In Global Trends in State Formation, author Godknows Boladei Igali offers broad insight into the emergence of the modern state system, the disintegration of states, and suggestions that will bring stability and peaceful coexistence within nations.
Igali, with more than thirty years of experience in public service in Nigeria, presents a philosophical inquiry and a historical survey into the origins of the various political formations such as nations, nation-states, states, societies, from the perspective of Western political and religious thought as inspired by the state of the world in the late twentieth century as it moved toward the twenty-first century.
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Global Trends in State Formation
An Enquiry into the Origin, Survival and Demise of States
By Godknows Boladei Igali
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2014 Godknows Boladei Igali, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
States and Nations: Few Conceptual Issues
Whether in international politics or national affairs, the 'state' has for some time emerged as the most dominant influence on human life. Since the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, when the modern political system as we know it today began to take its shape, the state has grown to become a kind of 'god on the earth', controlling man's life from the time he is born, gets married, dies to the time he is buried. But like many other concepts in the social sciences, there is much divergence among thinkers over the exact meaning of what a state is and in what ways this is different from other concepts, such as 'nation' and 'society'. It is not the intention in this book to rehash in any detailed form the merits of various angles of this controversy, but it will be enough for the purpose of better understanding to draw a line on some general properties of these related concepts.
The writers of the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in 1763 simply defined the state as 'extent of country under the same government'. The emphasis to them is the possession of a marked or definitive territorial mass and the existence of an appropriate political authority that exercises control. But this definition seems much unsheathed from philosophical attack, especially in view of the complex forms of political establishments that have since emerged in the modern world.
There have been colonial states, protected and trusted territories, and the like. In some of them, there has effectively been more than one form of political administration at the same time. For instance, with the handover of Hong Kong by Britain to China, on July 1, 1997, it has been operated by a complex governmental system called 'one country, two systems'. Under a special agreement, the territory has maintained its Western system and has a pseudo-independent administration, but technically it is regarded as part of China. There were also occupied territories such as West and East Germany. Yet they were regarded as full-fledged states entering into treaties with other states. In retrospect, at the end of World War II, the allied forces occupied Germany. This meant that the entirety of Germany was divided into different parts among the United States, Britain, France, and former Soviet Union. This had a lot of legal implications and continued until 1995.
It is as a result of these more complex political structures that Hugh Seton-Watson adds to the earlier definition in a modernised detail: 'A legal and political organization, with the power to require obedience and loyalty from its citizens.' Here the issues are the legality of the political system, the loyalty of the ruled towards it, and its ability to ensure effective control.
But again, we may run into problems if this definition is left on its own. For instance, who determines the legality of political sovereignty? Let us take the example of Taiwan or Israel. Seen from the narrow points of view of China and the less moderate Arab countries, respectively, these two countries are not recognised.
From the point of view of international law, one of the best accepted definitions of the state has been derived. This is in Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention of 1933 on the Rights and Duties of States, which require the following:
The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualification: a permanent population; a defined territory; a government and a capacity to enter into relations with other states.
The requirements appear self-explanatory, but a brief explanation would still be necessary. Although international law is replete with persuasive views suggestive of the fact that the existence of a clearly defined territory is a sine qua non for a state, it has been accepted as crystallised law that lack of precise boundaries does not fetter the existence of the state. It was on this account that Israel could be admitted into the United Nations in 1949.
The idea of the eminent authors of the Montevideo Convention was not to take the permanence of the human numbers as static, which by natural processes is impossible, but to avoid the confusion that could come if nomadic and pastoral states could be allowed. Furthermore, the requirement of a capacity to enter into conventions is a relative one, depending on with whom the convention is being made. Even China, which has not recognised the sovereign existence of Taiwan, is known to have concluded a number of commercial accords with that island under wording and phraseology that are mutually accepted. Similarly, despite the near universal acceptability of the Montevideo Convention definition, opinions also exist that the absence of a government on the territory, as was the case with Norway and other countries during the Nazi occupation between 1939 and 1945, did not call into question their existence at the time.
These thoughts on the state contrast in the main with the concept of 'nation'. The 'nation' is more of a community of people whose members are bonded in one by a sense of communal solidarity, cultural traditions, and feeling of a common identity. Indeed, the difference between the phraseologies 'state' and 'nation' would seem to lie in the fact that the former is more of a legal and geographically determined entity, often evolving historically, but several times artificially created by a decree of men, as was the case with Africa and Asia. But with the concept of 'nation', there is a more ethereal and emotional appeal among its members as it is a factor of nature—i.e. a people. We can take as example the gypsies of Europe or Fulanis (Fulbe) in West Africa who recognise their distinct cultural and national identity but are found in several states due to their historically itinerant nature.
