The Myths of State Sovereignty

The Myths of State Sovereignty - Yale H. Ferguson & Richard W. Mansbach


This paper recounts several of the myths associated with sovereignty, describing the function of these myths and the ways in which global politics has come to reflect a fundamentally changed reality. States are simultaneously confronted by integrating and fragmenting processes that produce new authority patterns. This changed reality has decoupled territorial and psychological space and fostered a global competition for identities and loyalties among different polity types.


More than three decades ago, the authors observed that the myths surrounding the sovereign state were impeding our understanding of the world around us. We argued that there existed “a major gap in the literature on world politics” that should be clear to any reader of a daily newspaper, with its stories of Vietnamese guerrillas and Arab fedayeen, OPEC, the Bretton Woods institutions, transnational oil companies and the like. That gap was “the growing importance of nonstate groups and organizations that are not recognized as sovereign governments.” It simply was no longer possible, we concluded, to ignore groups “ranging from terrorist bands to great corporate empires”[1] that made a mockery of much of what was being written about international relations (IR). The tidy world of IR theory, a world of territorial states—“centralized, territorialized, permanent, and coercive,” in Michael Mann’s words[2] —each enjoying exclusive control of a defined territory, yoked together in a global system with a virtually impermeable wall separating domestic hierarchy from interstate anarchy, and featuring unrelieved conflict and competition, was a world apart from the messy reality of innumerable political entities, most of which were non-sovereign, but enjoyed authority over large groups of people.[3] The putative exclusivity of these “cages” had the practical advantage of facilitating comparison without the complication of overlapping political space common in Europe’s Middle Ages. The “international” vocabulary of the discipline and accompanying conceptual baggage made it difficult to construct an alternative map of political reality.

In what follows, we elaborate the enduring and powerful myths that surround state sovereignty and the legitimacy these provide to the distant heirs of Europe’s territorial leviathans. Such myths, which provide a foundation for the realist and neo-realist visions of IR, prevent theorists from focusing on the dynamics of change. To overcome this static bias, we identify two related processes of change—fission and fusion—that have historically altered the ways in which people associate with one another in political communities and the ways in which authority is distributed and exercised. Thus, today’s political universe features a vast variety of authoritative political actors that we call “polities” that interact in an increasingly complex political world and stubbornly defy the demand for theoretical parsimony. To illustrate this, we focus on one recent consequence of accelerated change, the diminishing importance of territory and redefinition of political space. In a word, psychological and territorial definitions of political space, largely compatible in the Eurocentric world established after 1648, have grown apart.

The result of such change and the central thrust of the paper is that although states and state sovereignty will endure, they will do so in truncated form. Far from being unipolar, global politics today features widely dispersed authority, built on multiple identities and loyalties, not so much among territorial states as among states; transnational corporations; ethnic, tribal, and religious communities; and a rich host of other imagined communities. Existing political maps of the world, then, reflect obsolete theory, seriously distort the realities of contemporary global politics and promise bad policies by practitioners. Thus, the American decision to invade Iraq suffered from a serious misunderstanding of the implication of non-state identities in that tragic country.

The Mythology of State Sovereignty

Today, there is growing recognition that, although states persist, a world map divided into exclusive sovereign boxes is only slightly more useful than the maps of America available to Columbus. “We are seeing,” declares Saskia Sassen, “the relocation of various components of sovereignty onto supranational, nongovernmental, or private institutions.”[4] The states that remain are far removed from their precursors both in form and function; they are “less sovereign,” less autonomous, and less able to awe, protect or inspire citizens. Nevertheless, the myths surrounding sovereignty are powerful.

The fact that the arguments that we put forward decades ago—that territorial states were the products of a particular time and place rather than universal phenomena, that states never dominated global politics to the extent that theorists contended and that states enjoy progressively less authority than in earlier epochs—still remain controversial attests to the power of myths and to the vested interests of both rulers of states and state-centric scholars. Myths accord legitimacy, and mythmaking, above all, provokes struggles over how history is written—what ethnographer Jonathan Boyarin calls “the question of who controls the archives”[5] —and over which memories of the past will dominate views of the world. Competing myths evoke different memories and therefore trigger competition for control of political meaning.

