The evolution of the interstate system and alternative political systems
This chapter examines two prominent stateless political communities the Chinese and Islamic empires that dominated different historical epochs. An Islamic empire, the Caliphate, built a highly sophisticated civilization. The single Caliphate began dividing into rival dynasties by the end of the eighth century. As Islam originally evolved, government was subordinated to religion, and there were no inherent limits to the Islamic community. The chapter examines how states emerged in Europe and formed an interstate system that came to dominate world affairs. The state emerged from Europe's Middle Ages as local princes sought independence from the two great institutions that claimed universal rule and saw themselves as heirs to the original Roman Empire, the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire. Because of the importance of territory and sovereignty in defining the state, political scientists refer to the modern state as the sovereign or territorial state. Italy's city-states ultimately succumbed to territorial states as the dominant form of political organization.