Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Return of Microstates?

This blog has previously examined the fall of governments in cities whether due to crime or hostile culture. In the first case it looks like cities will degrees into oblivion while the latter appears to be a case of cultural replacement.

Could these be the first cases of something greater to come? Could these incidents be in fact evidence pointing towards the return of microstates a la the Middle Ages? John Rapley examines this theory in The New Middle Ages (PDF). Rapley reports how globalization has shaped countries and created a "rough" landscape of cores and gaps both globally and internally. Rapid population movements into cities and the inability of governments to provide services has created a vacuum where other powers, whether it be regional governments or non-governmental actors like gangs, fill the gap. While there may be violence at first reflecting the new political order, these new actors tend to provide stability and services to ensure the new actors survival. Sometimes the state works with the new actors to keep the peace. A symbiotic relationship is then formed.

If this hypothesis is true then the best case in the future is somesort of working Holy Roman Empire while the worst are repeats of Somalia. Factors such as cultural respect of order, cultural respect of the dominant culture, age, and economics will play a big role deciding where microstates would fall on the above scale.

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