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ctober is analogous with political upheavals and cataclysmic political events from Mahatma Gandhi’s birth, Indira Gandhi’s assassination, to the birth of modern Russia, China and the American industrial enterprises with the Ford Model T entering the Market. Harvard University and the American Air force are products of October, so was the emergence of new a potent iteration of terrorism that the world is dealing with the Beirut bombings in 1983.   
October of 2017 Started off on the back of a black September, where violence, political instability brought misery to many in the world. Nearly a thousand Syrians died in September, Rohingya refugee flows outwards reached peak half million. Kurds in Iraq and Catalans went for referendums in the name of self-determination and Stephen Paddock, a white lone-wolf gunman in Vegas managed to kill and injure more people in the United States, the worst mass shooting in its history. German elections brought back Merkel to power yet her victory came at a price, a weakened Germany and with it uncertainty of its status as the indispensable nation in Europe.   
These events generated a plethora of opinion pieces from a multitude of scholars and analysts, they range from the mass shooting in Vegas, the Catalan and Kurdish referendums to Brexit miseries for Britain. The Rohingya refugee crisis rounds up the chaos and the massive disinformation surrounding all such incidents, where narratives and counter narratives are competing to gain traction isolating the victims.   

 

 


This article attempts to piece together a set of characteristics that seems to explain underlying structural transformations of the world that the above events are being symptomatic. Whilst some attention will be given to these unconnected occurrences, the thrust of the analysis is to explore and identify what connects them.   
Since the primacy of the Western world order and the knowledge and institutional foundations of western dominance in global affairs, the fundamental building block of the system was the Nation State. Ever Since French revolution of 1789 and the German unification of 1848 the former as the first nation state and later the fully fledged modern nation state, the primacy of defining both domestic and international politics has been based on this modern functional state.   
From modern economics, political science and to the working of global economic institutions the stability of the functional state has been critical for progress and prosperity.While the decolonization of the 60s created most of the nation states of the developing world, their stability and coherence has been a perpetual debate that captured the efficacy of democracy to global security.
Even from the newly established nation states from India in 1947 to Kenya in 1960s there has been no effort to push back on the fundamental building blocks of this vital political unit. The Geo Political West has been enormously successful because of their ability to create states that brought progress to its citizens while Afro Asian states and Central and South America embarked on state buildingexpecting progress and prosperity. This has been achieved through a series of domestic and global political initiatives as well as common institutions and to a greater extent a free market system protected by a series of international financial and economic institutions.   
The recent events indicate two colliding interests, in the case of the Kurds in Iraq to Catalonians in Spain to create States that they believed would bring them more prosperity. In both cases out of the votes cast nearly 90% of the vote was for independence. A few years ago, almost all States voted for a Palestinian Statehood during the UN General Assembly session, but most of these states shy away from accepting an independent Kurdistan or Independent Catalonia with exceptions like Israel when it comes to the Kurds.   

 

"The common feature in all these occurrences from the Vegas to Spain are the connections between state and citizen have become increasingly distant, leading to the loosening of the social bonds that hold the nation together"

 

The global power elite are struggling to understand the fluidity of citizenship and identity, while refugees and stateless is top on the agenda the reverse goes for thepolitical movements driven by self-determination. In the case of Spain, the Spanish Constitution of 1978 which clearly argues for the indivisible status of the Spanish State, thus the Catalonian referendum is seen as an attempt to sabotage this continuity by mainstream Spain. Joseph Nye argues that such absolute demands will be a source of violence. The new state making process has put further pressure to a global system that revolves around state stability and balances of power.   
America’s gun laws are back in scrutiny, in a country where 3% of the population own nearly 50% of the guns sold in the United States representing a moral and legal crisis. Whilst the Vegas shooter seemed to have planned his attacks so meticulously the attacks are not even labelled as domestic terrorism. Instead it has been an exercise of trying to understand the personal motives, what is missing in this quest is the failure of domestic institutions and influence of the State.   
Three of the worlds most established states United States, United Kingdom and Germany are going through a set of internal political and social crises that may create conditions of global instability thanks to the stalling of smooth functioning of the State machinery. The National Security State of the United States is in a deep crisis, Vegas shooting seems like a culmination of shootings and crimes that has been on the rise in the United States.   
The US presidency has been under scrutiny for many months, President Trump has decided to decertify the Iranian nuclear agreement which would set the Americans on a collision course with Europe that may even lead to trade wars between the two. British Premier Theresa May with no real parliament majority and under siege from her own party was trying to project building a country that would work for everyone during the conservative party conference last week. The descent of the British State and its impending alienation represent greater irony of the two states, one the liberal cradle and the other the fulcrum of Western political order.   

The common feature in all these occurrences from the Vegas to Spain are the connections between state and citizen have become increasingly distant, leading to the loosening of the social bonds that hold the nation together. These events signify a deep rooted problem in the nation State centric global order.   

2017 was the year many pundits expected some sort of return to normalcy after a decade of crisis and chaos in the global system with the shocks that rocked the Western economic primacy in the aftermath of world economic crisis. Whilst the State as a fundamental building block of the current order is in a slow decay, the institutions that provided stability and were in some cases extensions of State sovereignty in the global forums are facing a similar plight.   
Many public institutions globally have lost their ability to adapt, adjust to the rapid changes in demands as well as technological disruptions. Economist Mohammed El-Erian points out that too many inherently influential institutions have lagged in identifying and implementing reforms and thus run the risk of failing. Such institutional failure will be catastrophic especially in states such as USA, The UK and Germany already reeling from political shocks. According to Adrian Turner 2017 has been more about normalizing the delusion of stable world order.   
The United Nations which is under heavy attack from many quarters including in the latest speech from US president Donald Trump, a recent Pew institution study points out, the institution remains quite unpopular globally. In a time when the institutions are needed especially with economic, political, and social fluidity. Events of September leading to October are a clear symbolism of that business as usual in any part of the world is over. States, citizens and national interests are becoming opaque and combustible, Sri Lanka is trying hard to reimagine our own political identities and seek stability through a complex constitutional reform process. This is a bold move in a global order fraught with contradictions emanating from the very DNA it has been built upon.   


The writer is the Director, Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS)

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