"Referring of course to the Dunbar number that marks the boundary between small-scale society and large-scale society.There's a lot more at the link.
The public operated in the sub-Dunbar sphere. You were concerned with your own family, friends, and co-workers.
The elite managed in the super-Dunbar sphere, running government and large organisations, including mass media. The public knew that the elites were out there, but the public felt no direct connection to the elites. When elites contested with one another, the public were largely bystanders."
Kling is a libertarian economist who thinks in terms of models applied to an amorphous social reality. This makes him an over-reductionist. The right way to think about society is:
- Social formation - society as it concretely presents itself.
- Mode of production - which generates the class structure and social dynamics.
- Human nature - which defines the human elements from which behaviour originates.
The more enlightened bourgeois intellectuals like Kling think the world is constituted from (1) and (3) and forgo a class analysis - we see ahistoric, universalist categories such as 'public' and 'elites'.
Kling is better than most, though. The orthodox neoclassical economists simply present patently ideological models of (1), with (2) and (3) being replaced by the atomised egoists of homo economicus. Steve Keen is not a Marxist but his critique of this is not inaccurate.
The idea of the Dunbar limit is a powerful one. It allows the concept of nationalism to be approached without misleading ideas that it's either an empty illusion (a logical consequence of neoclassical economics) or that it's some reactionary antithesis to an ideal state of perfect global compassion and universal love. We can safely leave the latter to the overly religious, the social-liberals and SJWs.
In practice people care about their immediate circle, people they know individually and find they like. They care about the concept of their nation insofar as their co-nationals conform to an ideal of behaviour: one which they believe - with substance - buttresses the stability of the institutions and relationships which guarantee their security and their way of life: an ideal-supertribe of generally-amicable 'us'.
There is a lot to be said about a correct theory of nationalism, and how relevant, useful and indeed functional the phenomenon may be in the 21st century.
But without Dunbar's number the analysis doesn't get very far.