You are on page 1of 7

Wendy Brown Walled States, Waning Sovereignty

Is there any possibility that a nation-state can exercise its sovereignty but allow its population to
be heterogeneous in terms of their political, religious identities? The congruency assumption
theory states that changing state boundaries is ethically difficult because the people’s political
identity corresponds with the designated territory that a state claims. Can the state allow
globalization to continue to progress, i.e. open borders, acceptance of immigration and
emigration, without a fragmentation in the state’s sovereignty?

Why is it unfeasible for states to permit a diversified population?
It seems paradoxical that states’ sovereignty is beginning to decline/wane as the effects of
capitalism and globalization become global superpowers; if more people are becoming displaced
due to deficiency in human progress against globalization, then wouldn’t their dependence on the
state magnify and their hyper-anxieties increase, thus requiring a more powerful, stronger
sovereignty?

Is the Westphalian system of sovereignty a fixed construct, in that it is unchanging in a
progressive world due to economic globalization, increasing transnational migration, and
regional integration? Though the idea of closed-borders and territorial occupation is archaic,
why do these modern, technologically advanced states continue to glorify monuments that
represent antiquated anxieties and fears?

How is it that industrial democracies, which are interconnected through militaristic,
environmental, trade, peace-keeping alliances, demand that others recognize their sovereignty
yet refuse to accept that of others?

Chapter 1
Three Paradoxes:
1. Simultaneous opening and blocking of walls/borders.
2. Universalization and democratization combined with an even more potent exclusion and
stratification.
3. The futileness of physical barricades in defending the people from virtual, airborne,
penetrable agents (i.e. suicide bombers, airborne toxins, cyber-attacks etc.)

Purposes of Walls:
1. They target non-state transnational actors.
2. Migration, crime, terrorism, political purposes that walls would serve are rarely state
sponsored nor incited by national interests.
a. Appear as signs of a post-Westphalian world (but only in the sense that we take
Brown’s interpretation of a Westphalian world as something as aspirational).

Reduces the “importance” of a political sovereignty. Features of Sovereignty: 1.e. goods. ideas. depletion of resources. universal inclusion. the legal equality of states) but rather a containment and mollification of war. Growth and international dependence on economic and governance institutions (i. rights.There is a shift in power and monopolization from the nation-state to unprecedented factions that in one way or another are claiming a universal authority. Brown argues that the decline in power in sovereignties does not imply a complete elimination of state sovereignty but rather that the principles that the Westphalian treaties signified are losing value today. IMF and WTO) 4. and authority (aim to subvert or supersede state sovereignty). Postnational and international assertions of law. violence. . liberty and the rule of law) with market criteria a. Causes of the Disintegration of Nation-State Sovereignty: 1. equality. . rather than a “resurgent expression of its sovereignty”. . non-intervention. Absoluteness and completeness (sovereignty can’t be partial) 5. 3. Decisionism (no boundedness by or submission to law) 4.e. Neoliberal rationality – Displaces legal and political principles (i. Specified jurisdiction (territoriality). Supremacy 2. She also states that the newly developed walls are icons of the nation-state’s erosion.The Peace of Westphalia contained within or subordinated to nation-states. Westphalian sovereignty may not have actually been about principle (sovereignty. o Fighting against these kinds of global forces is a sign of weakness and fear of change. . Growing transnational flows of capital. Nontransferability (sovereignty can’t be conferred without canceling itself) 6. etc.The walls express an inherent weakness in a single state’s potency against a rapidly expanding globalization. people. the political economy (capitalism) and religiously legitimated violence. i. 2. Perpetuity over time 3. and political and religious fealty.Weakening of the nation-state sovereignty and detachment of sovereignty from the actual state  causes of the rise in wall-building. .

