Hanse Nationalism, Parliamentarianism, and World Coops: linking strategies (THIRD EDIT)

1998-06-02

Mark Douglas Whitaker

        This is a work of political and historical analysis, related to how
I see three well-chosen strategies can help us all.
         I think it is required to anchor local politics to local
institutional structures once more, while simultaneously dealing with
reigning in global capital politically. The general idea of most people
presently is the establishment of some 'regulatory' body, like a world
government. But who do they think will end up being 'regulated' out of the
dialogue of power? I would argue below that our desire for some external
organizational savior has been historically, in the long run, something
which contributes to political and economic marginalizaiton instead of
solves it.

A BIT OF HISTORY: SYSTEMIC POWER DRIFT
        Here's a short historical lesson which deals with a pattern I see,
dealing with the pressures which lead to government formation. It's a
combination of a base pressure from the impoverished and a willingness of
externalized elites to press for the leadership role for change.
Unfortunately, politically speaking, this connection rarely leads to
anything but a clientalistic relationship between the impoverished and the
elites which soon decays, leaving ironically a stronger government (which
was facilitated by the impoverished) in the hands of those who use it for
their own ends--internal colonization purposes. 
        The same pressures for a world government from the base as well as
externalized elites lining up is beginning to occur, and I worry about that.
Basically, because after the elites ride to power on a potential ticket of
'a world government for everyone' the same ebbing away will occur, as people
find they have helped construct something which local politics are unable to
touch by definition. If you split of typographically what this world
government would look like, the centerpiece institutions, like the World
Bank, are the economic side. The United Nations can be considered the
'representative' side. Of course each are very particular in their systemic
interests, and the degree of representativeness or of  "appropriateness" of
them are just discourses which say that they "promise" to be these things.
        Much if my research goes into discussing and creating a typology for
systemic shifts of power relations in societies.  With the tabling of ideas
like the MAI, the connections between the base pressured/co-oped government
side and the economic side are being merged, just like they were in the
smaller sense on the nation-state level.  I would posit that although
capitalism's discourse was 'meritocratic,' it actually can be considered
just another feudalism (just with a different institutional structure). I am
defining feudalism as the merging systemically of economic and governmental
interests. Some comparative examples:
         (1) we are seeing presently in the popular(ized) ideas of the world
government and the world bank as 'regulating' each other, a proposed
connection between economic structures and 'regulatory governmental'
structures on the international level.
         (2) This same elision and political conjunctioning occurred in the
United States during the 1890's-1930's within the rubric of "reform--"a term
which anyone can co-opt. After the Great Depression, the system was formalized.
        (3) The economic and political conjunctioning occurred in what we
tend to call the European 'middle' ages as well, in the consolidation of
feudalism.
        (4) Going further back, it occurred in the 0-200 AD era, in the
Roman Empire, with merchants and kings being 'elected' to political offices
due to their ability to either fund and maintain an army (a literal 'army'
here) of supporters, or to buy the requisite officials the wanted.

It's the same organizational process this time, just with capitalism as the
economic structure in the 'past' two times--the nation-state formation and
capital centralization there, and then the world government ideas which are
being floated, and the globalized centralization of capital on those levels.
I am not arguing for a directionality to history, just a systemic power
drift to a repetition of the means power is melded into both politics and
economics.

