The state of globalisation:
towards a theory of state transformation
From Review of International Political Economy, 4, 3, 497-513, 1997
This paper is about the theory of the state in conditions of globalisation. It is based on the idea that globalisation is much more than the market liberalisation of the last quarter of the twentieth century and the associated changes, important though this new phase is. Globalisation, it is assumed here, is not simply or mainly either an economic or a recent historical phenomenon, indeed not a single process at all. It can be defined as a complex set of distinct but related processes - economic, cultural, social and also political and military - through which social relations have developed towards a global scale and with global reach, over a long historical period. Globalisation has been developing for some centuries, in the sense that what Mann calls the multi-power actor civilization of the West, originating in Europe, has come to dominate more or less the entire world. Globalisation in this sense includes the development of regional and transnational as well as explicitly global forms.
Even the current phase of globalisation, which has been understood as dominated by economic processes, has many roots in complex political, military and ideological transformations. The collapse of Communism and the end of the Cold War have not only symbolised and dramatised the socio-economic and cultural changes which are taking place: they require a definitive place in any explanation of the current phase of globalisation. This paper challenges the conventional view that recent trends in globalisation have been led by economic, social and cultural processes, and offers a distinctively politicist and militarist historical explanation.
If we approach globalisation from this point of view, our view of its significance for understanding the state will be transformed. This paper argues that it is wholly erroneous to counterpose globalisation to the state, as many increasingly sterile debates in the social sciences have done. Globalisation does not undermine the state but includes the transformation of state forms. It is both predicated on and produces such transformations. The reason for the false counterposition of the state and globalisation is that the debates rest on inadequate theorisations of the state, and it is these which the paper seeks to address. This paper is therefore in two parts: first, I seek to identify the contemporary state and then, I ask how it can be understood in terms of state theory.
1 What is the state of globalisation?
So much literature assumes that it knows what the contemporary state is: the nation-state, in a system of nation-states. In reality, just as states have not always been nation-states, so their transformations in recent times have produced state forms which go far beyond the nation-state as classically understood. So the key error in globalisation debates, which this paper seeks to correct, has been the identification of the modern state with the nation-state.
In contradiction to a large body of literature which assumes this identity, it can be shown quite easily that even at the highest point of the classic nation-state, in the first half of the twentieth-century, the state was typically far from approaching a pure nation-state form. The dominant form of the state from the eighteenth through to the mid-twentieth century was the European empire - i.e. a world or regional empire centred on various forms of local state in the European heartlands of world capitalism - rather than the nation-state in any simple sense.
From the earliest phases of globalisation - the fifteenth century onwards - the growth of European influence involved the global projection of European military and political as well as economic and cultural power. Typical early imperial states such as Spain and Portugal were not nation-states in any modern sense. It is true that later phases of globalisation, especially in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, accentuated the national character of European imperial states. Let us take, however, the example of the the British empire, the greatest in the later period: this was a highly complex state which utterly belies any simple notion of the nation-state as either a national or a political unity. The imperial British state rested on a integration of nations within the British isles (notably the English and Scots, although the Irish, both Protestant and Catholic, and Welsh, also had important roles) into the British state-nation which was forged after the Union of 1707. But it also included a multiplicity of proto-nations, both settler-colonial and colonised, who partook of British nationality in different degrees. The imperial state was a correspondingly complex structure, in which a great range of local institutions developed with large but very variable autonomy.
Only with the demise of the imperial European state, over the course of the short twentieth century from 1914 to 1989, has the nation-state become a more or less universal political form, spreading first to the rest of Europe, then to what became known as the Third World, and finally to the remains of the Soviet Union. Accounts of this process often fail to grasp, however, that as the national state form has become more universal, it has also been shorn of the key characteristics of autonomous state power.
In perhaps the classic definition of the modern state, Max Weber specified that A compulsory political organization with continuous operations will be called a "state" insofar as its administrative staff successfully upholds the claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order. Following him, Anthony Giddens defines the modern nation-state as a bordered power container. The borders of states are not merely administrative divisions but potentially, at least, lines along which violence might erupt. States are typically autonomous centres of political-military power whose conflicts can erupt in violence.
