It is common to hear of the threats to the nation-state system in the contemporary world. Such threats seem to originate from many different quarters, at different level of the global system. This impending sense that the nation-state is somehow in “crisis” led to analyze the question of “the contemporary crisis of the nation-state?” But before we go into the analysis, it is important to look into the ideas that would help to understand the case, under discussion, in a better way. To begin with, let’s see the definition of nation, state and the nation-state system, according to the context under discussion. Nation
According to the Oxford English dictionary, the word nation literally means, community of people having mainly common descent, history, language, etc or forming sovereign state or inhabiting territory. From the above definition, there are two kinds of nations, the ethnic nation (community with common descent) and demotic nation (community with common territorial boundaries). E.K. Francis draws a distinction between ‘ethnic’ nations that are based on belief in common descent and a sense of solidarity and common identity, and ‘demotic’ nations that are based on shared administrative and military institutions, common territorial boundaries for protection and the mobility of goods and people. This is similar to the distinction often made between ‘cultural nations’, based on criteria such as language, customs, religion and the ‘political nations’, that are more contractual and derive from shared institutions, shared citizenship and a sense of shared history.
According to Oxford English dictionary, state literally means, political community under one government. This means a community which is coherent with the government of the state obeys the government with its own will, making government responsible for it. It is the political organization of the people under one government. Nation-State System
The nation-state system is traditionally, an amalgamation of ‘nation’ (one people) with ‘state’ (one government). If one were to imagine an abstract image of the globe one would see gridlines. These lines mark off different nation-states. Each one is separate from the others and sovereign inside its defined and unmoving borders. These nation-states interact with each other, be it through war or trade in a relationship that is theoretically simple. Each nation-state is ‘equal’ in terms of having sovereignty (self-determination) and the sole right to use legitimate force inside its own borders. This modern nation-state system came into existence with the treaty of Westphalia, 1648. In international system, ‘low’ politics of trade and business and temporary agreement of MNCs, IGO and INGOs are less important than that of ‘high’ politics the nation-state, with its role of protecting its sovereignty from the attack and of maintaining stability inside its borders. Today, there are more than 200 nation-states in the world. Nation-State as a Historical-Political Form
The ideal articulation of ‘nation’ as a form of cultural community and the‘State’ as a territorial, political unit is now widely accepted and often taken as unproblematic. Yet scholars of nationalism point out that that was not alwaysthe case. That every nation deserves its autonomy and identity through its ownsovereign state (even though many may not demand it) is an ideal that manytrace to the French Revolution. As Cobban points out, whereas before the FrenchRevolution there had been no necessary connection between the state as a political unit and the nation as a cultural one, it became possible and desirablesince then to think of a combination of these two in a single conception of the nation-state. That this still remains an ‘ideal’ and one vastly unrealized, as inthe existence of several ``multi-national’’ states, is also largely recognized, although much of international relations theory...