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The fundamental principle of the peace of Westphalia aimed to enshrine in law the idea that politics were essentially territorial but our modern world continues to alter this paradigm. Consider the end of the cold war; Europe and the United States had to search for all new antagonists. The Cold War residue can also be demonstrated by the collapse of the Berlin Wall. This monumental event instantly brought the 'haves' in the west together with the 'have not's in the east to form something in the middle. Germany therefore can be considered to be just one more example of how state lines and borders can dramatically change in an instant. The global response to the North American Free Trade Agreement, globalization in general and all new political pacts such as that of the restructuring of Europe into the European Union are events that alter thoughts of politics and territory or the notion of state sovereignty. Advances in communication and transportation technologies have also reduced the importance of territory borders as China has evolved into more than a paper tiger and the world has moved on to unprecedented levels of economically motivated global trade. Everything was working just fine until this current economic meltdown caused by a banking system desperate for profits through gambles on things like mortgage backed securities. Each state of the world was in one way or another again was forced to reevaluate and change. But was the change great enough to restore the fundamental principle of the peace of Westphalia? This paper looks at three groups of thinkers who address this notion that state territory is the primary focus of politics.
Westphalia and our borders: In 1648, the then European nation's negotiated peace regarding the Thirty Years' War in the Westphalian towns of Munster and Osnabruck. The deliberations consumed four years but successfully produced treaties between the Spanish and the Dutch and a group agreement for Ferdinand III and then German, French, and Swedish princes. A Europe that more closely resembles modern day Europe was formed as borders were established and even the Roman Empire was forced to recognize Germany and therefore reduce its own power base in the North. However, these events in and of themselves mean little today as international borders have been redistributed multiple times and Rome is just a city now. But the idea of state sovereignty took on new meaning after those negotiations. The implied rules of Westphalia survived industrialization, imperialism, two world wars and the great depression -- but today, it may new longer hold its own.
Consider something as simple as a wire transfer on the global FX monetary market. Any bank or institution can instantly transfer billions of dollars or Euros across the entire length of the globe and over various state borders without once stopping to verify if there is appropriate permission to do so. The money does not follow the rules of air flight for example where air space rules are well established and protected. There are no tariffs, restrictions or other taxes on the wire transfer. Technology, therefore, has in the monetary sense completely obliterated the idea of state borders. Modern globalization has done this with many technologies and outputs. "Another cultural dimension of the Western order is the commonality of commodities and consumption practices. Through the advanced industrial world, mass produced and market commodities have produced a universal vernacular culture that reaches into every aspect of daily existence. The symbolic content of day-to-day life throughout the West is centered not upon religious or national iconography, but upon the images of commercial advertising." (Deudney & Ikenberry) We can buy Nike sneakers anywhere.
The corporate environment in the modern global economy is made up of miscellaneous groups of individuals that bring their own unique talent and culture with them. The more powerful states seem to always win in the game of globalization. Nigeria and their oil production feed the needs of the United States and China, yet the average citizen of the state there lives on less than two dollars a day. Some are rich, but the vast majority has suffered the unfair results of globalization. With this in mind, it is essential that we understand the serious impact that intercultural communication has on the work setting and the workers of this global economic trend. As the world enters into a more global atmosphere in regard to business, one side effect was the idea of international organizations moving into new countries and managing an entirely new population. Throughout man's history, only war has this affect on sovereignty. But will that create a system that eliminates borders or creates a setting where protectionism forms? Consider Wal-Mart moving into China. On a recent '60 Minutes' television interview, the news anchor doing the interview of the show seemed very obviously surprised by the fact that the top four Wal-Mart leaders in China literally spoke no Chinese, were never residents and yet were still making all of the local business decisions for the new huge local workforce. It seems hard to believe that there are no qualified Chinese speaking Americans or local Chinese out of the billion or so citizens that are bilingual, qualified and available to run this sector for the American conglomerate.
This brings to light a point of territorial significance. Does globalization force locals to band together to become even closer and therefore less likely to abandon the local state? Andrew Herod believes that is exactly the case. "Given that international labor solidarity is a process of coming together across space, I argue that the spatial reorganization of global capitalism has important consequences for practices of solidarity. Specifically, I suggest that the spatial context within which they find themselves is likely to impact the types of political praxis in which workers engage. Thus, whereas globalization may encourage some workers to engage in traditional international solidarity campaigns it might also paradoxically, lead others to focus on highly local campaigns, the consequences of which can quickly spread far and wide as a result of the growing spatial interconnectivity of the planet that globalization has argued." (Herod) In other words, some locals will embrace the global ideals brought with the new NGO's, but the majority of workers may feel that this can be similar to an invading army there to try to remove the local culture. Nationalism may then get only stronger, not weaker. This line of reasoning may actually strengthen the state as opposed to weaken it to global expansion.
Deudney and Ikenberry concur. Values, morals, and ethics exist both as written or spoken rules that cultures and societies have found important to their perpetual existence. "No enduring political order can exist without a substantial sense of community and shared identity. Political identity and community and political structure are mutually dependent. Structures that work and endure do so because they are congruent with identities and forms of community that provide them with legitimacy. Conversely, structures and institutions create and reinforce identities and community through processes of socialization and assimilation. These important sociological dimensions of political orders have been neglected by both neorealist and neoliberal theories, which take the preferences of the actors as given and examine only the interaction between interests and structure. As a result, they miss the identity and community dimensions of political order -- both the national and the liberal civic alternatives." (Deudney & Ikenberry) Globalization may only strengthen these "rules" and therefore help to create more stability and weaken symbiotic methods of change and adaptation and make the outsiders more threatening.
Peter Nyers approaches the issue of globalization and the affect on the local state in a different way. Are its laws and policies the thing that gives a state the right to call itself a state? In the sense of globalization, nations often partner with one another. Consider the affect of the pact to form the European Union. Countries like Germany have traditionally controlled their internal and external population growth and labor resources through strict migration controls. Does the new union then override these traditional statutes and therefore recreate the ability for the German state to deal with issues such as labor shortages, political asylum or mass exodus of a particular talent pool? "Whenever a state ponders whether or not to grant asylum to an individual, it is making an intervention in the politics of protection. This is a significant political issue because the capacity to decide upon matters of inclusion and exclusion is a key element of sovereign power. Since Hobbes, the modern state has asserted a monopoly over matters of security, claiming to protect citizens from both each other (through laws and police) and from the external aggression of other states (through the military, border policing, etc.). This monopoly, we know, is a crucial source of legitimacy for sovereign power. In the case of asylum seekers, the decision over who will, and who will not, be provided with protection is not just a humanitarian determination, but a moment when…[continue]
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