Arnold Schwarzenegger and California as Nation State

I’m a bit behind on getting this post up, but I couldn’t help connecting the article published in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat this past Monday about Schwarzenegger’s address to the UN on climate change with the video released a few weeks ago by Paul Saffo:

With the subtitle “Governor’s appearance representing US on global warming may upstage Bush,” the real story here was not so much about the governor’s stance on global warming as it was the shift of power from national governments to smaller units. Here we have a Republican governor not only ignoring his Republican president, but having direct talks with foreign nations. Schwarzenegger’s UN talk was one more signal of Paul’s provocative assertion that the United States as we know it will be gone within 50 years.

This theme was also explored by Juan Enriquez in his book The Untied States of America. That’s one thought-provoking book. (It’s also quite remarkable in its hyper-text and powerpoint influenced format, but that’s another story.) I especially loved the opening image: place yourself in the cabinet room of the British Empire at its height. Would you ever have imagined that the empire on which the sun never sets would be reduced to its original island in less than 50 years? Similarly, can we imagine a future of a fractured America?

The future, of course, is what we make it. But understanding the fault lines helps to understand which way the future is going to go when things start to break. Definitely worth thinking about. And it’s certainly worth remembering that the future is not like the past. While much change is gradual and consistent, other changes are sudden and take us in very new directions.