Determining meaning affords political authority and translates into the power to legitimize and de-legitimize. History itself has limited objective content apart from the meaning given it by those who record and analyze it. Mythmaking in politics and history utilizes ancient symbols or the invention of new symbols to deepen and monopolize identities and loyalties. As Boyarin observes, “identity and memory are virtually the same concept.”[6] Rulers recognize the legitimating power of foundation myths that imply that they are part of a continuous historical stream, not least if mythical origins include some type of divine sanction. For instance, the Emperor Augustus commissioned the poet Virgil to write an epic that would show Roman descent from the Trojans and contest Rome’s debt to the Greeks.

Owing to the central importance of collective memory in constituting and anchoring myths, states routinely sponsor ritualistic acts of remembering. Such rituals reinforce and refresh collective myth and memory. Acts of remembering, such as national pageants, recollections of ancient wrongs, tribal ceremonies, ethnic parades or rituals, religious convocations and even monuments are central to contests over history’s meaning. Historical memories and myths sustain and reinvigorate old identities and loyalties. Religion, literature, dialect, poetry, painting, music and ritual are only a few of the ways in which such identities are nourished. Whether memorializing an idealized Battle of the Boyne by Irish Protestants or the Battle of Kosovo by Serb nationalists, almost any historical event, even a fictionalized one, can be resurrected to mount a challenge to or to establish a claim to authority. What originates as a constructed idea may over time be seen as a universal fact that cannot be challenged. Such is the case with state sovereignty.

In IR, the Eurocentric myth of the omnipotence of the sovereign state was perpetuated by the continuing domination of the discipline by realism and neo-realism. Instead of paying attention to shortcomings within IR theory, the so-called traditionalists and scientists in the discipline were still mano a mano, blissfully unaware that, methodology notwithstanding, all remained realists at heart, sharing the assumption that “nation-states…are the most important actors for understanding international relations.”[7] Historians, too, tended to organize scholarship around the Westphalian state,[8] especially in the nineteenth-century heyday of nationalism, when they were busily constructing the historical narratives and myths of their homelands. IR theorists continued to insist that nothing important had changed since Thucydides. Their ossified assumptions grew out of an ossified conviction that, in Robert Gilpin’s words, “the fundamental nature of international relations has not changed over the millennia” and that IR remains “a recurring struggle for wealth and power among independent actors in a state of anarchy.”[9] Far from losing their dominance in global politics, realists argued that states are adapting. “The reach of the state,” argues Stephen Krasner, “has increased in some areas but contracted in others.”[10] The European Union, he admits, does not fit his argument, but it is a unique case and definitely not a model for other regions of the world.[11]

Among the myths that surround our understanding of sovereignty, one is that states established a monopoly on violence in and control over their territory. Max Weber contributed this fiction, ignoring the fact that the legitimacy of violence arises from the ends it is deemed to serve rather than its institutional source. Today, few states are able to exercise coercion effectively. But did Westphalian polities ever actually exercise such extensive control over the means of coercion? Although by the eighteenth century trans-border violence within Europe was largely controlled by states, their reach beyond Europe was tenuous. In fact, state control of violence outside Europe was a process not completed until the following century. As recently as “little more than a century ago,” argues Janice E. Thomson, “the state did not monopolize the exercise of coercion beyond its borders.” The process of centralizing the means of coercion was slow and was accompanied by the strengthening of state institutions in the nineteenth century. States were “reluctant to exert authority and control over nonstate violence.”[12] States ultimately did so only when they found that it was necessary in order to overcome problems “involving fundamental issues of authority” that arose throughout the course of Europe’s outward colonial expansion.[13]

Today various non-sovereign actors, such as Hizbullah in Lebanon and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, challenge particular states and enjoy greater legitimacy among numerous followers than does the state. As such failed states as Sierra Leone and Yugoslavia proliferate, anarchy in the sense of chaos seems a more fitting description of intrastate than interstate relations, recalling the world of religious turmoil in Europe before Westphalia, when the question of what was inside and outside the state remained unanswerable. In failed states, the idea of sovereignty is turned on its head: instead of providing citizens with security from foreign aggression by guarding the country’s borders, the army is a major source of insecurity for citizens, who desperately seek safety by fleeing their own country. Private mercenaries are often employed to substitute for a national military or to protect a government from its own army, or, as with civilian military contractors in Iraq, to supplement the use of public violence.

