Men Without Countries

I was talking with someone today who is a part of that class of people we rarely see, but they play a big part in the lives of ordinary people. These are the folks who populate the global international class. They shuttle back and forth between NGO’s, international organizations like the World Bank and their home government. Some go the earthy route and work in various aid organizations that are sort of private and sort of government. Because of their work and travel, they lack the provincial attachments the rest of us find comforting.

I have an old friend who lives in this world. He has had various jobs that defy description, but always involve travel to exotic locales. He has a few degrees and knows how to write grant applications that result in living at an Ivy League campus or foreign outpost. He has a long list of friends and acquaintances spread all over the globe. Whenever I talk to him he is somewhere visiting friends, even in places where the white man is scarce.

This is a different thing from the defense class and global business class. A business guy is posted to assignments by others. His travel and adventure is not about self-actualization. He is sent to the UAE as a project manager for a logistics firm and it is only about doing a job for money. It is not a lot different than being sent to the Wichita office to work as a branch manager. He is just a cog in the machine doing his part for a salary. The guy taking a post for UNESCO in Gambia to teach English at a bush school is about his own thing. Money is not a consideration.

The funny thing I’ve noticed about these folks is they are not just rootless in the physical sense. Emotionally they have very little attachment to people and place. What makes them tick is the adventure and the spiritual high they get from experiencing weird stuff in faraway places. Part of that high is the moving on. They are like memory collectors. Once they got what they want from someone or somewhere, they move on. It’s not cold blooded or sociopathic. They are just not setting down roots so they squeeze everything out of every stop knowing they will be moving on soon.

Anyway, the guy I was chatting with had just returned from Alaska. He had a grant to do something and the grant had run out so he was now starting at a Federal agency. He was on contract from an NGO that I did not recognize. The funny thing about DC these days is the lines between government, NGO, consultancy and private business are close to non-existent. I know someone who has worked at a famous contractor for 15 years, but has been on contract to the same government agency the entire time. He even has an office with his name on it – at the government agency.

The small talk led to a strange question. I said something about the recent election and my new acquaintance asked me if I bothered voting. I said I did and explained why. He listened politely, but it was clear he thought I was being foolishly sentimental. My take away from the exchange was that whether we like it or not, all of us are going to be like my acquaintance. From the point of view of these people, loyalty to a country or government is nonsensical. There’s nothing they can get from pledging loyalty to a country so they have no interest in it. They are not joining the army or terribly worried about which side of the ruling class is currently ascendant, so they don’t bother about it.

This reality is settling on the rest of us, some more than others. For instance, the government types waving the flag around whipping up support for dealing with the provinces does nothing for me. If Obama wants to do something about ISIS, let him fly over there and deal with them. I suspect many Americans have thrown in the towel on the whole democracy project. It’s hard to find anyone enthusiastic for staying in Afghanistan or returning to Iraq.

Now that Obama plans to unilaterally extend citizenship to the world, it will dawn on ordinary Americans (as currently defined) that there’s really nothing of value in American citizenship. After all, if a goatherd on the Eurasian steppe can get all the benefits of citizenship, just by winning the visa lottery, what’s the point in being a citizen of America? More important, why would anyone sacrifice anything for a country that treats its citizens so shabbily?

Of course most people will respond that there’s a difference between the government and the country. Bob Novak used to say, “I love my country, but hate my government.” That sounds good, but there’s no reason to think we will be getting a new government anytime soon. Americans will never revolt and the ruling class will not be deterred. The only logical alternative is to adopt the attitude of my interlocutor. We are men without countries, citizens of nowhere, loyalty to only ourselves.

8 thoughts on “Men Without Countries

  1. Repair_Man_Jack: Really? Sovereignman? I’ve been to that site and I feel like gobsmacker … you really think there are places in the world better, free’r than America where you can have personal freedom, safety, and your wealth is not in jeopardy all the same?

