GS101 Lecture Notes - Imagined Communities, Julian Assange, Cosmopolitanism
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Michael Matthews September 27, 2011
Political Economy II
The relationship between the nation state and politics: What is a nation state?
Sovereignty- Very connected to a feeling of belonging to a particular and almost sacred place (control over
Territoriality- You cannot have a nation space without control and space. (human emotional necessity)
Self-Identification- People within that nation state call themselves as part of that state
Belonging- Who belongs within the nation state
Treaty of Westphalia (1648): A peace treaty that was signed by some very diverse groups in Europe.
People who are like minded could come together within their own territory. (The modern nation state).
The demise of the nation state: Many professionals suggesting that this era is over (the end of the nation
Before the nation state there was a sense of empires, where people of different cultures and religions came
together to form a bigger group.
The nation state has been used to enhance the economic and cultural life of a nation. E.g. the school is a
tool of the state to introduce the ideas wanted to be portrayed.
Transportation is an important piece for the idea of the nation state. One of Macdonald’s promises was to
build a train that could travel from East to West in order to keep everyone together. Here to try and create a
Benedict Anderson wrote a book in 1983 called “Imagined Communities” which caused a big splash in the
professional community. What he is saying is that there really is no nation state, but rather an imagined
thing and the only reason that we believe these things are because we were told so. The nation is an
invented narrative and an imagined story. He believed they were caused by print capitalism (which is the
imagination created by news, advertisement, etc.)
Cosmopolitanism: Immanuel Kant contributed to this idea of the human race in general and that we are all
unified by the universal laws of morality. Or in other words a sense of what is wrong and what it right.
Most people are very disillusioned by politics. Most societies are very misinformed of what is going on in
government. The media is much more interested in revealing the scandal than the actual work that is going
Case study: Canada as a nation state:
Territoriality (boarders and boundaries):
Internationally recognized as a nation state (sovereignty)
Identity (symbols and value)- really bring together our identity. (Tim Horton’s)
In total, we have an incredibly diverse people, cultures, and languages which make it hard to see how
Canada is a nation state. Canada is very careful of letting the country break apart.
If the nation state is no longer a viable construct, what is it? Many people say it lies in regional trading
zones like NAFTA. Export Processing Zones, no rules apply (China has the most). They are very powerful
because millions of people are working there (sleep there, fed there…).
Elite Domination: could they be form a long time ago? (Bilderberg Group, Davos, Trilateral Commission).
Bilderberg Group: wants to foster international co-operation
Tri: North America, Europe, and Asia (increased international dialogue and co-operation) they were
preaching that governments were not doing what they were supposed to do.
Davos is a place in Switzerland: where influential people plan the global economies.
Democracy Undermined? If we have all of these other groups in power, do we still have a meaningful part
in the decisions and future of the nation state.
Nation State Returns? Some now believe that the nation state is in full force.