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Violence, Terror and the Crisis of the State

03 Oct 2017History Essays

Although this article is already dated, it is not yet obsolete. It contains interesting nuggets of political insights that may be built upon by political scientists and understand how the state and social problems interact. The author explores the process of nation-building and looks at how new global communities were created all over the world, thanks to the increasing assertion of ethnic peoples of their right to self-government. Since the state has the monopoly of force, the application of such force in the society over people who seek self-government and independence raises important questions as to the legitimacy of using such force. The author also mentioned the predictions of other writers that more peoples will seek to become independent from states and governments and establish their own states even while economic and cultural globalization is on-going.

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The author explored the various roots of violence, how it permeates daily life, as well as the anthropological studies of violence while drawing upon the history of colonized countries in the world, and she also looked at the warrior class or group (the military) responsible for enforcing the state's monopoly of force. Nagengast also looked at political violence and terrorism, which prior to 2001 was an interesting but not the big problem that it is now.

She also looked at the concepts of "state"and "nation"before finally making the connection between state, nation and hegemony. While the article may appear long, Nagengast succeeds in defining and making her reader understand the basics of what she was presenting in the article so that the issue of violence in the context of the state and nation could be addressed more fully. The central question that Nagengast's article addressed, however, is the issue of self-determination of people who consider themselves to belong in the same ethnicity.

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She explained the processes that peoples of different ethnicities face after the end of the colonial period of history. In this context, she also explained how the United Nations recognized the right of peoples for self-determination. However, in most cases where the sate has the monopoly of force, it tends to use violence as a necessary means to keep its borders and keep people from separating from its established boundaries. While the question of identity, ethnicity and self-determination rage in the minds of certain segments of the population of a state, the state can and may use the power of force to impose its will on these people seeking to secede and form their own state.

Nagengast does not believe that the world is moving towards a world government. Rather, she argues that more and more nation-states will emerge. History has been re-written since 1994 and so many small nation-states have emerged since then and the world continues to deal with the issues of ethnic people wanting to become independent from governments and states that they do not identify with.

Perhaps, this trend will continue in the near future, unless some other new phenomenon occurs that will start the process towards reunification of previous sovereign states-just like the moves toward unity displayed by major European countries through the European Union. In such a case, then, the world may then become a collection of state unions more than just a scattering of nation-states.


  • Journal article "Violence, Terror, and the Crisis of the State" Carole Nagengast
Learn more:
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