If we accept this as a characterisation of the state, the dominant imperial nation-state of the nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries - which was also the classic militarist state - achieved a good fit. However most contemporary nation-states (in the period since 1945 in which the number of nation-states has multiplied dramatically) can hardly be considered states in this sense. Very many states are small, weak, with problematic national coherence, and above all minimal capacities to mobilise violence and only limited autonomy in any sense. At the other extreme, many even of the strongest nation-states have lost or given up the capacity to mobilise violence independently of their allies. Borders between these states - within the North Atlantic alliance, the European Union and more broadly and loosely the Western bloc of states - are no longer borders of violence.
The paradox is therefore that now that the nation-state form has been universalised, most nation-states are no longer autonomous states in the classic sense. The most recent phase of globalisation, in the second half of the twentieth century, has certainly involved a decline in the autonomy of the nation-state, as simplistic theories of globalisation imply. But this autonomy has been undermined chiefly by the outcomes of nation-states own projections of military power, rather than by economic, cultural and social globalisation.
The beginning of the end for the nation-state was in reality the Second World War. The victory of the superpowers - a new world power, the United States, and a regional power, the Soviet Union - led to the demise not only of the historic European empires, but of the nation-state itself. Even the greatest imperial nation-states, Britain and France, survived or were restored as shadows of their former conditions, courtesy of the new world power, with real loss of military-political autonomy. Defeated states such as Germany and Japan were reconstructed by the victors. Lesser Western states effectively gave up all military-political autonomy, pooling their sovereignty in the new institutions of the Western bloc. Certainly, some processes of economic globalisation in recent decades have made the economic-management capacity of nation-states more problematic, but the nation-state was already no longer really a nation-state.
It was war, therefore, not globalisation in its most recent economic-liberalisation phase, which overcame the classic nation-state. But if the nation-state has been surpassed, what has been the dominant state-form of the last fifty years? We might define it as the state-bloc, of which both the Western and Soviet blocs could be considered examples. In the Soviet case however, the subordinate nation-states were little more than satellites. The enforced nature of the bloc - at both the interstate and societal levels - meant that its internal cohesion was so weak that it could hardly be considered a stable example of a new state form. The bloc began to fracture as soon as it was established in the late 1940s: violence between Communist states loomed as early as the 1949 split between Stalin and Titos Yugoslavia, and violence within them erupted in eastern Germany within weeks of his death in 1953. By the late 1950s, there was a split between the two greatest Communist powers, the Soviet Union and China, whose borders bristled with military hardware and intermittent tension. Later these tensions erupted into open warfare between China and its client Cambodia, on the one hand, and the Soviet client, Vietnam, on the other. From the 1956 revolutions in Hungary and Poland through the Prague Spring of 1968 to the Polish Solidarity movement of the 1980s, a history of revolt constantly threatened the blocs stability.
The Western bloc, on the other hand, has developed and grown more closely integrated over the last half-century. Despite undoubted economic rivalries and political tensions between national elites, and deep social conflicts, neither has taken the form of serious violence. The coherence and stability of the Western state-bloc have been problematic, internally in the relations of its component states and in their relations with society, and externally in their relations with other centres of state power. But its coherence has been developed and its stability managed, overall with considerable success.
The Western state, as I propose to call it, has developed into a massive, institutionally complex and messy agglomeration of state power centred on North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australasia, but whose writ has extended even during the Cold War to Latin America, parts of the Middle East, parts of Asia and much of Africa, and has had in many senses genuinely global reach. The Western state can be defined as a single state conglomerate because borders of violence have been largely abolished within, and have shifted to the edges of, this bloc. During the Cold War, there was a highly dangerous, militarised border with the Soviet bloc, while outside the blocs there were borders with old-style nation-states, while insurgents opened up new borders of violence within nation-states.
It was tempting for some critics to describe the Western state as an American world-empire, and so it may have appeared in the 1950s and 1960s when American power was at its peak. But American hegemony, in its relative decline, has been replaced not by a hegemonic vacuum but by the hegemony of the West as a whole. As America acts out its political-military leadership of the Western bloc, it becomes increasingly clear that - despite the protests of nationalists in the USA - its state is embedded in a global Western raft of institutions. The relative importance both of other national centres of power, and of multinational and global institutions themselves, has grown over the last half-century, and with them the interdependence and internal legitimacy of the whole conglomerate.
