I was saying at the end of the last lecture that it is difficult to foresee how
political forms will evolve in the era of globalization: just as someone in the year 1600, partway
through the transition from the breakdown of the medieval order in 1518 to the creation of the
Westphalian order in 1648, would have found it difficult to imagine what the Westphalian order
would be like, so too do we, partway through the transition from the breakdown of the European
state system in 1914 to whatever the next thing will be, have difficulty in imagining that next
thing. This lecture is concerned with two aspects of that transition. First, I discuss the new forms
of political organization, including the growth of transnational political entities such as Amnesty
International and other politically minded international NGOs, the disintegration of larger states
and the return of smaller, ethnically based political entities, and the role of suprastate entities like
the European Union from the point of view of whether they can replace the state. The second
main topic asks whether democracy is the form of government best suited to the free market
economy, and so will inevitably become ever more prevalent with the spread of the free market in
the globalizing world economy.
The return of multiple political authorities.
I want to begin with the idea that the pre-
Westphalian order of multiple levels of authority may be coming back, as the Mathews article
suggests. Instead of all authority being concentrated in the nation-state, Mathews suggests a
world of multiple levels of authority, with the nation-state joined on the political stage by other
kinds of governmental and non-governmental actors, including the regional entity, such as the EU
or NAFTA, sub-national entities such as Wales or Scotland in Britain or Catalonia or the Basque
country in Spain, multinational economic cooperation entities like the WTO and the World Bank,
non-governmental organizations or NGOs like Amnesty International and the International Rivers
Network, and the UN.
One leg of this argument is that there are increasing areas of life that are outside the
control of governments, the most important of which is communication, including personal global
telephone communications, the growth of the Internet, satellite TV reception and so forth.
During the Westphalian era, the government was the chief intermediary between the citizens of
any one country and the rest of the world. This role of the state became stronger in the course of