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Abstract: A traditional, persistently mercantilist tendency of nation states has prevented them from cooperating sufficiently on macro-ecological problems of unprecedented urgency in the 21st century. The strength of this tendency is due historically to the fact that nation states, and the kind of patriotism which they engender, emerged together with internationally competitive capitalism. We put this fact in the context of a theory of four broad historical stages of economic and political development. We relate some of the modern parts of the history. In pondering how a macro-ecologically benign kind of patriotism might be fostered, we mention some evidence from recent research (Bowles & Gintis 2011) into the historical origins of human reciprocity. We also suggest that some international institutional innovations are called for, and that one such innovation may be the building up and strengthening of a moderate number of regional international political entities.
Keywords: patriotism, mercantilism, USA, China, India