Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Nation-State Based Political System: Beneficial Reality or Desperate Attempt?

The division of our world into sovereign nation-states allows for not only a more peaceful coexistence, but also for a better understanding and recognition of differing political views and ideologies. A nation-state is typically defined as a form of politico-military rule over a relatively homogeneous population residing within a sovereign state with defined territorial borders. In essence this means that in a world political system divided into nation-states, each state must obey another state's right to sovereign control of over their individual territory. Therefore, each state must not only recognize the fact that there exist many differing and in some cases competing ideologies, but that a government's authority to promote or rule by a certain political or cultural ideology ends at their borders. This system of nation-states prevents excessive conflict through its inherent establishment of sovereign territories, which each state within the system generally recognizes, and promotes an ideologically heterogeneous world by providing a safe haven for a relatively homogeneous people to exercise a preferred political or cultural practice, which may be deemed less desirable or even harmful by another state. Therefore, the current organization of our world into sovereign territorial nation-states is beneficial because it diminishes the outbreak of bloody ideological wars and supports cultural diversity.

However, there are a number of states in our current international system that cannot be categorized as nation-states, many of which are located on the African continent. During the period of European colonization of Africa in the 1870s, numerous artificial and arbitrary borders were drawn through the continent. The majority of these borders did not take into account the homogeneity of the populations that were being created, or lack there of, meaning that the borders drawn by European colonizers separated certain tribes and grouped competing tribes together into one state. This intense heterogeneity of many African states has brought about an influx of conflict and many of today's bloody African civil wars and genocides in Rwanda, Sudan/Darfur, Angolia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea/Ethiopia, and many other states can be traced back to this lack of homogeneity. Therefore, in order for our current international system to develop into a true nation-state based system, we must be open to shifting borders and the emergence of new nation-states.

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