‘The nation-state badly needs a heritage narrative’: Sterling

by Chris Zappone

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This came up in Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowski’s annual State of the World chat this year.

“…the nation-state badly needs a heritage narrative. If you don’t have one that compels respect, then you’re not a nation-state, and you get turned into a [laundry money].

“In 2017 a lot of heritage narrative started to appear within the post-Brexit Europe. Pro-EU guys, who used to be very colorless, technocratic, as invisible and as function-centric as possible, started raising their heads over the parapet and talking about World War II. About historic missions, ever-greater union, mistakes that would be regretted for a generation — a very temporal, linear narrative, asserting that the EU is an advance, that it must move forward, that heretics and dropouts from Europe would be abandoned, like deadbeats kicked off a moving train.

“So the EU, which was about market regulations, turned into European history again. Some tautly argued history, too: this happens, that happens, this happens because of that. ‘Atemporality’ is a lot more loose, emergent, and multi-causal than that. Atemporality is like an open-source, flat-world, marketplace of meaning where people place meme-bids.”

I have been thinking something similar – and about what a challenge a bigger, lasting meta-narrative is in the current media environment. I have something written about this but haven’t had time to publish. Eventually…

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