Woodrow Wilson said, "The only brief and adequate definition of the State that I have been able to find, is that which describes it as a 'people organized for law within a definite territory.' " 58 The definition is helpful, but it raises and leaves unanswered several very important questions. What constitutes a people? Who has the right to organize them and determine the law under which they will live? Who determines which territory belongs to which people?
Instead, "We should conceptualize the state as simply the bureaucratic apparatus which claims ultimate administrative, policing, and military authority within a specific jurisdiction..." 59 The state is a mechanism, not a personality. It has characteristics in accordance with its structure and bureaucratic components, but it is only a tool for enacting someone's will, not the source of that will. The actual rulers of the state may not hold any official position at all.
The world with which we are most familiar is divided into sovereign states, tempting us to think: "That is the way it is everywhere. That is the way it has always been. That is the way it will always be." It is a mistake to yield to the temptation.
What is National Sovereignty?
Where Does Sovereignty Come From?
One World, One Sovereign
Notes & Bibliography