Liberal Dadaism: a deconstruction of the modern state.

I wonder of someone could provide some illumination on my conundrum. It is late and I have been reading theory minutiae over my stub of a candle –  so apologies and please bear with my train of thought…

The classical precepts of Liberalism, as defined by Locke, is a natural state in which all people are considered equal, free to act, and have an inherent natural right to ‘Life, Liberty, and  Property”. This individual property may be, for example, a house, car, big screen television, or land.

As we are all equal in our ability to labour for, and defend, the realisation of these rights, we look to the State for additional protection and security. As Nozick describes, citizens are ‘consumers’ or even ‘customers’ purchasing “impartial, efficient protection of pre-existing natural rights.”

That is, the state as a consensual extension of collective governance, is required to protect the Life, Liberty and Property rights of individual citizens – and nothing more. In particular, the control that a state can legitimately wield does not extend to any notion of a collective ”territory”. As Nozick explains, the land of a nation (read state) is not the collective property of its citizens. This would negate the notion of individual property rights.

As such, the Liberal State has no claim to any collective notion of land or territory.

The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States formally established the definition of the modern state – as having a permanent population, a government, recognition by other sovereign states… and a defined territory.

How can we consolidate these two seemingly incongruous concepts!? Does the requisite delineation of a defined cohesive territory nullify any notion of a Liberal State? Or conversely, if we accept the premise of the Liberal argument – does this throw the formal definition of a modern state to the anarchic dogs of international relations!?

As I say, it is rather late… perhaps I have had a little too much theory…!?

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One comment on “Liberal Dadaism: a deconstruction of the modern state.

  1. henning says:

    In appears the Liberal argument might need some revision. The liberal state in its U.S. manifestation [and beyond], has according to Arnold (2011) substantially taken control over the incidents of ownership through taxation, spending, and regulatory policies. There thus goes the idea of private property, it might seem. Further, one could argue, the state asserts the right to and thereby governs access to and use of a nation’s territory, though not always in the nation’s, or even the state’s, interest, but rather in the interest of a select few within the state apparatus and industry.

    Glassmann (1999) had argued that “both neo-liberals and neo-Weberians share a problematic assumption that states are anchored exclusively in the social forces deemed to lie within their national territories” to proceed suggesting that the internationalisation of capital also led to an internationalisation of the state, or certain classes within in, which in his view consolidated the hegemonic presence globally of neo-liberal approaches as members of these classes can be found North and South.

    Should we then not speak of the global commons in regards to state territory – shared by all but owned by none – as we already consider the high seas, seabed, and space? The UN defines the commons as owned by all members in a community and beyond the jurisdiction of any one nation – indeed, many nations have much at stake but little to say about the use of ‘their’ resources.

    It is Friday afternoon, by the way, and my train of thought is about to derail for a while…

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