With the end of the Cold War, further shifts in the borders of violence have dramatically altered the role of the Western state along with other state forms. The borders between the West and the newly emergent states of the former Soviet bloc have become highly permeable. On a world scale, the pacified area has been greatly extended, although new borders of violence have developed within former so-called nation-states (many of these such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were actually multinational states; others such as many postcolonial states in Africa had very little genuinely national character). Former administrative structures have become organising centres of violent conflict, while chaotic new borders have been made across villages and towns, separating former neighbours.
In this context, the global role of the Western state has undergone further important transformations. First, with the collapse of the Soviet bloc and state, the Western state is the only global centre, and has been able to utilise legitimate global institutions, notably the United Nations, to underwrite its own global projection of power. Second, the primary military-political role of the Western state has changed from rivalry with a similar if weaker world centre to management of the new fracturing of states and societies, in order to limit the damage to the state-system and also - often under pressure from media and civil society - the damage which new wars and new borders do to society.
There is therefore a new phase in the globalisation of Western state power. Paradoxically this is developing despite the absence of a clear political will by Western leaders to develop their state institutions into clear mechanisms of global leadership and management. Certainly, Western leaders have developed a growing rhetoric of global responsibility, but there is a great reluctance to commit real resources or thought to the development of global institutions or to forms of global social change which might offer greater stability. Global state intervention develops, however, despite any conscious drive towards it by world leaders, as a result of pressures generated by a wide variety of forces.
These are the conditions which have permitted the larger part of global space, fractured by competing world-empires, nation-states and blocs during the earlier phases of globalisation, to become an increasingly integrated political space. The unification of this space has been a gradual process over several decades of institutionalising common forms and standards and developing international institutions. It is not difficult to see, however, that the military-political unification of the greater part of the world - the dominant Western centre of world capitalism together with much of its so-called Third World periphery - has had huge significance for the processes of economic and cultural globalisation. The Western state which developed through the Second World War and the Cold War was the political-military framework within which globalisation (in the sense of recent economic liberalisation) developed.
1945 - considered both as the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War - was therefore the single most important turning point in the history of globalisation. The owl of Minerva flies at dusk, and it is only at the end of the Cold War that we can appreciate the significance of the historical transformations which it involved. The manifest danger of nuclear annihilation and formal parity of armaments masked the latent development of a Western-dominated global order. The importance of 1945 in leading to a profound reorganization of global military-political and hence socio-economic and cultural space, is only fully recognisable today.
After 1989, it is becoming possible to see the Western state as a global form of state power. Recent political-military changes have involved very important processes of globalisation in their own right and have facilitated the extension of the wider range of globalisation processes. Although the Iron Curtain was already highly permeable, its removal ended the political-military bifurcation of global space and opened the East far more fully to incorporation in processes of globalisation of all kinds.
2 Theorising the emergent global state
How do we understand the emerging global state forms centred on the Western state conglomerate? So far, theory has tended to see global context of state power in one of two limiting ways, both of which tacitly assume the old identity of state as nation-state. On the one hand, global forms of state power are subsumed under the international, which itself assumes the national as the fundamental unit of analysis. The study of international organisations and regimes, for example, sees these as extensions of the nation-state.
On the other hand, there are new, generally more radical, discourses which move beyond the international to global politics, but assume that globalisation diminishes the state element of governance. A literature on governance without government, in a post-statist world order, focusses on how regulation takes place through international organisations and civil society as well as through nation-states. While this literature correctly sees that governance now involves more than the nation-state, it mistakenly implies that this should lead us to replace a state perspective with the perspective of governance. To conclude from the relative decline or bypassing of the nation-state that state as such has become less important is to miss the political contexts of globalization discussed in the first half of this paper.
I argued above that we need to understand the globally dominant contemporary form of the state as the Western state conglomerate, which is developing increasing global reach and legitimacy in the post-Cold War world. Provocatively perhaps, I take this further and argue that we should understand this state form as an emergent global state. This state is fragmentary, undoubtedly, and unstable, possibly (although below I question this). It constitutes, however, a more or less coherent raft of state institutions which possesses, to some degree, global reach and legitimacy, and which function as a state in regulating economy, society and politics on a global scale.
A large body of literature now recognises globalisation in economic, social and cultural senses, and with it global society. Why then is it so unthinkable to look at the globalisation of political and military power, and with it the global state? The concept is unfamiliar, certainly, but much of its difficulty is to do with the culture of the social sciences which is saturated with a concept of state as centralized nation-state. In this context, a global state can only be understood in terms of a world government which obviously does not and is not likely to exist. I use the term in a rather different way, and in the remainder of this paper I provide an elaboration and justification.