A second myth is that states created impermeable boundaries. In fact, this was never an accurate description, and, owing to technology ranging from intercontinental ballistic missiles to the Web, is today a cartoon version of reality. Drugs, migrants, terrorists, electronic currency and e-mail are the stuff of globalization, producing worldwide interconnectedness in which people, things and ideas flow freely across sovereign frontiers in defiance of geography. Globalization describes a world featuring multiple systems of interaction, transaction and communication that link societies in complex ways. These have transformed sovereign frontiers into very modest impediments to social, economic and political exchange. Thus, James N. Rosenau in his extraordinary post-international trilogy describes a “multi-centric” world of proliferating “sovereignty-free actors,” technological revolutions that make territorial boundaries obsolete and foster economic exchange, collective dilemmas, weakening of centralized state authority, “subgroupism” and politically efficacious individuals.[14]

A third myth propagated by neo-realists, especially Kenneth Waltz, is that under anarchy “states remain like units”[15] because all must seek to maximize security by self-help. Waltz argues that, although “[s]tates vary widely in size, wealth, power, and form,” they “perform…tasks, most of which are common to all of them.”[16] Like other neo-realists, Waltz infers the idea of anarchy from a system of sovereign states lacking supranational authority and reasons from this that interstate conflict is inevitable. This myth disguises the fact that real states have little in common with one another except legal sovereignty. Today’s two hundred or so states include one superpower and a host of micro-sovereignties, including the tiny islands of the Caribbean and South Pacific that may disappear beneath the waves as global warming accelerates.

This third myth fosters the regrettable tendency to anthropomorphize states, when the real actors are either government bureaucracies or social subgroups. Indeed, the distinction between public and private is a false premise derived from sovereignty’s dichotomy of states and others. In general, IR theory underestimates the crucial role played by private actors. Historically, the resources (albeit unconsolidated) of individuals, firms and other private groups, such as churches, have outstripped anything available to kings or governments, even of many contemporary states. With the modern deregulation of capital markets, the resources controlled by large firms and banks, and of certain super-rich individuals, outstrip dramatically the resources of most states.

Underestimating the private is accompanied by overestimating the public. Thus, sovereignty is often equated with authority or competence and capacity, rather than considered as an idea for legitimating state authority.[17] Sovereignty is, in fact, a juridical status, while actual authority, autonomy and capacity are always variable attributes. Sovereignty asserts that outsiders should not intervene in a state’s internal affairs and that citizens should respect its legitimacy and obey its laws, but there is no guarantee that they will. In recent decades, sovereign independence has offered only modest protection against military predation and boundary changes,[18] as well as access to international organizations.[19] In some cases, the principle of non-intervention amounts to what Robert Jackson calls “negative sovereignty,” that is, protection for brutal and corrupt regimes.[20]

Beyond the myths and ambiguities surrounding sovereignty, there is a growing recognition that a number of contemporary states have been enfeebled or have ceased completely to meet citizens’ demands. In these instances, the gap between sovereignty and authority has become an abyss, and the idea of sovereignty is ignored, irrelevant or turned on its head.

From the outset, sovereignty has been more aspirational and ascriptive than descriptive, especially when such political theorists as Bodin wished to extend the authority of France’s Valois rulers, shrunken by years of religious strife.[21] For purposes of legitimizing rule, it replaced the role of religion in political life after the Thirty Years’ War. “The idea of sovereignty,” as Krasner argues, “was used to legitimate the right of the sovereign to collect taxes, and thereby strengthen the position of the state, and to deny such rights to the church, and thereby weaken the position of the papacy.”[22] Sovereignty was institutionalized only when the “should” of aspiration was replaced by widespread recognition that the concentration and centralization of dynastic authority were necessary to manage violence and strengthen state capacity. This consensus permitted the state to impose and enforce a hierarchy of identities and loyalties on subjects, thereby limiting the authority of such potentially rival polities as church, local community and even family.[23] Only then did states have a claim to be genuinely moral communities, and only as moral communities could states demand a monopoly of the legitimate use of force. Nevertheless, sovereignty remains ascriptive. It is, as constructivist Nicholas Onuf declares, “not a condition”; rather,
it is

an ideal that is never reached, in a world where each step toward the ideal takes effort and costs resources, possibly in increasing increments, to prevent even smaller amounts of unwanted behavior… [T]he ideal of a self-encapsulated set of rules, ordered by principle, abstractly rendered and exhaustively explicated is, again, the more difficult to achieve as it is approached. Practically speaking, officers of legal orders must be satisfied with something less than sovereignty.[24]

