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“Walled States, Waning Sovereignty” by Wendy Brown Essay (Book Review)


Walled States, Waning Sovereignty is a book which was written by a political science professor, Wendy Brown, in the year 2010.Brown’s project in the book is to reveal the contradicting features of the present-day wall building. This book is about the classical and the present political theories of national sovereignty, which are meant to understand the ways in which states power and their national identity persevere in conjunction with the declines. Brown has examined state requirements for the legality and the most popular desires that would stimulate the building of the contemporary wall. This book is a theoretical account that conveys an open hypothetical and original thesis of building a barrier. The barrier is being built at the borders and within the sovereign states. The text in the book is highly theoretical, and it is written in an understandable manner. It is about physical objects-the the walls which were built on state borders.

The methods used by Wendy Brown in the exploration of the topic are rigorous and sophisticating. These methods include dialogue with prominent political theorists and continental philosophers. Wendy Brown has used the ideas of Schmitt, Freud, Marx, just to name but a few. The author has used theoretical adventures to write the book. She got her sources from Senator J. McCain and others, such as the watchdog group of the US-Mexico border, who helped her to address problems in citizenship, political power, and political identity.

A singular capacity has been used in the investigation of the complexities of extreme theory such that it is easily accessed. The approach used is special since she has used a psychoanalytical approach to address the difficulties that are faced by people in the neoliberal globalization. The method used to write this book makes readersto critically think about the meaning of the text, and she also used guidelines that leave readers with suspense. According to Wendy Brown, both the burning issue of nowadays, which are religious terrorism and financial globalization arise disquiet in public. By the way, it still remains a mystery how it manages to influence the state authorities, slowly destroying and undermining the power of the last.

Wendy Brown critically begins writing the book and incorporates with the frustrating study of the present revival of the building of the wall by raising points about the new walls that never accomplish what they are supposed to. This is because, according to Brown, they cannot halt trans-border smuggling, and migration cannot prevent crimes, and instead, they just make things appear worse. These walls neither do they carry out meaningful activities about security, nor do they repel their enemies as they are powerless. They cannot prevent agonies, such as natural weapons and irresponsible bombing.

In a real sense, walls do not perform any work, but people build them continuously, and through Brown’s observation, there are deeper contradictions about their functions to the population. These walls are built on national borders, but the functions they are expected to accomplish, such as security, are intermediate, decentered, and detached. Meanwhile, the idea of establishing new barriers around the states turns in a similar manner to the dominating ideologies in today’s globalization. All these plays around just like a world lacking boundaries, whether in terms of global governance, free markets humanitarian interventionism, or universal democracy. It is in this fantasy of cooperation landscape and interdependence where walls are supposed to stand out as the archaism that would enable people to survive. However, if these walls are not useful, not fashionable, Brown raises hypothetically questions about their use and why people desire them.

The solutions provided by Brown are elegant, imperceptibly reasoned with deep counter instinctive like those used by conspicuous theorists. Her ideas are not persuasive because they are based on assumptions that are not comprehensively sustained. Some of them include statements such as living in the age of “waning sovereignty,” which means that power is diminishing from nations, and it is accumulating in numerous transnational entities, for instance, in religious violence. Globalization is cracking down the power in the states, and it makes them weak in terms of government in the nation. These walls are responsible for this ebbing away.

The walls are used as schemes for contending for stability and supremacy or dominating the nation even when it fails in significance to face global activities such as labor, finances andpower. They are also the set productions in the nation, independence and sovereignty and they have been designed such that they are supposed to renovate the sense of balance of the citizens and their mastery. The walls appear to be a visual mark to emphasize the power and well-being of the country because they pursue in the shores of the nations but just like any other object of pride they reveal a sense of weakness.

Brown encompasses the exploration from states to the subjects where she involves registration about the ways in which walls function as an aspiration to fulfillment and as theaters. She then deviates to theological sovereignty dimensions where through the use of diverged ideas; she connects both sovereign and the divine.Due to that combination, that power maintains the connection, it also seek to influence and protect. The walls are to re-establish and protect the nation while making them immense and holy. They are the present “temples” that house political powerflickers and stability images of the citizens which is being disturbed by the global forces.

The walls do not keep out these citizens from the nations but as Brown has shown, they are effective in the description and in giving of identity to them. The walls are symbolically used to represent the compensation which has benefits. One of the benefits is that the walls illuminate the concealed cognitive sources that are behind the building of the wall and moderates the hidden wishes that it is supposed to fulfill. Walls’ disadvantages include this topic pressure to Brown into the modulation of the differences between variable types of walls.

The darker pressures in the building of the wall that deal with dominance and repulsion feelings and revulsion make citizens not to make wishes and desires to see their neighbors. This is not clearly addressed by Wendy Brown in the book; the central assumption in the book which is the sovereignty which is waning in the West is not carefully examined.

Brown presents a sample that represents theory at work. The work in the book is original as theauthor has intervened and brings out political philosophy in a close manner to the pursuits made by historical cultural studies. Brown clearly analyzes the critiques of the cultural objects which in this book they are represented by the walls.Critical thinking is clearly evidenced in some of the phrases used in the text. First, the author says that the visible walls can reply or rather respond to the needs to contain and put boundaries to the globe and the general, unhopeful universe. Second, Brown tries to interpret how contemporary walls are. That today’s nation state walls have been converted to modern day houses which are used to keep political sovereignty ghosts.