One reason for our difficulty in recognising global state developments is that they are manifested in complex, rapidly changing and often highly contrasting forms. Different theoretical approaches tend to latch on to different sides of these developments. For Marxists and Third World theorists, for example, the Gulf War represented a manifestation of imperialism, centred on strategic control of oil. In contrast, Western military action to protect Kurdish refugees, following the war, represented for many International Relations analysts a new form of humanitarian intervention.
These and other paradigms compete to offer simple characterizations of global state power, but what is needed is a complex understanding. Manns argument that states involve polymorphous crystallization, and that different crystallizations dominate different institutions, is particularly important here. He gives as an example the American state, crystallizing as conservative-patriarchal one week when restricting abortion rights, as capitalist the next when regulating the savings and loans banking scandal, as a superpower the next when sending troops abroad for other than national economic interests. These varied crystallizations are rarely in harmony or in dialectical opposition to one another; usually they just differ. They mobilize differing, if overlapping and intersecting, power networks.
We need to extend this analysis in understanding the emergent global state. In reality, however, global state power crystallizes as both imperialist and humanitarian, and indeed in other forms, as for example in the Iraqi wars of 1991. Within this kind of global crisis, the American state crystallizes sometimes as a nation-state, at other times as centre of the Western state, at others still as the centre of global state power. Without understanding this diversity, we will lapse into one-sidedness or downright confusion and fail to grasp global political change.
In order to understand the global state which crystallises in these diverse forms, we must first define state. In particular, the continuing significance of military-political power as the primary criterion for the existence of a state needs to be explained. Most discussion of states in the social sciences has implied a slippage from a military-centred definition towards a juridical or economic-management-based definition. It is because of this slippage that many have concluded that the state is weakened by globalisation. I am assuming that the classic military-political definition is still relevant: that military relations still define the relations between distinct states and hence the parameters of global relations of power.
To understand what is a state - and conversely, when a state is not a state - I return to Webers definition quoted above, which centres on the monopoly of legitimate violence in a given territory. Before 1945, state leaders (and others) often acted as if Webers definition was true and they did in fact hold a monopoly of legitimate violence. In a world of nation-states, the demarcation of one state from another was the potential for violence between them. Our discussion has raised the issue of what then happens to states, and to our understanding of state, when this potential has been removed, as it has since 1945 between Western states - and more problematically since 1989 between Western states and Russia.
The most important change is that the control of violence is ceasing to be divided vertically between different nation-states and empires. Instead, it is being divided horizontally between different levels of power, each of which claims some legitimacy and thus fragments the nature of state. On the one hand, there is the internationalization of legitimate force. On the other there are the processes of privatization (or reprivatization) of force, which have been increasingly discussed in the 1990s, in which individuals, social groups and non-state actors are more widely using force and claiming legitimacy for their usage. At the same time, some nation-states, at least, retain some of their classic control of violence.
This situation calls for a revision of Webers definition. Fortunately Mann, in his study of nineteenth century states, has already provided a looser version. For him,
1 The state is a differentiated set of institutions and personnel.
2 embodying centrality, in the sense that political relations radiate to and from a centre, to cover a
3 territorially demarcated area over which it exercises
4 some degree of authoritative, binding rule making, backed up by some organized political force.
As Mann points out, this is an institutional rather than a functional definition and crucially for our purposes it abandons the idea of a monopoly of legitimate force. A state involves, Mann suggests merely some degree of authoritative rule making and some organized political force.
This definition is particularly suited to the complex, overlapping forms of state power which exist in the late twentieth century in conditions of globalisation. Taking Manns criteria in turn, I argue that the emergent global state can be considered a state, and that an additional fifth criterion needs to be added if we are to make sense of the situation of overlapping levels of state power.
1 States, according to Mann, involve differentiated sets of institutions and personnel - differentiated, he means, in relation to society. The important words here is actually sets. Mann makes it clear that states are not necesarily homogenised and closely integrated institutions, but they consist of more or less discrete and often disjointed apparatuses. Under the microscope, states "Balkanize", he argues, quoting Abrams neat formulation that The state is the unified symbol of an actual disunity. Mann avers that Like cock-up-foul-up theorists I believe that states are messier and less systematic and unitary than each single theory suggests. The idea that states are institutional messes rather than the homogenous structures of ideal type is of central importance to my understanding of the global state.
