The Rise and Decline of the State

This book explains how traditional nation-states that have their roots in the Treaty of Westphalia and came into full fruition in the 19th era of classical liberal are largely being absorbed into a transnational framework in which other institutions assume a hegemonic position. The “populist-nationalist” movements that have developed in response to globalization demonstrate many weaknesses but the main weakness is their orientation toward traditional nation-state nationalism (“civic nationalism” as its commonly called). Civic nationalism is merely the social democracy of the Right. Nearly all opponents fo the global technocratic managerial capitalist empire regrettably tend to rely on outmoded forms of 19th and 20th-century forms of social organization (nation-states, welfare states, labor unions, classical bourgeois capitalism, organized religion, “constitutionalism”) as some kind of antidote to the empire. Nope.

The Rise and Decline of the State: Creveld, Martin Van ...

The thesis is that the nation-state as we’ve known it is a modern invention and a thorough failure, ever more costly and intrusive and unworkable. It is in the process of being supplanted by other institutions less formal and hence more functional to serve the member’s goals.

On the plus side, we see the emergence of a decentralized but global market order and the emergence of micro-political communities. On the negative side, there is the development of guerilla armies that act secretively and elude defeat in conventional military terms. The nation-state, once the leviathan bestriding the global and ruling all before it, is being reduced in its size because it is being outsmarted and outrun. No longer can it command loyalty and no longer does it have a credible claim to be superior to its alternatives.

In the course of his argument, the author sketches a complete history of the birth of the nation-state, from the late medieval age to the modern era, and, as such, this treatise is an amazing accomplishment. It is interpretative history in the best sense.

The author is not an Austrian or even a libertarian as such but rather one of the most distinguished living military historians. But he is alive to the issues that matter: the birth of the bureaucratic state, its rising place in the management of society, its catastrophic results in the 20th century, and its systematic decline in the 21st century.


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