Nation-State Characteristics

Discuss the differences among the concepts of nation, country, state, government, and nation-state. Examine the growth in the number of nation-states in the international community since 1648. Discuss the proliferation of states since World War II. Consider the large number of nations in relation to the relatively small number of nation-states. Consider how nation-states are evolving. Are they likely to become large regions or associations of states, or to devolve along linguistic and ethnic lines?

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A nation is a group of individuals with shared political, social or economic identities and who basically live within a particular country or territory. There are a number of factors that have to be homogenous for a group of people to be said to be a nation. These are summarized below:

  1. Language

For any group of individuals to come together and claim to be a nation, they must have a shared method of communication which sets them apart from other entities. Language is the primary channel of communication and it comes in handy in helping individuals deal with their day to day affairs within the group.

  1. Descent

For most nations, the people are united by the fact that they came down from a common ancestry. In this sense a nation can simply be described as the descendants of the previous inhabitants of a given region.

  1. History

A nation can be made of individuals whose ancestors went through a certain event together. This event must have been chronologically recorded.

  1. Religion

In some instances, nations have been formed around a particular religion with religions like Judaism being related to a specific ethnic group.

A state is a group of individuals with a clear political appreciation and who are self governing in all respects. A number of considerations must be made for a given region to be considered a state. These are summarized below:

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  1. Territory- The space occupied by a given country must have borders that are recognized internationally.
  2. Inhabitants-The territory must be inhabited on a continuous basis.
  3. Transport- There must be a properly organized system of moving within and outside the territory.
  4. Governance-There must be an already established government whose duties include provision of public services such as defense.
  5. Trade-The region must have a well organized economy alongside an avenue for regulation of trade.
  6. Recognition- A country must be acknowledged by other countries for it to be considered a state.
  7. Sovereignty- A territory must not be under the influence of another territory if it is to be considered a state.

A government is an agency by which a political entity within a given state or nation exercises its authority by the administration of public policy. Governments are also tasked with the responsibility of controlling the actions of their citizens. The size of the administrative group will determine the complexity in the structure of governance. Smaller groups will therefore have fewer officials and larger entities require for more complicated polices and officials.

A country is a basically a geographical area occupied by a group of people who have certain characteristics and who generally share a political identity.

A nation-state is a state that acquires its political identity from the sovereign service that it offers a particular country. The nation-state is simply a combination of the nation, with the state being a geopolitical aspect and the nation being the ethnic aspect.

The number of nation states in the international communities has been on an upward trend since 1648. This has been occasioned by the fact that most countries have been liberated from the yoke of colonialism in the period and have gone ahead to establish individual rulership regimes. After World War II most nations chose never to go back to cross-border hostilities and instead chose to channel their resources to developmental processes. The preference for peace over war saw the growth of many nation-states across the continents.

Nation-states are evolving in such a way that they are becoming smaller and smaller. Each time a group of people with share political viewpoints comes together and synchronize their priorities they decide that it is better for them to be self-governing. Consequently the number of break-away nation-states keeps increasing while the size is on a downward trend. Nation-states particularly in the developing countries are likely to devolve along ethnic lines to such an extent that in a few years the membership of nation-states will be reduced to less than a few thousand people.

Discuss the difficulties of measuring power among the nation-states of the international system. Is Ray Cline’s conceptual formula a realistic one in a world of nuclear proliferation and militarized states? What components of Cline’s formula are most relevant in the power equation of a nation-state? What is a superpower? What is a middle power?

Various elements are used in the process of measuring power among nation states of the international system. These include natural resources, industrial and military capacity, the general population as well as the quality of diplomatic potential. The difficulty in measuring power among various nation-states arises in the fact hat some countries have an abundance of some of these elements while they completely don’t appreciate the existence of others. This makes it very hard to come up with a unique system for comparing the different abilities of the different nation states. For instance it is very difficult to put a nation-state with an abundance of mineral resources against one with well developed technological potential for processing the minerals and trying to establish which the most powerful is.

