Political history book finds receptive audience

A book by two SUNY Oswego political science professors has found an audience among scholars and professors large enough to warrant a second, revised edition.

“The Nation State and Global Order: A Historical Introduction to Contemporary Politics” by Dr. Walter C. Opello Jr. and Dr. Stephen J. Rosow is used in college courses from “Introduction to Comparative Politics” at the University of Virginia to “The Making of Modern Europe” at the University of Sussex in England.

The book takes a historical approach to trace the formation of specific forms of the state, from ancient Rome through the feudal, medieval and liberal states to the current managerial state.

The managerial state is the authors’ term for all the developed, dominant nations of the present day, including the United States. “It’s procedural,” Opello said. “It’s about managing people and managing the political process in a way that doesn’t allow for too many surprises.”

Managerial states want every other form of political rule to become like them. They assume, Opello said, that “the way we live is the way human beings were meant to live.” In the authors’ view, however, the democratic and capitalistic nation state is just one of many possible political constructions.

For the new edition, Opello said, the two revised about 20 percent of the book, rewrote the introductory chapter and added new sections. They also updated the case studies—one of which is Iraq—in light of developments since the 1999 edition.

One question driving their revisions was, “Are we in a transformative stage?” Opello asks. “The managerial state is where we’re at,” he said, yet “we’re in a period where there are all these experiments going on. There is all this multiplicity.”

In their expanded final section, Rosow said, they examine current challenges to the state, such as economic globalization, global social movements made possible by new communications technologies, and the new possibility of “post-territorial war” where war can be waged by stateless groups such as al-Qaida and nations cannot really protect their territory.

The second edition of “The Nation State and Global Order” has just been published in paperback by Lynne Rienner Publishers. It sells for $22.50.

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CONTACT: Dr. Walter Opello, 312-2118

(Posted: Sep 22, 2004)