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The Prospect editorial—when borders matter

A nation primed to unravel

By Tom Clark   April 2021

If you tried to explain to a Martian why countries matter, you might struggle. Arbitrarily made and unmade by historical accidents, these lumps of land on our maps often encompass people and places that should have little in common. Ultra-rational beings would no more identify with them than with administrative local authority boundaries—but we are not ultra-rational beings. 

For better and more often for worse, nations have for centuries been the most reliable way of rallying people, trumping religion, class and everything else. They demarcate how we trade, who we fight, who we obey and—too often—the limits of…

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