Holonic State Formation (Integral meets Philip Bobbitt)

From p. 215 of Philipp Bobbitt’s magisterial The Shield of Achilles:

The nation-state has accumulated various responsibilities.  The legitimating promises of earlier, precedeing constitutional forms are often inherited by successive archetypes as entrenched expectations and entitlements.  The princely state promised external security,  the freedom from domination and interference by foreign powers.  The kingly state inherited this responsibility and added the promise of internal stability.  The territorial state added the promise of expanding material wealth, to which the state-nation further added the civil and political rights of popular sovereignty.  To all these responsibilities the nation-state added the promise of providing economic security and public goods to the people.

Bobbitt’s historical framing of those shifts is roughly as follows:

Princely States (1494-1648, i.e. The Peace of Westphalia)
Kingly States to Territorial States (1648-1776, i.e. Declaration of Independence)
State-Nations from 1776 to 1914 (WWI) when the Nation-State becomes the dominant reality.
2001?–>The Shift from the Nation-State to the Future Market-State (I’ll discuss that in a number of later posts)

Now to get back to the quotation.  It would be correct to call these iterations paradigm shifts–remembering that paradigm shift is actually a different way of doing business, a different praxis (often military, economic, technological, reading/scholarly praxis) which gives rise to a new worldview.

By understanding paradigm shifts, applying integral theory, the process of emergence/development works via envelopment/unfoldment:  i.e. transcend and include.  The include part is what Bobbitt is calling “inheritance” from the earlier iterations to the later ones.  The later paradigm shifts build on the platform already created by the previous incarnation of the state.  i.e. In integral-speak, Holarchy.

What this also brilliantly opens up is a way to chart state progression across the globe.  States can be roughly correlated along this axis.  e.g. China is classically moving in a very difficult way through the very difficult transition from a territorial state to a state-nation, which the Chinese urban middle class is navigating carefully.  Or someone like Ron Paul, whose Revolution, would consist of returning to the US to a state-nation status–i..e undoing the entire Welfare State.

I’m reading Shield of Achilles so that I can read Bobbitt’s new tract, Terror and Consent.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Please, if you are able, indicate in 300 words or less why it is even the slightest bit important to principles at the heart of America to be able to “chart state progression across the globe”.

    Of course, I disagree with your entire Wilberian premise here; but leave that aside (since your worldview rests on Wilberian being important and true, and you are blinkered to it not being both). Help us skeptics understand why you bother to think it important to speculate about “state progression across the globe”.

    Oh, and btw (because I know you love those lower-case abbreviations) — each of your paragraphs are riddled with question begging, if you care to abide by the principles of logic and clear-thinking.

  2. […] mentioned Philipp Bobbitt’s work in this previous post; here he is on Conversations with History discussing his most recent book Terror and […]


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