What we look for as the unity we live in, the law-giver, the protector of rights and obligations, the sovereignty to rule economy, organize infrastructure and education and the agent in foreign relations is that flailing fiction the state. No matter how unrealistically imagined, the state is still what we look for and if we want to have national and international order, we'd better have functioning states.
Too many states are failing though. It has been the topic of many other podcasts, also reviewed below, and it came up again at LSE (and possible will in due time be re-published at UChannel) where Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart were invited to speak. The subject was the repair of failing states, as was the subject of their recently published book: Fixing Failed States; A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World. Ghani and Lockhart are claimed specialists on the nuts and bolts of state - what makes states succeed. From that insight they have drawn conclusions as to what are the recipes for repairing failed states.
The lecture is not terribly accessible, if not for the slightly dull speakers' tone than for the rather technical nature of the subject. The bottom-line is, what make states succeed is healthy finances and proper infrastructure and the way states can be helped is by programs that build these, but not any which way - the change must be sustainable. The importance is huge though, needless to say.
Europe and the Middle East,
Nuts and bolts of empire,
Islam and Europe - LSE podcast review,
Beyond the genome.
More on states and international politics:
The State in The International System,
A century of geopolitics,
Global Geopolitics - Martin Lewis,
History of the International System.