Essay by 18023202University, Bachelor'sB+, March 2006

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The concept of nations and nationality has been around for thousands of years. Herodotus wrote about the German nation 2500 years ago. In those days the term did not refer to a country, a government, or a state. It referred to a people. There were dozens of different German tribes with no central authority, but together, they still constituted the Germanic nation. Nations were the sum total of a given "people" who were part of a single ethnic group, with the same language, the same religion, and the same cultural identity.

The development of the nation-state is often called nationalism. It was by far the most powerful political force of the 19th and 20th centuries, and will probably remain the most important political force in the 21st century. The national government has two primary tasks. It is responsible for maintaining national security and protecting the safety of the citizens. Just as important, it is responsible for establishing a regulatory framework to support and protect the market economy.

The success or failure of the government in regulating the market economy will determine whether the population enjoys prosperity or suffers from poverty.

When aristocrats began to lose control of Western European society during the 17th century, aristocratic states began the slow and difficult transformation into nation-states. The modern nation-state is a very different kind of society from the earlier aristocratic state. Peasants become farmers. Instead of turning over a portion of their harvest to the aristocrats, they sell it through a system of wholesale and retail markets. The market economy becomes the most important factor in people's lives. The primary activity of nearly all nation-state governments is to regulate the market economy and make sure that it does not collapse, as recently happened in Argentina.

Market based nation-states do not have to...