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Ray Cline’s formula was aimed at making a combination of both potential and commitment in the ranking of nation-states. This conceptual formula is a realistic in today’s world even with the proliferation of militarized states because it takes into consideration the military capacity of the nation-states under study aside from incorporating the willingness of the leadership figures. In the various rankings of power, it is usually concluded that the country with the most nuclear potential amongst the other factors is considered most powerful. These are two of the most critical factors when analyzing the overall power of the various nation-states. All the five components of Cline’s formula are critical in establishing the power of a nation-state. However, the economic capability and the population are by far the most relevant because the more a nation-state is economically the more it will be able to take care of its citizens. A nation-state whose population is adequately catered for will definitely be in a position to secure adequate military tools as well as motivate the leaders to work willingly towards further development.

A superpower is a nation-state that can exercise powerful dominance over other countries around the world. This is achieved by fronting its various interests anywhere in the world as well as having the potential to adequately defend those interests. In general a superpower should be in a have the ability to destroy the world as well as possess vast economic resources.

A middle power is a nation-state that is neither a superpower nor a great power but still bears some moderate potential to influence regional and international agenda. A middle power will have a foreign policy characteristic that serves to offer legitimacy to the world order via combined-effort initiatives. Middle powers can either be classified as traditional or emerging. Traditional middle powers are wealthy and stable but do not have the ability to influence its neighbors while emerging middle powers bear the potential of regional influence on top of their material supremacy.

Discuss how the basic political organization of a nation-state can enhance or complicate its economic potential. What advantages do unitary states have over federal states? Discuss the various types of federal systems introduced in the chapter. Which one most clearly resembles the unitary system and why?

The economic potential of a nation-state is mainly assessed by analyzing the industrial development of the region which basically comprises the advancement in technology and as well as agricultural productivity. The second economic potential is the nation-state’s export capabilities for a limited amount of products. The basic political organization of a nation state determines the ability of the country to modernize its production technology as well as by coming up with decisions that will determine whether a country will increase its agricultural productivity or not. The political organization of the nation-state will also determine its relations with other countries and by extension the products it can export to trading partners.

Unitary states have a number of advantages over federal states. These are briefly explained below.

  • Economic efficiency: Unitary states generally have fewer people than federal states. This therefore makes it easy for the ruling class to come up with legislative procedures and budgets that increase the efficiency in the usage of taxes. In essence, it is easier to manage the economic organization of a unitary state than of larger federal governments.
  • Decision making: Due to the small sizes of unitary states as compared to federal governments, the decision making process is simplified to such an extent that one person either working alone or in conjunction with a small team can make up decisions for the entire state within a short period of time.
  • Unification: Unitary states are generally compact because of the reduced number of individuals in the population. This therefore makes such nations more unified as compared to their federal counterparts.
  • Centralized powers: In unitary states there is no confusion over who wields the most authority. This is because all powers generally lie with government and as such everybody knows his/her place of influence.
  • Local governments: In unitary states, if the central government feels overwhelmed, it can create local governments to help with the administration process.

There are four main types of federal systems are briefly described below:

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  • Cooperative federalism: In this type of federal governments the state and the federal governments have an equal claim in the various operations that are essential for national development. This federal system is seen in nations such as Germany and the United States.
  • Competitive federalism: In this type of federal system, the federal government is assigned the role of monitoring the operations of local governments. This type of federalism is seen in states such as the United Kingdom, Brazil and Belgium.
  • Coercive federalism: In this system, the federal entity can sometimes come up with rules for governing all sectors of government. This federalism is in place in Nigeria.
  • Permissive federalism: In this type of federal system, the local governments pick up their powers and authorities from the federal government. India is an example of countries with the permissive federal system.

The permissive federal system is the one that mostly resembles the unitary system. This is mainly because like in the unitary system, the federal system has one central government which exercises its authority through various local governments.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the various types of economic systems employed among the world’s states. Suggest some of the ways that urbanization, industrialization, and communications alter political institutions. Is the GNP the best measure we can use to plot prosperity or economic decline? Discuss the political problems encountered by the trade-off between economic growth and sustainable environmental quality.