This is essentially Krasner’s position, in arguing that sovereignty is “organized hypocrisy,”[25] never more than a claim to and justification of authority, a way in which a set of rulers could gain admission to an exclusive club.[26]

States bestow sovereignty, and therefore the legitimacy that derives from that status, on one another, while withholding it from entities they dislike or from groups located within or beyond their sovereign boundaries, such as the Kurds. Thus, for many contemporary states, sovereignty is rather like the fancy titles of dispossessed royalty: it guarantees admission to the club but will not help pay the dues. For some politicians, sovereignty merely denotes a national treasury ready for plundering.

Far from being a universal fact of political history, sovereign states, like all political communities, are contingent and evolve. [27] Myriad polities have emerged, declined and effectively vanished throughout history, and the theme of continual change among political communities has been a perennial one in political philosophy. Territorial states were the products of a particular historical context in which they successfully competed with rival polities to attract the loyalties of subjects. Their triumph was hardly inevitable. Like Samuel Huntington’s “civilizations,” sovereign states “are dynamic; they rise and fall; they merge and divide; and as any student of history knows, they also disappear and are buried in the sands of time.”[28]

Integration and Fragmentation

As in the past, global patterns of authority are today undergoing significant change, because the sovereign state is being pulled in two apparently antithetical directions—from above into larger communities and from below into smaller entities. Historically, political space is always in flux, producing new ways of authoritatively allocating values. The engines of political change are processes involving the elaboration and integration of larger networks of interaction and interdependence, along with the periodic fragmentation of political communities into vulnerable and tiny units of self-identification. Understanding these processes is essential to making sense of shifts in the nature of global politics. As Benjamin Barber cogently expresses it, the “planet is falling precipitately apart and coming reluctantly together at the very same moment.”[29]

Changing authority patterns are institutional counterparts of shifting identities and loyalties. Instead of a static interstate world of competing sovereignties, we confront “a seamless web, encompassing numerous layered, overlapping, and interacting political authorities.”[30] This world of overlapping political authorities and communities necessarily focuses attention on the crucial importance of multiple identities and the loyalties derived from those identities. Recognizing the crucial role of multiple identities and loyalties produces a very different understanding of global politics than does the image of a world of clashing sovereignties. Global politics then appears to consist of the interaction of numerous political associations of different types, “competing with one another for the loyalties and resources of individuals and sub-groups with multiple identities.” As a result, “individuals are enmeshed in a complex web of relationships, inextricably intertwined with a large number of politically active entities.”[31]

The belief that the only legitimate and powerful actors were those that enjoyed sovereignty (conveniently provided by the recognition of other sovereigns) and the triumph of state-centric dogma in political science and history reflect Europe’s centuries-old control over historical meaning. The complement to this is the related forgetting of rival forms of identity, both in the context of the contest among political forms in Europe after the Middle Ages and in Europe’s conquest over rival forms in non-European regions in the process of colonial expansion. Europe’s territorial states required the myth of sovereignty because “there can be no identity without memory (albeit selective), no collective purpose without myth.”[32]

In every historical epoch, some individual polities or polity types grow; other polities contract, overlap, nest or disappear. In some cases integration simply produces larger versions of existing political forms, as in the merger of the thirteen colonies to form the United States. In other cases, fission and fusion produce qualitatively different political forms, as did the Ch’in unification of China’s city polities, the union of northern European cities to form the Hanseatic League or the agreement of Europe’s sovereign states to form the European Union.

The path that political evolution takes—whether toward integration and the centralization of authority and larger polities or the dispersion of authority and the proliferation of small polities—depends on contextual factors. The sovereign state was the product of the integration and fragmentation of earlier polities, nourished from the outset by various ideals in the Roman and medieval traditions and older loyalties to church, lord, guild and even city. The state prospered, both as an idea and as a fact, to the extent that it incorporated other identities, some of which have continued to challenge the existing order. Events from Sarajevo to Brussels remind us that the integration and fragmentation of polities have not ceased even in Europe, the cradle of the sovereign state.

