The world faces diverse socio-political, economic and spiritual issues and problems. If this phenomena of contemporary global disorder is interpreted philosophically, it is a conflict of ‘structuralism’ versus ‘essentialism’ within the state, society, and beyond.

The individuality of the issues needs to be analysed in depth; however without seeing the collective and essential perspective we will find the appropriate and sustainable solutions of the issues.

Structuralism, society and the state

The state, as a social organism, was meant to manage the diversity of affairs of social, national or the entities. The institution of state traces back its embryos to the human family unit of the neolithic era in the human history. Thus, state is a structural entity with ‘essentiality’ of the diverse responsibilities. Like many other forms of social organisation, it was born out of society but has since been trying to control and regulate the society from which it came.

Generally, discourse on the state-society relations is discouraged and faces curbs as free expression in developing and under developed societies. The only dominant discourse in the state-society relations runs around the military – civil relations particularly because regional and multilateral military engagements have surged in the last two decades around the world.

The same is the problem can be seen around religious practices. Practices of the faithful associated with almost all religions in the world have distanced themselves from the essence of their religions, but have stuck to the structures and traditions built around the religions instead, despite the fact that no sacred book in majority of the religions has described particular order of the structure. In fact, the institutions of Mullahism, Panditism, Priesthood or Monkism are later developments and are not part of the Holy Texts.

The political parties and social movements of our times are also victim of this phenomena of ‘structuralism’ and therefore have always proved to be less productive, and eventually create socially and humanly less conducive polity.

If analysed precisely, the issues like increase in militarisation, violence, religious extremism, terrorism, wars, intolerance, nepotism, corruption and socio-economic injustice are result of focusing more on structural aspects of the states, governance, religions and social organisms like political parties and social movements.

Globalization: Cold War and today

It is difficult to observe globalised societies before Cold War, as more recent state institutions have dominated the process of globalization. In today’s process of globalization, states are more globalised than the common world citizenry as well as social and political movements. Globalization and the enlargement of state institutions through submergence of the broader civil society have also had some positive aspects, such as the relatively greater number of pro-society elements, which are heard in decision making processes; however on the other hand state gets more leeway to dominate the voices of dissent. Similarly to how the judiciary plays a role in state-society conflicts, broader civil-society provides a neutral cushion in the state-society conflict. However, civil-society is more responsible to the people, while the judiciary is more responsible to the constitution and in many cases the state.

Marxism discussed politics on the basis of themes across international borders, globalising politics and social movements during the Cold War. And today’s communication and technological revolutions have crossed the borders of national-states and pushed globalisation further.

However, terrorism, religious extremism and expansion in the security and intelligence services around the world has reduced the physical globalization of human beings. This situation has not only given birth to the visa regime tightness and reduced the area of civil liberties, but also has reduced the broader physical exposure between and among the societies and cultures.

Besides, the war-making process has become more globalised than the peace-making initiatives.

Gradually but steadily health and education sectors; media and foreign policy sectors of societies and states are becoming globalised; however shared human wisdom and developments as well as sharing between cultures and civilisations are the requirement of our times. Without these, a new global order would be impossible.

Mutually assured destruction

The two-decades long reality of world politics have remained the real concern of the global citizenry. No doubt, some of the wars were unavoidable during last three decades despite their basis on previous foreign policy mistakes, but some were avoidable and unnecessary. For example, had the war on terrorism been focused on Pakistan instead of Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of 9/11, it may have provided more sustainable results.

When world players choose actions that are more exhaustive and less result oriented, they create a situation like that of Mutually assured destruction (MAD). The idea of MAD is visible in international terror organisations, and it is important most for the forces against terrorism that they avoid becoming victims of the same ideas, as those ideas are what brought two world wars in the first half of the last century.

Collective human responsibility

Some of the nations around the world remained subjugated after Second World War. The instruments of their subjugation can be split into three categories: agreements; invasions; and the decisions of ex-colonisers. The world today is collectively responsible to these subjugated nations, and a framework needs to be developed to address these three different categories.

Some of the nations won freedom during cold war, rest at the end cold war and a few in and around the first decade of the twentieth century. The legitimate case of remaining a few like Kurdistan in Iraq, and Sindh and Balochistan in Pakistan (avoiding to mention Tibet because Dalai Lama has been focussing on the Provincial Autonomy since last decade) at least needs to considered by the international community.

What else?

Better initiatives by some of the regional powers might have left highly positive impacts on the regional and the world politics.

Had Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), for instance, chosen to form Saudi Peacekeeping Forces under United Nations especially for the conflict resolution either across the world or in the Salafism majority / friendly countries or societies (or the conflict in which KSA have not been party) it would have not only earned a better reputation but also recognition for it use of soft power.

At the same time, the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), which includes many wealthy Muslim countries as members, has only proved to be a forum of meetings. It could have developed a funding mechanism for the countries where Muslim communities live in a bid to eradicate poverty, illiteracy and health issues, as well as addressing natural and man-made calamities.

Meanwhile, in today’s highly sensitive and volatile environment around the religions, none have thought to reach an agreement, which turns sacred places into war and violence free zones. These can include but not limited to Church of Nativity and Bethlehem (Israel), Vatican City (Rome), Mecca and Medina (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), Varanasi (India), the birthplace of Buddha (Nepal), centres of Tauism and Confusiounism (China), and shrines of Imams (Iran, Iraq and Syria) as well as UNESCO recognised world heritage sites as well and UN recognised Ramsar Sites.

At the same time, United Nations that has given space to the individuals or the group of the individuals for petitioning against state parties concerning some issues, has created no room for the nations, territorial entities and ethnic groups that aspire freedom or secession.

This kind of issue becomes highly important when it become an established reality that majority of the certain ethnic nation that have remained a historically sovereign country wants freedom. It also requires especial focus in the countries that either do not give such rights to federating provinces, state or territories or have remained under military rules.

There needs to be forum in the United Nations in which the ruling or opposition political parties of such nations or territories or the broader civil society in the wake of ethnic crimes as well as extreme civil, political and economic rights violation may petition for UN intervention concerning the secession / liberation.


Most of the issues in our times are caused by the dominance of the structure over the essence in and between state and society, and within the various social organisations like religious outfits, political parties and social movements.

Not only is a new discourse required around ‘structuralism versus essence’ in the world politics, but a concrete way forward is also needed for the more positive, productive and result oriented world politics.


About Author

Zulfiqar Shah

Zulfiqar Shah is a stateless activist, analyst, and researcher. Although he is a refugee, and living a life in exile, he is a born Sindhi and South Asian and currently he lives in India. He is author of Beyond Federalism

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