Traditional economies..The main advantage of this type economic system is that the leadership is in charge of organizing all aspects of the economy. The individuals involved in the production sectors and those involved in industrialization and market sourcing are allocated their roles by the rulership and in this way disputes are kept at bay since all people know their places in the production chain. Other advantages of traditional economies are that incentives are given for hardwork as well as a proper environment that allows for innovation.

Disadvantages of this economic system include the fact that resources can be wasted in the production of unnecessary products. This is especially because some players in the market may not be in proper terms with the administration of the administration. Another disadvantage comes in the form of alternative products being blocked from competing in the market especially when it is seen that the said products would affect the income from another product already in the market.

Command Economies. The primary advantage of command economies is the fact that they try to maintain equality by all possible means. In this system, the government gets rid of all private ownership of property laws and distributes all resources such there everybody gets an equal share. In this case, no one is wealthier or poorer than the other. The command economy also strives to deliver equal health care as well as other social services. The other advantage of this type of system is that it is much easier for change to be incorporated in the system. This is mainly because the government owns most of the production machinery and whenever a shift needs to be made it is done with a lot of ease.

The major disadvantage of demand economies is that they give individuals very little room for freedom. Individuals are not given the chance to choose which career paths to follow and they are also have limited control over the products that they will receive. These economic systems also do not provide incentives to encourage hard work. Innovation is not promoted as well and the quality of production tends to be uniform. Finally, the needs of the consumer are not taken into consideration in the production process.

Market Economies. The most well noticeable advantage of the market economies is that they can easily adapt to change. For instance, if the demand for a particular product goes up, it is easy for production industries to shift from what they produce to create more of the product demanded without having to go through a lot of government procedures. Individuals are given the opportunities to earn as much as they possibly can as well as take up careers that are upto their interests. In market economies, the government ensures that businesses are allowed to operate independent of its influence particularly by giving them the chance to produce what the desire and by methods that appeal to them. Finally, market economies also encourage the production of a variety of products depending on the customers’ needs.

Even with the various advantages linked to market economies, there also disadvantages that go with the systems. The major weakness of market economies present in the fact that the system does not insist on the provision of the basic needs for all the people in the society. Individuals that cannot provide for themselves such as the disabled are left to wallow in poverty. It is also very difficult for governments with many privately owned enterprises to provide basic social amenities to their citizens. There are also market failures which make some companies appear to have an unfair advantage over their competitors hence creating monopolies. Finally, in market economies, businesses are plagued with uncertainty where a company could very easily run out of business causing loss of employment.

Urbanization can affect political institutions by requiring that political power be shifted from rural-based centers to urban-based authorities. This shift arises from the fact that growth of urban centers lead to centralization and disintegration of political systems. Industrialization also has an impact on political institutions in the sense that once a government shifts focus to growth of industries it may end up causing a mix of the economic systems. Communication channels are by far the most important determinant of the direction that the developmental process of any institution will take place. Political institutions can easily be changed by simple modifying the direction of information flow.

Gross National Product is not the best way to measure economic prosperity or decline mainly because of the limitations that it is associated with. These limitations include the fact that it does not account for charitable works as well as that its lack of consideration for leisure time. The calculation of GNP also fails to include improvements in the quality of products.

The trade-off between economic growth and environmental sustainability has varied political implications. The process of amending GNP to factor in environmental change comes with political influences and the change cannot come be entirely dependent on technical knowledge. The issues of contention mainly present in the aspect of industrial development which comes with the promise of economic growth but has the downside of coming alongside environmental pollution. In such instances disagreements that may appear to take a political bearing emerge with environmentalists on one side and economists and investors on the other.

Is the military capacity of a state an accurate indicator of its ability to influence other states? What can be said about military power (hard power) vis-à-vis the totality of a state’s perceived strength? Identify the problems inherent in comparing national power on the basis of military indicators. Prepare a list of soft power strengths the state can cultivate to move from hard power towards peaceful strategies of resolving conflict.

The military capacity of a state cannot be accurately used alone to measure a state’s influence over its peers. This is because physical force cannot always make up for general negotiations. Ideally a state’s ability to influence other states should be based on a number of factors which do not employ the usage of military force. Such factors include financial conditions and federal laws. The usage of military capacity to determine a state’s perceived strength is only viable provided the economic potential, the population and the will of the political leaders are taken into account.

