A nation indivisible?

What do the words “country” and “nation” mean? Here we are, living in North America. How do we know? Because someone, a long time ago, drew lines on a map and gave physical names to places. This is New York, that’s Connecticut, over there is Virginia, and so on. We’re all (after a war or two) in the United States of America. 

However, in the new internet age, there are no real boundaries any more. You have no way of knowing if the company or person you are contacting is in New Jersey, Nigeria, China or, for that matter, off-planet (in the future).

Countries and nations are made of people who share common morals, a common set of rules and principles. Ours were written in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the Constitution. It was this commonality that bound us, more than the physical location of North America. 

Proof of this are Americans who were born in Panama (like Sen. McCain), Guam, Ascension Island, or on a U.S. ship in the Indian Ocean. Sometimes people thinking “foreigner” tend to forget that and, like the situation in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria, don’t think of these Americans as one of us. They are, at least by nationality — if perhaps not much longer by desire when we turn our backs on them.

Things are getting much more complicated when it comes to nationality. In the internet age, commonality is a matter of choice and connection, just as it always was for the first settlers, except now it is electricity instead of shoe leather. Before, if you didn’t like America, you could leave and chose a foreign land. With the internet, that exit and foreign experience is just a click away. Commonality is built from personal preferences, whether you find that commonality on Facebook or Twitter or Fox News or the WSJ or this newspaper.

In our nation, we address people’s need to be educated, to be fed, to live, to travel (infrastructure) and to raise families. Our structure permits, encourages these activities. But, increasingly, so does the internet. One day, disparate people from all geographical corners of the globe may become a new nation with a bill of rights and constitution all of their own. 

The numbers (critical mass) are already appearing on line. The missing element is a visionary or two, the pied pipers who always pepper historical changes … the Jefferson, Franklin, Hancock and Washington. 

Of course, there are also the Hitlers to watch out for. Or the Bannons. Or the ISIS propagandists. 

What? You thought online propaganda did not create the illusion of a different commonality and loyalty in some of these young men and women? Benjamin Franklin used pamphlets, “Dissertations,” to spread his message. ISIS uses the internet. Same thing, different morals, same result.

Make no mistake, the internet is a new way of life, without physical boundaries. With all home deliveries, connectivity, entertainment and even education it has become a provider of the essentials of life. 

Every week the media shows us people in a room with nothing, who buy and survive via the internet. When their jobs are run through the internet as well, they will have little need to belong to any other society other than the one they click on. They can limit their news, science and facts, they can be swallowed up by the propaganda merchants. 

They already are. What, you thought Fox News and Breitbart did not have an agenda? Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon are on record as proclaiming their agendas. 

Roger Ailes of Fox News: “Every other network has given all their shows to liberals.” And “They [NPR] are, of course, Nazis …. They are the left wing of Nazism.” 

Steve Bannon: “I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

Already you hear of “radicals” who decide to create their own nation, joined up people from across the physical world who are, nonetheless, connected closer than next-door neighbors in New York and California. These radicals share common gripes, needs and values. They have, effectively, set up their own country, an e-country or an e-nation, and declared independence. 

Pretending they are not a nation to be dealt with is foolish, dangerous, and leads to wrong planning, whether they are inside America like the Alt-Right or “over there” like ISIS. All these new nationalities are, in fact, in your homeland right now, just a click away.


Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.