Post-Cold War Identity Politics: Northern and Baltic Experiences

By Marko Lehti; David J.Smith | Go to book overview

4

From Modern to Post-Modern Region-Building: Emancipating the Finnish Nation from the State

CHRISTOPHER S.BROWNING


THE CHALLENGES OF REGION-BUILDING

Since the end of the Cold War questions of regional co-operation have inspired much debate as well as political action. This has particularly been the case in northern Europe, where regional acronyms and organizations have proliferated. The phenomenal growth and complexity of the 'new' regional politics has been confusing when trying to understand the place of the state within these developments. With the emergence of new spatial constructions such as trans-border regions, twin cities, city networks, autonomous areas, regional councils and committees, each possessing agency within the international political space reserved in traditional international relations theories for the state, it is little wonder that the previously assumed dominance of the nation-state in the Baltic region has been questioned. 1 Indeed, understood in its classical Weberian form the modern (nation-)state, with its assumed 'monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order', 2 has been characterized as on the defensive and in peril of annihilation. This is particularly evident when people talk of the 'erosion' of state sovereignty and the 'redistribution' of aspects of sovereignty to other 'levels' of governance, upwards to the supra-national level of the EU and Brussels and downwards to local and trans-border regions. 3 The most enthusiastic see the death of the nation-state as imminent, to be replaced by what is sometimes termed a 'Europe of Regions'. Such a view depicts the relationship between the nation-state and the regions as one of conflict over interests and resources, with the state inhibiting regional aspirations. 4 The irony of this largely realist view is that the regions are presented as new Weberian states in the making.

From a more post-modern perspective the 'Europe of Regions' argument is rejected and the state is sometimes characterized as becoming

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