Comparing national power on the basis of military indicators has various inherent problems. First the military potentials are a determinant of the unchallenged ability of one nation to impose its desires on another. In modern days the ability of a country to maintain its dominance through conflict goes way beyond the limits of the military aspect of power. For instance, protection of a state against effects of terrorism depends on a combination of various non-military potentials.

Softpower strengths that a state can employ in order to shift from hard power towards peaceful strategies of resolving conflict include:

  1. Upholding of cultural values
  2. Usage of social role models
  3. Appreciation of human values
  4. Conversations on ideology

The above strengths can be exercised by the usage of diplomatic measures, information propagation and cultural organization.

Differentiate politics from government. Define the following 4 terms in relation to both definitions; (a) accountability, (b) constitutionalism, (c) popular sovereignty and (d) rule of law.

Politics is a set of procedures through which certain groups of individuals come together to make common decisions. Politics generally applies to social associations involving authority and can be used to refer to the administrative processes of political entities. Politics also refers to methods that can be come up with and put implement various policies. Government on the other hand is an institution by which a political entity exercises its powers and authority as well as delivers implements policy. These organizations also control the actions of their populace.

Accountability is the recognizing responsibility for political decisions and implementation of policies involved in governance in such a way that the leaders in charge can acknowledge the ensuing consequences.

Constitutionalism is the application of the rule of law as guiding principles for political officials by giving them the right to exercise governmental authority.

Popular sovereignty is the act of placing all public powers on the masses. This can be done in several ways. The people can choose to make the rules on their own or they can choose political representatives through electioneering processes. The decisions made by these elected individuals will be regarded as the opinion of the public. Whichever way the decisions are made, they have to employ some kind of popular consent.

Rule of law is a sum total of all legal regulations that can be regarded as the guiding forces of any civilized society. The rule of law provides for fair methods of practicing politics ad establishment of governments.

Discuss the most salient attributes of democratic, authoritarian, and totalitarian governments. Why is Canada thought to be a democratic state? What makes China a totalitarian regime? Name an African and South American state that would represent the model of authoritarianism described in this chapter.

Democratic governments have a number of attributes with which they base their operational frameworks. These are explained below:

In democratic governments decisions are made by consensus in such a way that the voice of the people is always seen to be given consideration. Democratic governments are very open to criticism especially from the opposition and they support the appointment of public officials by either direct or indirect elections. Democratic governments encourage religious tolerance and individuals are not required to follow a particular state religion. Democracies support the idea of proportional representation and generally encourage multi-partyism. Finally democratic governments generally go for administrative systems that allow for separation of powers.

Authoritarian governments extensively limit the application of political pluralism and political parties that are opposed to the ruling party are not tolerated. Social mobilization is also discouraged and individuals who try to call for the participation of the masses in the selection of leaders or the passing of key public decisions are seen as exercising defiance to the state and mostly end up facing persecutions. The leadership in authoritarian governments is usually personalized and the states which encourage this system of government are led according to the wishes of the person at the top.

Totalitarian governments are administered in ways that see ultimate power being centralized around a particular individual in such a way that the system appears to be entirely dictatorial. In these types of governments individuals are expected to be totally subservient to the government and the state exercises control over all spheres of life.

Canada is seen as a democratic government because it encourages popular participation with general elections used to select the prime minister as well as regional representatives. The Canadian government has no opposition to multiparty politics and those political groups that establish themselves against the ruling party are seen as healthy competition.

China is a totalitarian government especially of the communistic laws that it supports. Such laws include the ones that grant the police the power to conduct unwarranted searches on the citizens as well as giving the state the power to track all aspects of a person’s life. The constitution of the country also limits the freedom of expression to a great extent and individuals are not free to move from one region to another without a state-issued permit. Libya from Africa and Peru from Cuba are exclusively authoritarian states.3. Contrast the main characteristics of parliamentary and presidential governments. Explain and compare the governments of Canada and the United States from the perspective of fusion of powers, separation of powers, and checks and balances.