HANSE NATIONALISM AND A WORLD COOP: INSTEAD OF PRESSING FOR LARGER AND MORE
UNREPRESENTATIVE STRUCTURES LIKE WORLD GOVERNMENT
        The best thing we can do is provide TWO different venues for
political 'desperation' without falling for ever larger and more
unrepresentative Rube Goldberg-esque governmental institutions. Without
something to bastion a localized electoral process, I think we may be done
for. Without something else for the 'desperation' which will occur anyway
(helped along by elites framing the arguments for more power for
themselves), which will lead to a world level of political and economic
power, I think we may be done for.
HANSE NATIONALISM
        It is important to discuss exactly what types of structures and
economic regimes will be conducive to democratic procedure. Frankly, the
only way power is exchanged if people can day-in-day-out be there to enforce
and mobilize their interests in structures open enough to allow for their
participation.  I would argue that this places urban politics at the center
of this novel era of globalization, as the nation-state becomes vestigial.
There just has to be a way to get people together.
       What form I think we should attempt to move for it is related to
something in between the Hanseatic city networks and the nation-state (on
one side), balanced against TNC's and globalization (on the other.). If the
cities were more economically and politically interlinked, they would be a
very flexible and localized response network. City based politics should be
the basis of the globalized epoch; nation-state politics should be used as
something they use to balance urban political power against globalization
and TNC's attempts to pilot the nation-state governmental institutions for
their own benefit. With the expansion of city plurality politics informing
the nation-state organizational level, we potentially could have a sort of a
Hanse Nationalism. At least I see nothing else as a course on the macro
level of strategically at this point.
A WORLD COOP
        How to keep people from 'wanting' a world government, which will
only create a novel feudalism on the global scale, with the Third world
becoming perhaps permanent serfs to TNC's? The pressure for MAI (at least
the rhetoric) is saying that it will allow for Third World countries to
participate equally in investment decisions and "compete." Of course with
the playing field structured the way it is, I hope it is easy to see what it
going on if one simply turns the volume down: the Third World governments
are just cutting more deals with global capital as they always have to stay
in power, and aren't representing 'nations' at all, nor will they be able to
compete on par with industrialized nations economically speaking. It's all
window dressing to satisfy their people symbolically, as their opposition is
diffused by the nativist thought that 'this is our national government,' so
it's representing us innately.  It's more a continuation and
institutionalization of governorships of global capital.  This was Fanon's
argument, by the way. 
        Returning to the above question? How to diffuse people's interest in
a world government, WHICH WILL ONLY SOLIDIFY THE POWER THEY OPPOSED IN THE
LONG RUN? Well we can still have a global pressure of sorts, just direct it
towards something besides the aimless frustrations which will back elite
gambits to forming a world government which will systemically remove even
more local input. I suggest that instead of pressuring for more deliberative
bodies on the global level, that the World Bank and all international
lending agencies established by the Bretton Woods Conference and afterward
should NOT be dismantled or pressed to join a United Nations
"representative" body.  THEY SHOULD BE TURNED INTO CO-OP'S. Within this, the
institutional separation of the economic and the politcal structures of the
United Nations and the World Bank are maintained, and the world's
nation-states will all participate, just as the MAI idea is proposing. They
will just have an actual chance to compete in this way. Elites on the
international and nation-state level will still have power of course. This
occurs in all co-ops, but there will be more political voice for economic
redistribution because that is the way co-op's operate. (As my research
indicates, which I will be glad to share; it is the different economic
structures and the associated incentives of those structures which can
determine how elites operate). Elites will only work for redistributive
effects if the organizational structures are organized to make elite profit
a product of 'grass roots' increase in production, instead of seeing them as
completions of some sort.
        Within the co-operative structure, profits of the globalized banking
structures will be dispersed, providing the dream of socialists everywhere,
redistributive justice, but without the totalitarian structures which they
see as the only way to do it and which rarely if ever do perform the
promised distributive justice once instituted. As more and more Third World
people's in their respective nation-states realize that their governments
are not going to be aided by World Bank approaches to economic development,
perhaps this pressure could be channeled into pressing for a globalized
economic co-operative for these nations to supplement their lack of
political voice. 
SUMMING UP: HANSE NATIONALISM
         I would offer that an urban and coalitional politics, coordinated
by the CDI proposal, can facilitate a unified stance among a fragmented
urban opposition. 
SUMMING UP: WORLD COOPS
        In a larger dimension of politics, nation-states themselves can
operate against globalized capital if they create a second circuit for thier
economics.

