This paper hypothesizes that the traditional Westphalian state will continue to perform minimal traditional functions. Its relevance will not be washed away despite emerging transnational elites and technological innovations that suppress sovereignty and legal boundaries. As the power of the state reduces, key functions in security, economic and technological sectors will remain relevant.
Scholars, studies and policy makers in international relations have predicted about the fate of future inter-connectedness in the global village. They assert that there shall be no hegemonies. There shall be multi-polarity, but no mono-polarity or bipolarity led by mega powers like US, EU and China in the next 15-20 years. Power is expected to shift from states to non-state actors and to individuals in the form of democratization and empowerment. Population upsurge and competition for scarce resources shall be experienced over food and water. There shall be major changes that will shape the international relations’ systems such as the global economy, governance, conflict, regional instability and technology. As the world moves towards individual empowerment, government policies aimed at addressing poverty and social exclusion will focus on social safety nets for the vulnerable.
In the Gini-Out-of-the Bottle scenario, GDP is expected to expand between developed countries and emerging economies. Inequalities within and between the rich and the poor is anticipated to widen. The world will be categorized by virtuous cycle of prosperity and a vicious cycle of poverty. As this cases progress, the state will attempt to maintain the traditional roles of protecting its citizens from socio-economic risks emerging from the global village (National Intelligence Council, 2010).
At this stage, major powers will participate in less international cooperation, assistance and development. The world will become more insecure due to political and social cracks. Terrorists and criminal networks will take center stage due to confusion over shifting authorities among multiplicity of governance actors and use of lethal weapons. Many non-state actors will cooperate between national governments and among themselves to tackle big global challenges. As the power redistributes across networks and non-state actors, governance institutions will be forced to change to new hyper-globalized world. One true aspect about traditional Westphalian states is that as they attempt to adjust to world changes, ingredients of traditional roles will remain intact.
In the current situation today, social tensions among classes have begun to force world powers like US, China, Europe and Russia to intervene through collaboration and cooperation in order to restore bilateral relations and political leadership. The main global multilateral institutions like WTO, WB and IMF, will be forced to reform, re-strategize and become more inclusive. The current practice in international relations has been anchored on the works of realists and neo-realists like Carr and Kenneth waltz.
In his seminal work, Theory of International Politics, Waltz states that the state of anarchy creates competition, balance and cooperation among states. Various policies pursued by policy makers, foreign relations analysts and think tanks have pursued various strategies based on their intentions and contexts. In Glasiers’ conception, conflict and cooperation form part of strategies that inform current policies in governments. The traditional statist models that shape current security strategies rely on state motives, material capabilities and information power (Glasier, 2010).
Rationalism bases on such variables in order to seek competition or cooperation. In the international system Glasier (2010) notes there are security-driven and greed-driven states. Security seeking states aim to overcome suspicion and cooperate while greed-driven states are more aggressive and are ready to risk to achieve whatever they seek. This explains why some states compete or cooperate while others wage war against each other. This also explains why US policies towards engagement with Iraq, Iran, Syria and other potential security threats are normally aggressive or cooperative. The economic policies are also pegged on security policies pursued by the US. Military capabilities, information technologies and material wealth are influential in the type of engagements pursued (National Intelligence Council, 2010).
In the post-industrial period, the biggest winners are China, India, US, France, Germany, Brazil and South Africa. The losers are those middle-class members from communist countries, Africa and Eastern Europe. This is attributable to emerging markets and technological development. Inequalities are expected in America and Europe coupled with high debts and an aging population. However, there shall be increased opportunities for women and minorities (National Intelligence Council, 2010).
Marxist inevitability manifests itself in northern Europe (bourgeoisie) and Mediterranean south (proletariat) as they face tensions resulting into conflict (e.g., Russia vs. Georgia). In the Marxian contention, global revolution is eminent as the class consciousness increases. Beijing’s power over its regional provinces has declined. More calls for emancipation among workers in the rural areas will be witnessed. Attempts by Tibet to breakaway was met with statist aggression. The same scenario was witnessed in the former Soviet Union between Russia and Georgia. This confirmed that some old elites still cling to traditional functions of the state.
In the Middle East and parts of Africa, religion and ethnic terrorists increase because of technologically assisted consciousness. The trends are witnessed in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, Syria, Algeria, Iran and other countries. Proletariats are powerful when they unite across the world through drones, cyber weapons, and bioweapons. Globally, wealthy cities and towns will establish their security forces to counter proletariat strategies. Such traditional roles of states will manifest even in the transnational boundaries through co-operation (National Intelligence Council, 2010).
