In the past , the duties of the state , as Sir Henry Maine noted long ago , were only two in number : internal order and external security .
By prevailing over other claimants for the loyalties of men , the nation-state maintained an adequate measure of certainty and order within its territorial borders .
Outside those limits it asserted , as against other states , a position of sovereign equality , and , as against the `` inferior '' peoples of the non-Western world , a position of dominance .
It became the sole `` subject '' of `` international law '' ( a term which , it is pertinent to remember , was coined by Bentham ) , a body of legal principle which by and large was made up of what Western nations could do in the world arena .
( That corpus of law was a reflection of the power system in existence during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries .
Speaking generally , it furthered -- and still tends to further -- the interests of the Western powers .
The enormous changes in world politics have , however , thrown it into confusion , so much so that it is safe to say that all international law is now in need of reexamination and clarification in light of the social conditions of the present era .
Beyond the two basic tasks mentioned above , no attention was paid by statesman or scholar to an idea of state responsibility , either internally or externally .
This was particularly true in the world arena , which was an anarchical battleground characterized by strife and avaricious competition for colonial empires .
That any sort of duty was owed by his nation to other nations would have astonished a nineteenth-century statesman .
His duty was to his sovereign and to his nation , and an extension to peoples beyond the territorial boundaries was not to be contemplated .
Thus , to cite but one example , the Pax Britannica of the nineteenth century , whether with the British navy ruling the seas or with the City of London ruling world finance , was strictly national in motivation , however much other nations ( e.g. , the United States ) may have incidentally benefited .
At the same time , all suggestions that some sort of societal responsibility existed for the welfare of the people within the territorial state was strongly resisted .
Social Darwinism was able to stave off the incipient socialist movement until well into the present century .
However , in recent decades , for what doubtless are multiple reasons , an unannounced but nonetheless readily observable shift has occurred in both facets of national activity .
A concept of responsibility is in process of articulation and establishment .
Already firmly implanted internally , it is a growing factor in external matters .
A little more than twenty years ago the American people turned an important corner .
In what has aptly been called a `` constitutional revolution '' , the basic nature of government was transformed from one essentially negative in nature ( the `` night-watchman state '' ) to one with affirmative duties to perform .
The `` positive state '' came into existence .
For lawyers , reflecting perhaps their parochial preferences , there has been a special fascination since then in the role played by the Supreme Court in that transformation -- the manner in which its decisions altered in `` the switch in time that saved nine '' , President Roosevelt's ill-starred but in effect victorious `` Court-packing plan '' , the imprimatur of judicial approval that was finally placed upon social legislation .
Of greater importance , however , is the content of those programs , which have had and are having enormous consequences for the American people .
Labor relations have been transformed , income security has become a standardized feature of political platforms , and all the many facets of the American version of the welfare state have become part of the conventional wisdom .
A national consensus of near unanimity exists that these governmental efforts are desirable as well as necessary .
Ratified in the Republican Party victory in 1952 , the Positive State is now evidenced by political campaigns being waged not on whether but on how much social legislation there should be .
The general acceptance of the idea of governmental ( i.e. , societal ) responsibility for the economic well-being of the American people is surely one of the two most significant watersheds in American constitutional history .
The other , of course , was the Civil War , the conflict which a century ago insured national unity over fragmentation .
A third , one of at least equal and perhaps even greater importance , is now being traversed : American immersion and involvement in world affairs .
Internal national responsibility , now a truism , need not be documented .
Nevertheless , it may be helpful to cite one example -- that of employment -- for , as will be shown below , it cuts across both facets of the new concept .
Thirty years ago , while the nation was wallowing in economic depression , the prevailing philosophy of government was to stand aside and allow `` natural forces '' to operate and cure the distress .
That guiding principle of the Hoover Administration fell to the siege guns of the New Deal ; ;
less than a score of years later Congress enacted the Employment Act of 1946 , by which the national government assumed the responsibility of taking action to insure conditions of maximum employment .
Hands-off the economy was replaced by conscious guidance through planning -- the economic side of the constitutional revolution .
In 1961 the first important legislative victory of the Kennedy Administration came when the principle of national responsibility for local economic distress won out over a `` state's-responsibility '' proposal -- provision was made for payment for unemployment relief by nation-wide taxation rather than by a levy only on those states afflicted with manpower surplus .
The American people have indeed come a long way in the brief interval between 1930 and 1961 .
Internal national responsibility is a societal response to the impact of the Industrial Revolution .
Reduced to its simplest terms , it is an assumption of a collective duty to compensate for the inability of individuals to cope with the rigors of the era .
National responsibility for individual welfare is a concept not limited to the United States or even to the Western nations .
A measure of its widespread acceptance may be derived from a statement of the International Congress of Jurists in 1959 .
Meeting in New Delhi under the auspices of the International Commission of Jurists , a body of lawyers from the free world , the Congress redefined and expanded the traditional Rule of Law to include affirmative governmental duties .
