13 January 2010

Book: The End of the Nation-State

This book by Jean-Marie Guéhenno was published in French in 1993 as "La fin de la démocratie" (The End of Democracy). The English translation appeared two years later under the title "The End of the Nation-State" (trans. Victoria Elliott; University of Minnesota Press, 1995):


From the back cover: "Will the information age and the resulting global community provide a new model, a 'fourth empire,' that will redefine how people pursue and protect their freedoms? [...] Questioning whether democracy can survive without nations, Guéhenno sees a future for humanity that has lost the 'dotted lines' of borders and geographical boundaries."

Reviews: "The End of the Nation-State argues that the territorial nation-state is giving way: from without, to a welter of overlapping, transnational networks fueled by information technology; from within, to subnational ethnic communities. At stake is the future of democracy." (Francis Fukuyama, "Foreign Affairs")

"His analysis ... draws intriguing parallels between the current period and that of the Holy Roman Empire but sees the current 'empire' as an economic network of independent institutions. ... Guehenno's thought-provoking ideas will certainly generate discussions and controversy." ("Library Journal")

"Guéhenno detects not just a shift in power from one institutional location to another but, rather, a profound redefinition of power itself. This redefinition will pose an almost formidable challenge to our basic notions of and approaches to governance." ("American Journal of International Law")

"Where Christianity teaches that 'each man ... is a consciousness, and that this consciousness is irreducible,' the new age of networks requires the surrender of autonomy. As dedicated servants of the network, we become 'people without principles.' Our networked age functions 'better than any human organization has ever functioned, but no one knows to what end.' [...] As if to complete the circuit of ironies that will describe this new era – a world without a center, inhabited by people without principles, gagging on freedoms that have lost all meaning – Guehenno offers this remedy: 'religions without God.'" (A.J. Bacevich, "First Things")

The book is fully searchable on Google Book Search (including partial table of contents):


Frenchman Jean-Marie Guéhenno has been Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Peacekeeping Operations since 2000. At the time the book was published, he was a Professor at Sciences Po Paris and Director of the Center for Analysis and Forecasting of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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