Just as the emergent global society is highly distinctive in including a large number of national societies, the global state is unusual in including a large number of nation-states. Nevertheless, this is not an entirely unprecedented situation. Multinational states do not always take the relatively neat centralised forms of the UK or (in a different sense) the former Soviet Union. Mann himself analyses the highly complex (and from an ideal-typical point of view, idiosyncratic) forms of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The Western-centred global state is however an aggregation of institutions of an unprecedented kind and on an unprecedented scale. If we examine it in action, for example in Bosnia-Herzegovina, we see an amazing plethora of global, Western and national state institutions, political, military and welfare - complemented by an equally dazzling and complex array of civil society organizations. As this example underlines, the global state is truly the biggest institutional mess of all.
2 The second question is in what sense the global state meets Manns criterion of embodying centrality, in the sense that political relations radiate to and from a centre. To put the issue another way, when is an institutional mess so messy that it cannot be seen as a single set of institutions at all? In what sense do the UN, NATO and various other international organisations, together with the USA and the various Western nation-states constitute a single set of institutions?
Clearly there is no straightforward constitutional order in the global state, but there is an order and it does have elements of a constitution. The centre - Washington rather than New York - seems clear, and the fact that political relations radiate to and from it has now been confirmed in all serious global crises of the post-1989 period, from Kuwait to Dayton. The continuing centrality of the US to war-management worldwide and to all the major attempts at peace settlements from the Middle East and Yugoslavia to South Africa and even Northern Ireland, underlines this point.
There are two apparent anomalies in this situation which lead probably to much of the theoretical confusion. First, the centre of the Western and emergent global state is constituted primarily by the centre of a nation-state, the USA. Second, political relations radiate to and from this centre through diverse sets of institutions. There is the UN itself, which confers global legitimacy on the US state (and in which that state does have a constitutional role as a permanent member of the Security Council, and a de facto role which goes beyond that). There is NATO, which is increasingly confirmed as the effective organization of Western military power on a global as well as a regional scale. There are the numerous Western-led world economic organizations, from the exclusive G7 to the wider OECD and the increasingly global WTO. And last but not least, there are the bilateral relations of the American state with virtually all other nation-states.
All these networks overlap, however, and the critical point is that the role of the US administration in each of them is determined not only by its national interests but by the exigencies of global leadership. Of course, other nation-states, especially the UK and France but in different ways Germany and Japan and also Russia and China, as well as regional organizations, notably the EU, also have very important roles in the developing global state. The internal structure of the global state is uncertain and evolving. The roles of the various states and power networks are all contested, problematic and changing, and in the Russian and Chinese cases especially unstable. Nevertheless their development is governed not just by the interplay of national interests but by the demands of world political and economic management.
3 Manns third criterion, that a state possesses a territorially demarcated area over which it exercises some degree of authoritative, binding rule making, backed up by some organized political force, is obviously also problematic, but does not in my view negate the concept of a global state. The territorially demarcated area of the interlocking global power networks is, in principle, the world. The fact that other state organizations claim lesser territorial jurisdications, regional in the case of the EU, national in the case of nation-states, sub-national in the case of local state authorities, does not contradict this. The idea of overlapping territorial jurisdictions is not new but it has a particular contemporary salience. There is a systematic sharing of sovereignty which is relativizing the previously unique sovereignty of the nation-state.
4 This leaves us with Manns fourth point, the existence of some degree of authoritative, binding rule making, backed up by some organized political force. Authoritative global rule-making actually takes several different forms. There are the institutional arrangements which bind states together in the various inter-state organizations, so that they regulate the internal structure of the global state and the roles of nation-states within it. There is the body of international law which binds individuals and institutions in civil society as well as state institutions. There are the wide range of international conventions and agreements which regulate global economy and society. Rule making is undoubtedly patchy and in some areas incoherent, but it is proceeding apace. Manns some degree seems particularly apposite.
Rule making in the global state clearly has the backing of some organized political force: the armed forces of the USA, UK, France, in some circumstances Russia, and many other states, have been deployed in the names of NATO and the UN. Increasingly, too, international law is acquiring a machinery of courts, tribunals and police, even if it remains heavily dependent on nation-states, has selective application and limited real enforcement capacity.
