Non-state actors: Jackie Chan is the answer

Orly Mercado

Posted on July 7, 2006

It was my freshman class in Kobe College. After some exercises in geography and a review of the elements of a state, we proceeded to discuss the topic of “non-state actors”. In the face of today’s global threats and pressing issues, we tried to differentiate what states and those acting outside the public sector were doing. Then I popped the question: “Give me an example of a non-state actor,” I said.

Teaching in a second language requires true patience, but their interest was encouraging. I had also gotten used to the timidity of the Japanese students. This was inspite of a promise that their grades would be directly proportional to the number of times they “quarreled” with me. Today, one student was not too shy. She raised her hand and confidently answered: “Jackie Chan”.

I suppressed the urge to laugh. Baylis and Smith, the authors of the textbook we were using warned us that the subject of globalization was fraught with oversimplifications, exaggerations, and wishful thinking. I had to bravely plod on. We agreed that many things were happening at the same time, and that we live in this world as a single place. We noted that with more than a billion television sets, mass media is now one of the most important assets in the world economy.

At the grassroots level, people are getting organized to further their interests. Celebrities have become a valuable tool not only in championing their causes but in helping directly solve festering problems. We ticked off some names: Bono of U2, Angelina Jolie and now Brad Pitt, Cher…the list went on….and yes, Jackie Chan. The answer was not laughable after all.

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