Integration and fragmentation are only apparently contradictory processes. In reality, they are linked. The local and the weak have limited capacity, while the global and the strong have limited sentimental appeal. On the one hand, large polities create problems of control that may dissipate with fragmentation, which, in turn, reduces capacity and efficiency and makes greater size more attractive. Thereafter, the impulses to fragmentation react to the forces for integration that threaten to undermine local autonomy and traditional norms and cultures. Cultural contestation becomes political contestation, and the two reinforce each other.[33] It is this connection that Rosenau grasps when he argues that “[b]oth the Danish government’s aspiration to European unity and [its] public’s original rejection of the idea…are part and parcel of the same underlying global processes.”[34] As the source of governance becomes less sharply defined and more remote from its consequences, there is a backlash in which individuals seek refuge in smaller and more proximate polities, trying (and usually failing) to isolate themselves from impersonal forces they do not understand. Refuge is sought and identity recast and reaffirmed in local government, religion, ethnicity, profession and even urban street gangs that are analogous to tribes whose members reveal their identity through dress and lifestyle.[35] Such polities may slake the thirst for intimacy, tradition and localism, in the midst of the globalization, of individuals who have a fragmented sense of self in which past, present and future remain disunited.[36] Smallness and rediscovery of ethnicity and religion provide psychological shelter for individuals and groups bewildered by the pace of change or fearful of cultural homogenization. Here we encounter Thomas Friedman’s idea of the individual need for an “olive tree” or for “everything that roots us, anchors us, identifies us and locates us in this world.”[37]

The process comes full circle after a large polity eventually fractures and its successors prove too small to meet the demands of constituents. Then, pressures build toward larger spheres of authority. Thus, Friedman contrasts the “olive tree” with the “Lexus,” a robotics-generated car that to him symbolizes the generic advanced technology of a globalized world. For Barber, the process is “the numbing and neutering uniformities of industrial modernization and the colonizing culture of McWorld.”[38]

Owing to fragmentation and integration, global politics is, at once, new and old, and history has not and will not end. Today history is being resurrected and reconstructed, albeit in a new and rapidly changing context. History is having its revenge on the sovereign state, and there are also shocks from a future that is as yet only envisioned. As non-sovereign polities successfully anchor the loyalties of adherents, existing states may be subsumed into larger political communities, be subdivided into smaller ones, witness a contraction in the scope of their authority or even expand their functions. Economic interdependence pushes states into larger regional or global regimes and institutions, which reduce the authority and capacity of governments to control their own economic destinies. Where frontiers were imposed by colonial authorities, complex ethnic and tribal cleavages erode loyalties to governments and push more states toward collapse.

Psychological Versus Territorial Space

As long as identities and loyalties remained anchored to territory, political theorists found sovereignty a useful logical device. In the absence of a higher juridical authority, interstate relations were necessarily different than and independent of relations among individuals and groups within states. The notion of the word international, as it emerged in the late eighteenth century, also reflected Europe’s debt to Rome and Roman law and the reality of the decline of feudalism in Europe, while the doctrine of sovereignty served as a legitimating ideology for the claims of dynasts more generally.[39] Thereafter, sovereignty, as it matured in its European setting, acquired a status independent of its original purpose and became responsible for the two-dimensional maps that scholars and practitioners relied on to make sense of global politics.[40]

The wedding of state and nation following the French Revolution anchored the state by providing it with a powerful hegemonic identity. However, the divorce of the two ideas, beginning with the growing popularity of national self-determination after World War I and accelerating with decolonization and later the end of the Cold War, spawned or resurrected powerful rival identities, ranging from religion and ethnicity to gender and profession, that are not anchored or only weakly anchored in territory and, therefore, sovereignty.

Today, as we have argued elsewhere, “territory no more exhausts the possible ways of delineating political space than the state exhausts the ways we organize ourselves for political ends.”[41] Increasingly, identities demarcate psychological rather than territorial space—that is, the way in which identities and loyalties are distributed. As a result, we can re-conceptualize political space in terms of psychological distance, or “the degree of dissimilarity between cognitive frameworks or ways of looking at, assigning meaning to, and coping with the world.”[42] Where psychological distance is great, the likelihood of misperception and misunderstanding and, therefore, conflict, is high, and the prospect for forming and sustaining a moral community is low.

