The present system of world order, despite the rise of transnational economics and politics and the multiplication of specialized international activities of a functional kind, remains state-oriented. The quality of world order at a particular time depends on the pattern of voluntary or coercive relations among governments representing states. The nature of the adjustments made and the persisting pattern of state imperatives imperil human survival and the quality of life on earth.
The focus of government planning and action everywhere lags behind the emerging appreciation that the primary world order crises include the dynamics of economic and ecological disequilibrium. The pattern of statist imperatives constituted by economic growth, competition, maximization, self-help, absence of empathy, and autonomy of reproductive dynamics, indicates that the path to equilibrium barely exists with the present structure of interstate rivalry. Governments do not have the disposition to exercise self-restraint in such a way as to facilitate the adjustments that must accompany a transition to equilibrium.
States that were created as a result of independence from colonial powers, notably in Africa, frequently have no roots in popular cultures. Attempts to create such roots through alien parliamentary institutions encourage mobilization on the basis of kin-based cliques or tribal loyalties. This leads to governmental paralysis, corruption and civil strife. From these constraints emerged the brutal, militarized kleptocracies by which parts of the African continent have been tormented.
Preservation of the nation-state should be distinguished from nationalism and the pursuit of national self-interest. The nation-state is not to be equated with the coercion of others, it is above all about self-government. One of the greatest achievements of this century is the fulfilled desire of millions of previously subject peoples to rule themselves. Far from the nation-state being outdated, it is the world of super-powers that is disintegrating.