Reihan, the quotes you pull from Collier and Freeman (wait: why are we blogging at 12:16 am on a ‘Sunday’?) sound exactly like Tocqueville on America, especially in his last chapter in Book One. Listen:
So the southerners must wish to preserve the Union so that they should not face the [slaves] alone, and the westerners must desire it so that they should not be shut up within central America without free communication with the outside world. The North, too, does not want the Union broken up, for it wishes to remain the connecting link between this great body and the rest of the world. Consequently there is a close link between the material interests of all parts of the union.
Everyone knows the colonial boundaries are garbage, and as honorable as the African Union was (before it was called the African Union) in seeking to prevent brutal, protracted wars over political boundaries, what Africa got was brutal, protracted wars over, around, and with little regard to political boundaries, which ended up looking pristine on a map soaked with the blood of vast numbers. There’s also been good work done on the way that Europeans violated their own rules of sovereignty to enable little weak white states like Belgium and Switzerland to appropriate gigantic amounts of land, resources, and wealth from Africa.
I’m with the goggle-eyed humanist econofuturists on this one: let there be large countries where tiny landlocked weird shaped ones be. But then I remember de Maistre warning that LARGE REPUBLIC never came up on all of human history’s rolls of the dice. And yes, America is exceptional.