One of the most significant transformations in the nature of political action to have taken place over the last 50 years has been the increasing shift away from established political parties and towards issue-based campaigning organizations or social movements; away from nation- state politics towards global politics. It is generally accepted that, before the 1939—1945 war, formal politics only really took place at the level of the nation-state, within the context of a world composed of competing sovereign nation-states, which gave birth to the notion of international relations. The nation-state was, indeed, the defining feature of life in this early modern phase.. In democratic nation-states, political action took the form of allegiance to ideologically driven political parties, which competed for power on usually broad platforms and manifestos. Most of the significant desires of the citizenry could be met, theoretically, either by the nation-state government or, through it, at the international level. Most of the major social and political philosophers — Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel, Mill, Marx, Weber — took the presence of the nation-state for granted, and accorded it primacy in their writings. Only Kant, with his notion of cosmopolitanism, could be considered an exception.
The experience of ‘total war’ shook the foundations of these assumptions at the global level. Movements emerged which took as their mandates the achievement of certain goals that transcended nation-state borders. These movements were concerned with such issues as global peace, the global environment, and respect for universal human rights. These issues had largely fallen outside the limited scope of nation-state political parties. While such parties may include as part of their manifestos a commitment to these issues, they have largely lacked the power on their own to enforce any such commitment. These issue-based campaigning movements have thus taken... [continues]
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