“Barriers” – do not separate the ‘inside’ of a sovereign. B) the way that Native Americans were using their land was not seen as a productive. .e. 4.Brown says that there’s a theatricality and performative interpretation of these walls. religious. He essentially legitimated the European colonization of the Native Americans’ land because they A) believed that they could not enjoy political sovereignty. a. such walls create a reassurance because humans have historically relied on such securities for social and psychic integration and for political membership. Differentiating Barriers from Borders: 1.e. . . it is often the case where nations can’t differentiate the people of two completely different groups (i. but are actually driven by postnational investment in barriers to global immigration. 3. . However. hostilities or traffic.If certain walls serve different purposes (i. Israeli separatism 2. Palestinian sovereignty vs. transnational or subnational forces that do not correspond with the nation-states or their boundaries. ethnic cleansing and blockading  does the “just” purpose legitimate the wall’s existence? or should we observe them all objectively? Israel Security Fence: 1. Most walls aim to function more as blockade systems of postnational. Some walls appear as national boundary markers. containment and security.Present a theological awe/presence of monumentality that serve no purpose to its functional use (if there even is one). occupation. o However. Chapter 2 Lockean idea of Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity: 1. territorial expansion mandated by state- sponsored and outlaw extensions of settler colonialism.  Especially in resolving or reducing the conflicts. 2. these walls rarely have any functional use and effectiveness. relative to the European production.But they’re also “reassuring” to the people (i. political or legal system from a foreign “outside” but act as contingent structure to prevent movement across territory. Trump and the wall along the Mexican border). Often nations justify their exclusion and closure to the outside because of hungry masses of refugees and cultural-religious aggression/hatred of Western values. The Israeli wall in the West Bank serves to spatially divide two intimately overlapping/entwined populations. a. defense against terrorism vs. thus should remain as a class of political savagery. Trump’s Muslim ban). Represents separation. o When a nation is faced with the feeling of lacking horizons.e.

A ruler is installed to enforce the renunciation of violence by the people. The social order and obedience of the society’s members is achieved through an artificial entity. a. then person Y has a right A somewhere. Because one believes to have exerted more effort. so people give up the use of violence. and to prevent the situation of war of all against all. b Thomas Hobbes Social Contract Theory: 1. 2. my safety is not guaranteed. i. then you have a right not to kill me. This reconciliation is necessary because human society has evolved to a point where individuals can no longer supply their needs through their own unaided efforts. Morality is non-existent. In Hobbes’ view. 2. Rousseau seeks a reconciliation of the freedom of the individual with the authority of the state. 4. This however. even against its own population. Believes that individual rights are derived from the “social order” a. as long as the benefit of the population is pursued. The most abundant fear is the fear of death fueled by the omnipresence of violence. but rather must depend on the co-operation of others  DOL and a system of specialization. that is based on the theory of desert. Rousseau Social Contract Theory: The individual desire for security. 1. entails a variant of the prisoner’s dilemma: If I give up violence but my neighbor does not. His central doctrine is that a state can legitimate only if it’s guided by the “general will” of its members. Living in fear is considered unacceptable. primordial state” into an organized society. and every individual lives in fear. one is more deserving of a certain good/benefit. a.** 3. a. This Leviathan may use force. In a world characterized by a state of anarchy. This idea brings forth a correlativity between one person’s right and another person’s right: If a person X has a right A. c. people will only act through self-interest. Hobbes describes the natural state as a “war of all against all”. **If I have a right not to die. or safety. 3. the states’ main role is to maintain and impose law and order. demands fulfillment through a collective agreement. This collective agreement transforms the human realm from the “natural. Basically an idea of entitlement. . b.