    I doubt it. Human nature is human nature. All Sovereignman is is a huckster, selling advice like any other financial consultant. They say all the right things and push all the right buttons but if you analyze what they say and why they would say it, still doesn’t make sense in a practical sense. Better off just finding your own little oasis and enjoying yourself while getting ready for when the SHTF.

  2. I don’t vote with the expectation of any positive results. I’ve been voting against incumbents since 1970, and never got any. I vote because I see it as my duty to do so. And, no, I do not shirk jury duty, and yes, I enlisted in the Corps for Vietnam. (I admit the enlistment was not entirely motivated by my sense of duty, but it was in there, along with curiosity, and the conviction that I did not want to miss what I thought of as the pivotal event of my generation.)

  3. It would seem Britain has many faults, as agreed by the rest of the world, so I won’t go into them here. Suffice to say that one thing Britain insists on doing is to give money to countries with their own wealth. For example, the UK with no space program gives money to India with, er, a space program.

    As belts are tightened by the consistent failure of our governments to reign in free-spending and address the massive debt in which the unpaid interest alone will eventually crush the country, more money is handed over to others. But of course there is a purpose.

    Britain cares not a fig whether a Hindu is put into space one day, but it does care that India employs people to help check that the Sikhs and the rest have a chance to be an astronaut. in other words, we give other nations cash so they can pay our people to go there and care on a local level.

    Those happy people who are then indirectly funded by the UK in this fashion can enjoy this glorious life of travel and comfort — they do not live in shanty towns, you can be sure — are separate from the rest of us who have to stay and pay for them to go.

    It is cosy sinecure that many hope to discover, but the relative few who have discovered it will keep it all to themselves with new contacts, better contracts and new government-approved ‘challenges’ popping up when needed.

  4. I am staring into the abyss of retirement and I have no warm fuzzy feeling that it will be comfortable. I do not fault our leaders but our electorate. How this no-ability interloper kardashian type could be elected twice is beyond me. If this is what America consists of we are truly lost. Sad face.

  5. I’ve visited a number of places around the globe, outside the US, where I’ve thought I might want to return for a much longer period of time, but there isn’t even one of those places where I think I’d want to live for the rest of my life. Noumea, the capital city of New Caledonia, for example, looks like a very pleasant town, but I’m sure it has its problems too. If the ideal place for me did exist, and I needed to surrender my American citizenship, I wouldn’t find it emotionally difficult to do. Obama and his radical Democrat friends have made it increasingly difficult for me to love their vision of America.

  6. I have a sister like this. She swoops in, races around with no time to spare, then leaves back to her city for another 6-9 months. I would call them selfish. They depend on other people with their “roots” to maintain the status quo so they can gallivant to their own desires. This works while society is stable but leaves them without a chair when the music stops. Then they will be left looking in like an outsider, even though they are outsiders now.

    Money buys freedom: allegiance, location, vocation, bargaining power, financial worry, etc. Most people just don’t have those resources to be able to afford those freedoms (and responsibilities).

    When citizenship no longer holds it’s intended meaning, does that mean the societal benefits (SS, Medicare/Medicaid, K-12 schools, etc.) will also go away as well? I can only hope for such a situation where the great social experiments can be freely opted out of instead of giving them away for free.

  7. The sovereign individual is a very lofty idea. On paper, it sounds fantastic. We should all be able, in theory, to move as we like throughout the world, at will, going wherever we want, setting up temporary shop when the tax rates and business or other environmental and/or cultural atmospheres are suitable, owing no allegiance to any flag or nation. In reality, few people are able to do this. Your average person has ties to heritage, family, friends, community, and sometimes to the land itself. Maybe the Next Great Leap in human organization will be the ability to forgo the idea of government altogether, or relegate government to a very narrow array of authorities/responsibilities. But for this to work requires many things to fall into place, one of which is near-global agreement on these concepts. I don’t see that happening any time soon.

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