This is a follow on from @alexp's notes and comments on What are the advantages of small countries vs large countries?

Rather than expanding via forceful takeovers and empire building, the EU has expanded by voluntary membership. Obviously right now there are some doubts about the merits and function of the EU, but could a system like that one be designed to snowball so that every country in the world would eventually join, and cede sovereignty more like the united states? By the way did US neighbours ever think about joining like the EU neighbours have done?


closed as primarily opinion-based by JBH, jdunlop, Renan, RonJohn, Mołot Oct 11 '18 at 7:50

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    $\begingroup$ "Did US neighbours ever think about joining?" The Vermont Republic and the Republic of Texas did, and actually joined the U.S.A. At present, the limiting factor of the enlargement of the E.U. is the reluctance of (some of the) member states to accept new members. On the other hand, east of the E.U. is the Eurasian Union, and southeast of that is the Chinese Empire, and I don't really see how these three would ever merge... $\endgroup$ – AlexP Oct 10 '18 at 23:50
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    $\begingroup$ By definition the only answer is "yes." How that could happen is a better question for Politics than it is here. $\endgroup$ – JBH Oct 10 '18 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH - I didn't mean to make this question sound so specific to similar attempts at confederation, this is a hypothetical question. $\endgroup$ – user56205 Oct 10 '18 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexp - So you see a sort of competition like the one described in previous question by other posters amongst the confederations? Or you can imagine a scenario or confederation setup that would work? $\endgroup$ – user56205 Oct 10 '18 at 23:58
  • $\begingroup$ What I foresee is that some parts of the world will be dominated by large countries (e.g., North America, most of Asia) and confederations (e.g., most of Europe, possibly most of South America); and other parts of the world may remain split into a mosaic of small countries. For example, for the foreseeable future I don't see subsaharan Africa or south-eastern Asia organized into viable large-scale political structures. But then my foreseeing ability is highly questionable... $\endgroup$ – AlexP Oct 11 '18 at 0:04

A bit of American and World History.

America started as individual colonies, belonging to different European countries. These colonies formed their own constitutions and governments. They were truly individual sovereign states under the direct control of foreign powers.

There was a strong threat from the European countries to continue to dominate the 'colonies', and so they decided that perhaps forming into a mutual defence pact would be to their advantage. An individual colony could not survive, It had neither the military nor the economic strength to survive for very long. But together under a mutual economy and defence they had a chance. However, none of them wanted to give up either their constitutions, or their sovereignty. So, they all got together to hammer out some form of constitution much like the European Union today - sovereign states united under a common currency and defence strategy. Each would have its own legislature, court system, justice system, and internal political structure and political parties. (Foreign relations and trade was a very big discussion point). The federal oversight government had very strictly limited powers. The POTUS system was primarily ceremonial. It was envisioned that America would never have a national army, but defense would be in the hands of individual state militias (this continued even up until the Civil War. The 'cavalry' was more like a national internal police force).

This is the form that many constitutionalists want to return to, when they say they want to interpret the constitution as written. If they (the GOP) win, America will return to a republic of sovereign states much like the EU, and the federalist powers would be drastically reduced.

However, over time the original constitution has been so badgered that the federal government and federal court has become supreme, and the individual sovereign states have given up more and more of their sovereignty, much like the EU is going through now.

During the Civil War, the South tried to flex its constitutional right and power for self-determination, but the North pushed its federalist agenda, and emphasized the 'one nation, indivisible' line of the constitution. This battle is still going on.

Other nations, like Canada and Australia, have formed different variations on the 'sovereign states' concept, with a constitutionally mandated division of power between the federal and the provincial governments. Canada is somewhat unique, in that it has mandated that each of the founding cultures be represented federally, across all Canada, instead of being ghettoized into specific regional areas.

However, over all of world history, it has been repeated over and over, that once an empire gets too big, it fails under its own bureaucracy. The bigger it gets, the more power has to be divested into local regional bureaucrats, who themselves become just as rich and powerful as the central government. This is how Rome fell. Too many strong generals. Strong generals were needed to protect the state against strong enemies, but the bigger the state, the more strong generals were needed. They began to compete against each other.

This is happening in America. California is the fifth largest 'nation' by GDP, equivalent to France, and this has given them much economic power. They have a lot of clout that enables them to get their own way, and paradoxically the GOP agenda to diffuse federalist power only feeds into their independence.


There is a natural limit on the size a country can be before internal division and regional interests conspire to cause its demise. Only a nation that consists of sovereign states, with their own internal legislative agenda, but united by a common economic and social responsibility agenda, has any real hope of tens-of-centuries-long survival. Sort of like a UN that has policing teeth to enforce a universal standard of human rights, with individual small sovereign states determining their own futures. It would need to have universal rights to unrestricted immigration and emigration, a universal exchange currency, and a strict policy on upholding basic human rights and equality.

  • $\begingroup$ California is actually the 7th largest gdp, they have lost a lot of Business and workers (9000, and 500,000 a year) for the pay 2-3 years due to stupidity on their part $\endgroup$ – Garret Gang Oct 18 '18 at 16:11

The EU and other confederations like it will always be unstable. Different languages and other core differences will drive them apart. The US should never look to the EU as a model. The US will cease to be a nation with various language groups and become an empire. Empires are held together, usually through tyranny, so they always crumble and fall. Nations can last much longer. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

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    $\begingroup$ "Nations last much longer": before the 17th century nations were purely geographical entities; they had no political dimension whatsoever. The idea that nations and states should be coextensive is even more modern; it started to be seriously discussed in the 18th century and gained prominence in the 19th. Remember that before WW1 the world was dominated by multinational empires, and that in Europe countries such as Czechia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia did not even exist at all in 1850; not to mention very recent creations such as Belarus or Ukraine... $\endgroup$ – AlexP Oct 11 '18 at 0:43
  • $\begingroup$ The US civil war never really ended, and at best America will devolve back into its original EU-like concept, a republic of individual sovereign states incorporated under a federalist banner. At worst, California, New York, and Texas (all strongly independent) will separate completely from America and form their own completely sovereign countries. But as a nation, America is well past its 'best before' date. Like you said, a house divided against itself cannot stand, and America is truly a house divided. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Oct 11 '18 at 0:43
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP Before the 15th century there were no national borders, there were only territories that were ruled by a monarch or emperor. One King said 'This is my land' and another King said 'This over here is MY land'. Disputes were settled on the battlefield, a glorified playing field with two opposing teams for the ultimate championship. They even had spectators come out to watch, lining the field. Not until the economic concept of a parcel of land representing a certain value, and that all land must belong to a specific owner (the rise of the realtor), did national boundaries arise. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Oct 11 '18 at 0:57