in effect. . a. setting aside selfish interest in favor of a set of laws that allow all to coexist under conditions of equal freedom. guided by the common interest of the rich and propertied and imposing subordination on the poor and weak. Third. 5. insofar as he or she identifies with the collective as a whole and assumes the identity of citizen. i. b. but rather based on reason. 7. The property-less consent to such an establishment because their immediate fear of a Hobbesian state of war leads them to fail to attend to the ways in which the new state will systematically disadvantage them. 6. to favor laws that both secure the common interest impartially and that are not burdensome and intrusive. Rousseau believes that this condition will lead citizens. Rousseau describes the “general will” as both a property of the collective and a result of its deliberations. Rousseau argues that the law cannot be general in application and universal in scope. b. b. are contradictory  mutually exclusive. First. by definition. a person can identify with the corporate will of a subset of the populace as a whole. c. the sovereign gains obedience from his subjects through a threat of punishment/evil. a. there is no tension between private and general will a. wills the general will of that collective as his or her own. Not about advancing the interests of one individual but for all. Second. War doesn’t grant a right that is unnecessary to its purpose/end-state. There is no right of slavery because “slavery” and “right”. The ruler/sovereign must “respect the rights [of others] upon which his own rights are founded” (22). The law can’t name particular individuals and it must apply to everyone within the state  must be impartial.4. and a property of the individual. War can only exist between one state and another. a. each individual. given that he or she identifies as a member of the collective. Individuals accept that both justice and their individual self-interest require their submission to a law which safeguards their freedom by protecting them from the private violence and personal domination that would otherwise hold sway. In a well-ordered society (John Stuart Mill). though guided by a consideration of what is in their own private interest. Just War + Slavery: a. be a class state. not a state against a private individual because there is no relationship between entities of disparate natures (21-22). 9. 8. a. Thus. ii. Rousseau argues that this state would. individuals all have private wills corresponding to their own selfish interests as natural individuals.

therefore no one has an interest in making it burdensome for others (24). for the purpose that it was instituted  the common good. Sovereign – formed when free + equal persons congregate and agree to submit themselves as a single body a. Private will  tends towards preferences. 12. i. c. Similar to Aristotle’s concept that men are political animals. Natural Liberty – limited solely by the force of the individual involved ii. Civil Liberty – limited by the general will. For the purpose of securing each other’s interests and rights. i. i. . iv. Democracy) the Monarchy was better in governance because an assembly of multiple peoples (as in democracies and aristocracies) could be prone to dissent and potentially a civil war. a.10. What is freedom for Rousseau? a. i. b. as one of the features that distinguishes the human race from animal species and makes truly moral action possible. ii. The condition is the same for all. 19). thus each person gives himself to no one. If everybody expresses their desire. iii. iii. B/c sovereignty is the exercise of the general will. i. but they gain civil liberty and the proprietary ownership of his property. Hobbes also says that of the three forms of sovereignties possible (Monarchy. Only the general will can influence the state. Rousseau regards the capacity for choice. in that humans are able to form communities and discuss ideas about a polity. People lost their natural liberty and an unlimited right to everything through the social contract. That would undermine the sovereignty. “Alienation” of the self – Gives oneself to the entire community/all. General will  tends towards equality. 11. c. Rousseau calls for a considerably more active role for the population. wars. Possession – The effect of force or the right of the first occupant. Mentions that often empires have an advantage when the monarch is in power b/c there were no rebellions. the will of the people can be determined and thus the course of policy can be ensued. but should be actively participated in by the population. i. The political process shouldn’t be dominated by the state. Aristocracy. Sovereignty is indivisible and inalienable. b. ii. and it can’t represent anything else but itself. Proprietary ownership – based solely on a positive title. and therefore the ability to act against instinct and inclination. or conspirators to fear (p.

The sovereign could only rule if “he transforms force into right and obedience into duty” (p. Ch.d. A sovereign can’t have obligations to another being/higher authority. i. 19. is this merely a manipulation of rhetoric and an exploitation of individuals’ freedoms for the self-interest of the sovereign? Or is this very conception merely a product of contemporary thought that views sovereigns as a negative thing. i. There must be reciprocity between the public and private individuals. Our duty and interest equally obligate both parties to help each other and advance each other’s positions (26). . Rousseau believes force is a physical power that couldn’t produce morality. g. Force doesn’t engender rights. However. Bk 1. ii. f. e. III).