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Global Politics at the Turn of the Millennium: Changing Bases of "Us" and "Them"

Author(s): Yale H. Ferguson and Richard W. Mansbach


Source: International Studies Review, Vol. 1, No. 2, Prospects for International Relations:
Conjectures about the Next Millennium (Summer, 1999), pp. 77-107
Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The International Studies Association
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Global Politics at the Turn
of the Millennium:
ChangingBases of "Us"and "Them"

YaleH. Ferguson
RutgersUniversity-Newark

RichardW. Mansbach
Iowa State University

Identitypolitics is increasinglya targetof researchand a subject


of theory in global politics. Identity is as much a structural
condition as power and, like power, is conditionedby historical
forces. The territorial state was the product of a unique
configurationof historical conditions. Contemporarytrends are
eroding the state and the state system and usheringin significant
shifts in humanidentities and loyalties. Citizenshipand national-
ity no longer suffice to define who "we" are or where "our"
loyalties lie, and "sovereign"borders no longer constitute the
sole, or even the main, indicationof who is "inside"or "outside"
the boundariesof civic and moralobligation.

Identitypoliticsis an increasinglycentralfocusof theoriesof globalpolitics,


and it entails a preoccupationnot only with the subjective but also the
dynamic dimension of political life.1 Assessing change, of course, requires
historicalperspective.The territorialstate itself was the productof a uniquecon-
figuration of historical conditions in Europe from the late Middle Ages until
the end of the Thirty Years' War. Indeed, the essential nature of "the state"
later shifted again and again, as narrow aristocraticmonarchies gave way to

to DavisBobrow,JohnGroom,Stuart
Theauthorswishto expresstheirappreciation
Kaufman,andthelateSusanStrangefortheirhelpfulcommentson anearlierversionof
thisarticle.
? 1999 InternationalStudies Association
Publishedby Blackwell Publishers,350 Main Street,Malden, MA 02148, USA, and 108 Cowley Road, OxfordOX4 1JF,UK.
78 Ferguson and Mansbach

broader-based regimes, with the invention of popular sovereignty and


nineteenth-centurynationalism,and then the appearanceof the modem welfare
state (Hall 1999). Contemporarytrends,however, are seriouslyerodingthe state
and the state system and ushering in significant shifts in human identities and
loyalties. Citizenshipand nationalityno longer suffice to define who "we"are or
where "our"loyalties lie, and "sovereign"bordersno longer constitutethe sole,
or even the main, indication of who is "inside"or "outside"the boundariesof
civic and moralobligation.
For the last 300 years or so, especially in the West, most individuals have
thoughtof themselves as citizens with loyalties to a territorialstate.2Relegated
to a lesser status,even to the marginsof consciousness duringthe long epoch of
Europeanglobal dominance,were the variety of alternativeidentities-polities
from clans and tribes to cities and firms-that claimed loyalties before Europe
invented the state and that, though subordinated,remainedalive in nested fash-
ion duringthe Europeanepoch (Fergusonand Mansbach,1996a,1996b, 1996c,
forthcoming). Internationalrelations (IR) theory reflected the emergence and
maturationof the sovereign territorialstate and its triumphfirst in Europe and
then elsewhereover rivalpoliticalforms.The Europeantraditionfrom the ancien
rigime2 to Hans Morgenthaurestrictedthe study of internationalrelations to
interstaterelations and regarded citizenship as the highest and only identity
worth considering. However, far less consensus exists among theorists today
who attemptto make sense of the post-Cold War era and a rapidly globalizing
world. In Thomas Franck's (1997:151) words: "At the beginning of the third
millennium one senses the coming of a new identity crisis. Increasingly,our
psychic and even our materialrewards seems to rest on fragmentedand com-
poundedself-identification."
In the pages that follow, we examine aspects of global structuresand key
processes, identifyingthose factorsthatareerodingthe stateand the state system
and are simultaneouslybringingabout a revolutionin political identities-and,
finally albeit inevitably,in IR theory.
The close of the millennium, after a tumultuousdecade, invites us to con-
sider where we have been, where we are, and where we are headed in global
politics. Some write of a world in transition,but this means little unless we have
a clear sense of the world we are using as a benchmarkand what kinds of
changes we are willing to admit.In highlightingselected featuresand obscuring
others, theories inevitably reflect values. Changes notwithstanding,most IR
theoretical schools-realist, neorealist, institutionalist,neoidealist, and at least
one major branch of constructivist-remain stubbornly state-centric. Many
"critical,"world order, and reform-mindedscholars do so as well, because

2Itis perhapsmost accurateto speakof Machiavellias a theoristof city-polities,


princes,andethnicnationalism.
Global Politics at the Turnof the Millennium 79

governments of states-individually or cooperatively through international


regimes-seem for those analysts to represent a last best hope for public (as
opposed to private) governance.3
The revival of old ethnic and tribalmemories and identities, and the divorce
of nationfrom state, necessitatenew approachesin IR thatstartfrom the premise
that individuals have multiple identities and loyalties. These, in turn, link to a
universeof "polities"or "authorities,"each with a capacityto mobilize adherents
for political ends, that often coexist, may cooperate,and sometimes clash. Such
clashes are the stuff of historical change; some polities prosper,while others
witheror nest. In the clashes, both "winners"and "losers"are modified andtypi-
cally assume some of the other's characteristics.Shapedby theirown contests as
well as broadereconomic and social trends,polities are always "becoming."
The Westphalianstate, distinguishableby its sovereign legal status, is one
type of polity that, like all others, is in continuous evolution. Also like other
forms of polity, it is an ideal type. Actual states aroundthe world differ widely,
reflecting in part the features of other polities with which they overlap or that
nest within them. The state currentlyfaces challenges from otherpolities, much
as it challenged its predecessorshundredsof years ago. Abandoningthe map of
exclusive territorialstates in favor of a world of overlappingpolities, we find
ourselves agreeing with Michael Mann (1996:1960) who, probing the tension
between nation-statesand globalism, concludes:"To endorse 'globalism' would
be to repeatthe mistakeof 'nations-statism.'We must reject any view of societ-
ies as singularboundedsystems.""Societieshave neverbeen unitary.They have
been composed of a multiplicityof networks,many with differing,if overlapping
and intersecting,boundaries.This has been true of all prehistoricand historic
periods.... It remainstrue today."
Various factors account for the currentupsurge in nonstate identities, not
least of which is the declining importance of territoryas a source of power
and prosperity. The proliferation of transnational and global networks of
de-territorializedcommunities has further reduced the relevance of territory
in global politics. After all, territoryis no more essential to identity than the
barnacle is to a boat. Identities demarcatepsychological ratherthan territorial
space and-like cultural,economic, and coercive boundaries-can overlap and
intersect,and only rarelyare exclusive.

Little(1993:227)remark:"Theprojectof
3 BarryBuzan,CharlesJones,andRichard
the modemstateconsistedin plantinga fingerin everypie. It ... madethe statepecu-
liarlycentralamongothersocial institutions,andthatis why we continueto takethe
view thatstates. .. currentlyofferthe bestavailablewayof openingconduitsbetween
whatis unconscious,personal,andcustomary,andwhatis self-conscious,public,and
legal."
80 Ferguson and Mansbach

