order to allow for civil war). Classical war is international war, a war between different states, like the two
World Wars. But just as frequent is war within a state between rival groups or communities, like the
American Civil War. Certain political pressure groups, like terrorist organizations, might also be considered
“political communities,” in that they are associations of people with a political purpose and, indeed, many of
them aspire to statehood or to influence the development of statehood in certain lands.
What's statehood? Most people follow Max Weber's distinction between nation and state. A nation is a group
which thinks of itself as “a people,” usually because they share many things in common, such as ethnicity,
language, culture, historical experience, a set of ideals and values, habitat, cuisine, fashion and so on. The
state, by contrast, refers much more narrowly to the machinery of government which organizes life in a given
territory. Thus, we can distinguish between the American state and the American people, or between the
government of France and the French nation. At the same time, you've probably heard the term “nation-
state.” Indeed, people often use “nation” and “state” interchangeably but we'll need to keep them
conceptually distinct for our purposes. “Nation-state” refers to the relatively recent phenomenon wherein a
nation wants its own state, and moves to form one. This started out as a very European trend—an Italian state
for the Italian nation, a German state for the German people, etc., but it has spread throughout the world.
Note that in some countries, such as America, Australia and Canada, the state actually presides over many
nations, and you hear of “multi-national societies.” Most societies with heavy immigration are multi-national.
Multi-national countries are sometimes prone to civil wars between the different groups. This has been