Final Examination Review Notes
Nations and Globalism
To what extent is the state still a locus of power, and to what extent has its role
diminished in the contemporary era?
I think we can dismiss the idea of state devolution, in other words that states will dissolve into
ministates or that civil society—voluntary organizations like Amnesty—will compete with or replace
Nonetheless, the political scene is more complex than it was 100 years ago, when there were
no levels of political activity aside from the state.
Now, the state has been joined by the regional
associations, which, at least in Asia, are getting more prolific all the time, and by multilateral
organizations like the WTO.
Note, however, that both the regional organizations and the political
organizations are economic entities, designed to
open wider and wider fields to economic activity.
The multilateral political organizations, like the United Nations, have succeeded much less well, and
the regional organization that developed to the point of political union, the EU, stopped on the
International economic cooperation, the opening of larger markets and increased prosperity, is
much easier to accomplish than actual sharing of political power.
In other words, despite the bold
claims of the new medievalism, of the evolution of the single level of political power typical of the
Westphalian era to the multiple levels of power more typical of pre-Westphalia, the state will be with
us for the foreseeable future.
To what extent does the basic structure of the UN resemble that of the League of
What does this resemblance tell us about the possibility of creating an effective
The League was organized in two chambers, an Executive Council that was supposed to consist
of the five victorious allied powers, the US, Britain, France, Italy and Japan, and a Body of Delegates consisting
of all the member states; in this its structure closely approximated that of the present-day United Nations, with its
Security Council and General Assembly. The League was supposed to have the power to mobilize the armies of
its member states to punish aggression if the Executive Council unanimously agreed to do so.
I want you to realize just how much the problems of the United Nations today were
foreshadowed by the League of Nations. The League of Nations, having proved its irrelevance, went out of
business during World War II, but the impulse to create a rule of law in international affairs, to develop some
means of preventing aggressor nations from going to war, was if anything stronger after World War II than after
World War I. More than that: the vileness of World War II, the mass murders, the concentration camps, the
enslavement of whole populations created demand for both the recognition of basic human rights that no state