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The nation state and why the Palestinians never should and never will have one

The nation state is a modern invention. Swaths of territory form a country which belongs not to the king but to the people. The bond tying the people together and making them sovereign is not the same as that which bound the monarchy, and beyond it the aristocracy, namely family. And yet the bond still harks back to something like the family: ethnicity, suggesting that the nation part of the nation state is formed from some original family, the blood ties extending into clans and tribes and ultimately a nation, a people. It is this memory which adds psychological fuel to the feeling of solidarity a nation state inspires, symbolized by a flag, a national anthem, patriotic holidays, even a fas

A brief history of sociology

In the old days, when Aristotle was around, philosophy embraced science; and the gods, as Homer put it, though gods, were conspicuous. With the Roman Empire the mind of western man, at least, turned to engineering and the army. But then the Roman Empire collapsed and along came the Dark Ages, at least on the European side of the Mediterranean. Knowledge seeped from East to West with the rise of Islam but with no great leaps forward, while what had been saved from the fall of Rome accumulated within monastery walls. Then, as commerce returned, population increased, and kings grew mightier, the old wisdom burst forth anew. The Renaissance. The Reformation. Overseas exploration. Public law. By

Does Israel have any allies?

The answer to that question is no. But then, did not Balaam thus prophesize when he said the Israelites are a people that shall dwell alone? Dwelling alone is not the curse it may seem. In the old days it meant that Israel would not be an imperial power, not set out to conquer its neighbors. Instead it would live in peace and quiet, following its path to a law-based society which its neighbors were free to adopt or ignore. Like America today, ancient Israel would conquer, if conquer it did, by example, because nations were attracted to its way of life. But in the ancient world the rising powers sought hegemony by conquest, not by borrowing and imitation. Thus did the nation that dwelt alone

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