Richard writes: 
>Look at the western nation state objectively: the elite have abandoned
>their traditional partnership with the middle class.  This creates a
>fundamentally new demographics in terms of the possibility of a _majority
>coalition to overthrow corporate hegemony, and create a bottom-up
>anarchistic/ democratic civil society which could also control politically
>the state apparatus.
>
>The `only' thing that needs to be accomplished is the building of a
>majority coalition to `restore democracy'. `Restore' is probably the
>correct rallying cry, but it is tongue-in-cheek, for if we `accomplish'
>democracy it will in fact be for the _first time.

NOT JUST ANOTHER PARTY POLITICS: PARLIAMENTARIANISM FOR FLUID, LONG-TERM,
SUSTAINABLE, LOCALIZED COALITIONAL POLITICS
        One has to be assured that this 'majority coalition' to 'restore
democracy' is sustainable, and not just some one-shot deal based on a
reactive politics. There has to be a way to maintain that 'secondary immune
response' instead of having to learn over and over again how to organize
against centralized power each time it pressures people into corners. The
CDI was designed to do that: to place the institutional learning in the
socialization networks of people, instead of the structure of facilitation.
This keeps people free of the development of an institutionalized elite group.)
    
>It is an anarchistic solution that we need.  The building of political
>constituencies from the bottom up.  Anarchism _and the state, responsive to
>popular will, a participatory model -- this is possible, it can work, it is
>our only hope, and it is, as it turns out, based on the nation state.  But
>we must first forget our antique beliefs about what the nation state is. . .
>and why it has become at last available to us, an opportunity to realize the 
>dreams of the Jeffersonian philosophy, as expressed in the US Declaration 
>of Independence. . .

       We think quite alike. But I think you are overlooking the danger of
that Jeffersonianism did not usher in more representative politics, and what
we got was a lineage based on Jacksonism--which became just another form of
totalitarianism structurally speaking.  As the institutional lines hardened
within novel government structures like the United States, political party
driven politics were pioneered by Jackson.  The same processes I described
above are applicable for political parties. As the once-popular backing
leaves, the structure is stronger and the people weaker once more, and the
government or party ratchets up power each time people attempt a change of
it *without the capacity of maintaining the pressure.* Using techniques
pioneered in Jefferson's long campaign to 'harvest' votes for future
candidates, political parties became more important than the candidates
after Jackson. For example, the 'regime' of the Republican Party began with
the unknown contender, Abraham Lincoln, in a quite similar position
politically speaking as the outsider Jackson.  The Party went on to
transform itself from an abolishionist movement platform to the systemic
power party of capitalist agglomeration and 'conservatism.' Based partly on
part because it was such a populist party from the beginning, it was the
leader of the politically unoppposed capital centralization which followed.
Large parties and large politcal backings can be the people's own worse
enemy as it gives carte blanche to those in power. 
         But the nation politial parties did not come to the fore in the
United States till they had thoroughly trumped all city politics by the
early 1900's. It's important to bring that in as a requirement--what has
been removed about a century ago, when the nation-state (at least in the
United States) became solely a playing field for political parties, with
local politics (generally the poor and disorganized) losing their influence.
        There will still be national level political parties of course. But
they will be but one of our choices, instead of the only one. And from the
CDI base, I expect it will be much easier to ratchet a coalitional force to
press for a form of parliamentarianism. With parliamentarianism begun, then
there will be a space for many other parties on the national level. 
        The danger I see after that, is a 'facist' type of power with grass
roots support will develop if the government becomes so fragmented on the
national level. That is why I suggest that only one area of the national
government, the House of Representatives perhaps, should be
parliamentarian-ized. This will preserve the recourse to having a system of
dueling majoritarian national political parties which will battle each other
for votes. Instead of large parties being some sort of unrepresentative
curse, they will in the long run split the pressure which would form against
the parliamentarian politics. It's the crowning irony. The majoritarian
parties will be splitting parliamentarian opposition just as in the history
of the the United States they have traditionally split the left. By
preserving a place for majoritarian parties (perhaps in Senate elections) we
can assure ourselves of a split opposition to parliamentarianism.
PARLIAMENTARIANISM:  PERHAPS THE ONLY UNIFIER OF DIVERSITY
        I'll write something else about these interelationships and the
importance of parliamentarian as a unifying goal (perhaps the only capable
goal) a coalitional left/right group could hold for a long time. The only
thing they could agree on is that they were all unrepresented.
        STRATEGY: I suggest that parliamentarianism should be our public
pressure rhetoric. It is not as vague as 'oppose globalization' and it has a
very clear and understandable message of what to do. As such, it will
engender much more support, especially from already exiting third parties
like the Greens, the New Party, the Socialists, and the Libertarians. We all
have to team up.
         If anyone knows of contacts in these parties, or would help
facilitate a coalitional meeting for parliamentarianism in the next year by
providing some contacts of interested members of those organizations, count
me in to speak. I'll float the idea in 'my circles' which are nearer to the
New Party than the others, if only because I know personally several of the
New Party's leadership though I am not a member of the party.
Parliamentarianism is the only thing I am sure all 'third parties' could all
agree on.

