Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Globalization & Gradual Dismantlement of the State

This is an article around 4 monthes ago that provides a brief introduction on how corporate globalization gradually dismantles a nation state. Keep in mind that topic is huge, and alot of articles, researches, studies, documentaries, and books tackle the topic.

Koehane and Nye introduced the concept of Complex Interdependence, whose focus is on the free markets among the various nation-states. As more and more states are inter-dependent through free markets, the role of the international institutions becomes more dominant as a means of securing free trade. Free trade is important to the nation states since all states benefit it as its individuals are maximizing their profit. This leads to replacing military goals (and the concept of self-concept state) with economic goals, and role of the government becomes smoother in practice, as the stress on autonomy decreases. International institutions such as the WTO, IMF, and WB become the dominant factors in the perspectives of the nation states since these institutions defend the free markets. This sounds as globalization is the saver of all nation states, yet what about the Nation-States practicing their own political rights in their own land, in the name of its people and sovereignty? There are many aspects and dimensions to analyze on the erosion of the role of nation-state.

The role of the government is on the decreasing level. With the existence of some Transnational Corporations whose budgets can outmatch any ten developing nations, things take a different turn for this Utopia and become a nightmare for the people of the host nations, which welcome with open arms the Transnational Corporations. The TNCs have grown so strong, that they interfere with local politics and tend to finance any elite who is willing to advocate free markets, tax incentives, cheaper labor, and less environmental constraints. Leslie Sklair says: “TNCs get involved in host country politics … Members of the transnational capitalist class often work directly for TNCs, and their lifestyles a major exemplar for the spread of consumerism.” The Transnational Corporations already dominate the ruling elites to their side, and can have all their activities legal via the executive/legislative powers of the nations.

Through consumerism, the TNCs are gradually abolishing domestic cultural values, and the ruling elites open way for the international media and consumerist advertising to enter their nations in order to submit their citizens to the single culture of consumerism. Hence, the elites do not only provide their countries to the TNCs as simply a place for cheap labor and production, but worse, as markets themselves. It is ironic to witness how a state sells off its welfares system just bring forth foreign investment The citizens in the eyes of the TNCs are simply cheap labor and markets to sell their own productions. The poor workers get poorer since they tend to have cheap wages no welfares to back them up. Advanced nations such as Great Britain and Sweden already cutting off their welfare system because they need to generate revenues due to the tax havens given to the TNCs. This means that the foreign corporation is favored more than the welfare of its citizens.

Till now, the gradual abolishment of the nation state from the perspective of elites’, and the people has been tackled. The next topic will be handled within the gradual annihilation of the nation state would be the fate of the economies. Sovereignty can be defined as the total control of the government on its entire land, and that includes the economic dimension. The Government has totally lost its sovereignty in that aspect since the WTO imposes the opening of the barriers of their nations to foreign investments. According to Suzan George, 1.6 trillion dollars float across the globe per day, and that leaves a nations’ economy at the mercy of the TNCs. After all, no governmental reform is sufficient to fix its national economy if the TNCs withdraw their investments. The Asian Crisis in 1998 gives a good example, while people should not wonder if sudden economic crashes occur in the ‘Southern Nations’, specially capital is free to float in the quest of maximizing power. This issue places an ambitious government in a sticky situation, how can they reform their nations if that includes imposing taxes on the TNCs? The fate of the nations’ economies depends on the greed of the TNCs, and the ones who suffer are the workers, since their elites will always manage a nice transaction with the WTO and its allies. Saskia Sassen says: “A basic proposition in discussions about the global economy concerns the decline sovereignty of states over their economies. Economic globalization does indeed extend the economy beyond the boundaries of the nation-state.”

The fourth dimension on analyzing the dismantlement of the nation state is the public institutions. The Public institutions exist for the welfare of the its people, and no one else cares for serving their own institutions except their own government [in theoretical] in this capitalist greedy world of the corporations. The concept of privatizations, another WTO glitch, was introduced to assist the burdened nations in managing their countries’ institutions and save costs in order to pay the debts accumulated on them. This WTO structuring, this is also labeled as ‘democratic’ by the advocates of corporate globalization, has dismantled the role of governmental institutions. The privatized institutions which are in the hands of the TNCs, who are profit oriented with cheapest costs, tend to promote the logic of solidarity with the burdens of the government by ‘saving a penny for a rainy day’. That excuse was followed to cut down on welfares in the financial/economic domains, while when it came to the natural resources management, the privatized institutions became hypocrites. Some companies aim to privatize oil, and what is worse a basic need for daily survival: water (Bolivia and Honduras). Even the basic natural resources became as commodities for the corporations which leaves the role of the nation state in a very doubtful position.

The nations’ role in protecting its people is also on the decline, as the governments start submitting to the demands of the corporations. In Nigeria, eight activists were executed for high treason due to the demands of Shell. In Latin America, the military always intervene to beat up the demonstrators who are demanding better wages and suitable work conditions. The role of the army is also to protect the citizens from any foreign aggression; it is so ironic that the army is protecting foreign corporations at the expense of the domestic corporations and aims the rifle towards the concerned civilians. It is important to note that nobody can raise a court case against a TNC, rather the court law suit should be raised at the international court which shows how the state has been dismantled down to its judicial level.

Now to move to the aspect of geography, globalization has transformed the industrial cities to “global cities”. The locations were it includes extensive international transactions cuts off the city from the rest of the nation, and becomes an international zone for the business dealers. The zone becomes rich with technologies, mass communications, and rich night life to suit this international bourgeoisie class. Capital has attained its own global rights, which is to be free, and the investment to the locations where it is free is heavily invested while the rest of the nation is left with minimal support from the government. Whatever the government can spare from its investments to its “downtown”, then and only then the rural areas are thought off. In a developing county, it would be surprising to see the capital city for example, and the extreme difference between the country’s social and economic situation in other than that global zone. The simplest example can be Beirut’s Down Town, and Lebanon’s south. Actually to sustain cheap labor in those global cities, foreign workers can be imported who would work for cheaper prices.

The last dimension to tackle is the dictatorship of the international communities over the state. Every state submits to the “structuring” of the international communities. This supports the Realist perspective in the international arena, on how developing states replicate the successful infrastructure and values of the successful super powers. A state can not exist unless it attains recognition from other states, and primarily the ones with great powers. That recognition of the state by others gives it the legitimacy to exist. In that perspective, John O. Meyer and other others in their article titled: “World Society and the Nation State” provide the readers with a humorous imaginary incident where a newly discovered populated island ends up in UN with the common structure of education, finance, economics, and gay rights demonstrations. As the authors say: “World-Cultural models of sovereign identity take concrete form in particular state structures, programs, and policies.” The world community takes part in rebuilding the identity of the states to fit those. As John Mearsheimer argues, the interests of the international communities are the interests of the great powers, and then the states identity is forged to suit the fast pace world of globalization and the interests of the corporate CEOs.

Corporate globalization has been gradually dismantling the role of the nation state, and its institutions. Most of the political elites are in alliance with the TNCs, the army follows the commands of the government against the local people, welfare of the citizen has been replaced for the welfare of the corporation, no state or citizen can persecute the TNC concerned at the domestic level, and all public institutions and even natural resources are undergoing persecution. Suzan George, in the book Anti-Capitalism, reveals a U.N. figure given in 2001 whereby of the top 100 richest entities: 51 entities are corporations and 49 are states. The main question is: at whose expense did the companies attain such wealth? The previous data leads us to ask the more important question: “Is there still any role for the nation state in relations with its citizens?”

No comments: