The Westphalian State
By Arnold Kling
In 2005, Richard CB Johnsson wrote,
the territorially sovereign states of today claim absolute political authority within their respective fixed territories. Wherever you are in the world today, you basically have to yield to the laws of that particular territory, regardless of their contents or whether you approve of them or not. Extraterritoriality originally was a system of non-territorial governance. The laws followed the person, instead of the territory. Thus, in one and the same place, people could submit to various systems of laws.
According to Johnsson (and according to the book he is reviewing, written by Shih Shun Liu in 1925), we only left the extraterritorial Eden in 1648, with the Treaty of Westphalia. In fact, many historians view this is an important milestone in establishing state sovereignty.
What to think of the Westphalian state? Mencius Moldbug and John Fonte are fans. Libertarians not so much. None of us wants to see it replaced by a transnational progressive new world order.
If we lose the Westphalian state, does the fragmented governance that emerges approximate an anarcho-capitalist utopia? Or does it degenerate into anti-competitive guilds, small protectionist zones, and Mafia shakedown rackets?