Psychological distanceis as much a productof time as of space. Globalizing


socioeconomicprocessesproduceenormouscognitive gaps between modem and
traditionalsegments of society, between inner city and suburbia,and between
generational and age cohorts. At any moment, different societies or social
segments are located at differenthistoricalpoints, with institutionalforms and
identitiesfrom variousepochs. Acceleratingsocioeconomic andpolitical change
produces psychological distance between postmodern and premodern social
segments. In China, for example, the presence of a modernizingand entrepre-
neurialelite in cities such as Shanghaiand Hong Kong intensifies political and
social tensions in what remainslargely an agrariansociety.
Insteadof conceptualizingthe world in state boxes, it is helpful to substitute
the idea of "political space" for territory.Political space is implicit when we
thinkof how religionshave theirfaithfuland firms theirmarkets.In this way, we
can avoid what political geographersJohn Agnew and StuartCorbridge(1995;
see also Agnew 1997) call the "territorialtrap."In doing so, we come to recog-
nize thatpolitical boundarieshave never been immutable,that they may or may
not be compatiblewith legal boundaries,thatthey can varyby issue, and,finally,
thatthey are profoundlyaffectedby shifting identitiesand loyalties. Humankind
continually fashions new conceptions of "us" and "them."In this regard, we
shouldstress,it is not thatthe worldis necessarilymorecomplex thanin the past;
rather,it is that we are coming to recognize how complex the world has always
been and some of the special circumstancesaffecting the present.
That recognition produces honest disagreement about such fundamental
mattersas the structure(s)of the global system, the processes at work, the role of
the state,and the implicationfor identitypolitics for futureresearch.We consider
each of these subjectsin turn.Before we do, we should note franklythatthereis
more to the scholarlydebatethanintellectualdifferencesandvalues- power and
privilege in the academy are also at stake. Traditionallyorientedtheoristshave
staked their careers on approachesthat now seem hopelessly out of touch with
trends in the "real world," while those with "new" (or occasionally recycled)
non-state-centricapproachessee new opportunitiesto advancetheirs.Still others
eschew broaderissues entirelyby retreatinginto extremerelativism,futile exposi-
tions of the relationshipbetween democracy and war,4 or the abstractionsof
rationalchoice or game theory.Diversity in the studyof global politics has never
been greater,and up to a point this is a sign of vitality. Yet it also reflects unwill-
ingness to abandonstale and outmodedideas or to engage the "real world" in
ways thatcan genuinelyilluminatetoday's and tomorrow'sheadlines.

4 Thereis no consensus
aboutwhat"democracy" is, andby anyreasonabledefinition,
Moresignifi-
thenumberof historicalcasesis too smallforpurposesof generalization.
cant, thoughneglectedbecauseit threatensstatisttheory,is the questionof what
meansforthelegitimacyof governments.
increasingpopularparticipation
Global Politics at the Turnof the Millennium 81

STRUCTURES
The debate about global structuresharksback to the fundamentalpuzzle of how
the whole and its parts are related.5The agent/structureliterature6raises that
issue but by no means resolves it, eitherfor a single society or for the global sys-
tem as a whole. At one extremeis the parsimoniousneorealistmodel of Kenneth
Waltz (1979), in which the overall distributionof states' power capabilities
accountsfor everythingof importancethathappensin the internationalsystem as
a whole.7
"Reductionist"in a somewhatdifferentfashion is the traditionalemphasisof
realists and other theorists on the territorialstate and interstaterelations. The
modernsocial sciences emerged at the height of the Europeanstate's power and
prestige in the late nineteenthand early twentiethcenturiesand so involved what
Peter Taylor (1996) calls "embeddedstatism."Ignoring the fact that the legiti-
macy of violence arises from the ends it is deemed to serve rather than its
institutionalsource, Weber contributedthe fiction that states have a monopoly
on the legitimate use of violence. Later historical sociologists like John
Hall (1985), Mann (1986a, 1988, 1993), and CharlesTilly (1975) analyzedthe
growth of what Mann calls the "autonomouspower of the state" throughwar,
capitalism,and constitutionalinvention.However, in his extraordinaryexamina-
tion of social power reachingback to ancientMesopotamia,Mann (1986b) deals
with a much broaderrange of sociopolitical actorsthanthe Westphalianstate.
Historians, too, have traditionallyorganized scholarship around the state.
This was especially the case in the nineteenth-centuryheyday of nationalism,
when they were busily constructingthe historicalnarrativesand myths of their
homelands. During that era, the history of nations became synonymous with
the history of states. Some contemporaryhistorianslike William McNeill (cf.
1982) have also writtenaboutcivilizations and empires,but many, like McNeill
himself, retain a strong realist bias, emphasizing state power and militarytech-
nology. "So far," he declares (1997:274), "no promising alternative to the
territorialorganizationof armedforce has even begun to emerge."McNeill pays
little attentionto the economic and ideological factors that shapedstate consoli-
dation in the past and undermineit in the present. He is even outdated with
regardto armedforce, insofar as majorcountriestoday organize their militaries
with respect to an alliance or functionalactivity like peacekeeping.8

5 Cf. Jones(1995). Jonessees the issue as a contestbetweenholisticandatomistic


approaches.
6 Cf. Wendt(1987)andGiddens(1984).
7 Almostas parsimonious
areworldsystemstheoryandGramscian analysisof "hege-
monic"classes.
8We aregratefulto JohnGroomforthisobservation,
in personalcorrespondence.
82 Ferguson and Mansbach

Economists, as well, developed their discipline with a focus on individual


states. The Keynesianrevolutionstressedthe extent to which statepolicies might
not only managestateeconomies but also minimize the harmdone by pernicious
foreign influences. As Taylor (1996:1925) explains: "The spatial mosaic of
national economies remained the basic frameworkdespite massive globaliza-
tion. Hence the discipline of economics remains locked in a world of 'trading
nations' that has not changed since Adam Smith and David Ricardo."By con-
trast, growing recognition of the impact of global economic forces on politics
and vice versa have lately made internationalpolitical economy the subject of
increasing intellectual ferment. The late Susan Strange (1996), for example,
played a majorrole in pushingIR in a less state-centricdirection.Ironically,she
began her analysis of marketspartlyto remindleadersof states thatthey needed
to be educated about globalizing forces, the better to exercise regulatorycon-
straint.Overtime, she grew less sanguineaboutthe possibilityof theirdoing so.
Internationalrelations scholars, as much or more than their colleagues in
otherdisciplines, made the state andrelationsamong states the alphaand omega
of analysis. Except for the brief era during which the British and American
liberal traditionachieved ascendancy,continentalpower theory or realism was
dominant,indeed perhapsparadigmatic.States were conceived as unitaryactors
pursuingtheir nationalinterestdefined in terms of power. In an anarchicworld
of state billiardballs, the security dilemma was acute, nationalsecurity the pri-
mary foreign policy goal, and militarymight the most importantcapability.9
When Hedley Bull (1977:264-276) wrote TheAnarchicalSociety,it createda
minor sensation among realists because he insisted that somethinglike society
mightexist even in the absenceof world government,thatis, underanarchy.Bull
spoke of a "newmedievalism"to connotethe fragmentationof authorityreminis-
cent of the pre-Westphalianera,althoughhe did not believe thatotheractorswere
yet strongenoughto offer a seriouschallengeto the statein global politics.'0Other
tentative efforts to dilute state-centrictheory include Robert Keohane's (1984)
institutionalistapproachwith its focus on internationalorganizationsand less-
formal "regimes,"which he, like Bull, regardsas creationsof state interests.The
branchof constructivisttheory representedby AlexanderWendt (1992) allows
national decisionmakersmuch greaterleeway in perceiving and respondingto
their environment.As Wendt sees it, any numberof patternsof cooperationand
conflict may emerge in an anarchicworld;nevertheless,note well, "anarchy"in
his frameworkis still "whatstatesmake of it."