Since identities and loyalties are ever more weakly tied to exclusive sovereign territories, they can overlap and intersect. As territory and identity separate, geographic and psychological distance have become decoupled, and globalization creates a new global elite that is connected by e-mail, fax and cell phone and is linked by language, education, custom and taste, much as were eighteenth-century European aristocrats. This transnational elite lives in world cities, in sight of rapidly growing populations of urban poor fleeing rural poverty, yet separated from them by a vast psychological abyss. Such cities, as Saskia Sassen argues, are “partly denationalized” platforms for global capital.[43] Pockets of modernity and tradition co-exist, reflecting different historical stages of social, economic and political development. These differences are exacerbated by dramatically different demographic patterns that are producing young and old societies, and these patterns are in turn responsible for massive migrations of people within countries and between continents. Such mixing further erodes the unifying power of citizenship and the potency of sovereign symbols.


We must be careful not to over-generalize. The erosion of state institutions and frontiers is most extensive in post-colonial areas, whereas the capacity of states to carry out multiple roles and collaborate to build successful regional and transnational institutions remains greatest among the richer and older states. More important, the ideal of sovereignty was a prerequisite for constituting the Westphalian polity and became a legitimating ideology of the interstate system and, therefore, of international relations. Although that ideology reflected, in Boyarin’s words, “close genealogical links between the ‘Cartesian coordinates’ of space and time and the discrete, sovereign state, both associated with European society since the Renaissance,”[44] the ideal has been reaffirmed repeatedly and retains immense mythic and symbolic power. States will not willingly sacrifice this source of authority, especially powerful states such as China, France, Russia and the United States. Sovereignty, as R. B. J. Walker contends, continues to have a role to play in global politics because of the absence of an effective substitute:

Whatever avenues are now being opened up in the exploration of contemporary political identities, whether in the name of nations, humanities, classes, races, cultures, genders or movements, they remain largely constrained by ontological and discursive options expressed most elegantly, and to the modern imagination most persuasively, by claims about the formal sovereignty of states. The Cartesian coordinates may be cracked, identities may be leaking, and the rituals of inclusion and exclusion sanctified by the dense textures of sovereign virtue may have become more transparent. But if not state sovereignty…what then?[45]

Yet the myths of sovereignty, as noted earlier, never accurately reflected global reality. “Often it is not even that the world has changed,” we argued two decades ago, “as much as it is that theorists have noticed something that had always been there or have rediscovered something that is not new at all.[46] Five steps, we concluded at that time, were necessary to overcome the blinders imposed by the sovereignty myths and assure theoretical progress: (1) overcome historical selectivity; (2) de-emphasize strict empiricism; (3) liberate theory from state-centric realism; (4) erase the arbitrary boundary between the international and domestic arenas; and (5) move freely among levels of analysis.[47] These steps, still not taken, remain as significant today as when we first enunciated them.

In sum, the current interstate model of global politics hopelessly distorts global politics. Today, all states share authority with other polities; all confront transnational and subnational authority challenges; and in extreme cases state institutions have collapsed. The sheer pace of change bewilders governments, which intensifies factionalism and bureaucratic competition and frequently leads to gridlock and inertia. Our post-international world features boundaries among authorities and networks of authorities that overlap with and transcend the fixed sovereign boundaries of states. This world, with its underlying globalization trends, is also one of highly specialized spheres of authority that are often only loosely anchored in territorial space; that is, states are out of place. It is a world in which authority is fragmented among numerous polities with little hierarchy that, in turn, allocate values locally and, in some cases, transnationally and globally.

