chapter
34 Pages

If the Nation-State were to Wither Away in Europe, What Might Replace It?

Introduction The demise of the nation-state has been predicted many times and on many grounds - and yet the announcement of its death has (so far) been premature. Despite its manifest policy incompetence, its multiple institutional entanglements, its burgeoning economic interdependence, its increasingly challenged status, its diminished capacity for unitary action, its ineffectual claims to sovereignty and even its demonstrable irrelevance in solving many of the problems that preoccupy its citizen/subjects, the state malingers on. It still spends much more money, inflicts vastly greater damage, rewards a larger number of persons and attracts considerably more atten­ tion and loyalty than any other type of political unit. 1

Nevertheless, it is in deep trouble and nowhere more so than in its pays d 'origine, namely, Western Europe . When speculation ari­ ses about the withering away of the state, it almost never starts in Asia where its prominence seems to have been reinforced rather than undermined by the accelerated pace of technological change and the successful integration of Japan and the Four Tigers into an increasingly interdependent global economy.2 In Latin America,

the issue o f "downsizing" the domestic role o f the state and even of escaping from excessively "state matrixed" social relations was certainly arisen, but no one has carried this speculation so far as to suggest that it might be replaced by some other type of political organization.3 Some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Zaire, Soma­ lia, Angola, Ethiopia. Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda are haunted by the specter of "the Stateless State", i . e . not a gradual and con­ sensual withering away of the institution that previously held "a legitimate monopoly of organized violence within a given terri­ tory," but a dramatic and complete collapse of all legitimate forms of authority and their replacement by a Hobbesian "war of all against all".4