9AsJohnVasquez(1983)shows,thediscipline's"scientists" wereuncriticallystate-
centric.A worldof statescamewithready-made data,andtheabsenceof overlapamong
statesfacilitatedcomparison.Partlyin responseto the failureof "science"to advance
theoreticalunderstanding,therehasbeena revivalin normativequestionsgenerally.
"oFora detailedassessmentof Bull'spioneeringworkandessentialconservatism, see
Ferguson(1998).
Global Politics at the Turnof the Millennium 83

A few early approachesviewed statesas more complex thanbilliardballs, the


boundarybetween "inside"and "outside"the stateas permeable,and global poli-
tics as more thanthe interactionamong states.These approachesremained"roads
not taken"by most IR scholarsuntilthe realworldstartedto intrudeon IR theory.11
"Nonstateactors,""transnational relations,""webs of transactions,"and "cascad-
ing interdependencies" were amongthe conceptualeffortsto breakthe mold.12
The end of the Cold War provideda renewed impetus to move theory away
from its long-standingstate-centricbias. Some theoristswere more willing than
othersto questionthe primacyof states, but many admittedthat thereis more to
global politics than a map of nation-stateboxes can reveal. Neoliberals, using
both empiricaland normativeclaims, demandedgreaterattentionto the transna-
tional march of democracy, arms control, economic interdependence,human
rights, ethnic movementsinternationallaw and organization,the global environ-
ment, and economic development.13 Even neorealists have reconsideredtheir
positions. Thus Barry Buzan, Charles Jones, and RichardLittle (1993:37; see
also Buzan and Little 1996) conclude that Waltz's conception of structureis so
parsimoniouslyconfined to the internationalsystem as a whole that it obscures
an equally significant "deep structure"of other actors, institutions, and pro-
cesses. Insisting that "governing... is the core of what politics is about,"they
acknowledgethat "the state is not the only form that governmentcan take."
Meanwhile,anotherbranchof constructivistthoughtdemonstratedthatasking
such questionsas who or what arethe agentsand structuresin global politics need
not resultin emphasizingstates-as-actors.FriedrichKratochwil(1989) andNicho-
las Onuf (1989, 1995; Kabalkova,Onuf, and Kowert 1998) have spot-lightedthe
"rules"thatstructuresocial relationshipsamong a varietyof actorsandlevels. On
a relatedfront,ThomasBierstekerand CynthiaWeber(1996:11) treatstatesover-
eignty as a "social construct"whose meaning "is negotiatedout of interactions
within intersubjectivelyidentifiablecommunities."In their view, "practicescon-
struct,reproduce,reconstruct,and deconstructboth stateand sovereignty."

KEYPROCESSES:
FUSION/FISSION, GOVERNANCE, AND GLOBALIZATION
While there is little more consensus aboutglobal processes than structure,there
is general agreement about some trends. It appears, for instance, that we are
witnessing at least a temporaryglobal shift towardgreaterdemocracyand mass

" On this
point, see Fergusonand Mansbach(1988).
2 See
Mansbach,Ferguson, and Lampert(1976); Keohane and Nye (1972); Burton
(1972); and Rosenau (1984).
13See Kegley (1995) and Zacherand Matthew(1995).
84 Ferguson and Mansbach

political participation,broaderacceptanceof free markets,an upsurgein ethnic


identity and religious fundamentalism,and a changing definition of "security"
to encompass collective threats such as global warming, new diseases, the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and transnationalcrime and
terrorism.The dangerof interstatewars appearsto have declined significantly,
while that of postmodern war has grown, contributing (in its "ethnic" and
"tribal"manifestations)to a rashof "failed states."14Therehas been a prolifera-
tion of intergovernmental (IGOs) and international nongovernmental
organizations (INGOs), some rejuvenationof regional institutions and move-
ments, and somewhat paradoxically, a revival of localism. The language of
"globalization"points to revolutionsin telecommunicationsand transportation;
the declining efficacy of political frontiers;and the growing impact of global
markets, trade within and among giant transnational corporations,15"hot
money," and currencyspeculation.16Defenders of globalizationconfrontorga-
nized demands for protection against competitors who employ cheap,
sweatshop,child, or prisonlaboror who reducecosts by ignoringenvironmental
hazards.
There have been several efforts to account theoreticallyfor what is taking
place. One of the most promisingis James Rosenau's (1990, 1997) recent work
on the causes andconsequencesof "turbulence"in a "postinternational" world.17
He sees present-daystates challenged by transnationalismand subgroupismto
such a degree thattherehas been an inexorableshift in authorityto other actors.
The centralprocess, he argues,is one of simultaneousintegrationandfragmenta-
tion, that is, "fragmegration"(Rosenau 1994) or, as we call it, "fission/ fusion"
(Ferguson and Mansbach 1996b:39-40). This process is acceleratingowing to
such phenomenaas the integrationof markets,transnationalsocial movements,
tourism,new transportationandtelecommunicationstechnologies, andthe better
educationandimprovedskills of ordinaryindividuals(Rosenau 1997:103-114).
In Rosenau's (1995:14) view, the authorityto govern is no longer vested
solely in governments;instead,"globalgovernance""encompassesthe activities
of governments[at various levels], but it also includes the many other channels
throughwhich 'commands'flow in the form of goals framed,directives issued,
and policies pursued.""Viewed on a global scale," he declares, (1997:115),
"governanceis the sum of a myriad-literally millions-of controlmechanisms

14Cf.HelmanandRatner(1992-1993).
'5The growingimportanceof suchtradehas madelargelyobsoletethe conceptof
tradebalance.
financialtradinghascreateda "virtual"
16Deregulated worldof currencymarkets.Cf.
Drucker(1997)andCohen(1998).
17Rosenau(1997) has soughtto apply theoriesof chaos and complexityto help
explainglobalpolitics.
Global Politics at the Turnof the Millennium 85

driven by differenthistories, goals, structures,and processes."Rosenau's (1997:


39-40) idea of governancecomes close to our conception of a world in which
authorityis fragmentedamong polities without any overall hierarchy.This is
"not so much a system dominatedby states as congeries of spheresof authority
(SOAs) that are subject to considerable flux and not necessarily coterminous
with the division of territorialspace." These spheres "are distinguishedby the
presence of actors who can evoke compliance by exercising authorityas they
engage in the activities that delineate the sphere,"and it is within those spheres
that values are allocated.
In sum, in Rosenau's (1997:151-152) words: "It might be said that a new
form of anarchy has evolved in the current period-one that involves not
only the absence of higher authority,but also encompasses such an extensive
disaggregationof authorityas to intensify the pace at which transnationalrela-
tions and cross-borderspillovers are permeatingthe [domestic-foreign]frontier,
even as it also allows for much greaterflexibility, innovation,and experimenta-
tion in the developmentand applicationof new control mechanisms."Focusing
on the role of a complex tapestryof individualsand groupsin shapingoutcomes
and the interplay of changes at the micro- and macrolevels, Rosenau (1997:
chap. 14; Rosenau and Fagen 1997) returnsus to the relationshipamong parts
and wholes while taking accountof multiple and continuouslyshifting identities
and loyalties.
It is likely that the processes of fission and fusion are related in dialectical
fashion. As Rosenau(1997: 115) observes:"Boththe Danish government'saspi-
ration to Europeanunity and their public's original rejectionof the idea . .. are
partand parcel of the same underlyingglobal processes."As the sources of gov-
ernance become less sharply defined and more remote from its consequences,
there is a backlash in which individuals seek psychological refuge in smaller,
more proximatepolities, trying (and usually failing) to isolate themselves from
forces they only dimly understand.For example, the growing impact of both
alien cultures and related threatof culturalhomogenizationproduce localizing
hostility to "outsiders."Local government, religion, ethnicity, profession, and
even urban street gangs may offer places of refuge and revitalized identity.
Gangs are analogousto "tribes"whose membersreveal and reinforcetheiriden-
tity throughdress and lifestyle.18Such polities can slake the thirstfor intimacy,
tradition, autonomy, and control in the midst of bewildering change, and
localsim and they attractindividuals who have a "fragmentedsense of self" in
which past, present,and futureremaindisunited(Harvey 1990:53).
Individuals redefine "who they are" and reinforce their sense of political
efficacy in a world thatkeeps impingingupon them but many find to be strange,
distant, and alienating. They seek to resist processes of modernization and

