chapter  9
48 Pages

Contriving Agents

ByPeter Lomas

State, nation, agent: these three concepts combine to give the universal states system its characteristic rationale. Its formal populations are held to act like cohesive communities—like nation-states—within inherited borders and the resources they enclose. Governments are real agents, a group of people with volition and autonomy and constituted precisely for the purpose of acting together. To that extent real group actions are involved, on the part of officials who are true proxies for society at large. Since the beginning of organized society, the primary interest of collectivities has been the physical security of their members, which leaders have on occasion been punished for failing to guarantee. The growth of civilized society, accountability, and democracy within created states may require a helping hand to be given to causes which cross the system's boundaries. Even a laudable conception of state agency has the potential to throw the traditional ordering principles of international relations into disarray.