It is noteworthy that the majority of the delegates to the Congress were from the less developed , former colonial nations .
The Rule of Law , historically a principle according everyone his `` day in court '' before an impartial tribunal , was broadened substantively by making it a responsibility of government to promote individual welfare .
Recognizing that the Rule of Law is `` a dynamic concept which should be employed not only to safeguard the civil and political rights of the individual in a free society '' , the Congress asserted that it also included the responsibility `` to establish social , economic , educational and cultural conditions under which his legitimate aspirations and dignity may be realized '' .
The idea of national responsibility thus has become a common feature of the nations of the non-Soviet world .
For better or for worse , we all now live in welfare states , the organizing principle of which is collective responsibility for individual well-being .
Whether a concept analogous to the principle of internal responsibility operates in a nation's external relations is less obvious and more difficult to establish .
The hypothesis ventured here is that it does , and that evidence is accumulating validating that proposition .
The content is not the same , however : rather than individual security , it is the security and continuing existence of an `` ideological group '' -- those in the `` free world '' -- that is basic .
External national responsibility involves a burgeoning requirement that the leaders of the Western nations so guide their decisions as to further the viability of other friendly nations .
If internal responsibility suggests acceptance of the socialist ideal of equality , then external responsibility implies adherence to principles of ideological supranationalism .
Reference to two other concepts -- nationalism and sovereignty -- may help to reveal the contours of the new principle .
In its beginnings the nation-state had to struggle to assert itself -- internally , against feudal groups , and externally , against the power and influence of such other claimants for loyalty as the Church .
The breakup of the Holy Roman Empire and the downfall of feudalism led , not more than two centuries ago , to the surge of nationalism .
( Since the time-span of the nation-state coincides roughly with the separate existence of the United States as an independent entity , it is perhaps natural for Americans to think of the nation as representative of the highest form of order , something permanent and unchanging .
) The concept of nationalism is the political principle that epitomizes and glorifies the territorial state as the characteristic type of socal structure .
But it is more than that .
For it includes the emotional ties that bind men to their homeland and the complex motivations that hold a large group of people together as a unit .
Today , as new nations rise from the former colonial empires , nationalism is one of the hurricane forces loose in the world .
Almost febrile in intensity , the principle has become worldwide in application -- unfortunately at the very time that nationalist fervors can wreak greatest harm .
Historically , however , the concept is one that has been of marked benefit to the people of the Western civilizational group .
By subduing disparate lesser groups the nation has , to some degree at least , broadened the capacity for individual liberty .
Within their confines , moreover , technological and industrial growth has proceeded at an accelerated pace , thus increasing the cornucopia from which material wants can be satisfied .
While the pattern is uneven , some having gained more than others , nationalism has in fact served the Western peoples well .
( Whether historical nationalism helped the peoples of the remainder of the world , and whether today's nationalism in the former colonial areas has equally beneficial aspects , are other questions .
It is one of the ironic quirks of history that the viability and usefulness of nationalism and the territorial state are rapidly dissipating at precisely the time that the nation-state attained its highest number ( approximately 100 ) .
But it is more than irony : one of the main reasons why nationalism is no longer a tenable concept is because it has spread throughout the planet .
In other words , nationalism worked well enough when it had limited application , both as to geography and as to population ; ;
it becomes a perilous anachronism when adopted on a world-wide basis .
Complementing the political principle of nationalism is the legal principle of sovereignty .
The former receives its legitimacy from the latter .
Operating side by side , together they helped shore up the nation-state .
While sovereignty has roots in antiquity , in its present usage it is essentially modern .
Jean Bodin , writing in the sixteenth century , may have been the seminal thinker , but it was the vastly influential John Austin who set out the main lines of the concept as now understood .
Austin's nineteenth-century view of law and sovereignty still dominates much of today's legal and political thinking .
To him , law is the command of the sovereign ( the English monarch ) who personifies the power of the nation , while sovereignty is the power to make law -- i.e. , to prevail over internal groups and to be free from the commands of other sovereigns in other nations .
These fundamental ideas -- the indivisibility of sovereignty and its dual ( internal-external ) aspects -- still remain the core of that concept of ultimate political power .
The nation-state , then , exemplifies the principle of nationalism and exercises sovereignty : supreme power over domestic affairs and independence from outside control .
In fact , however , both principles have always been nebulous and loosely defined .
High-level abstractions are always difficult to pin down with precision .
That is particularly true of sovereignty when it is applied to democratic societies , in which `` popular '' sovereignty is said to exist , and in federal nations , in which the jobs of government are split .
Nevertheless , nationalism and sovereignty are reputed , in the accepted wisdom , to describe the modern world .
Is there a different reality behind the facade ? ?
Does the surface hide a quite different picture ? ?
The short answer to those questions is `` yes '' .
Both concepts are undergoing alteration ; ;
to some degree they are being supplanted by a concept of national responsibility .
As evidence to support that view , consider the following illustrative instances .