8MichelMaffesoli(1996:140)calls suchgroups"tribus."
86 Ferguson and Mansbach

globalization, and the social and cultural homogenization that accompanies


them-as BenjaminBarber(1995:12) describes it, "the numbing and neutering
uniformities of industrial modernization and the colonizing culture of
McWorld."Thus do processes of integrationand centralizingauthoritygenerate
countervailingprocesses of disintegrationand decentralizingauthority.
Integrativeand disintegrativeprocesses link in anotherway. Transnational
institutionsranging from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO), the
EuropeanUnion (EU), andthe NorthAmericanFreeTradeAgreementto less-for-
mal internationalregimesandcorporatenetworks,even while providingfunctional
integration,offer alternativesto ethnicor nationalcommunitiesthatseek to secede
or win autonomyfrom existing territorialstates.In responseto argumentsthatthe
breakupof existing states imperils political or economic well-being, groups as
diverseas Estonians,Quebegois,Basques,andCatalanscan pointto otherassocia-
tions as evidence thattheirmore independentcourseis a viable option.
Old boundariesfall, and new ones are created.As verticalboundariessepa-
rating the citizens of different states come down or become porous, horizontal
boundariesharden between urban elites and the poor in ghettos, favelas, and
shantytowns.Highly educated and linked in cyberspace, elites speak the same
language of technology, commerce, and profession, enjoy similarlifestyles, and
generally have more in common with one anotherthan with the poor, to whom
they are physically close but from whom they are light-yearsdistantin terms of
psychology, skills, and materialwelfare. ChristopherLasch (1994)19fears that
the formationof closed epistemic communitiesallows elites to ignore the mass
of citizenryand stop contributingto communalactivities. Specializedelites may
be narrowingthe range of "relevantothers"with whom they communicateor
obtain information, compensating for information overload by reducing the
range of views to which they are exposed.
Underlyingidentity and boundaryshifts is the ill-defined process of global-
ization. Rosenau (1997:115) believes that one of its consequences is repeated
crises of authority."Why,"he asks, "arepeople challengingand resistingcentral
authorities?"His answer: "The reasons are many, but a main one is that the
dynamics of globalization are rendering conventional means of governance
increasinglydifficult. Neither nationalnor local governmentscan on their own
cope with the fallout of the world's rapidlygrowing interdependence."Global-
ization, broadlydefined, of course, consists of the movementof persons, things,
and ideas aroundthe world regardlessof sovereign boundaries,and it is linked,
as we have explained,to the processes of fusion/fission and governance.
The concept is perhapsmost widely applied to the world economy and the
challenge posed by borderless and nonterritorialmarkets to sovereign states,

19See also Strange(1996:102).


Global Politics at the Turnof the Millennium 87

reflected in events like the Mexican (1994) and Asian (1997-1998) financial
crises. Yet even in such a context the meaning and extent of globalization are
subject to disagreement.Some analysts advanceargumentsthat, taken together,
force us to qualify any characterizationof the world economy as fully "global-
ized" or of the currentsituationin thatregardas entirelyunprecedented.Still, in
a number of ways today's world economy is different from the past, and
economic trends are only one of several features making present-day global
politics incomprehensiblefromthe perspectiveof traditionalEurocentrictheory.
Partof the problemin securingagreementaboutsuch mattersis the perennial
one of theorists talking past one anotherbecause of conceptual confusion. For
example, how "new"is "globalization"when conceived of only as "the growth
of internationaltradeand investment,linking a growing numberof countriesin
increasinglyintense exchanges in an open world tradingsystem?"Defining and
measuringglobalizationin this way leads Paul Hirst(1997:410-412) to conclude
that such "a process has been going on, punctuatedby the interruptionsof severe
economic crises and wars, for well over a century."He identifies "threemajor
phases." The initial phase was "the belle poque of 1870-1914, when world
tradeand outputgrew in parallelat an annualrateof 3.5 percentand 4.5 percent,
respectively." Thus, "By the late nineteenth century, the whole world had
become partof a developed and interconnectedcommercialcivilization."A sec-
ond period of growthextendedfrom the end of WorldWarII throughthe OPEC
(Organizationof the Petroleum-ExportingCountries)oil crisis of 1973, when
trade grew annually 9.4 percent and output 5.3 percent. The last phase was
1973-1979, when capital movements acceleratedbecause of the deregulation
of financial markets and floating exchange rates. The importance of Hirst's
definition of globalization becomes apparentwhen he points out that the first
two periodsdid not "underminethe nation-state"and that,in fact, "manymodern
nation-stateswere forged duringthe belle poque and sustainedby rapidindus-
trial growth."And, between 1950 and 1973, supposedly the "heydayof auton-
omy in national economic policy and of Keynesian demand management,"he
finds that when governments cooperated, they could exercise considerable
"supranationalgovernance."20
But can states today control the economic forces that affect their citizens?
Hirst (1997:415) thinks so. Acknowledging that direct merchandisetrade has
become much less significant as capital flows have increased, he nonetheless
points out that more than 90 percent of FDI (foreign direct investment) is still

20Hirst(1997:418)also
arguesthatfirms"arestill multinational,
not transnational;
thatis, thattheyhavea homebasein one of theTriad[Europe,Japan,andNorthAmer-
ica] countries"and"arenotfootloosecapitalbutarerootedin a majormarketin oneof
the threemostprosperous regionsof the globe."Fora similarargument,
see Paulyand
Reich(1997).
88 Ferguson and Mansbach

tradedamong the rich countries,representingslightly more than a quarterof the


world's population.His intentionis to show thatthe link between stateautonomy
andcapacity,andglobalizationis tenuousat best. In otherwords,however impo-
tent many countriesmay be in the face of globalization,rich states at least have
not succumbed to it. "The internationaleconomy," he (1997:425) concludes,
"remainssufficiently concentratedin the key nationalstates for ... governance
to be possible, given the political will and a measureof internationalconsensus."
The last phraseis a powerful qualifier,and it may be thatthe best hope for such
"will" and "consensus"lies in the demands of the private sector most affected
ratherthan in states themselves. And, because Hirst omits the impact of vast
speculativecurrencyflows on state autonomy,one is left wonderingwhetherhis
conceptualizationof globalizationis not so restrictedas to bias the outcome of
the analysis.
Has the world changed so little over the last hundredyears? Who would
gainsaymany of Hirst's observations?Few claim thattoday's cross-bordertrans-
actions are withoutprecedent,that currenteconomic activity is not concentrated
in and among the rich countries,or that most firms are fully globalized. Never-
theless, national economies are increasingly dependent on transnationaland
global forces; corporate leaders are designing transnationaland sometimes
global strategies;and productionand managementstructuresare increasingly
being networkedand integratedacross vast stretchesof the planet.21
For Jan Aart Scholte (1997:429-430, 432), globalization is "the spread of
'supraterritorial' or 'transborderrelations."'Thatdefinitionenables him to come
to a quite different conclusion than Hirst, even while accepting that relative
levels of "cross-bordertrade, investment, and migration a hundredyears ago
were roughly the same or higher than they are today."What Scholte finds most
"distinctive"aboutcontemporaryglobalizationis thatit involves "a fundamental
transformationof human geography"in which "world affairs have acquireda
(rapidlygrowing) global dimension alongside the territorialframeworkof old"
that is reflected in spheres such as telecommunications,marketing,and "trans-
world finance."As a result, he concludes, "the territorialistassumptionswhich
underpinmodernunderstandingsof 'internationalrelations'have become unten-
able.""Bordersare not so much crossed as transcended."
The global political and economic worlds are not entirely old or new. They
are worlds in transition.As Jessica Matthews (1997:50) expresses it: "National
governmentsarenot simply losing autonomyin a globalizingeconomy. They are
sharing powers-including political, social, and security roles at the core
of sovereignty-with businesses, with internationalorganizations,and with a
multitudeof citizen groups."

21Fora morecautiousview, see the specialissueof ForeignPolicy(1998-99).


