21st Century: Are States Obsolete?
The territorial state has been the primary actor in world politics for more than four centuries. The resurgence of nationalism throughout the world attests to the continuing quest by national independence movements for self-governance and satehood, as the principal drive of nationalistic ethnic-political movements is to secure their own national existence within the (legally) impenetrable shell of state sovereignty. This motive explains why the United Nations had 166 member "states" in 1991 and 185 in 1997, and "because of ethnic divisions could one day end up with 400 or more," even if many of these "states" are likely to be fragile.
In some respects, theterritorial state is flourishing because it is still needed to give people identity, raise taxes, provide safety nets for the needy, protect the environment, and provide military security. But in other aspects it is dying because "it can no longer fulfill some of the most important traditional fuctions". In fact, many have proclaimed "the end" of state sovereignty and its supreme authority in the face of growing challenges from home and abroad. To them, "A wide variety of forces has made it increasingly more difficult for any state to wield power over its people and address issues it once considered its sole prerogative. Among these forces are the communications revolution, the rise of transnational corporations, increasing migration, economic intergration, and the global nature of economic and environmental problems" (Stanley Foundation 1993).
"While states may not be about to exit from the political stage, and while they may even continue to occupy center stage, they do seem likely to become vulnerable and impotent"(Rosenau 1995). Can the state cope with the challenges it now faces" Auguste Comte, a nineteenth-century French political philosopher, argured that societies create institutions to address problems and meet human needs. When they are no longer able to perform these functions, they disappear. Today, as the managerial capabilities of states fail to inspire confidence, their future seems increasingly in doubt.