When answering the question “Who am I?” or “Who are we?,” more thought needs to be put into the response then ever before. The past 350 years have been characterized by the state system, which has provided the only answer one could possibly need to respond to the ‘identity question’. Everyone has identified themselves as a member of a state; a state being defined as a stable population with a government, a monopoly over the legitimate use of force, definite borders, and sovereignty that is recognized by other members of the inter-state system (Dunne 158). This model of international affairs, known as ‘political realism’, has been the defining characteristic since roughly the time of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
This seems to be a simple and valid enough explanation for the way the world works, but will this be changing in the upcoming generations, or is it possibly an invalid explanation as of right now? Many would argue that there is a global force tearing away at the fabric of the inter-state system - globalization. A product of increased communications and awareness, globalization is described by James Rosenau in “The Complexities and Contradictions of Globalization”, as he says, “the term globalization seems appropriate to denote the ‘something’ that is changing humankind’s preoccupation with territoriality and the traditional arrangements of the state system” (361). With a knowledge of what exactly globalization is, one cannot now speculate as to whether today’s occurrences are just ‘modernization’, where society evolves and changes, but people are still able to identify themselves as members of the state system; or if it is globalization, a ‘global version’ of modernization, in which case it is changing the way we look at international affairs.
For evidence as to whether or not the world is participating in globalization or modernization, one should look at three political hotbeds of the world; Europe, Indonesia, and South Africa. If society is indeed globalizing, two things should be happening. First, people should be losing their identity with the state as the state fragments, and local, ethnic, and religious ties are stronger than the state. Secondly, people should be losing their state-centric identities as states sacrifice their most important asset, sovereignty, to integrate into larger-scale entities. If the sovereignty of states is being breeched by globalization, then the realist explanation for world events seem to be failing. If the state system fails, then who are we? If states are indeed losing their importance in international relations, then the very nature of a person’s identity will be changed.
Granted, there are many signs that society is just modernizing. This is due to the fact that many people continue to be preoccupied with the glory of the inter-state system, and consider its existence perpetual. Max Beloff, the author of the Eurocritic article, “The Great...