There is no world government. There is no one institution, man or conglomerate; that either runs or owns the world.
The exact number of sovereign nation-states in the world is impossible to determine. The United Nations currently recognises 206 total states—193 member nations, two observer states, and 11 “other” states. There are also nearly a hundred additional regions that are considered sovereign nations by some and not by others.
Societies and nation-states come into existence through the power of the polity. Those who are discontent with the many ills and ails of democracy seem attracted to the notion of the authoritarian or elitist government. But democracy remains a favourable ideology and is preferable to all the other political ideologies that have been on offer throughout the course of history.
Up until now, at least.
But what happens when different nation-states, under the guise of democracy, free will and the sanctity of sovereignty, decide not to play nice with one another?
The Power of the Polity
A well-functioning state needs to consist of well-functioning humans. A good or well-functioning human being is one who reacts and responds appropriately to every situation by avoiding the extremes and excesses of negative behaviours.
Political authority has to depend, to some extent, on the consent of the governed. Since different societies choose different sorts of government, there is no one ‘perfect’ State. Politicians must thus be pragmatic about their policies by taking into account the impact and the effect that their policies have in shaping society.
While the nation-state is a relatively recent invention, the idea of political power is not. Before the installation of democracy, we were largely ruled by royalists. We didn’t get to decide who our leaders were; and until they died, we were stuck with them for life. Change was impossible, unless it came from within the palace halls.
But even when Parliament is in session, the decisions made don’t always seem to benefit their own people.
The Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party was a raid that took place in the Boston Harbour in the 1770s. American colonists dumped tea into the water to protest a British tax on tea. This event fuelled the tension that had already begun between Britain and America and was the inciting incident which led to America winning its independence from Britain.
In the 17th century, Europeans developed a taste for tea. Rival companies were formed to import the product from China. In England, Parliament had given the East India Company a monopoly on tea imports in 1698. When tea became popular in the British colonies, Parliament sought to eliminate foreign competition by passing a law that required colonists to import their tea exclusively from Great Britain.
The East India Company did not export tea to the colonies. It was required, by law, to sell its tea wholesale at auctions in England. British firms bought this tea and exported it to the colonies, where it was later resold to merchants in the US.
Until 1767, the East India Company paid an ad valorem tax of about 25% on tea that was imported into Great Britain. Parliament then further laid additional taxes on tea sold for domestic consumption. These high taxes, combined with the fact that tea imported into the Dutch Republic was not taxed by the Dutch government, meant that Britons and British Americans could buy smuggled Dutch tea at much cheaper prices.
The Boston Tea Party arose from two issues confronting the British Empire in 1765. Firstly, the financial problems of the British East India Company; and an ongoing dispute about the extent of Parliament’s authority over British American colonies without seating any elected representation.
The biggest market for illicit tea was England. By the 1760s, the East India Company was losing £400,000 in revenue per year to smugglers in Great Britain. Dutch tea was also smuggled into British America in significant quantities.
In 1767, to help the East India Company compete with smuggled Dutch tea, Parliament lowered the tax on tea consumed in Great Britain and gave the East India Company a refund of the 25% duty on tea that was re-exported to the colonies.
To help offset this loss of government revenue, Parliament also passed the Townshend Revenue Act, which levied new taxes–including one on tea–in the colonies. Instead of solving the smuggling problem, the Townshend duties renewed a controversy about Parliament’s right to tax the colonies.
So what happens when different nation-states, under the guise of democracy, free will and the sanctity of sovereignty, decide not to play nice with one another?
I believe I have answered the question.