cj#691> re: survival of nation state (fwd/wsn)


Richard Moore

To: •••@••.••• (world-system network)
From: •••@••.••• (Richard K. Moore)
Subject: Re: Globalisation

6/16/97, Karl Carlile quoted David Yaffe:
>On the one hand [globalism] does mean new forms of
>capitalist integration and co-operation across national boundaries but
>on the other hand, it also means active competition between national
>and regional capitalists. 'So the 'global' economy if anything may
>mean less and not more capitalist unity.' The overall consequence of
>'globalisation' far from integrating capital is at least as likely to
>produce disintegration.

Perhaps a useful metaphor would be mafia turf behavior, competition among
themselves, but only as to who will do the exploiting and over what domain
- there's no consumer benefit, so to speak, from the competition.  In final
analysis, the behavior is likely to be more collaborative than competitive
- more about this below.

>[Transnational capital] may well, ultimately, rely on the military power
>of the last remaining 'super-power' to sustain the sovereignty of the
>market. Further, it depends on such local political jurisdictions to
>maintain the conditions of economic stability and labour discipline
>which are the conditions for profitable investment. And finally, new
>kinds of inter-imperialist rivalry will emerge in which the nation
>state is still the principal agent.

Critical distinctions are glossed over above, and the seemingly cumulative
case for the necessity of the strong nation state doesn't hold...

Pax-Ameriana is not an argument for the nation-state generally.  The US as
global enforcer is a unique special case, and the US military is tied to a
globalist agenda that bears little relationship to anything that could
rightfully be described as domestic national interests.  US interests have
been redefined (by the CFR, so to speak) to be the interests of globalism,
reflecting in fact the interests of the corporate elite that both dominate
US politics and are the core instigators/ beneficiaries of globalism

The residual role of the nation state generally - as downsizing and
deregulation are allowed to run their course - is exemplified where the
ravages of globalisation are most advanced - in the Third World.  Here we
see the future: the role of the nation state is to manage the populace, by
police-state tactics if necessary, and to extract tribute (in the form of
taxes) to be paid to the corporate overlords as debt servicing or for
corporate goods, with as little as possible retained for domestic
infrastructure maintenance.  With respect to corporations, their policies
and their operations, governments are to play laissez-faire.  Thus
governments are factored out of most of what is going on.

The nation state is no longer needed as a fortress home for capitalists -
nation-based competitive nationalism died with the postwar era.
Competition will be among corporations and kiratsu conglomerates and the
world will be the stage.  You might have a Tokyo-Berlin-Milan firm fighting
for contol over some market with a New York-Paris-London joint-venture -
the example may seem frivolous but the point is that the nation state just
isn't a natural center of economic gravity anymore.  The Seven Sisters were
early adaptors to this global paradigm - who can say if Shell is British or
Dutch or whatever.  Corporations which view global opportunities (both for
markets and for partners) without a geographical prejudice will have a
clear competitive advantage.  Modern corporate rhetoric even says so
explicitly, but that shouldn't throw us off, in this case, from believing

China, like the US, is a unique special case.  China _is_ a
national-centric economic center - and one far too large for globalism to
simply "contain", as it does Cuba.  Unless China truly and sincerely
kowtows to globalist hegemony, it must inevitably be dealt with by severe
military measures.  The irresistable force of globalism cannot ignore and
will overcome the the immovable object that China currently seems at-heart
to be.

But once you account for China, and the special role of US/NATO, I don't
see a good case for the emergence of "inter-imperialist rivalry...in which
the nation state is still the principal agent".  The trends and
economic-power realities point otherwise.

>>>From this [Ellen Meiksins Wood] advances her most important political point:
>the nation state is still the terrain of (class) struggle. 'If the state is
>the channel through which capital moves in the "globalised" economy, then
>it is equally the means by which an anti-capitalist force could sever
>capital's lifeline.'

This raises a very critical issue indeed.  Ms. Wood correctly identifies
the dual constituencies of the historical nation state - the elite and the
people - but she misses the point that this is precisely why the nation
state is being consciously and urgently dismantled by the elite.  The
potential for anti-capitalist forces to exercise the rusty machinery of
democracy (as they are trying to do right now in France, with success still
quite uncertain) is seen as a direct threat to elite control - Huntington
calls it the "crisis of democracy".

"We" need the nation state - it is our only feasible channel to political
influence.  "They" - the elite - got their use, thank you very much, out of
the nation state, and they're ready to move on to a modernized WTO
replacement of representative government as the administrator of
significant global affairs.  "They" don't need a strong nation state
anymore, and in fact it has become an albatross around their necks.

Thus, from the perspective of class strategy - and ironically for the
progressive minded - preservation of the nation state and nationalist
vitality has become an urgent priority for the survival of civilization's
humanist elements.


Posted by Richard K. Moore - •••@••.••• - PO Box 26   Wexford, Ireland
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