This realisation should not, however, becloud us from the fact that in reality both phenomena are coterminous, just like two broad and overlapping circles with a large common area. That is why apart from a few examples such as Somalia, in the case of Africa, most states comprise several nationalities.
Similarly, in many instances, especially on the African continent, whole nations are dispersed across many countries. The Hausa nation in West Africa is found in not less than six countries across the sub-region, the German or French nations are spread out in almost all the countries of Central Europe, and the gypsy nation found in nearly all parts of the world.
It is for this reason that President Woodrow Wilson and others, who authored the world order which emerged in the post-World War I era, called it the 'League of Nations', and the generation that succeeded after World War II led by President Theodore Roosevelt also adopted the name 'United Nations' to categorise what they created. The two international organisations, which emerged on both occasions and succeeded each other, were a collection of states as represented by their governments. But interestingly, in view of the obvious account of the overlying relationship between these two conceptions, in both instances, the designers of the systems believed that the various people who made up the different member states would one day be fused into a globalised world. This easily lends the modern state system its name of 'nation-state', and in strict contemporary usage, the words are employed interchangeably.
Still on this, United States Senator Daniel Moynihan, a leading expert on ethnicity, further extends the definition of nation by contrasting it with the word 'ethnicism'. According to him, ethnicism is primarily concerned with the basic identification of 'one with his own kind'—a kind of 'we' against 'them' or 'them' against 'us'. The word 'ethnic' itself has its origin in the Greek usage ethnos or ethnic meaning 'people, tribe or nation'.
So to Moynihan, the nation and the attendant display of nationalism are the highest forms of ethnic group, denoting a subjective set of mind, as regards ancestry, but also, almost having an objective claim to some form of territorial autonomy ranging from regional assembly to full-blown independence. He asserts that nations seldom go to war against each other, but ethnic groups fight all the time.
The related and interchangeable word—'tribe'—pertains to the same distinct subgroup identification of common ancestry and shared values, albeit as we saw earlier producing a more pejorative connotation. Nigerian expert on ethnicism, Professor Okwudiba Nnoli believes that the two terms are the same, only that the colonial governments that ruled Africa simply preferred to use the less appealing one as it related to the various African people. Simply put, the words 'ethnic' and 'tribe' whether in a national framework or in global sociological application simply mean 'a people' as different from other peoples.
One common defining manifestation which ethnic groups, tribes, or nations display is nationalism. Perhaps it may be useful to mention, even if tersely, that nationalism, as a political creed, has existed in society from the beginning of social and political organisation. Its prominence in recent history arises out of the emergence of the nation-state system, as it legitimises and claims authority and supreme loyalty of a people to a leadership of the same ethnic complexion. The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary simply terms it as 'favouring political independence in a country that is controlled or part of another'. Nationalism has been crucial in the formation of the nation-state and is in many instances increasingly becoming the main challenge to its eternity.
For the purpose of a better clarification, it would be important to make a contrast between state and another common usage—'society', which has been defined by some writers as a collection of:
persons united for their mutual assistance, security and interest ... The social principle in man is such an expansive nature that it cannot be confined within the circuit of a family, of friends, of neighbourhood: it spreads into wider systems, and draws men into larger communities and commonwealth; since it is in these only, that the more sublime powers of our nature attain the highest improvement and perfection.
A society is more of any informal gathering of men in a social organisation. Most philosophers also agree that the human society arose out of the need to establish a political and social order, which over time evolved into states and nations. The ultimate process of growth of bare human societies into states and nations has a far antiquity—going down to the very dawn of human pre-history.
Having known that men live together in such overlying subdivisions, the critical question could be raised further as to why the early men did not contend themselves with living in hoards and loose groups, but instead erected the rather cumbersome and meddlesome societies and states or encouraged the evolution of ethnic and national groups.
The answer to this question is a pointed one as every intelligent being would have a distinct point of view on this, including on how the political edifice could be managed. This forms the very nerve centre of political enquiry, knowing that a normal rational being would want to perpetuate its self-survival. Aristotle tried to draw a common line by answering that 'the state originated in the bare need of a good life'.
Beyond this authoritative assertion, there is no single universally acceptable postulation as to why the state exists. In attempting to answer this question, a plethora of points of view exist. For now, let us consider the thoughts of two leading philosophers from the main branches of thought which have emerged on this—social contract and theology. In each case, we have tried to trace the background and sociopolitical setting in which the philosophers and thinkers operated, in order to have a better appreciation of the ideas illustrated.CHAPTER 2
Why Do States Exist: (Raison d'être)
The most held notion in political studies is that the state exists as a social contract between it and the people therein. Another variant posits that the state is a contrast between individuals in one sense and between the individual and the state on the other. Let us examine further with the ideas of some of the philosophers along this line of thought.