Global Politics at the Turnof the Millennium 89

THE WESTPHALIAN STATE: NO LONGER CENTER STAGE


If it was ever true for most of the world's population(probablynot), no longer
are "us"and "them"defined exclusively or even mainly by state citizenship.The
hierarchy of polities among individual identities and loyalties is variable,
depending largely on context, and state boundariesdo not automaticallydefine
the limits of an individual's moral community.In some cases, individuals may
think first of their identity as citizen, but in other instances gender, profession,
class, race, or ethnicity may be more salient.
Individualshave multiple identities, and differentissues tap differentidenti-
ties. When the AmericanCivil War erupted,RobertE. Lee was tornbetween his
identity as a Virginianand as an American,just as many Muslims today are torn
between their religious and nationalidentities. Loyalties--distinct, it should be
stressed,from identities-are an exchange phenomenonthatfollow psychologi-
cal and materialbenefits. When the state provides these more effectively than
otherpolities, it is respectedandrevered;when it fails to do so, as is increasingly
the case today, individuals may grow more attachedto alternativepolities. As
Susan Strangeobserved, with the possible exception of a few states like Israel
whose survival is at risk: "Todayit is much more doubtfulthat the state-or at
least the majorityof states-can still claim a degree of loyalty from the citizen
greaterthanthe loyalty given to family, to the firm, to the political party,or even
in some cases to the local football team."
One response might be that citizens are preparedto die for their country,but
not for their corporation. Strange (1996:72) acknowledged that the global
company does not call on its employees to face death for the good of the firm.
"But then," she added, "in today's world [in stable political societies], the state
does not ask citizens to die for it either.""Loyaltyof the kind thatis readyto die
for a cause is more often found among ethnic or religious minorities... thanit is
among the ordinarycitizens in an average state."
Even though states will certainly continue to exist and some may improve
their performance,the map of a world divided into exclusive sovereign boxes is
no longer particularlyhelpful in distinguishingidentities or much of anything
else. Although states remain,they are differentfrom the leviathansof old; they
are "less sovereign,"less autonomous,and less able eitherto protector to inspire
citizens. "The sovereign state of old," declares Scholte (1997:445), "almost
exclusively representedand promotedso-called 'domestic' or 'national'-read
territorial-interests." By contrast,a state today is "less a mediumfor holding a
territorialline of defence of its 'inside' against its 'outside'" than "an arena of
collaborationand competition between territorialand supraterritorialinterests"
such as "globalcapital."In sum, most of the legal boundariesof states are likely
to remain intact, paradoxically,because they are less and less significant. Why
90 Ferguson and Mansbach

covet territorythatis not the main source of wealth (Kuwaitis an exception that
proves the rule) or botherto adjustbordersthatare so easily transcended?
How then did the state acquire such a hold over the imaginationof social
scientists? The tale might open with "once upon a time in old Europe."There
was indeed a genuine "Westphalianmoment,"andit was thatvery experienceof
the emergenceand consolidationof the sovereignstate in Europe,andthe expan-
sion of Europe's power and ideas that spawned a scholarly traditionthat was
both Eurocentricand ahistorical. A few princes wrested exclusive control of
dynastic domains that they then expanded at the expense of neighbors, in the
process seducing the loyalties of and joining forces with an emerging urban
commercialclass. People did not immediatelysurrendertheiridentities as Euro-
peans, Christians,or members of the Holy Roman Empire, but those identities
became relatively less central to their lives. Of course, rulers might use strong
incentives to discourage subjects from showing more loyalty to church than
state, as Henry VIII did when he required subjects to declare publicly their
loyalty to him and seized churchpropertiesin England.
Although the process of consolidation was somewhat different in each
country and remained incomplete nearly everywhere-especially in Germany
and Italy-the personalrealmsof flesh-and-bloodmonarchsevolved into territo-
rial states endowed with sovereignty. Internationallaw codified this situation,
detailingthe practice,rights, and obligationsof those young leviathansthatwere
legal equalsand supposedlysubjectto no higherauthoritythanGod the Creator.
The Westphalianstate prosperedbecause it was better able than any other
polity to reduce violence within its boundaries,manageviolence externally,and
mobilize the abilities and resourcesof subjects. During the mercantilistera, the
state began to take on more economic functions.In the late eighteenthand nine-
teenth centuries, it received an enormous boost in legitimacy from the rise of
nationalism and notions of popular sovereignty. Then arrived the twentieth-
centurywelfare state.As Taylor(1996, p. 1920) suggests, thatis how the modern
political map was born:"[States']historicalsocial constructionswere interpreted
as an inevitableoutcome of political progress,and the familiarboundarieson the
world political map came to be viewed like 'other' naturalfeatures such as
rivers, mountain ranges, and coastlines. Being 'natural,' states precluded all
other social worlds."
European states carried the state concept with them when they acquired
empires by conqueringmost of the rest of the world. The concept came back to
haunt them when subject peoples demanded their own independence. Later
claimants could cite the right of "self-determinationof peoples" that was
enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Charter.Perhaps not surprisingly,that
principle was interpretedas the right of self-proclaimednations to have their
own state, ratherthan the more limited protection schemes for minorities that
Woodrow Wilson had originally intended.In any event, most of the new states
Global Politics at the Turnof the Millennium 91

were far different from their Europeanprogenitors.Their boundarieshad not


evolved over centuries of extension and consolidation but were usually those
arbitrarilyimposed by colonial authorities,often, for example, groupinghostile
tribes or ignoring common identities that crossed boundaries.After World War
II, the Cold War standoffbetween the superpowersdeterredshifts in boundaries,
and political elites in manynew states developed a personalstakein maintaining
the boundarystatus quo. What was actually helping to sustain the state was the
intense competitionbetween two majorempires,coupled with pervasive corrup-
tion in much of what was then describedas the thirdworld.
The state-centricmap was the only one permittedby foreign offices and the
social sciences, which gave it some genuine substancebut did not guaranteea fit
with social reality. More important,the map seemed to universalizea particular
polity thatwas actuallythe productof a particularplace and time and idealized it
as more secure and unified than was ever the case.
The model of global politics that built on this map embodied additional
false assumptions. In some cases, the legal independence derived from sover-
eignty- itself merely the recognition by other sovereign states that a new
territorialpolity should be admittedto the club22-became confused with gen-
uine authority and autonomy.23A sovereign state may assert that outsiders
should not intervene in its affairs, and thatcitizens should respect its legitimacy
and obey its laws, but there is no guaranteethat they will. Jorge Dominguez
(1997:101), for instance, writes of "a persistent fear" that haunts Latin Amer-
ica, "an obsession with failure ... Many still believe that economic success is
ephemeraland that democracy's worst enemies are the politicians who claim to
speak in its name." Sovereign independence since World War II has offered
considerable protection against boundary changes achieved through military
aggression.24In many places, unfortunately,the result has been what Robert
Jackson (1990) calls "negative sovereignty," that is, protection for corrupt
regimes.
Sovereignty makes it appearthatstates arehomologous, disguising the more
importantfact that actual states have little in common except legal sovereignty.
Today's list of nearly 200 states includes one superpowerand a large numberof
tiny entities that are scarcely viable. Some 87 states have fewer than 5 million
inhabitants,fifty-eight have less than 2.5 million, and 35 fewer than 500,000.25
Sovereign Nauru, for example, is a Pacific atoll of eight square miles, with

22See Osterud(1997).
23 We agreewithAlanJames(1986)on thispoint.
24 See JacksonandZacher(1997).
25 Statisticsarefromthe Economist
(1998),an articlebasedon the workof Harvard
economistAlbertoAlesina.
92 Ferguson and Mansbach

8,000 inhabitants,many of whom are rich from the sale of phosphates.When


the atoll gets washed away or runs out of phosphates, that will be the last of
Nauru. Or, consider the contrast between the prosperous and well-ordered
city-state of Singapore whose streets have neither cigarette butts nor animal
waste and the failed state of SierraLeone, which featuresmore thana dozen eth-
nic groups, repeatedcoups, brigandsand "sobels"(formersoldiers), along with
the RevolutionaryUnited Frontwhose name disguises the fact that its existence
depends largely on looting and diamond smuggling. At this writing, Sierra
Leone's "legitimate"government is a virtual captive at the Freetown airport,
protectedby Nigerian soldiers. In SierraLeone as well as elsewhere in Africa,
argues William Reno (1997:227-230), illicit commercial networks help com-
pensate for the loss of traditionalpatronage systems reinforced by aid from
former colonial powers and Cold War rivals. In many of these countries, the
idea of sovereigntyis turnedon its head;instead of providingcitizens with secu-
rity from foreign aggression by guardingthe country's borders,the "national"
army is the source of insecurity for citizens who are desperate to flee across
those very borders. On occasion, "private"mercenaries such as the South
Africa-based Executive Outcomes(one of some ninety privatearmiesoperating
in Africa) are employed to substitutefor a nationalmilitaryor protecta govern-
ment from its own army.
Perhapsthe most commonfallacy perpetuatedat least by realistsis thatstates
can be treatedas unitaryactors. In fact, most states are usually rent by political
faction and subject to bureaucraticinfighting and interest-grouppolitics, often
transnationalin nature. Regrettably, there remains a tendency to anthropo-
morphizestates, when almost inevitably the real "actors"or "agents"are either
governmentor social subgroups,or both. If we wish to identify the sources of
policy, we have to tracethem back to individualsand groupswithin and outside
the state.
Yet even the distinctionbetween "within"and "outside"is gravely mislead-
ing. In its most distortingform, this claim contrastsdomestic "tranquillity"with
international"anarchy."In many respects, the reverse is closer to the truth,as
urbancenters from Bogota and Karachito Washington,D.C., and Moscow are
afflicted by organizedcrime, ethnic conflict, and randomterrorism.By contrast,
interstatewars are rare,and formal and informalrules govern much of the trans-
nationaland internationalworlds.
Finally, the distinctionbetween "public"and "private"thatdominatespolit-
ical philosophy and internationallaw is largely false, serving mainly as a propto
perpetuate sovereignty. Until the field of political economy finally gained
steam, for example, liberalsandrealistsin political science regardedanythingto
do with business and finance as belonging to managementschools. Even in the
United States, where the free marketis a fundamentaltenet, "private"business
interests have influenced public policy since the republic was founded, and
Global Politics at the Turnof the Millennium 93

