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The Nation State System: Basic Features of a Nation-State | CSS International Relations

The Nation State System: Basic Features of a Nation-State
Written by Shahzad F. Malik


The concept of sovereignty is permanently associated with a nation-state. It evolved in the 16thc in France, during the conflict between the state and the church.
Many theorists have defined sovereignty. Hobbes focused on its absolutist aspect, while Austin focused on legalistic or juristic notions of sovereignty. The modern doctrine of popular sovereignty has transferred the source of absolute power from the monarch to the people.
The notion of sovereignty is important but it can become rigid unless applied to the evolving pattern of inter-state relations.


Nationalism implies elevation of the nation above all other values. States usually control the mass media to propagate their foreign policy objectives and centralize their education systems to popularize nationalistic values.
Nationalism may take precedence over moral and religious beliefs (Soviet Union) or it may become fused with such beliefs (Israel). Hans Morgenthau differentiated between nationalism of the 19th century and more recent nationalistic universalism under which one state can claim the right to impose its own standards upon the actions of all other nations.
Nationalism is an ideology that creates and sustains a nation as a concept of a common identity for groups of humans. According to the theory of nationalism, the good being, the preservation of identity features, the independence in all subjects, and the glory, of one’s own nation, are fundamental values.
Nationalists base nations on various notions of political legitimacy. These can derive from the liberal argument that political legitimacy is derived from the consent of a region’s population, or combinations of the two.
The modern vernacular use of nationalism refers to the political (and military) exercise of ethnic and religious nationalism, as defined below. Political scientists usually tend to research and focus on the more extreme forms of nationalism usually related with national-socialism, separatism etc.

National Power

Power is a gauged by both tangible and non-tangible aspects. The economic output, size, population and military strength of a state are tangible and quantifiable aspects.
Power also rests on intangible factors like quality of leadership, ideology, morale and manipulative or diplomatic strength. Power purchases security and enables survival of a state, thus it is an end onto itself. This long run objective to achieve power also requires exertion of power, so it is also a means to an end.

Ingredients of National Power

Force: the explicit threat or use of military, economic, nuclear and other instruments of coercion by one state against another.
Influence: using instruments of persuasion by one state to alter or maintain the behavior of another state. Authority: voluntary compliance with directives of a state by other states out of respect, solidarity, or in recognition of expertise.

Relevant Vocabulary

Derived: obtained or extracted from
Legitimacy: legality or justification
Compliance: following and/or accepting instructions
Directives: orders
Solidarity: united stance
Explicit: obvious or visible
Intangible: not visible or very evident Gauged: ascertained or measured

About the author

Shahzad F. Malik

Shahzad Faisal Malik is the administrator of CSSTimes.pk and is responsible for managing the content, design, and overall direction of the blog. He has a strong background in Competitive Exams and is passionate and sharing information with others.
Shahzad Faisal Malik has worked as a Graphic Designer/Content Creator at CSSTimes in the past. In his free time, Shahzad Faisal Malik enjoys watching Cricket, writing blogs for different websites and is always on the lookout for new and interesting content to share with the readers of this website.
As the website administrator, Shahzad Faisal Malik is dedicated to providing high-quality content and fostering a welcoming and engaging community for readers. He looks forward to connecting with readers and hearing their thoughts and feedback on the website.

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