The classic realist-statist approach experienced in the 1990s in which state function were controlled by the state has now diminished. However, the state is still relevant in the current global order according to realists and neo-realist theorists (Carr, 1945; Morgenthau, 1948; Waltz, 2000).
There are still economic and government interventions that must be performed by the state in the economic and security sector. Global elites benefit from expanded citizenry across borders, and this has resulted into transnational elites educated in same universities, work in same MNCs, NGOs or resorts. The global elites believe in the rule of law and good governance. As the economy and environment remain appropriate to the traditional state, it is still important to support equal environment that creates safety and health for all.
The Westphalian system of providing security for all is still relevant. The central government has become weaker than before in the post-industrial world. In the Westphalian contention, the state was understood to be a unit of analysis i.e., the state was treated as the analytical focus of inquiry in the international relations. What mattered most in the international system was the security of the state and not individuals. Today, even as the focus transcends borders, security manifests through new mechanisms aligned to the traditional state (Cox, 1981).
The central focus of the statist perspective was on the borders and demarcations of the state. Definition of violence infiltrated the international relations theory because war formed the defining focus then. Another feature was the idea of universal rationality that underlay popular theories. IR has ignored the idea of identity hence preferring to develop accounts on the basis of uniformity. Very little attention has been given to the understanding of actors and effects of their identity on definition of their issues in the world of politics (Hollis & Smith 1990; Smith, 2000). As opposed to the traditional statist role, the rational view advances that the vibrant civil society will erode the roles of the repressive state. New technological advancements have empowered civil societies that have led to revolutions (Arab Spring). More technological advancements will lead to more accountability and curbing corruption (Angel, 2014).
Projections of the future world order by scholars takes various forms. They are guided by reflective and rationality theory. They predict that new hegemony will be based on social structure and social power generated by internationalization of production. International domination over the national capital will continue with major countries internationalizing their state. Policies will focus on stabilization of the economy through anti-inflationary policies over fulfillment of socio-political demands. Remnants of statist policies will be visibly present in modern states (National Intelligence Council, 2010).
Further predictions indicate that there will be decentralized industrialization in the third world countries by developed countries. Social conflict would be contained through state repression and corporatism, indicating that some traditional roles of the state are still relevant today. The second scenario would be that of non-hegemonic world order in which the power centers conflict with each other. Neo-mercantilist coalitions will be formed by global elites associated to the national capital to promote international capital (Cox, 1981).
The current theory by Robert Keohane advanced in 1988, outlined two main perspectives in international relations as rationalism and reflectivism. The rational choice theory treats its individual actors as rational and self-interested maximizers of utility. They are not interested in internal workings of the actor. They model behavior on the basis of pre-determined identities and interests. Rationality theorists can predict with considerable accuracy in economics how interest rates can affect unemployment or growth. The rational choice paradigm embraces technology, forecasts behavior and presents reality as it is which truth becomes. Rationality of international relations will be utilized in the discussion (Keohane, 1989).
Gini – Out of the Bottle Scenario
Gini in this context refers to Gini coefficient that is a recognized statistical measurement of income inequalities in society. Social inequality is common in most of the post-industrial countries. Many of the under-privileged and vulnerable classes of societies have become increasingly aware and conscious of their rights. As the consciousness rises, they cause political and social tensions. The tensions emerge from the discontentment over unmet expectations. The world is increasingly becoming wealthier as the economic divide between the rich and the poor widen. Barry Buzan expanded Westphalian security to include other factors apart from the traditional state boundaries and legal sovereignty (Cox, 1981). Social inequality as a form of security is, therefore, a form of Westphalian security (Buzzan, 1991).
The Gini coefficient will force governments to pursue social inclusivity at economic, political and social realms. Non-state actors will flourish and have a stake in the management of global challenges like poverty, environment, anti-corruption, rule of law, and conflict. More still, the US will fade in its prominence in the world as the sole global power and security policeman. Potentially divergent interests and an increasing number of actors will make it more difficult to achieve consensus necessary for reform of multilateral institutions. The instruments of governance will tend to be less global, with a greater role for informal structures and ad hoc coalitions. This will depend on the nature and scope of the issues being addressed (National Intelligence Council, 2010).
