Brian Tamanaha’s post over at Balkanization entitled ‘Blood on the Hands of the State’ has sparked quite a bit of controversy. Professor Tamanaha argues that 1) He does not love his state and 2) States are on the decline in favor of…something else.
When I first read Professor Tamanaha’s post, I was inclined to disagree. I still am. Its hard for me to criticize his argument because he ultimately said very little of substance. He presented arguments (and a few controversial statements like ‘I Don’t Love My Country”) and offered very, very slim analysis to explain why we should all look forward to his utopia. I know Balkanization doesn’t impose word limits on its writers so I find his lack of explanation inexcusable. Regardless of why he wrote so little, he still makes a few arguments just seem silly.
First of all, the ‘state’ will always exist. Professor Tamanaha argues that the development of states is a recent development and I challenge him to find an extended period of human history that did not involve some sort of governmental organization. From Egyptian Pharoh’s who enslaved their people to Liberian leaders who slaughtered their people, governments have been the driving force in history in almost every circumstance. It is important to remember that a government is nothing except a group of citizens who claim governance over other citizens. When I refer to a government, I am referring that select group. Here is what he said:
Many contemporary political theorists write about the evident decline of states in this age of globalization. States are losing power at the top by subjecting themselves to transnational entities (EU, WTO), while internally dividing into smaller units (Sandy’s observations). States have already lost a great deal of power in economic affairs. Even internal policing, one of the original missions of the state, is giving over to private security, or acceding to urban pockets with uncontrolled anarchy or vigilante community enforcement of order.
I guess there is some semblance of the truth to those claim. Nations have been giving an increasingly large amount of power to international organizations (see: EU) and those organizations are getting more responsibility over more important matters. The result of this shift is not the decline of government, but instead an increase in bureaucracy. As we add more organizations to the alphabet soup, we add more groups who are vying for power. As more organizations are added, each is going to reach for more power over the things under and around it. Even if our current model of inter-state relations fades in favor of a multi-national concept, the idea of an immeasurably small cross-section of society making decisions for the masses will remain wholly intact for quite some time.