Growth of Nation State
The Nation-States began their careers as absolute monarchies. When Papal authority was set aside, and feudal rights were giving way, it was natural for the people to cling to the central institution in which their political life was embodied. The growing national consciousness of the people had made them realise the need for consolidation. But consolidation demanded concentration of authority. Protestantism, too, while limiting the authority to a territorial State, placed the spiritual and civil authority in the hands of the king. The political thought of this period, also supported absolutism. Machiavelli freed the ruler even, from the limitations imposed by public morality. The theory of Divine Right of Kings championed the cause of absolute monarchy.
But the absolute authority of the kings could not remain unchallenged for long. The next stage in the development of nation-State was the conflict between the king and the people. The people demanded their rights and privileges. They began to realise that power was ultimately theirs, if they wished to wield it. It was the rise of democracy and the aspirations for a representative system of government. Democracy brought with it three main principles; equality, popular sovereignty and nationality. The manifestation of the first principle was found in the Declaration of the Rights of Man drawn up by the French Revolutionaries in 1789. Ever since 1789, this principle 'has been at work emancipating and elevating the hitherto unfree and downtrodden orders of society, and removing civil, regilious and race disabilities from disqualified classes in the State.' The Declaration of the Rights of Man also embraced the concept of popular sovereignty. It means, in simple words, that the people are the source of all authority and law is the expression of their will. Finally, the principle of nationality requires that the people, who feel they are one, are free to choose their own form of government and to manage their affairs in their own way. Here, again, it may be stated that the French Revolution was primarily responsible for the revival of the national sentiment.
The advance of democracy wrecked absolutism and brought about a great improvement in the political customs of the civili nations. The selfishness of the ruling families was checked and methods of government became milder and fairer. Laws were made with due consideration of the interests of the people, and opinions were freely brought to the test of discussion. Another characteristic of the democratic State had been the pursuit of the policy of laissez-faire in the field of industry, trade and commerce. This policy 'to let people alone' had certain obvious results. First, there had been a great expansion in enterprise and invention. Secondly, there had been a movement of diffusion owing to economic freedom. Finally, there had been a marked tendency in concentration both of capital and land.
The modern State is a nation-State and it has become the basic pattern
throughout the world. It actualises the principle of self-determination, or the
right of each nation to govern itself. Loyalty in the nation-State is expressed
to the nation, or, in the other words, to the people. A nation-State,
accordingly, places emphasis on the ethnic, if possible, and geographic unity
of the people. It adopts all means at its disposal to preserve the integrity of
its natural frontiers and tries to maintain a homogeneous and united people.
This has been the course of the development of the State during the past five