The global state appears to meet Manns definition of a state. However, although this definition clearly permits a conceptualization of overlapping levels of state power, it says nothing specifically about the situation of overlapping and the ways in which different states in this sense will articulate. We need therefore to add a new criterion: that a state (particular) must be
5 to a significant degree inclusive and constitutive of other forms or levels of state power (i.e. of state power in general in a particular time and space).
This criterion is essential. Clearly nation-states, in the present period, are still generally inclusive and constitutive of sub-national forms, although perhaps less so than in the recent past (in the European Union, for example, regions are starting to be constituted by EU as well as national state power). To a considerable extent, too, nation-states also constitute regional and global forms of state, as well as (by definition) the international. In contrast, local and regional state forms within nation-states are generally only weakly inclusive or constitutive.
The inclusiveness and constitutiveness of the various transnational forms of state is not easy to determine. Clearly the global state institutions of the UN system have been, in principle, inclusive of the entire range of nation-states, even if in practice important states have been excluded or have excluded themselves from all or parts of the system. To date, however, the UN system has been only weakly constitutive of its component nation-states. The Western state, on the other hand, became highly constitutive of its component nation-states during the Cold War, and largely remains so. The European state (European Union) has gradually strengthened both its inclusiveness and its constitutiveness of member nation-states - although this is very much a matter of contention - but its articulation with the transatlantic Western state is problematic.
Once we examine this criterion, the global state is evidently a problematic level of state power. It many ways its Western core remains stronger than the global form itself. It is evident however that the Western state is operating globally, in response to global imperatives and the need for global legitimation. The Western state has begun to be constituted within broader global rather than narrowly Western perameters. The global level rather than the narrowly Western is becoming constitutive, too, of the component nation-states. Still, it seems best to define the global state, even more than global society or culture, as an emergent, still contingent and problematic reality.
The fact that the Western state acts a global state is due to the manifold pressures and contradictions of global governance. These include not merely threats to Western interests (as with Kuwaiti oil or the danger of a wider Balkan war), but also the imperatives of globally legitimate principles, the claims of insurgent and victimised groups (such as Kurds and the Bosnians), the contradictions of global media coverage and the demands of an emergent global civil society. The fact that the West has largely continued to cohere, despite the end of the Cold War, and has assumed global roles despite the manifest reluctance of the main Western states to pursue a global leadership role, testifies to the structural significance of these trends in global society.
At rare moments, such as the Gulf mobilization, the Somalian and Haitian interventions and the Dayton settlement, Western governments appear to have chosen leadership. The scarcity of these moments, compared to the occasions on which they have seemed to want to turn their backs, suggests however that in the end they have had leadership thrust upon them. In the end it is the logic of the new global political-military situation, including the articulation of domestic politics with global issues, which has compelled the West and especially the USA to act as the centre of an emergent global state.
These pressures function to hold together, more or less, a Western-centred global state, just as the pressures of world war and Cold War formed the context of earlier stages in the development of a coherent Western state. The fact that these pressures are more diffuse does not necessarily mean that they are ineffectual, although it does raise a question-mark over the process. While global crises push the process of global state formation forward and make it visible, they also bare its weak coherence and contradictions, including the internal conflicts of the Western core. Although the Western state proved itself relatively stable during the Cold War, it may be that the challenges involved in its new global role may ultimately threaten that stability. It is therefore theoretically possible that the global state could simply fragment, and the world would revert in the medium term at least to an anarchy of national and regional state institutions fundamentally at odds with the globalization of economy, society and culture. Such a development is however unlikely, but to acknowledge its possibility underlines the uncertainty and incoherence of the current forms of global state. It may also imply the need for constructive thinking about their development.
So far on balance the trends discussed above have worked to maintain the general cohesion of the Western-global state. Despite important temporary disagreements, it appears that the common interests of the component national and regional forms of state within the West favour its long-term stability. The major contradictions of the Western-centred global state are its relatively weak effectiveness in controlling violence and its relatively poor
legitimacy with state elites and societies in the non-Western world. The nexus of the Western state with the UN as a legitimating institution is manifestly fragile. In the long term, it will only survive if it manages to achieve greater effectiveness and legitimacy, which will require substantial social change as well as institution-building.