THREE STRATEGIC POINTS: 
       To sum up:
         1)   ON THE LOCAL LEVEL:  the CDI, the left flank of the 'pincer'
movement I see on the globalization of capital's use of the nation-state.
(my apologies for 'advertizing,' but I see it as an integral way of weaving
durable coalitions on the local level without having them unravel each time
they win something, at which time they disappear). 
          2)   ON THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL: world bank level co-op, the right
flank of the 'pincer' movement which presses against globalization of
capital on the international level.
          3)   ON THE NATION-STATE LEVEL: nation-state parliamentarianism
without dismantling majoritarian parties' competetive capacity in the
system, to maintain a splitting of parliamentarian opposition.  Large
parties are a future resource in the *maintenance* of parliamentarianism, as
long as they are merely firsts among equals instead of the only players in town.

THE NEXT STEP
Anybody got a mailing list of Third World nations? Or of world bodies of
deliberation I could send this idea to or 'third' parties?  If we are
serious that the nation-state is to be our redoubt against unmoored global
capital, all nation-states structures should be shored up. Otherwise, a
different 'nest'  for capital will develop, and come back stronger than
before when it establishes a home base. 
        We have to moderate global capitalism through politics--the only
'economic' power we of little means have--through the state structure. With
the idea of Hanse Nationalism, and the proactive 'people's MAI' of the world
bank coop, we have a potential for outflanking global capitalism on both the
nation-state level as well as the unmoored global financial sector. 

        Global capital's home bases I consider to be (1) the areas of
lending like the World Bank, and (2) the nation-state. Press on both at once
from both sides, and in more areas than they could organize effective
defense, and we have a shot. But organize just on one side, or just in one
nation-state against what is a hydra headed capital market, and we will be
outflanked. Cut only one area, and two more grow in its place somewhere else.
         We have to work on cutting all the heads at once, at both the
nation-state level and the financial sector. We should be thinking of
strategies of facilitating this process of simultaneous opposition which
primes and institutionalizes a local  political force which is sustainable
and proactively involved in urban decision making, as well as facilitating
Third World nations to develop a capital market for their countries. I'm
serious about this second one, as much as the first. Does anyone know where
to start contacting people? 

My apologizes to those who think I am unjustifiably focusing on the politics
of the United States. But with the United States as the largest site for
international direct investment, as well as the headquarters for foreign
direct investment, any work on the politics of the United States is
paramount in changes in a world system.

Someone has to get the ball rolling, but it is up to everyone to keep it in
spin. If you disagree/agree with me, tell me why. I consider this a place of
discourse.

Think structurally, and the ideologies which are already there will follow.

Mark Whitaker
University of Wisconsin-Madison


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