The metaphor which is largely used in the text is the wall. There has been an increase in the construction of walls around the globe or barriers which are meant to protect the nations. This shows an upsurge indesire ofthe nations to be in an enclosure.Brown reflects in the book the proliferation of state walls in a time where by there is erosion of state sovereignty and escalating transitional powers that have been unleashed in the globe.

In the book’s first pages, readers have been guided about a “tour” of the contemporary walls. She then assures to discuss the methodsof; in spite of the many differences the global new walls have something in common that they share. In most parts of the book, Brown focuses solely on the stories about two majorwalls. These walls are the windy wall of Israeli and Palestinian and the one which has been built along the border of US and Mexico. In this, she tries to substitute neocolonialism with globalization but it is difficult to analyze how she addresses the walls of Saudi Arabia or North Korea and China. This also prevents Brown from putting into considerations of the facts that building of the walls representsthe domain of the nations. Some of the built walls such the one that has been built in the town of Slovakia using cement barrier to isolate its people from the Roman Empire do not serve as a source of security and disgust.

Brown’s project could have been stronger if she had scrutinized deeper in other arising cases of building the walls. This is because it appears like she would address such cases in the near future.Tension has been located by Brown in the post Westphalia world which is between opening, joining and eradication while there is also security or barricading, walling and inscription. The tensions can be seen with magnificent lucidity in the established walls since the wall of Berlin collapsed which is an event that signified a triumph of democracy.

In the same way that globalization requires borders’ liberalization that would permit people to conduct a transitional flow of their goods and services, contemporary walls are normally built to block people from terrorists and other form of violence. Wendy Brown argues that the walls represent the symptoms, reactions, the declines or the erosion of states’ sovereignty in the globe. These walls would not block any danger without walling out and when borders decline significantly, the new walls would conduct operations to protect the nation. However, according to Brown, these walls do not block hordes from entering the nation-state and instead they are broken and they intensify the problems.

Brown says that the actual functions of the walls are dramatic because they scheme power and efficaciousness which they cannot exercise (Brown 25). In fact according to Brown these walls are paradoxes. Walling exercise increases in union with expansions of both the world’s capital and the neoliberal political orders which later erode nation’s sovereignty exponentially. However, Brown explains how walls can exploit without creating and that people should not think about them as tools of capital (98). Through the use of Schmitt and other theorists’ ideas, Brown brings out the meaning and functions of the walls. Walls are like attempts of nations’ products which are used to demonstrate their strength in front of the increasing impotence.The remains of the declining sovereignty have become open and aggressive instead of being passive and theological (62). Brown interprets this as an indicator of attempts by nations to preserve the respect of subjects and also to shield them from human experience of vulnerability (71) just how any sovereign being would. This means that they are theatrical struts which have been built to make connection between states with respectful sovereignty.

The walls signify the desires for protection and despite that they do not create impermeable borders, they portray God’s sovereignty. They also carry out political legitimization work of the nations and console the subjects in the states. In the investigations of this claim, Brown withdraws from the focus about nation sovereignty to the psychology of the subjects. She reckons four psychological illusions which allow rhetoric and wall building to be practical projects given that their inefficiency is to secure the borders. The nations’ fear of dangerous aliens and their fantasy of states’ Arendtian giant household (118) which protects the subjects, the fantasy of the impenetrable state and lastly the fantasy of the people near the wall being good or innocent.

Wendy Brown’s notional thesis on the bases that are underlying the new desires for walling which is complemented with brief defense discussion of theorists such as the Freud, in combination with her investigation of declining sovereignty make this book original. The discussion of post Westphalianism has given Brown a great credit with her book analyzing the topic of walling; it is a distinctive expression of post Westphalianism. This is further supplemented by Brown with psychoanalytic contemplations about desire and defense.

I enormously recommend this book to those who would wish to understand the importance of ethical politics which are theoretical in the world today. The book can also be used by those who want to write interesting pieces of social analysis such as political analysis that contain paradoxes.Walled States, Waning Sovereignty is an important bookin which young thinkers can benefit a great deal and also the young feminists. The final section of the book which brings out attention due to its complementary connections to the psychoanalytical theory is briefly addressed and this would make readers to have high expectations of Brown’s further work.

Brown’s book appears extraordinary since it did not appear relevant when it was being written but now it is of great significance. There was a sense of helplessness in the global faces in terms of financial crisis, terrorism and activism. These pressures seemed to be the defining features of people’s political life but after the revolution in Tunisia and Egypt in conjunction with the Libya revolt, they no longer dominate the nations. On the other hand, power or sovereignty is a violently real thing but not a discursive structure which can be threatened by the process of collapsing. According to Brown popular sovereignty is real at times it can keep and hold anything out.

Works Cited

Brown, Wendy. Walled States, Waning Sovereignty. New Castle: Zone, 2010. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, September 13). "Walled States, Waning Sovereignty" by Wendy Brown. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/walled-states-waning-sovereignty-by-wendy-brown/

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""Walled States, Waning Sovereignty" by Wendy Brown." IvyPanda, 13 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/walled-states-waning-sovereignty-by-wendy-brown/.

1. IvyPanda. ""Walled States, Waning Sovereignty" by Wendy Brown." September 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/walled-states-waning-sovereignty-by-wendy-brown/.


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IvyPanda. ""Walled States, Waning Sovereignty" by Wendy Brown." September 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/walled-states-waning-sovereignty-by-wendy-brown/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. ""Walled States, Waning Sovereignty" by Wendy Brown." September 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/walled-states-waning-sovereignty-by-wendy-brown/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '"Walled States, Waning Sovereignty" by Wendy Brown'. 13 September.

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