There are, moreover, important issues in the articulation of the global state with the regional and national states which it partly includes and constitutes. These relationships are plural and variable. A full analysis of the contemporary state needs to examine these forms alongside the globalised Western state power.
To explicate the nature of contemporary nation-states and their relations with global state power, it is necessary to grasp the huge variation which exists in the states are described by this term. Robert Cooper has proposed a three-fold categorisation of contemporary nation-states as postmodern, modern and pre-modern. While the terminology carries questionable theoretical overtones, it catches a division of states which is useful for this analysis.
First, within the West, nation-states are no longer classic nation-states. They are postmodern in the sense that they are very fully articulated with transnational Western and global power networks. Of course, states vary enormously in the extent to which they mimick the characteristics of traditional nation-states. The USA and post-imperial Britain and France each retain a clear capacity for significant independent military action in some circumstances - although even in the American case, dependence on the wider framework of Western and global power networks has increased. At the other extreme, the Canadian, Benelux and Scandinavian states have largely surrendered their capacity for independent initiative to NATO and the UN. Western states are also variably embedded in more or less dominant positions in the wide range of global economic institutions. These institutions powerfully reinforce the political-military integration of Western states.
Within the West, it is important to note the special significance of the European state. This is a unique state form as well as a key component of the Western state in general. It too meets all but one of Manns criteria, in some cases better than the Western-global state as a whole. The key qualification is that the forms of force available to the EU are very limited and its capacity for mobilizing military power, or even political power to deal with military issues, is still very weak. The European situation is the extreme case of the general feature of modern state organization which we have discussed. For the foreseeable future, there are likely to exist in Europe several distinctive levels of state organization, at the national, European, Western (transatlantic) and global levels (not to mention sub-national regional state forms).
Beyond the Western state lies a never-never land of minor states, like the central and eastern Europeans, smaller east Asian and many Latin American and African states, which also have weak autonomous power. Although some states - especially those which have only recently claimed independence - pride themselves on their nation-state status, these are also not really nation-states in the classic sense. They shelter under Western power: although they are currently more weakly integrated into it than Western states, they have no serious strategic options apart from closer relationships with the Western-centred global state. In the European context, this reality is reflected in the aspirations of the smaller central and eastern states to join the EU, NATO , etc.
The relations of Western and these allied nation-states to regional, Western and global state forms are increasingly institutionalized. Mann dubs the period after 1945 the age of institutionalized nation-states, partly because states were based on institutionalized compromises between classes, but also - more relevant to our purposes - because relations between states were highly institutionalized. The role of each nation-state corresponds to a complex set of understandings and systems of regulation within the West as a whole.
The second major group of states consists of major independent centres of state power, which correspond best to the classic model of the modern nation-state. Beyond the West and its periphery lie the great non-Western states including India and Brazil as well as Russia and China - and lesser powers such as Iraq, Iran and Serbia. These states mostly acknowledge the reality of Western global dominance by partial incorporation into Western-led global institutions and by avoiding potential military confrontations with the West. On the other hand, many of them mobilize substantial military power which they may well use in confrontations with each other and with minor states or insurgent movements, and which may then bring them into conflict with the Western-UN centre. The most critical long-term issues for the Western and emergent global state are their relations with the states in this group. The latters fuller incorporation into global state institutions would largely neutralise any danger of serious inter-state war.
The third category consists of territories where the state does not even reach the level of a stable nation-state, let alone full participation in global institutions. Here the conditions for stable state forms of any kind are weak. Instead state power is fragmentary, often based crudely on violence with threadbare legitimacy. In some cases state power has degenerated into warlordism and gangsterism. This has been an increasingly common pattern in parts of Africa and the former Soviet Union (not to mention Yugoslavia). Cooper labels this case pre-modern although this highlights the problem of his terminology. Although ancient ethnic or tribal hatreds may be mobilised, the technologies of communication and armament used in mobilising are often state-of-the-art, and diaspora-based global power networks are exploited. During the 1990s, managing the violent disintegration of states in this group has been a major challenge generating pressures for continuing global state development.
This account of the articulation of different categories of nation-state with global state developments shows the continuing interdependence and mutual constitutiveness of these two major forms. This is the problem which the state theory of the twenty-first century will need to address, and which globalisation theory will need to understand if is to escape from the sterile counterposition of state and globalisation.