government,in turn,routinely looks to the knowledge and resources of the pri-


vate spherefor public purposes.26The "public"good and the "nationalinterest"
are often indistinguishablefrom the good of "private"interests. This is even
more so in the case "JapanInc." and "SingaporeInc.""27 and, more generally, the
"cronycapitalism"that characterizesmuch of Asia. The deregulationof capital
marketshas highlightedthe fact thatthe resourcesof privateinvestors and firms
have come to outstripdramaticallythe resources of nationaltreasuries.
In sum, if the state-centricmodel of global politics has always been mislead-
ing, today it hopelessly distortsthe world in which we live. All states must share
authoritywith other polities. All states confront transnationaland subnational
challenges, and in the cases of countries like Somalia, state institutions have
vanished. Even in Europe, the birthplaceof the Westphalian state, states are
challenged from above by the EU and from below by regional and ethnic
forces.28By contrast,financialhubs like the cities of New York, London,Frank-
fort, and Tokyo enjoy global authority, as do a variety of oligopolistic
corporations and criminal syndicates. The concentration of highly educated
wealthy elites in major cities may augur a new age of influential city polities,
much like that of ancient Greece or Renaissance Italy.29Singapore and Hong
Kong illustratehow cities can exercise influence far beyond their "hinterlands"
defined territorially.
The financial crises of Mexico and Asia demonstratethe limited nature of
state capacity and control in key issue areas. Everywhere, governments are
bewilderedby the pace and impact of change, and this bewildermentintensifies
factionalismand bureaucraticcompetition,often leading to governmentgridlock
and inertia. In addition, as recipients of more education and greater access
to information, citizens are less and less passive and are becoming harder
and harder to fool. They are also mobilizing themselves for political ends
across cyberspace. As Strange (1996:3) observed: "Politicianseverywheretalk
as though they have the answers to economic and social problems, as if
they really are in charge of their country's destiny. People no longer believe
them."
A variety of counterargumentshave been offered in defense of the state-
centric map, some of which are more persuasivethan others.

26Inrecentyears,for instance,the U.S. government


has encouragedU.S. banksand
to assistRussiaandotherformercommuniststatesto makethetransition
corporations to
free-marketdemocracies.
27SeeHaley,Low,andToh(1996).
28Cf.Newhouse(1997).
29SeeSassen(1991, 1994).
94 Ferguson and Mansbach

Stable State Boundaries


One claim is that territorialboundariesare essentially stable. "In the twentieth
century, and especially since 1945," declare Robert Jackson and Mark Zacher
(1997:26), "stateshave not only come to a judgmentthatthey should not murder
each other, they have adopted the position that they should not maim each
other-that is to say, they should not cut off pieces. Today states are more
respectfulof each other's independenceand territorythan they have ever been,
or in a differentterminology,they are morenormativelycommittedto the territo-
rial covenant."A variety of factors, including the Cold War rivalry, ironically,
for a time strengthenedthe territorialcovenant; Iraq's wars against Iran and
Kuwait and the Ugandan-Rwandan-sponsored invasion of Zaire suggest there
are still those who do not accept it. Moreover,of course, therehave been numer-
ous shifts of state boundariessince World War II, including the breakupof the
Europeanempires, the Soviet Union, Czechoslavakia,and Yugoslavia. But the
most importantreasonstoday for more stable stateboundariesare much simpler:
the importanceof territoryin global politics has declined dramaticallywhile the
cost of war has risen.

State Capacity
A second counterargumentis thatthe capacityat least of some states has grown,
allowing them to have a greaterimpact on the lives of citizens.30Governments
regulatetoxic chemicals, establishdrivingrules, createaffirmativeaction guide-
lines, and so forth. There is, in fact, considerable ambivalence in citizens'
attitudes,both an urgent need and desire for better governmentservices and a
pervadingdoubt whether governmentcan effectively provide them. Tax revolt
and privatizationmovements are worldwide. Be that as it may, there is no
denying that governmentsseem to have little capacity to protect citizens from
globalizing shocks and, indeed, appearfar more anxious to offer incentives and
remove obstacles to having their national economies fully integratedinto the
global economic system.
The "Asian state" is often cited as an exception to any generalizationthat
statesareweak. One difficulty with this reasoning,as we have noted, is thatsome
states in Asia are hard to differentiatefrom their private sector.31Singapore's
government startedout by identifying sectoral opportunitieswithin the global
economy for nationaland transnationalfirms, but somewherealong the line the
private-sectortail started wagging the dog. As for Japan, Strange (1996:6-7)
maintainedthat that country's "exceptionalism"was substantiallythe result of

30This argumentandthe two thatfollow are similarto the "threeparadoxes"spot-


lightedby Strange(1996:4-7).
31Cf.Kim(1997).
Global Politics at the Turnof the Millennium 95

postwar Western aid, technology, and dispensation to pursue closed-market


policies. That era is now over, and Japanesecitizens themselves are less willing
to make traditionalsacrifices and believe that what is good for business, orga-
nized crime, and governmentbureaucratsis necessarilygood for them. In China,
it remains to be seen whether a strong state can long coexist with increasingly
privatized firms and markets. Moreover, the national government is already
having grave problems countering military influence and regional and local
insubordination.
Until recently, economic success shielded Chinese and other Asian govern-
ments from too much citizen scrutinyand criticism. Then came Japan's severe
economic difficulties and the financialcrisis thatstruckSoutheastand East Asia
in 1997 and 1998. In state afterstate-Thailand, Indonesia,Malaysia, and South
Korea-governments had to give way to the exigencies of global economic
forces. Should the currentregional economic downturnpersist or a worldwide
recession occur, the pressureswill surely mount.

Number of States
A thirdcounterargumentis that,with the rise of numerousmini-nationalisms,the
list of states is liable to grow longer ratherthan shorter.In remarkabledouble-
think fashion, statists thus transforma problemfor their map of the world-the
fact states may be disintegratingand boundariesthereforemight be alteredfrom
the inside-into a virtue. States are begettingmore states,up to several thousand
if all the movements succeed. We are supposed to applaudthis final triumphof
the nation-stateideal. Such a world would be far from anything we know at
presentand is highly unlikely to come aboutin any event. Many "ethnic"groups
"merely"want autonomy ratherthan full independence,which most would be
unableto obtaineven if they did want it. The demandsand often violent behavior
of such groups,however, will doubtlesscontinueto plague many existing states.

Interstate Cooperation
The last counterargumentis that states are recovering many of their lost pre-
rogatives by cooperatingthroughinternationalorganizationsand regimes, and
using NGOs and INGOs as well-entities that do have the capacity to operate
across sovereign boundaries.Doublethinkcontinues:states simply cannot cope
by themselves, so they are salvaging "their"authoritypartly by creating inter-
nationalinstitutionsthat "they"still control? In fact, states' outsourcing(rather
like firms) to other polities are helping states to cope with some contemporary
challenges. The results differ from issue to issue, and the eventual impact on
citizen identities and loyalties remainsto be seen.
96 Ferguson and Mansbach

WHOAM I AND WHOMDo I SERVE?


