultural confidence among the Chinese people. 
 
Another manifestation of the EU’s ongoing collapse is the revamping and closing of internal borders within the Schengen zone. This was initially opposed by France’s Eurofederalist president Emmanuel Macron, who said on March 12 that EU states should keep borders open and not give in to what he called coronavirus nationalism. “This virus does not have a passport. We must join forces, coordinate our responses, cooperate,” he said. “European coordination is essential.” There was none. One after another, EU member countries closed their borders, Germany included. As Germany’s Spiegel magazine noted on March 23, “The signal is clear: When things get serious, every member state still looks out for itself firsteven 60 years after the founding of the community.”
 
Discrediting the Harlot of Brussels and ending the migratory deluge may be a silver lining on the Corona record. Just like during the 2008 financial meltdown, the EU nomenklatura is showing itself to be a dysfunctional machine, good only at imposing self-destructive ideological fiats on immigration, diversity, and multicultural platitudes. Today’s “United Europe” does not create social and civilizational commonalities, except on the basis of wholesale denial of old mores, inherited values and “traditional” Western culture i.e., Jewish and Christian. Bruxella delenda est!
 
The shock to the global financial and economic system may also have long-term benefits. Both supply chains and distribution networks are exceedingly fragile, as we have seen, and it is better to return to some degree of autarky now than to be left powerless if and when the threat becomes truly existential. It is absurd for America to be dependent on China for some 97 percent of antibiotics, as well as vital medicines for blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and depression. It would be unforgivable, however, to correct the strategic vulnerability by granting Big Pharma another licence to print money.)
 
The same applies to steel, electronics, plastics, etc. It is necessary to redesign and shrink the multistep, multicountry supply chains that dominate today’s production. All vital supply chains now need to be brought back home, and domestic warehouses rebuilt and stocked to protect against future disruptions. This will not be good for short-term balance sheets of American businesses, but in the long run it will shield them from possible man-made disruptions in the future. More importantly, it will enhance long-term national resilience.
 
Neoliberal globalization in its post-Cold War form has been dealt a mortal blow by COVID-19, which is a good thing. The architecture of global economic and political governance developed over the past three decades is collapsing before our eyes. At its root is the notion that we should not feel a special bond for any particular country, nation, or culture, but base our preferences on the quantifiable parameters of self-interest. The current crisis has had a commendably subversive effect on the process of transforming globalized society into a socio-technological system in which most human relations would be streamlined into manageable routines and procedures. 
 

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