The Purpose of Today’s Nation State
By admin October 19, 2016

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There is a wealth of information on the history of nation states as well as a body of political theories, dating back centuries, that outline what the state is, what its purpose is and how that has transcended to encompass more responsibilities today that has rendered modern states, mere depictions of their more ancient counterparts. From a Hobbesian perspective, people transferred the unfettered freedom to pursue their pleasures to their own ends to the state in exchange for security. The sovereign, or the state irrespective of its political system, is to provide security for its people, yet in a Hobbesian world, there is no guarantee it will nor is the sovereign obliged to, though lest it face consequences from its polis.

While Hobbes’ vision of the state, or the sovereign, is most commonly known as being critical in order to avoid a life that is “poor, brutish, short and nasty,” people worldwide are still struggling with the constraints and the inadequacies of states’ policies today. Whether one is looking at a developed state or a developing state, our political systems today offer its people much more than security, and certainly much more is demanded by its people as well. Streams of political thought from fascism to communism to socialism have given way to liberalism or democracy as being the predominant political system that categorizes the majority of states today. Yet, in the wake of so many states having a sovereign, and also being a democracy, life can still be described for many as “poor, brutish, short and nasty.” Don’t we expect our states to confer and protect our universally recognized rights? Furthermore, within this system, that is the citizen-state relationship, is it not required that one be recognized by the state first, to even be conferred rights?

Human rights and security are intertwined in international and domestic laws that it might seem that without human rights we cannot experience security and without security we cannot have human rights. The most pressing question is for those who exist on this Earth without being recognized by the state they were born in as existing. The stateless, those without a nationality, number in the millions worldwide. For women especially, 27 countries today deny women equal rights to confer nationality onto their children. Another 50 countries deny the right for a woman to pass nationality on to her husband. Therefore, for a considerable amount of states, children run the risk of being born stateless. On a practical level, without a nationality children often cannot be registered in school, cannot receive healthcare and social services, cannot participate in politics and otherwise run the risk of marrying at a young age and being part of a culture and a practice of being used for trafficking.

Ultimately, the state, despite its failures and needs for adaptation, is necessary in lieu of another form or body of ensuring rights are conferred upon people.

For more information:

Rethinking the Nation-State: The Many Meanings of Sovereignty

The End of the Nation-State?

Africa, Instability, and the Nation State: South Sudan and Countless Continental Tensions

Pat Kane: Any successful nation state must embrace fairness as well as diversity

In defence of small nation states

Thanks for sharing !

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