Jul 18, 2013

Non-Territorial Nations - What is Edan Doing?!

  As explained with admirable efficiency by geographer Matt Rosenberg; 
     "While the terms country, state, and nation are often used interchangeably, there is a difference. A State (note the capital "S") is a self-governing political entity. The term State can be used interchangeably with country. A nation, however, is a tightly-knit group of people which share a common culture. A nation-state is a nation which has the same borders as a State."
  This is a bit more precise than common usage, actually. While we tend to use 'nation-state' as a shorthand this can be incorrect. Take Canada - there are at least two distinct Nations in Canada (one with a Protestant English culture and another with a Catholic French culture) so Canada is a State with multiple Nations within it. Great Britain is very similar - although Great Britain is obviously a state we all know who and what a Scotsman is, correct? Scotland, which has had no territorial control of its own for quite some time (and is thus not a State) is certainly a Nation. So obviously nations can exist without control of the territory they are in. But can a nation exist without any defined territory?
  The Romani certainly think so. They announced a claim of being a Non-Territorial nation over a decade ago, a claim not just accepted by a number of academics, diplomats, and leaders but seen as a potential solution to a range of ethnic and minority issues. It can even be argued, as Elkins, Fischer, and a number of others have, that the Westphalian conceptualization of 'legitimate' States being strictly territorial has made ethnic and minority strife worse since land is a fixed asset - if you wish any sort of autonomy within the Westphalian model you must control and defend territory; all territory is already controlled and the closest to the oppressed group is most likely controlled by that group's oppressors; therefore the pressure towards violence is greatly increased. By rejecting the demand that 'legitimate' States control territory before they can engage in political, diplomatic, etc. activity you can reduce or even eliminate these pressures.
  In his works the scholar Hassner argues that the Westphalian paradigm of the nation-state is obsolete because it cannot account for the tremendous impact of everything from transnational corporations to NGOs to Violent Non-State Actors such as Al-Qaeda. He also points to the ethnic strife of Africa as distinct Nations resort to large-scale violence to control territory rather than seeking non-territorial autonomy. 
  So Non-Territorial Nations are an existing fact, long predating modern concepts of nation-states; Non-Territorial Nations as well as Non-State Actors, NGO's, Transnational Corporations, etc. are all recognized as a major factor in world events; so Edan's status as a (so far) non-territorial sovereign nation is neither shocking nor even very remarkable. Considering that the most notable, recognizable Non-Territorial Nation is the Catholic Church (does anyone really believe Vatican City is truly in compliance with the various ideas of Westphalian territorial control?) and that the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is another key example of a Non-Territorial Nation with various forms of diplomatic recognition Edan's status as a Catholic Non-Territorial Nation is likewise unremarkable. Between the Roma, the Church, the SMOM, and dozens of other groups the idea of a sovereign non-territorial Catholic group is just not that shocking - except for a few things.
  Which we will get to.
  But why start with a non-territorial monarchy? Why not start Edan as an NGO, or a lobbying firm, or a credit union, or a charity? After all, the king is very clear that Edan needs all those things. Why not pick up the 'low-hanging fruit' and start as an incorporated not-for-profit charity and work your way up from there?
  There are many very good, very worthy NGO's in the world already. There are very good Catholic credit unions, charities, and lobbying firms. But there are two things you aren't going to find that readily.
  This goes back to the goals of Edan; our goals are not to build a better bank, nor to be an efficient charity; Edan was not founded to lobby the US for more aid to Mali nor to provide emergency relief after earthquakes. While all of those activities are a legitimate and even noble way to spend your energy, they are not what Edan is for.
  Edan exists to be truly just for both its own citizens and as an example to others of what a just nation is.
  One of the things that does distinguish Edan from the Church and from the SMOM is that it is new. Edan is not an anomaly from history, as some argue about the SMOM. It is not a unique situation as some argue about the Church. Edan is living proof that the desire of people to be free, to gather together, and to determine their own destiny can be met; it demonstrates that the Westphalian model and the violence it spawns are both failed artifacts of the Enlightenment; it shows the fatal flaws of Democracy and how to remove them; it exposes the false sichotomy in current economic thought with clear alternatives.
  Edan is also not a religious power but rather a secular power. The Church and the SMOM are often dismissed as being 'religious' as if this reduced their diplomatic or cultural relevance. Edan is a Nation, pure and simple, and cannot be dismissed similarly.
  And Edan is not based upon ethnic or racial criteria. One is born a Romani or, perhaps, marries into a Romani family; people who are not born Navajo cannot become Navajo. Edan is not organized like this; while it has its own culture and identity, these are not based upon genetic heritage, making Edan universal, not racial.
  We are, yes, building a better country both for ourselves and for others to see that it can be done. 
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