"Hearts of Darkness", Old and New? Failed States, Civil Wars, Regional Crises, Lost Continents and the Fate of the Nations-That-Never-Were-Nations (DRAFT)
Berger, Mark T.
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This paper engages with the growing literature on state-failure and nation building. At the present juncture, despite a growing analytical and policy-oriented body of writing, and a renewed commitment to nation- or state-building, the number of collapsing states continues to grow world-wide. These are not isolated problems and any solution needs to take account of the wider crisis of the nation-state system, the de-territorialization of wealth and poverty, rising levels of inequality and the increasingly oligopolistic character of the global order of ‘genuinely existing’ liberal capitalism. The paper focuses on Colombia and the Congo, both of which represent examples of nation-states that have virtually from their inception been wracked by conflict and civil war to the point where violence has become a key vector of the wider politico-economic struggle for territorial control. The paper also includes a discussion of Iraq. This will complement the overall effort to argue that the way beyond the current crisis of the nation-state system lies in a careful understanding of the specific histories of the nations-that- never-were-nations. The pursuit of development and security can only be successful when we move beyond the current enthusiasm for state building along formal historical and territorial lines (embodied by the current conception of sovereign nation-states). In short there is a need rethink national sovereignty and establish frameworks for the protection of rights and the delivery of basic needs that moves sovereignty both downwards and upwards. There is more than ever a need to formulate approaches to security and development that take ‘common humanity’ seriously for both practical and altruistic reasons.
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