Domination of the world by sovereign states

Visualization of narrower problems
Territorial organization as an obstacle to peace
National sovereignty blocks socio-economic development
National governments as obstacles to representative democratic political organization
Nation-states as obstacles to world order
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.
1. 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.

2. A spectre haunting international relations is that of a new internationalism and a new doctrine of humanitarian intervention, which would place limits on state sovereignty. The cutting edge of the new doctrine (also called liberal imperialism) lies in its frank admission that the post-modern world has a right, even an obligation, to intervene in the modern and pre-modern states in this era of global interdependence. Arguments of resistance or protestations in terms of state sovereignty or inviolability of established territorial boundaries cannot be allowed to come in the way whenever intervention is deemed necessary. In this serious business, ethnic domination or ethnic exclusiveness (cultural nationalism) or centralised absolutism of the nation-states will not deter the post-modern world either.

3. The disequilibria in the global economy and in global ecology cannot be dissociated from the issue of global security. The statist imperatives, particularly associated with the superpowers, are bringing the world closer to nuclear war. There is a conceptual gap between the international role envisaged for the United Nations and the constricting viewpoint of the nation state.

1. 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.

2. Between ultranationalism and micronationalism, the UN seeks to preserve the nation-state as the very foundation of international life and to bring states together in an enlightened multilateralism that can enhance their specific interests while advancing their common cause.

3. When dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era - force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the 19th century world of every state for itself. Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle. Preferably, what is called for is evidently a new kind of imperialism, which is acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan values. This can be in the nature of the 'voluntary imperialism of the global economy' enforceable through instrumentalities such as an international financial institutions. Aid theology today increasingly emphasises governance.

(D) Detailed problems