Has Globalisation Destroyed the Power of the Modern State?

There is not doubt that globalisation is one of the buzzwords of the twenty first century, radically transforming international relations around the world, and directly or indirectly altering the way we view global politics, but how much has it affected nation states and their power? Globalisation is a complex and abstract term which has been given many definitions and meanings. For the purpose of this essay, I shall use a single definition which is closest to what I think globalisation is, and when referred to in the essay, this is what is meant.

Heywood (2011) states that “Globalization is the emergence of a complex web of interconnectedness that means that our lives are increasingly shaped by events that occur, and decisions that are made, at a great distance from us. ” The causes of this interconnectedness can be broken down into three engines of globalisation; Cultural, Political and Economic. Cultural globalisation is facilitated by technological advances in communications and especially the internet.

This enables a large amount of the developed worlds population instant access to vast amounts of information unaffected by physical borders (except when censorship is in place), which in turn is making the world more culturally homogeneous. The rise of multinational actors like transnational corporations (TNC’s (for example Sony, Nestle and Nike)), non governmental organisations (NGO’s (for example Greenpeace, Oxfam and Amnesty International)) and other international organisations (eg; UN, EU and NATO) means that there are more authoritative actors on the world stage, as opposed to historically, states being the only predominant actor.

Globalisation means that the economic market is now truly global, as money can be shifted worldwide in an instant. This has facilitated businesses to operate in different countries to their home country to take advantage of cheaper labour costs, local resources and other factors, which mean goods are now manufactured on a global scale. All these factors mean that geographical distance and territorial borders are becoming “less significant” (Heywood 2011).

Since the creation of the modern idea of statehood after the Peace of Westphalia (1648), the nation state has been vastly the most predominant actor on the world stage. Sovereignty allowed states to have sole power over what happened within their own borders, and disputes between states usually brought about war. The classic definition of a state as outlined in the Montevideo Convention has fourfeatures: 1) A defined territory. 2) A permanent population. 3) An effective government. 4) The capacity to enter into relations with other states.