Political maps have changed much since one hundred years ago. Or two hundred, or five hundred.
Some changes have crept in; others have exploded. It can be interesting to look at old maps and think, how will ours look to our descendents?
Imperialism was the trend for much of the modern era. Most peoples were swept up into the folds of empires-- European, Turk, Chinese.
But West European colonialism dissolved in the 1960s, Soviet imperialism in the 1990s. Since then the trend has gone the other way: States are fracturing ever more.
1960 to 1990: A multiplication of states
The one exception is the quasi-super-state known as the European Union, which has been hoovering up members as fast as it can.
The recent eurozone crisis has led to calls for 'a United States of Europe.' Only a true federal authority in Brussels, with control over member states' moves, can lead to a happy European future:
European Commission vice-president Viviane Reding has predicted that the eurozone will become a federal state, while urging the UK not to leave the Union. ... “In my personal view, the eurozone should become the United States of Europe."
... Reding noted that euro countries have made an “extraordinary” leap in terms of integration due to the economic crisis. Citing the commission’s new powers to scrutinise national budgets and plans to create a banking union, she said: “a few years ago no one could have imagined member states being prepared to cede this amount of sovereignty.”
The United States itself, a grand experiment in federalism, has seen its central government intrude ever more deeply on states' rights over the last century. Is this a happy thing? At the same time, the massive post-1965 immigration experiment has flip-flopped U.S. demography.
These trends have created deep American fault lines. Europe is in fact trying to emulate the U.S. at the very moment when the latter seems to be fracturing. In both cases, then, we have a tension between creeping federal authority on one hand, and a desire by regions to throw off that authority on the other.
What does the future hold for these two super-states?
We at Those Who Can See feel it is naively optimistic to imagine in 100 years the maps of our descendents will look the same as ours. Where are these two chunks of the Europsphere headed?