Brooklyn, United States
Think of it: a world without borderlines or flags and where geography no longer defines lifespan or lifestyle; a world as a blank slate.
The seeds of the future lie in our own time. A silly thought really and yet when you’re holding a handful of seeds, unless you have just poured them from some clearly labeled seed packet, there is nothing about a seed that suggests what it might become. Okay fine, in a handful of coconuts and pecans you might find a few clues. The apple seed evokes the dream of a tree. What might it look like exactly? We can only imagine. But each seed is an invitation to dream.
I imagine this:
The earth is losing its borders, flags and other artifacts of a world defined by geography and mutual exclusion. It is gaining the advantages of identity that is both planetary and hyper-local. Under the new organization that is gradually forming the increasingly abstract and irrelevant idea of nation is being replaced by the precision of village, city and neighborhood identities organized on a planetary grid and supplemented by identities that have no geographic context and rely entirely on commonalities of interest and knowledge.
The glaring and brutal inefficiencies of the nation-state system, the growth of social connections that are not mediated by language or geography, and a growing competition for planetary resources are all creating conditions that will lead to the dissolution of the nation-state.
Think of it: a world without borderlines or flags and where geography no longer defines lifespan or lifestyle; a world as a blank slate where the strength of numbers defeats the strength of armies. People can design this blank slate world with their collective choices and by congregating around their collective aspirations. Nations of interest, nations of consensus, nations of common economic activity, of common demographic, nations nested within nations with the government structures and laws designed to make it all work. Humanity would experience liberation from localized tyrannies of culture and isolation, liberation from travel restrictions and checkpoints, liberation from rules of import and export of raw materials, services, goods and labor.
This is my dream. Following the dissolution of the Roman Empire into shards of feudal enclaves and districts, it was the innovation of the nation-state that enabled civilization to emerge from the Middle Ages. Today, nations have evolved into a burden and are a key inefficiency limiting human interaction, wealth transfer, and they are responsible for much of the brutality and violence of the past three centuries. Imagine the freedom of anyone in the world sharing an idea with anyone else in the world. Imagine the power to bring ideas to life in collaborations that can only be envisioned in a world unencumbered by nation-created barriers of place, language, and political control. We’re on our way there. A new spirit of political innovation in governing, voting; the whole idea of being a citizen is in flux.
In the future, politicians and civic leaders will spend nearly no time on elections and campaigning; instead they’ll be solving problems and settling disputes while being held accountable to the mission of maintaining the freedom and openness that this new world will demand. A freedom beyond anything ever contemplated in Jefferson, a global aggregate wealth beyond anything envisioned by economists, a richness of experience that can only be dreamed of now.
John Hockenberry Bio:
John Hockenberry is a journalist working today who fully embodies the dual imperatives of the 21st century news business. He is an experienced traditional reporter who has filed from all over the world, skilled in investigations, hard-hitting interviews, and smart, prescient analysis of fast moving events. At the same time he is a gifted writer and storyteller with a fluency in all of the exploding digital platforms for both disseminating and collecting information. He has won four Emmy awards for TV news. He collected four Peabody awards for radio journalism, wrote and performed a one man Off-Broadway show and published a memoir and novel all before leaving the faculty of the MIT Media Lab to create a groundbreaking live national morning radio program. Currently, Hockenberry is host of that program, the live national radio morning show, The Takeaway, produced by Public Radio International and WNYC New York. He is also a member of the prestigious White House Fellows Commission along with General Wesley Clark, Tom Brokaw, Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe, Former Senator Tom Daschle and Ruth Simmons (President Of Brown University).
Mr. Hockenberry lives in Brooklyn New York with his writer/producer wife, Alison, and their five children.