There will be a plurality on the issue of global governance because of multi-polarity. Values, institutions and cultural traditions will differ. Emerging economies still have a long way to go in terms of stable political systems, rule of law, economic diversification, energy dependence and demography. Focus on issues will be restricted to national rather than international global responsibilities. America and Europe will refocus on their local or national interests as opposed to resolving conflicts. Technological advancements in the military will keep America and Europe afloat in the global arena (National Intelligence Council, 2010).
New technologies will enhance individual empowerment. Civil society initiatives will grow in prominence and could weaken state’s ability to protect traditional statist motives. At the moment, China is the largest consumer of internet ahead of America, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Canada and Australia combined. It is expected that economic center of the world will take shape due to the collective consciousness emerge such as the Pacific Alliance and East Asia Summit. South–South will increase in trade as opposed to North-South by 2030 (Angel, 2014).
As noted, the influence of the US on global issues will diminish. The US will only intervene where their interests are threatened. The authoritarian states that were once sanctioned in the postindustrial era will be sought after by the US in order to restore order (NIC, 2012 p.126). As individual empowerment takes shape, their initiatives are expected to increase the clamor for poverty reduction in the next 20-50 years. The social media technology will be instrumental in raising class consciousness. Cyber-terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will require state interventions than global elite consensus (Angel, 2014).
Rapid economic growth by country’s economies will reduce the percentage of those living below the poverty line. This is because there have been no economic recessions and most economies have narrowed the poverty gap. Another important aspect is that the middle-class will rise from 1 billion to 2 billion people spearheaded by India and China. By 2030, most people in the US will have increased their purchasing power parity to reach the middle-class status. With expanded purchasing power, the Gini-coefficients used to measure inequalities will decline in many developing countries (Angel, 2014).
Economic development in most economies will be knowledge-based, as more and more women narrow the gender-related gaps. Many women will make their entry in the work environment hence boosting productivity and mitigating effects of aging population. Largest economies are geared towards expanded state-owned-enterprises and national wealth funds. Inter-dependence and disintegration are expected to grow in some economies. The new economies (newcomers) will not be able to takeover international responsibilities like those previously handled by the US and preceding great powers. Weak states will need coalitions in order to survive in the new world order. As Europe and Japan decline in economic growth, China and India will flourish along with other tigers. India and Africa will experience urbanization. The US will experience reduced energy production costs that will result into reduced manufacturing costs for gas and oil (Angel, 2014).
Western Europe will decline in growth as America, and upcoming economies will maintain growth and forge ahead. Slowdown in productivity due to ageing population, low consumption and high debts is expected among some former great powers in the west. The western states will face the need for economic reforms like increased saving, new revenues and structural reforms. America is more likely to survive due to its young population, huge market size, discovery of new energies combined with advanced technologies (Angel, 2014).
Improved health will be witnessed with a shift from communicable (HIV/AIDs, diarrhea, malaria, respiratory infections) diseases to non-communicable (hypertension) ones. Many more individuals will access social safety and Medicaid insurance. More protectionism by the state will be experienced through empowerment legislation.
Threats and/or Opportunities for United States' interests.
Tools to tackle threats and opportunities
- US will require government legislation to address socio-economic inequalities as the PPCA act for social inclusivity.
- US military will address security concerns and investment in technological research.
- Strengthened NGOs will address class consciousness in postindustrial economies.
- International and regional cooperative institutions like UN will be strengthened, and others created to tackle international responsibilities.
- Government policies and legislation will be required to tackle financial crises, tax evasion, crime, piracy, global warming, migration, humanitarian crises and international terrorism
- US must invest more in technological research in order to maintain the economic growth momentum.
- New forms of energies should be generated to reduce dependence on those generated by unpredictable weather like wind and rain.
- Features of traditional roles of the state will remain to protect vulnerable members and sectors of the state.
This paper has demonstrated that traditional state functions still exist in the security, social and economic realms. The global economy and the need for government muscle still demonstrate that the traditional state is appropriate even in the technologically advanced systems. The state’s functions continue to weaken as the subnational power spreads in the global village.
As witnessed, even the American and western powers are losing relevance in the international arena hence refocusing the traditional relevance of their state. Globalization has been made easier through global universities, MNCs and INGOs. More global elites control and make the decisions concerning world issues, but they do not have legitimate power as a traditional state. In addition, they are not be as effective as a traditional state. Technological advancements further neutralize the world into a melting pot where races, classes and cultures diminish. Authoritarian central governments still hold onto old ways as global elites advance into the future.
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