I want to recall the global map I found at the Wiki site on colonialization, and just have it here to look at it for a moment, because it shows a world of conceptual changes from 1492-2007, tracing those changes through the heart of the period of Europe's colonializing of the rest of the globe, and how that transformed from colonial territories to nation states through that period. Consider that in 1492, much of the world was not defined as nation states:
Now here's what I want to call to attention from this: we are always in a period of transition. I argue that the ideas in Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man published fifteen years ago is already history. Just look at the wealth of ideas presented as criticism. It's not easy to keep that sense of ongoing process and change in mind. It's almost a spiritual self-awareness that one must actively cultivate in an ongoing meditation with life. As a child it's not uncommon for most of us to assume the world we encounter and learn is the world as it's always been, and that "attitude" that tends to be inherent in that process can be hard to shake, even as we age and find out differently from our own direct experience and memory. The nation states we think of as defining the world we live in today may not -- I'd suspect will not -- remain as they are, just as they have not, and transitions will continue to occur in ways that will be as surprising to us now as they may have been to our forebears. I don't pretend to be the only one with these thoughts, and here is only one of many one would find: Globalization and the Nation State.
I acknowledge that the following is grossly oversimplified, but just to offer a broad structural overview to work with: Pre colonialism, where much of the globe was not defined, we can find such descriptions of Kingdoms, empires and such, some of which transformed to these geographic expansion entities through colonializing ("the sun never sets on the British Empire," and such) and that transformed into cases where colonies became independent nation states, just as the US did in the late 1700s. The above global map with its colored patterns showing the increase to colonies, then the decrease to what amounts to nation states, illustrates that pattern.
Recognize, too, that this overview is uniquely EuroAmerican-Centric. In regards to that I want to call attention to a book by anthropologist Eric R. Wolf who, himself, as an anthropologist conscious of this ethno centric thought process, calls attention to this important feature in the make up of our world views with the title of his classic and important analysis of this period of history: Europe and the People Without History
If there are connections everywhere, why do we persist in turning dynamic, interconnected phenomena into static, disconnected things? Some of this is owing, perhaps, to the way we have learned our own history. We have been taught, inside the classroom and outside of it, that there exists an entity called the West, and that one can think of this West as a society and civilization independent of and in opposition to other societies and civilizations. Many of us even grew up believing that this West has a genealogy, according to which ancient Greece begat Rome, Rome begat Christian Europe, Christian Europe begat the Renaissance, the Renaissance the Enlightenment, the Enlightenment political democracy and the industrial revolution. Industry, crossed with democracy, in turn yielded the United States, embodying the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (Wolf 1982:5).
A third person overview of the process Wolf analyzes in the book:
Implied in that overview description is the underlying structure of Western institutions, themselves, and how they set patterns within which all these processes find forms to work themselves through. Among those institutions are the hierarchies of various collective institutions, chief now among those of capitalist systems is the transnational corporations. This institution has been evolving in parallel with nation states, and as such perhaps has been "maturing" to a new level of sophistication in an increasingly globalized world. That sophistication may indeed challenge the meaning and purpose of nation states. I offer the following analysis that considers that possibility; it's one of many:
So this is a point where I would like to enter this matrix of interactive institutions in order to reveal and hopefully examine some of the implications of underlying features in the globalization process and perhaps add contextual meaning to current events that are often cast to us as nation centric based politics. This is the beginnings of an outline of a vision I been assembling of the directions we may be headed right now, with a trend towards multinational corporations become more integrated into the world negotiation process as players with their own diplomatic agents, combined with the planetary challenges to our total, sustainable environment, coupled with the basic resources our various systems require to help us find throughout a common and ongoing sustaining life process. Now that's a big order, and I don't expect to fill it, but I'd like to keep in my mind that I am aware of it.
Next I want to look at the evolution of NGOs over especially the past thirty years or so, in conjunction with the various international trade agreements. In the spirit of Wolf's analysis I'd like to begin to explore the structural basis of our world through its dynamically interacting institutions, and in the process try to see the suggestions of narratives that do not necessarily comply with the one fed to us through our collective media processes.