Social Contract Philosophy
In trying to explain the 'reason for the state', the most popular voices come from the social contract philosophers. As many as they are, so are the variants and abstractions of their ideas. Let us examine Kantianism side by side with other social contract philosophers.
Prussian Enlightenment thinker and metaphysician, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) has emerged over time to be one of the most profound influences on modern philosophy. In general, his methodical contribution to the discussion on knowledge, morality, and aesthetics has advanced to the discipline much of its empiricism and idealism.
His approach to the study of philosophy was to deviate from what was considered as disconcertion of many of his intellectual ancestors, such as French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Many of the latter generation defined the subject as an understanding of the nature of the world, from the point of view of reason. At this time of study, which Kant considered rather imperious, they first traversed the contingencies and bounds of reason before actually getting into the search for knowledge. Kant called this technique as 'transcendental'. His own approach entailed a more penetrating insight, intended at elevating philosophy to the scientific level of, for example, mathematics or physics.
Kant's attitude was completely antipathetic to the dogmatism, speculative naturalism, and irrationalism that pervaded the discipline of his day. His concern was for empirical knowledge and such things as the relationship between experience and the human mind and the circumstances or 'structure', to use his term that relates man's knowledge to his moral action. Kant considered experience to have little bearing on this structure, which in reality existed theoretically, and rather traced the existence of a ding an sich—the description of the sum of human reasoning that could be brought to bear in attempting to understand the world in which we exist, i.e. to understand or attempt to understand 'things in themselves'.
Though in many writings, not elevated to the same level as this, for example, the masters of social contract philosophy such as Englishman Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), John Locke (1632-1704), or Swiss thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) in discussions on 'The Social Contract' and its relevance to the existence of the state, Kant made some of the most impressive and systematically lucid postulations on this branch of political philosophy. It is worth noting that these Enlightenment philosophers all operated during the same period, oscillating between Paris and London.
Without getting immersed in all the details, social contract philosophy puts forward the hypothetical existence of a kind of social covenant between the society and individuals and between the ruled and their rulers, particularising the limits placed on each and the rights and obligations so generated. It is assumed that some time in historical antiquity, man roamed about in an anarchic and tiny system such as now known with the animal world. Then by a deliberate exercise of natural reason, he formed a society and appointed a government over it.
It could easily be argued that among the Greek Sophists and other strands of philosophical ancestry such lines of thought could be instilled. However, what seems to have drawn attention to the latter-day social contract premise was the insistence of a rational consent at the level of the individual. It is unnecessary here to go into the wide differences that exist on every minute issue among social contract philosophers, whether old or new, nor in the eventual results that they intended and actually produced in different European states where they emerged or were eventually imbibed. What is important to note as Professor Scheltens points out is that in different ways, all the exponents of this school of thought agree:
Considered the liberal state (which social contract produced) the ideal that unite all human beings with each other in liberty and equality, and even fraternity. They deemed it obvious that this liberal freedom state would evoke in all subjects an attachment for their country, because they would really recognize it now as 'their' country, the country in which they would feel fully at home because it would be governed by their common will.
Excerpted from Global Trends in State Formation by Godknows Boladei Igali. Copyright © 2014 Godknows Boladei Igali, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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Table of Contents
Part I: Philosophy of State Formation,
Chapter 1: States and Nations: Few Conceptual Issues, 3,
Chapter 2: Why Do States Exist: (Raison d'être), 15,
Chapter 3: Balancing Faith, Revelation, and the Reason for the State, 37,
Part II: Nation-States and the Challenge of Integration,
Chapter 4: Principles of the State and Symbols of Power, 67,
Chapter 5: The Character of Civic Unions: Repulicanism, Federalism, and Unitarism, 81,
Chapter 6: Eclipse of the Old Symbolism of Power and Statehood, 101,
Chapter 7: Birth of a New Reason for the State, 119,
Chapter 8: Integration and Pluralism in Western Democracy: Switzerland and Canada, 147,
Chapter 9: Mega States in the Orient and Peaceful Coexistence: India and China, 181,
Chapter 10: State and Integration in the Middle East: Israel and the Arab World, 221,
Chapter 11: How States Disintegrate: A Post-Mortem of the Soviet Union, 257,
Part III: Anecdotes for the Legacy of Crisis,
Chapter 12: Globalisation versus National Integration, 289,
Chapter 13: Integration by Consensus, Power Sharing, and Communication, 305,
Chapter 14: The Law as an Integrator, 319,
Chapter 15: Paradigms for Conflict Management, 333,
Chapter 16: The Citizen as Foundation for Sustainable Integration, 345,
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