Citizenshipandnationalityno longer suffice to define by themselves who we are
or where our loyalties lie. The question of who is "inside"and who is "outside"
the boundariesof civic and moralobligationis regainingan importancefor polit-
ical theory and global politics not seen since the birth and maturationof the
Westphalianstate.It is hardlysurprising,then, that"cultureandidentityare stag-
ing a dramaticcomebackin social theoryand practiceat the end of the twentieth
century"(Lapid 1996:3).
In theorizingaboutthe social constructionof identities, we are also describ-
ing the changing criteria for defining "us" and "them"as bases for political
action. Recognizing the centralityof identity politics is only a first step, how-
ever, for as Peter Dombrowski(1997:19) observes: "Before individualscan act
as rationalvalue maximizersin the Douglass North mode, before they can offer
or withhold 'loyalties' as in the Fergusonand Mansbachexplanation,and even
before they can self-actualizetheirpersonalskills and capacitiesas suggestedby
Rosenau,they must be sufficientlyfree from the bonds of traditionto 'act' ... to
become agents of historical change, not simply passive vessels or blindly
reactive forces." Dombrowski goes on to argue that the process of "individual-
ization" associated with Europe's Renaissance and Reformation, the rise of
marketcapitalism,and, in the end, the Westphalianstate explains how passive
subjects became active consumers of rival identities and their ideologies and
acquireda capacityto make a self-interestedchoice among them.
A variety of featuresmight serve as a basis for self-identity-race, religion,
ideology, gender,profession,to name a few. As a result,an individualis to some
extent both the same as and differentfrom others.Most identities, however, are
insufficiently stable or salient to provide clear political cues or durablebound-
aries between political communities.Any definition of self is multidimensional
and fluid, and for each individualthe rankingof identitieswill be slightly differ-
ent. That hierarchy will change, and new identities may be created as the
significance attachedto political relationshipswith others is altered. Thus few
Bosnians identifiedthemselves by religion until Bosnian "Muslims"discovered
a collective identity as a result of collective persecution.
In dividing "us"from "them,"competingidentitiesdrawboundariesbetween
communities of sameness and communities of otherness. Where identities and
resulting boundariesreinforce each other, as do race and class in the United
States, conflict potential is greater;where they crosscut, conflict potential is
reduced.And as identityhierarchiesevolve, some boundarieshardenand others
soften, even as new boundariesbecome visible.32

andVasquez(1981:143-185).
32See Mansbach
Global Politics at the Turnof the Millennium 97

The legitimacy of the Westphalianstate rested substantiallyon its capacity


to manage violence within its territoryand provide a "hardshell of impenetra-
bility" against threatsfrom outside.33As a result, the state provided a reliable
territorialbasis to fix and enforce boundariesof identity. Gradually,a reshuf-
fling of identity hierarchies took place, so that citizenship and nationality,
anchored in territory took precedence over identities arising from religion,
class, ethnicity, and locality. "The modern territorialstate," as Agnew and
Corbridge (1995:85) declare, "steadily replaced the plurality of hierarchical
bonds with an exclusive identity based upon membershipin the commonjuridi-
cal space defined by the writ of the state. ... Identificationof citizenship with
residence in a particularterritorialspace became the central fact of political
identity."
Just as the identities of subjects and, later, citizens were manipulatedby
kings and revolutionariesto strengthenthe state, so today mullahs and national-
ists manipulateidentities to underminethe state. Such manipulationmay, and
often does, involve coercion, but the role of coercion in identity formationand
transformationshould not be overstated.Coercion alone has never been a suffi-
cient prop to maintainpolities for long; that is, you can bash some of the heads
some of the time but not all of the heads all of the time. Instead,identityforma-
tion and change entail a combination of structural evolution with elites'
ideological invention and political maneuvering.
The role of these factorswas evidentin the weddingof nationand stateduring
and after the FrenchRevolution. Individualization,a consequence of education,
prosperity,and secularism,was necessary, but requiredan additionalpush from
middle-class intellectuals seeking an end to feudal anomalies and Bourbon
incompetence.NapoleonhighjackedLiberti! Egaliti! Fraternite'!to sever the ties
of subjectsto dynasticrulerselsewherein Europe.They in turnfoundit necessary
to inflame nationalismto defend themselves. More than a century later, Lenin
recognizedthatrevolutionhad to be given a push by a "vanguardof the proletar-
iat"no matterhow promisingwere structuralconditions.
The fate of nationalism,past andpresent,illustrateshow elites can manipulate
the same identity for dramaticallydifferentends. What is nationalism,after all,
but a syntheticconstruct,built from a varietyof real or imaginedgroupcharacter-
istics such as language, ethnicity, religion, and so forth? It is not possible, as
Hobsbawm (1990:8) remindsus, "to reduce ... 'nationality'to a single dimen-
sion, whetherpolitical, culturalor otherwise."It is precisely the subjectivenature
of the identitythatmakesus returnso often to ErnestRenan'sclassic definitionof
a nationas "a daily plebiscite."

33Herz(1959:chaps.2-4). In fact,Westphalianstatesdidnotachievea monopolyon


transborder
violenceuntilwell intothe nineteenthcentury(see Thomson1994).
98 Ferguson and Mansbach

According to James Mayall (1990:30),34 "liberal" nationalists regarded


nationalself-determinationas "a liberalprinciple"and "objectedto the idea that
the cause of freedom and self-determinationcould be served by the deliberate
use of force." Thus liberals like Mazzini believed that national identities were
crucial to bring about a new republicanorder in Europe and so eliminate the
reasonsfor war.
"Historicistnationalists"take a differentview of force. Accordingto Mayall
(1990:31), "Theline can be tracedfrom Hegel's insistence thatthe conquestsof
the historicalnationscontributeto humanprogressthroughthe frenziedenthusi-
asm of the belligerents during the early stages of the First World War, to the
contemporaryscene of freedom fighters engaged in real and imaginarywars of
national liberation."It was this version of nationalism, often associated with
Treitschke,that triumphedin Europe after 1848 and became contaminatedby
racial myths and the glorificationof violence. As a consequence, by the end of
the nineteenth century, nationalism became synonymous with exclusion and
otherness.35No longer were the boundariesbetween nation-statessoftened by
the mutualityof governingelites.
By contrastto the linking of nationaland subject/citizenidentitiesin the late
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the last decades of the twentieth century
have witnessed their decoupling. State fragmentationand "neo-tribalism"are
especially prevalentin the developing world, the Balkans,and along the Russian
periphery. Identities and loyalties that colonial authorities and commissars
repressedare resurfacing,often making a mockery of sovereign boundaries.In
this sense, ethnic conflict is partlya problemof shifting identityboundariesin a
state system constructedby Europeansin non-Europeansettings. The govern-
ments of manyof these states,far frombeing impartialarbitersof social conflicts
or surrogatesfor a "nationalinterest,"representthe privileges of a tribal,family,
regional, or militaryfaction.
Unlike most of the developing world, the developed regions have become
what Karl Deutsch et al. (1957) called a "pluralisticsecurity community"in
which war appearsalmost inconceivable.Statesin these regions are enmeshedin
largerpolitical and economic systems thatlimit theircapacityto behave autono-
mously or protect citizens from spillover from those systems. Under such
conditions, it is not surprisingthat local, national,regional, and other identities
challenge citizenshipfor pride of place.36
In sum, at the turn of the millennium, the most importantissue in global
politics is the long-range impact of "the retreatof the state" on identities and

34See also Lind(1994).


35 See Linklater
(1982).
36
KeatingandHooghe(1996)makethispointwithregardto Europe.
Global Politics at the Turnof the Millennium 99

loyalties. We have to face growing uncertaintyas to where our allegiances


should lie. Wrote Strange (1996:199): "In a world of multiple, diffused author-
ity, each of us shares Pinocchio's problem:our individual consciences are our
only guide."