The presidential system is under the leadership of the office of the president. In this system, the president plays the role of the leader of the state and CEO. In presidential systems, the president is elected by the public without regard for the legislature. The president wields supreme authority and is allowed the power to overturn decisions by the legislature. The president also has control over all state machinery including the military.

In the parliamentary system, the state leader is not elected by the public but rather by the legislative assembly.

The government in Canada follows the format of a parliamentary system with the executive and legislature intertwined. The government chief executive is elected by the party with the majority in the house. This CEO is referred to as the prime minister. This Canadian government is basically a form of fusion of powers and in Canada when the government and the legislature fail to agree for an extended period of time, the system is seen to have collapsed. In this case a new government and/or parliament have to be set up. The United States on the other hand has a presidential system of government which puts into use the principle of separation of powers. The president, who is elected by the public, maintains supreme authority but has to work under the influence of the three arms of government i.e. the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

From the perspective of checks and balances the United States government has established a way of keeping all the three arms of government by ensuring that none of the arms operates independent of the other two. The Canadian system of government exclusively ties the executive and the legislature in such a way that the president cannot be de-linked from the parliament.

Is Nazism likely to resurface as a model of government? If so, what kind of political environment will produce it and what modern-day technologies will aid it?

Nazism is not likely to resurface as a model of government. This is primarily because people all over the world have over time learnt to tolerate each others differences. Nazism was primarily based on racial ideologies and with the development of humanitarian bodies like the United Nations Commission for Human rights, it is unlikely that any country will be allowed to form a government that isolates one racial group as the most important.

What about the future of Communism? Are communist regimes likely to disappear entirely? Or do you think there will always be communist governments in the international system?

Communism is on the verge of extinction. This is because modernity mainly supports the principles of individualism. Class distinction is the basis by which systems all over the world are founded and it is unlikely that any modern society will operate effectively without some individuals creating the jobs and others of lower classes doing the jobs.

Many argue that the executive branch is the most capable of formulating public policy. To what extent is this true in light of the resources available to the executive? In Canada, the resources of the Cabinet are many, but what are the constraints on executive power? Are there signs that Parliament may be reasserting its powers? What are they?

The process of public policy formulation is one that demands the extensive involvement of all members of administration. These basically include members of the three arms of government, that is, the Judiciary, legislature and the executive. The executive is arguably the most important in the making of laws because in most states and nation-states, the president and/or the prime-minister have unchallengeable powers that allow them come up with policies they see fit for their countries. The executive is also allowed control over state machinery including the military and this therefore makes it the supreme authority for any government. The executive is also the final office of approval before a bill is turned into a law. If either the president or the prime-minister and their associated offices are against a particular policy, then it definitely will not be implemented.

There are several constraints on executive power according the structuring of the Canadian constitution. One of these presents in the form of the fact that in most states in the country all activities of executive must be subject to ministerial cooperation. This therefore limits the influence which the executive can have on the citizens of a particular region. Another constraint presents in the fact that there is no clear delegation of duties particularly among the members of the executive, in Canada’s case the prime minister, the governor general and the Queen. This makes it difficult for any of the aforementioned individuals to bear influence on the nation.

It is unlikely that parliament may be reasserting its powers. This is particularly because it has come to the attention of most of the public administrators that the executive operates under several constraints and it therefore doesn’t make sense to try and cut down the already limited powers accorded to the executive and reassert them to the parliament.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of separating the head of state from the head of government and party in the parliamentary system. Under the United States presidential system, is it really possible for the same person to carry out partisan duties and represent the public interest for the nation-state as a whole? As head of state, the U.S. president spends a tremendous amount of time at ceremonial functions. Should these duties be assigned to someone else, thus freeing the president for political work?

There a number of disadvantages that come with separation of the head of state from the head of government. One of the most primary benefits is the fact that the system does not grant too much power to an individual. This is basically by ensuring that either the head of the state or head of government has to consult with the other whenever it comes to making public decisions and in a way the system provides for accountability. Secondly separating the two offices helps in enhancing effectives in the office of the executive. For instance, if the separation is not made, the president who assumes all both titles has to attend all functions that require the attendance of state leader. However, if the titles are assigned to two different individuals the head of state can attend the functions that require his presence while the head of government ensures that the country is properly running.

