The Modern State in Epochal Transition: The Significance of Irregular Warfare, State Deconstruction, and the Rise of New Warfighting Entities beyond Neo-Medievalism

Document Type



Politics and Economics (CGU)

Publication Date



Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


This article is intended to serve as a ‘think piece’ which invites readers to view current perceived changes to the conduct of modern warfare in the broader historical light outlined by proponents of epochal change theory. Neo-medievalists have gone a step in this direction and posited that these changes represent the future of warfare and are evidence of a return, in a sense, to the primary tenets of political and social organization that existed in the period commonly referred to as the Middle Ages. The contention herein is that the answer gains more accuracy if one takes a much longer historical standpoint beginning with classical civilization and moving through the medieval period to our modern world. With regard to the present, this epochal warfare analysis projects that a shift from a Westphalian to post-Westphalian global system is underway. During this period of transition – as in the transition periods between epochs which have preceded it – the dominant state form undergoes a deinstitutionalization process, and war is less about traditional issues of state sovereignty, and instead increasingly over ‘what the new form of social and political organization will be’.

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