In the Distance
If we are to make progress, we need to know where we’re going. Does an AI know where it’s going?

In 2012, I began looking at State Legitimacy as a political entity under attack from globalisation and technology. At its core, my thesis was that the nation state was being re-cast in new dimensions, beyond geography and ethnicity, into brands, global culture, and digital communications. This was a more intellectual evolution, beyond the physical, into deeper concepts of identity. The possibility of deviance, of what Foucault or Zizek might call perversions, presented an opportunity for reduced anxieties and improved conditions for all of us.

Janina Ramirez: Her series on the Hundred Years War on BBC4 is revealing on the legitimation of the King.
Janina Ramirez: Her series on the Hundred Years War on BBC4 is revealing on the legitimation of the King.

Much of the history of the infrastructure of State harkens back to feudal and older systems of clan based fealty, where one clan is in the ascendant, and brings other clans under its wing, and the head of the clan asserts a right to rule through strength and politics.  Francis Fukuyama talked a lot about that in his book on The Origins of Political Order.  This kind of authority is still seen today in monarchial type totalitarian states like Saudi Arabia and (formerly) Ba’athist Iraq.  There are some similarities with Bashar al Assad’s Syria, but they are limited.  Wiliam Dalrymple‘s latest book Return of a King reminds us that Hamid Karzai, the current leader of Afghanistan, comes from the same tiny sub-tribe from whence the original ruler of Afghanistan hailed during the British War there in 1839.  The Divine Right of Kings was a principle that emanated from Reformation Europe, and in particular from a Theologically thin doctrine hastily assembled to facilitate Henry VIII.  This doctrine was in a sense the harbinger of modern secularism; the French Revolution abhorred the gap between rich and poor, and questioned how righteous the King really was, ultimately resulting in the schism between Church and State.