Notes & References

  1. Richard W. Mansbach, Yale H. Ferguson and Donald E. Lampert, The Web of World Politics: Nonstate Actors in the Global System (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1976), ix.
  2. Michael Mann, The Sources of Social Power, vol. I, A History of Power from the Beginning to A.D. 1760 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 49.
  3. For an antithetical perspective, see Robert H. Jackson and Alan James, “The Character of Independent Statehood,” in Jackson and James, eds., States in a Changing World: A Contemporary Analysis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 11.
  4. Saskia Sassen, Globalization and Its Discontents (New York: New Press, 1998), 92.
  5. Jonathan Boyarin, “Space, Time, and the Politics of Memory,” in Boyarin, ed., Remapping Memory: The Politics of Time Space (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), 15.
  6. Ibid., 23.
  7. John A. Vasquez, The Power of Power Politics: From Classical Realism to Neotraditionalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 37.
  8. For a typical definition of this version of the state based on recognized territory, see
    Gianfranco Poggi, The Development of the Modern State: A Sociological Introduction (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1978), 1.
  9. Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 7. For “independent actors,” read: sovereign states.
  10. Stephen D. Krasner, “Sovereignty,” Foreign Policy 122 (2001): 24.
  11. Ibid., 26 and 28-29.
  12. Janice E. Thomson, Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 143.
  13. Ibid., 67-68.
  14. See James N. Rosenau, Turbulence in World Politics: A Theory of Change and Continuity (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990), Along the Domestic-Foreign Frontier: Exploring Governance in a Turbulent World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) and Distant Proximities: Dynamics Beyond Globalization (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003).
  15. Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1979), 93.
  16. Ibid., 96.
  17. F. H. Hinsley, Sovereignty, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 1.
  18. See Robert H. Jackson and Mark W. Zacher, “The Territorial Covenant: International
    Society and the Stabilization of Boundaries,” Institute of International Relations, University of British Columbia, Working Paper no. 15 (July 1997).
  19. In some respects, this is the most consequential entitlement associated with sovereignty. Thus, the non-sovereign American state of California, with over 31 million inhabitants and a budget deficit in 2003 that was greater than the deficits of all other US states combined (excluding that of New York), is not entitled to aid from the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank.
  20. See Robert H. Jackson, Quasi-States: Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 27. Jackson goes on to argue that even if there is an abyss between reality and aspiration, sovereignty does provide states with a degree of legitimacy denied other actors.
  21. See J. L. Brierly, The Law of Nations, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963), 8.
  22. Stephen D. Krasner, “Westphalia and All That,” in Judith Goldstein and Robert O. Keohane, eds., Ideas and Foreign Policy: Beliefs, Institutions, and Political Change (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), 238.
  23. Joseph Strayer, On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State (Princeton, NJ: Princeton
    University Press, 1970), 9.
  24. Nicholas J. Onuf, World of Our Making: Rules and Rule in Social Theory and International Relations (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1989), 142.
  25. Stephen D. Krasner, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999)
  26. See Oyvind Osterud, “The Narrow Gate: Entry to the Club of Sovereign States,” Review of International Studies 23, no. 2 (1997): 167-84.
  27. The contingent nature of the sovereign state is evident in such works as Hendrik Spruyt, The Sovereign State and Its Competitors: An Analysis of Systems Change (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994); and Saskia Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006).
  28. Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations: Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 44.
  29. Benjamin Barber, Jihad vs. McWorld (New York: Times Books, 1995), 53.
  30. Yale H. Ferguson and Richard W. Mansbach, Polities: Authority, Identities, and Change (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1996), 33-34.
  31. Ibid., 43.
  32. Anthony D. Smith, The Ethnic Origins of Nations (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1986), 2.
  33. See Rosenau, Along the Domestic-Foreign Frontier, 99-143.
  34. Ibid., 115.
  35. Michel Maffesoli calls such groups “tribus.” Please see Michael Maffesoli, The Time of
    the Tribes: The Decline of Individualism in Mass Society
    (London: Sage, 1996), 140.
  36. David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), 53.
  37. Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1999), 27.
  38. Barber, 12.
  39. John Gerard Ruggie, “Continuity and Transformation in the World Polity: Toward a Neorealist Synthesis,” World Politics 35, no. 2 (1983): 276.
  40. For a discussion of the interaction of ideas and institutions, see Judith Goldstein, Ideas, Interests, and American Trade Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), 1-22.
  41. Remapping Global Politics, 73.
  42. Ibid., 69.
  43. Sassen, 81.
  44. Boyarin, 4.
  45. R. B. J. Walker, Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 161-62.
  46. Ferguson and Mansbach, The Elusive Quest, 221. Emphasis in original.
  47. Ibid., 367-75.
YALE H. FERGUSON and RICHARD W. MANSBACH are Professors of Political Science at Rutgers University (Newark) and Iowa State University respectively. They have co-authored a variety books and articles dealing with the future of the state and the transformative forces in global politics, including The Web of World Politics: Nonstate Actors in the Global System (1976), The Elusive Quest: Theory and International Politics (1988), The State, Conceptual Chaos, and the Future of International Relations (1989), Polities: Authority, Identities, and Change (1996), The Elusive Quest Continues (2003) and Remapping Global Politics (2004).