Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Unraveling of the Fist: Five Fingers of Sovereignty

Sovereignty is efficient. No government can sustain a global let alone continental society because the territories are too large to govern. Look at Roman Empire for example. It was such a large and diverse civilization, but the problem is that it was too diverse. There were cultural differences that were rooted in the geography and the history of each region.  But there is a difference between empires and nation states. The book The Nation State and Global Order   by Opello and Rosow makes the statement that: “civilizations do not exercise politico- military power, nation states do... nation states ... will and always be the basic building blocks of the global order”. I agree with this statement because the nation- state model evokes a sense of purpose for its citizens. But it is different from civilizations because they(the civilizations) are spread over large amounts of land and the larger authority is often compromised by local capacity. 

The emotion that sovereignty evokes is two-fold: a sense of unity and pride for the nation- state as well as freedom. Unity because the state is its own entity and a culture, however small, is rooted within the parameters of the nation-state. This could include nationalism.  Also the nation state has symbols that speak volumes in my opinion because they are often reflections and reminders of past events in the nation-state such as the Ashoka chakra on the Indian flag or the Star of David on the Israeli flag. Freedom as well because outside your country, other countries’ laws do not affect you unless you are acting unlawful according to their laws in their territory. You are bound to one thing and that is your nation state’s laws. But to me, this gets eerie. To me, laws are influenced by ethics. However, often with nation states laws conflict with one another. Look at Sharia Law for example. In Saudi Arabia a woman who is convicted of adultery(sexual intercourse out of the realms of marriage) is stoned even if they have not because it is a man’s word against her’s. In comparison, in this country, adultery is a personal issue and the law is not involved. Sovereignty guards the differences of these laws. And I am not really sure how this makes me feel. I think that yes we need sovereign nation states, but I believe that the laws in some countries should be up for questioning. I do not like this idea of “that is your land” and “this is my land”. Often in conjunction to the relationship between nation states there is competition. Due to the expanding global economy, we are in this limbo. A spencerian global economy if you will. The strongest nation states whether it is economically or politico-military, wins. But I propose a new order of a global relationship. Nation states are, after all, built by humanity. And society is, after all, built by humanity. I think although we are a nation state there is fluidity beyond the model of a nation-state. We should not be go

verned by the nation state but we should be the governance of the nation state. It may be optimistic of me, but the fist of sovereignty should open up and reach out to others. We as humanity have the capacity to reach out through the nation state system and help those in a nation state, but not as a nation state. We shoul help other people as people. Although we govern through the nation state, we should let go that model when it comes to reaching to others. 


1 comment:

  1. I am glad you brought up the ethics of the non-intevention principle that guides the definition of the nation-state. The moral ambiguity of this is the main re-occuring issue with the nation-state structure. Sharia law is a perfect example. As you said, technically this is domestic law in Islamic countries and we do not have a legal right to directly intervene. On the other hand, is this a human rights issue? The protection of human rights is supposed to be the responsibility of the international community, thus the United Nations and other entities. Perhaps if the UN was organized in a more effective way, we could find a sovereignty compromise that respected national law but protected essential human rights.