chapter  8
11 Pages


At a number of points in this book, and more especially in the preceding chapter on the transformation of the international order, our attention has been drawn to the changing character of the modern state. In Chapter 2, I described the emergence of the modern state as an historical and in some sense contingent development. We saw both that there were states before modernity and that even these more primitive forms of the state were of comparatively recent origin. There was no reason in principle to believe that humankind, having once managed its collective affairs without the necessity of a state apparatus, might not in the future find ways of living that were ‘beyond the modern state’. Such an expectation is not entirely new. Marx and some of the more pacific-minded schools of nineteenth-century liberalism shared, albeit in their rather differing ways, a belief in the eventual ‘withering away of the state’. Anarchists have always longed for just such an outcome and, from time to time, voices in the political mainstream (Ernest Renan in the 1880s, John Herz in the 1950s) have supposed that changing international circumstances might be moving us towards the redundancy of the nation-state. In some recent accounts, ‘globalization’ is seen already to have carried us to the very threshold of such an epochal change. Thus, Tony McGrew (1992a:87), for all his cautious qualifications, accepts that ‘there is a powerful argument which indicates that globalization is dissolving the essential structures of modern statehood’.