The major disadvantage of separating the head of state from the head of government is that it ends up creating two centers of power. This makes it very difficult for decisions that require urgent attention to be made because consent has to be obtained from both quarters.

Under the United States presidential system it is possible for the one person to carry out partisan duties and still represent the public interest. This is because in the US like in all other nations that support the presidential system, the president takes vows during the swearing-in process that see him/her promise to protect the interest of the nation first. So, whether or not the president isolates party interests from nation building depends solely on the character of the person at the helm. Ideally, in such states, when the president assumes office, he has to delegate party responsibilities to other official in order to concentrate on state affairs.

The attendance of ceremonial functions is a duty that the United States should consider assigning to someone else. This is because the office of the president is generally the center of operation for all government activities and it does not make sense to have the president sit at ceremonial functions instead of tackling heavy state matters.

List, compare, and discuss the functions of the executive branch of government in the United States and Canada. From what you surmise, which state is more democratic? Which executive is potentially more powerful, the Canadian or the American? Why?

Functions of the executive

  1. Chief of state.
  2. Commander in chief
  3. Chief legistator.
  4. Guardian of the economy.
  5. Chief executive
  6. Chief diplomat

The chief of state is the representation of the leadership of the country while chief executive is the function that guarantees the executive the authority to manage all government functions as well as take overall responsibility for the implementation of the law. In the United States, the executive functions of chief of state and chief executive all rest with the president while in Canada the two functions are separated. The function of chief legislator makes the executive have the power to influence the passage or rejection of laws. In the United States, the president as an individual has the greatest power of influence while in Canada the executive’s powers are diminished to such an extent that parliament can easily overturn his/her decision.

As the chief diplomat the president (for the United States) and the prime minister (for Canada) are in charge of handling foreign policies. The executive in playing this role is also responsible for the reception and appointment of ambassadors. The commander-in-chief title gives the person at the office of the executive the power to control the state’s military. In the United States the president has the authority to summon the armed forces to a given duty that he/she sees is in line with defending the nation’s interests. In Canada, the executive’s power over the military forces is extensively diminished and the legislature is heavily involved in the process of determining the country’s military policy. Finally, as the guardian of the economy, the executive is in charge of carrying out measures to protect the country’s currency by ensuring that it maintains its value. In Canada like United States this function lies squarely in the office of the executive.

The American executive is certainly more powerful than the Canadian one. This is because all the functions are bestowed upon one person and as such he/she can use it to fulfill personal interest. In Canada the executive’s powers are under intense scrutiny from the legislature and therefore the authority that an individual in the office wields is reduced.

Discuss why in both authoritarian or totalitarian regimes executive tends not to be subject to the limitations and checks that confront democratic executives.

Executives in totalitarian and authoritarian regimes are usually not subject to the checks and balances that are imposed on democratic executives. This is mainly because in such countries the rule of law is totally disregarded and the executives in these dictatorial governments can change the rule of law to suit their interests. Aside from this, the leaders in these regimes rule alongside their cronies and as such can influence them to work alongside them in enforcing their oppressive rulerships. For instance in Zimbabwe in Southern Africa, president Robert Mugabe in conjunction with members of parliament who support him have altered the law in the country such that the president has acquired the authority to rule for as long as he wants.

How do the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Privy Council Office (PCO), and the Treasury Board enable the Cabinet to govern more effectively?

The Prime Minister’s office, the Privy Council office and the Treasury board help the cabinet operate more effectively because they serve as reporting centers for various ministries. These three offices help consolidate the decisions of the various ministries and evaluate such decisions in the light of the country’s financial and administrative capacities. The Prime Minister’s and the Privy Council offices help make the recommendations of the parliament appear to come from one central authority. This would not be the case if the various members of the legislature were to speak on their own behalves. The three offices also ensure that the legislature is accountable for its actions by giving the various members of the general assembly answerability points.

Work Cited

Guy, James J. People, politics, and government. 7th. Ed. Scarborough, Ontario: Pearson Education, 2010. Print.

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