CONCLUSIONS
The field of international relations-necessarily renamed global or world
politics37-is graduallyredefiningits mainstreamaway from power capabilities
and territorialstates. It is not yet clear what that mainstreamwill look like in
coming decades, but we can hazard a good guess. It will revolve around the
effective control or influence exercised by a wide range of authoritiesor poli-
ties-and the sources of thatcontrolor influence. Thatbringsus back, in turn,to
identity politics, rooted in the assumptionthatboundariesand loyalties are vari-
ables owing to the ever-changingmeaningof "us"and "them.""Individualsand
groups ... identify simultaneouslywith several communitiesthat are all imag-
ined; these identifications are historically changeable, and often conflict
internallyand with each other"(Duara 1996:153).
Theory will be strongly concerned with ideology and other means that
leadersuse to constructand manipulateidentities,to attractand anchorloyalty-
how they rewritehistory, harnessliteratureand art,adaptancient myths, and, if
necessary,even createnew ones to do so. Like Lenin tryingto make proletarians
of nationalistworkers in 1914, Stalin appealingto Russian patriotismand jetti-
soning Marxism in 1941,38 or Elizabeth I encouraging Shakespeareto glorify
England, the English language, and its Tudor rulers, leaders must attempt to
shape identities, establishtheirpolity's legitimacy, and build loyalty for the lon-
ger haul. Polities need to be perceived as moral communities. Thereafter,the
continuedcapacity to deliver materialgoods, and a modicum of coercion secure
authority.
Identitypolitics necessarilyfocuses on change, adoptinga historicalperspec-
tive. As identities change, so do the relative strengthand importanceof different
polities. American history, for instance, is the story of how British colonies
became, first, thirteenautonomousstates, then a confederation,and, eventually,
a single federalpolity. Duringthe RevolutionaryWar,those who believed them-
selves to be "British"fled to Canada,and it took a civil war to determinethe
hierarchy between one's identity and allegiance as a South Carolinian or a
Georgianand the identity and allegiance owed to the United States.
When the territorialstate triumphedover other polities, first in Europe and
then beyond, it provided"thelink between identityand self-rule"and "laidclaim

37 An old termwhosefull implications


areonlynowbeginningto becomeapparent.
38Onthispoint,recallSergeiEisenstein'sfilmAlexanderNevsky.
100 Ferguson and Mansbach

to the allegiance of its citizens on the ground that its exercise of sovereignty
expressedtheircollective identity."For hundredsof years, it answered"a yearn-
ing for political arrangementsthat can situate people in a world increasingly
governedby vast and distantforces" (Sandel 1996:74). Put bluntly,the state can
no longer do so, and citizenship is thereforeincreasinglya problematicalpoliti-
cal identity.
In global politics, facts and values will be reunited. Indeed, the erosion
of state authorityand increasing globalization raises critical normativeissues.
Declining state autonomy in the face of marketexigencies reduces the state's
commitment and capacity to provide economic security and social welfare
programsfor citizens. Moreover,growing reliance on the anonymousdecision-
makingof global marketsand, more broadly,on governanceratherthan govern-
mentmeans a reducedcommitmentto traditionalstate-centricdemocraticnorms.
As the commitmentto efficiency measuredby corporateprofits grows, the norm
of accountability recedes. The destiny of citizens drifts away from elected
governments,however enfeebled, and lands to a substantialdegree in the hands
of corporationsand banks,global hedge funds, the InternationalMonetaryFund,
and so forth. States are losing their capacity to provide distributivejustice and
can no longer shelter citizens from the vicissitudes of the supposedly external
world.
Another dramaticshift involves the conduct of war. During the European
epoch of state supremacy, armies fought one another according to rules that
supposedly limited violence and protectedcivilians, and the line between war
and banditrywas relatively demarcated.Those rules, to be sure, affordedlittle
protectioneither for non-Christiansin tribalpolities outside Europeor for civil-
ians who daredraise their hands againstthe state or were so unlucky as to be in
the line of fire. The former"didnot know the state andits sharply-drawndivision
between government, army, and people," and were therefore "automatically
declared to be bandits"(Van Creveld 1991:41), and those who challenged the
state threatenedthe unity and peace accordedby sovereignty.
The erosion of state authorityand the growing centralityof identities other
than citizen has been accompaniedby a decline of restraintson violence and its
decouplingfrom traditionalstatistconceptionsof political purpose.FromBosnia
and Somalia to the GreatLakes region of Africa,39it is difficult to distinguish
between organized war "as a real political instrument"in the Clausewitzian
sense (Von Clausewitz 1943:16) and mindless savagery or crime. What Von
Clausewitz, as the theorist of state-centricwarfare, "made no allowance for,"
declares John Keegan (1993; p. 5), "was . . . the endemic warfareof non-state,
even pre-statepeoples, in which there was no distinction between lawful and

39Thisincludesthe Congo (formerlyZaire),Rwanda,and Burundi,and the term


reflectsthecollapseof thosestatesandtheirrelevanceof theirboundaries.
Global Politics at the Turnof the Millennium 101

unlawful bearersof arms."Of course, many of those who died in the numerous
wars, including "civil" ones, since Westphalia may have been insufficiently
indoctrinatedto appreciatethe fine points of law. At least postmodernwar raises
the right issues: what specific purposes does violence serve or not serve, and
what sorts of ends and targetsare appropriate?
The state will not disappear,but it will be forever variable and, even at its
most substantial, a truncated version of the Westphalian ideal. Scholte
(1997:452) summarizessome of the changes:"Largelyowing to globalizing cap-
ital, states of the late twentieth century have on the whole lost sovereignty,
acquired supraterritorialconstituents,retreatedfrom interstatewarfare (for the
moment), frozen or reduced social security provisions, multiplied multilateral
governancearrangements,and lost considerabledemocraticpotential."
Looking towardthe twenty-firstcentury,everyone's crystal ball is perforce
extremely cloudy, but three trends suggest themselves. First, the more estab-
lished states strive, with varying degrees of success, to continue in a utilitarian
role: defining some jurisdictionalboundaries,positioning their national econo-
mies to attract capital and remain competitive in a global context, assuring
citizens of reasonableequality before the law, maintainingan adequatemilitary
force for an occasional foray to a world troublespot,and providing a minimum
standardof public services. Meanwhile, the private sector-firms, nonprofits,
and individuals-assumes increasing responsibilityfor nearly everything from
educationto soup kitchensto police protection.The link between state and iden-
tity is weaker, and citizens have access to a rich universe of local, regional, and
transnationalnetworks and polities. This situation alreadyexists to a consider-
able extent in the developed world.
A second trend is one in which interstate organizations and less-formal
regimes, aided by a variety of NGOs, make limited attempts to address "the
common enemies of mankind"and regularlyintervene-like the UN and NATO
in Somalia, Bosnia, and Cambodia-to restorepeace and providematerialrelief
for citizens living in states thathave failed or are in dangerof doing so. A more
activist variantof the latter function would involve reviving something akin to
the UN trusteeship system. What little remains of state autonomy becomes
increasingly diluted throughhabitual multilateralismand, in the case of failed
states, is virtuallyirrelevant.
A third possibility, unfortunately,is an extended period of chaos akin to
Robert Kaplan's (1994; p. 75) apocalyptic vision of the "last map": "Imagine
cartographyin three dimensions, as if in a hologram.In this hologramwould be
overlapping sediments of group and other identities atop the merely two-
dimensionalcolor markingsof city-states and the remainingnations,themselves
confused in places by shadowy tentacles, hovering overhead, indicating the
power of drug cartels, mafias, and privatesecurity agencies. Insteadof borders,
therewould be moving 'centers'of power, as in the Middle Ages." Exaggerated,
102 Ferguson and Mansbach

perhaps,but considera nightmareworldin which identitypolitics leads to persis-


tent high-tech terrorism,the global economy collapses, or interstatewars revive
on a frighteningscale. Such a world would encourageextremistsentimentsand
authoritariansolutions, but it is by no means certainthatstates would gain in the
process. Theremight well be a franticsearchfor new and even primordialpoliti-
cal forms.
It is thus impossible to predictwhat our futureidentityhierarchywill resem-
ble. Each of us is enmeshedin old identitiesand loyalties, and the futurechoices
we make will not be entirely voluntary.Variousauthoritiesare bidding for our
allegiance, and they are establishing their influence over us at the same time.
However, of this we can be sure:each time we look in the mirror,the images will
be changing.

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