Your New “God Given” Nation State
A territorially bounded sovereign polity—i.e., a state—that is ruled in the name of a community of citizens who identify themselves as a nation. The legitimacy of a nation-state’s rule over a territory and over the population inhabiting it stems from the right of a core national group within the state (which may include all or only some of its citizens) to self-determination. Members of the core national group see the state as belonging to them and consider the approximate territory of the state to be their homeland. Accordingly, they demand that other groups, both within and outside the state, recognize and respect their control over the state. As the American sociologist Rogers Brubaker put it in Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the National Question in the New Europe (1996), nation-states are “states of and for particular nations.”
The nation-state fuses two principles: the principle of state sovereignty, first articulated in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which recognizes the right of states to govern their territories without external interference; and the principle of national sovereignty, which recognizes the right of national communities to govern themselves. National sovereignty in turn is based on the moral-philosophical principle of popular sovereignty, according to which states belong to their peoples. The latter principle implies that legitimate rule of a state requires some sort of consent by the people. That requirement does not mean, however, that all nation-states are democratic. Indeed, many authoritarian rulers have presented themselves—both to the outside world of states and internally to the people under their rule—as ruling in the name of a sovereign nation.
Although France after the French Revolution (1787–99) is often cited as the first nation-state, some scholars consider the establishment of the English Commonwealth in 1649 as the earliest instance of nation-state creation. Since the late 18th century, the nation-state has gradually become the dominant vehicle of rule over geographic territories, replacing polities that were governed through other principles of legitimacy. The latter included dynastic monarchies (e.g., the Habsburg and Ethiopian empires), theocratic states (e.g., the Dalai Lama’s rule over Tibet and the rule of the prince-bishops of Montenegro), colonial empires (justified by colonizing powers as a means of spreading a “true” religion or of bringing progress to “backward” peoples), and communist revolutionary governments that purported to act in the name of a transnational working class (see proletariat; social class: Characteristics of the principal classes).
Although some nation-states have been formed by polity-seeking national movements, others have formed when existing polities were nationalized—i.e., transformed into nation-states—either because theocrats or monarchs ceded authority to parliaments (as in Britain and France) or because empires retreated or broke apart (as did the British and French colonial empires in the mid-20th century and the Soviet empire in eastern Europe beginning in the late 1980s).
As a political ideal, nationalism aspires to a congruence between state borders and the boundaries of the national community, so that the national group is contained in the territory of its state and the state contains only that nation. However, in reality, the borders of states and the boundaries of nations usually only partly overlap: not all residents of the state belong to the core national group (sometimes not even all citizens are part of the nation), and some members of the nation reside in other states. The lack of congruence between state and nation has given rise to several phenomena: wars that break out at approximately the time of nation-state formation; citizenship regimes (see below Citizenship in nation-states) that embrace co-national immigrants—i.e., immigrants belonging to the same nation—but exclude other immigrants; efforts by nation-states to nationalize additional territories and populations; and state policies that manage ethnic, religious, and national diversity within their borders.
Nation-states strictly enforce institutionalized criteria for naturalization, known as citizenship regimes. Citizenship regimes reflect specific understandings of who may be a legitimate member of the nation. Nation-states in which the core nation is conceived as a primordial ethno-cultural community tend to adopt citizen regimes based on a principle of jus sanguinis (“right of blood”), which allocates citizenship based on the individual’s organic ties (through family decent) to the national community and the homeland. In contrast, citizenship allocation based on a principle of jus soli (“right of the soil”) presupposes a civic-republican conception of the core nation, according to which national membership depends on acquiring, through socialization, loyalty to state institutions and acceptance of a shared political culture.
The ideal of a state of and for a nation is reinforced not only through citizenship regimes but also through mechanisms that foster national integration and develop and sustain emotional commitment to the homeland. For example, curricula in schools are designed to teach children an official narrative regarding the nation’s history and legacy, the history of the state, and the shared national culture; official national calendars define specific days as national holidays, which are celebrated with core rituals of commemoration; nationalization of physical space is promoted by naming localities, streets, infrastructure (e.g., roads and bridges), and parts of nature (e.g., rivers and mountains) after national heroes and glorious or tragic events in the history of the nation; national collective memory is also nurtured in memorial sites and monuments (e.g., those commemorating fallen soldiers); the nation is represented in official state symbols (e.g., flags and the uniforms of security forces); and, in many nation-states, the language of the core national group is made the official language of the country.
Global capitalism and neoliberalism – The Neo Con Agenda + International Stock market Capitalisst
The globalization of production, consumption, and finance in the late 20th century and the concurrent growth of rich and powerful multinational corporations has reduced the capacity of states to impose national protectionist policies and limited their ability to restrict the movement of people across their borders. The global spread of neoliberalism (an ideology and policy model advocating free markets and minimal state intervention in economic and social affairs) and the development of international institutions that reinforce this ideology (e.g., the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund) have undermined the capacity of countries to engage in long-term macroeconomic planning and regulation and to maintain collectivist social welfare regimes. Growing inequality among citizens, increased economic uncertainty, and reduced welfare security are additional crucial aspects of the neoliberal turn that have led to greater political unrest. This is genocide masquerading as social engineering and social reform.