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GLOBAL POLITICS: BEYOND THE NATION-STATE?

martie 16th, 2009

1.      Introduction

 

The contemporary period seems to impose – not only in a historical perspective but also from the point of view of the social and political theory – the tendency of reshuffling the “already tendered” paradigms, which supposes two main methods: relativity and deconstruction, aiming at a liberation from the rigid frame of everything that earns the attribute of “absolute”. We are in the middle of the post modernity and, on the economic, socio-cultural and political level, we are facing a new process, the globalization, which involves the questioning of the modern concepts of society and nation-state.

In this study, I intend to identify and analyse some of the globalizing tendencies which have a full impact on the political system, localized at the level of the nation-state, developed, especially, in the last three centuries. I am concerned with the political problems raised by the need of maintaining the identity of the community, in general, and the national one, in particular, under the specific conditions of the process of globalization. My analysis focuses, from a political point of view, on the place reserved to the nation-state, in a world obeying the accelerated rhythm of globalization, as well as in the projects that situate the new forms of the political authority beyond the nation-state. The last ones are common for the social and political theory and take into discussion, usually with the same arguments, issues like the sovereignty of the state in its connection with different organisms over- and trans-national (no matter if those are political or economic structures) or like the emergence of a global society, which transcends the specific political units of modernity, i.e. the nation-states.

For this purpose, I will try first to define the phenomena of the globalization conceptually, to point the dialectic nature of this process, regarded here as an expansion of the society on a global level, an extension characterized by cultural, political and economic inter-connections, but also through the return of the ethno-nationalist and fundamentalist tendencies, on the national or local level. I would like to underline as well that, even if the social-contemporary theory presents the process of globalization in dialectical terms – because its internal dynamics depends on a multiple causal and even contradictory logic –, this does not mean to place the issue in the context of historicism. The social theorists who explain the phenomenon of globalization does not assign to the dimension of unavoidable but the one of contingency, because of the fact that the interdependency between certain events taking place in different parts of the world does not mean as well the possibility of controlling the consequences of these interdependencies. Globalization does not suit, by any means, to a process of social engineering.

In order to explain the unequal and discontinued modus operandi of globalization, I shall introduce, on one side, the term of active globalization, which supposes a series of relations established in both ways, between nations/countries or groups of countries which detain a comparable cultural, political and economic power. On the other side, I shall enlarge upon the concept of passive globalization, which implies the existence of one-way relations, between countries with visible cultural, political and economic differences. Thus, there appears a discrepancy between the countries or the group of countries which impose certain values and the ones which can only receive those values. The latter type of countries is, as I shall infer in the second part of my study, the most permissive to the rebirth of the nationalist and fundamentalist tendencies in their environment.

The two types of globalization – I shall offer reasons below – are specific to the two worlds of the international politics imposed by a global society, obeying the logic of the syncretism between the universalistic tendencies and the particular ones. Which comes to the state-centric world and multi-centric world1. In this context, the main question to be answered is: to what extent will the nation-state remain the principal unit of political organization? I am therefore interested in determining the institutional mechanisms that the modern nation-state might oppose to the process of political globalization which characterize the post modernity. Besides that, the last part of the study tries to outline and question some of the hypotheses that the political theory advances with respect to the type of political organization that could transcend the nation-state, the way we know it today. Thus, I shall take into account issues such as the recrudescence of nationalism on the local and national level, the possibility of the emergence of a trans-national political structure, as well as the governing levels, implied by what David Held calls “the cosmopolite democracy”2 and Anthony Giddens – “global democracy”3. This analyse will allow me, in the end, to underline the importance of the concept of glocalization, in order to suggest that the restriction of the security of the nation-states on the global level is correlated with the considerable enlargement of the political autonomy on the local level – a process which is specific of the development of the political communities in the XXI-st century.

 

 

2. Trajectories of the global change

 

The starting point in the conceptual framework, delimited by the social theory of globalization (or “the new sociology of globalization”4), is the contradictory logic, naturally included in this process. Relying on the revelation of this logic, the contemporary social theorists aim at discovering which are the forces that run the process of globalization. The initial research of the internal logic of the dynamics of globalization can be, in its turn, found in the theories of certain authors such as Immanuel Wallerstein, James Rosenau and Robert Gilpin, who conceive their approaches in the perspective of the international relations politics. They determine the dynamics of the process through a linear and, consequently, uni-causal logic. For instance, Wallerstein thinks that the main force of the globalization process is localized in the logic of the world capitalist economy5. On the other side, in the opinion of James Rosenau, globalization implies an era of the post-international politics, in which the global relations should be discussed in accordance with three levels: micro, micro-macro and macro, each of them having the same three analytical parameters (political, economical and mass-media). On the other hand, the nation-state can no longer play the role of a central element as part of the issues pertaining to the global level6, the historical force that determines this change being a technological one. Like Rosenau, Robert Gilpin focuses on phenomena specific of international politics and thus on transformations occurring in this framework, but he motivates that globalization is a result of certain political factors, specific of the post-industrial period. He underlines that the enlarged interdependence, the interactions, cooperation and the opening of the nation-state borders towards global politics follows natural logic of history7. As I have mentioned above, it is a matter of a linear logic, in which the effect follows the cause by necessity.

Common for all these approaches is the idea that the globalization process supposes, inevitably, the existence of a holistic conscience. Instead of referring to the nation-state as to a supreme entity, the individual conscience transcends this level, its system of reference being represented by over-national political structures. The explanation for this “evolution” is that globalization is a process whose content is given by a multiplicity of relations and connections, which exceed the nation-state politics (and, implicitly, the one of the national societies) that represented the world modern system. On the other hand, this meaning underlines only that the idea of nation-state, the creation of the European modernity, is already discussed upon. Today, the goods, the capital, people, knowledge, images, communications, culture, crimes, terrorism, pollutants, drugs, fashion do not take anymore into account the interstate borders, with a few exceptions. All these reshape the idea of the universal space of humanity, developed on the cultural, political and economic levels. Three main ideas become fundamental8, in the political and social theory of post-modernity: liberalization in economics, democratization in politics and universalization in culture. It is natural to start thinking that, in this universal space or “the post-modern hyperspace”9, the borders have fallen, being replaced by frontiers10: “States are again coming to have frontiers rather than borders, but not for the same reason as in the past (…). The borders of current states are becoming frontiers because of their ties to other regions and their involvement with trans-national groups of all kinds. The European Union is the prototype, but the softening of boundaries is happening in other parts of the world too.”

Certain questions seem to arise, in this context, such as the following: Has the nation-state become obsolete during the process of globalization? Can we still speak about inter-national relations, as long as the main elements these relations had been established between, beginning with the modern period – i.e. the nation-state –, are today obsolete? These are questions the social and the political theory try to answer. But the main supposition is that an answer that would still increase the primary unit quality of the nation-state, in the study of these global interdependencies, should take into account, in the first place, a multi-causal logic and not a linear one.

Taking globalization seriously, we should first stress upon the economic aspect of this process, the economic domain being guided by the idea of global market. The economical globalization is no longer a simple abstraction; on the contrary, it has become a fact that affects our daily lives. But the globalization of the economy implies two other domains: the political one, in whose center lays the concept of global politics, and cultural globalization, based on the idea of a global culture. The interrelations existing between these three domains, the fact that they imply one other reinforce the idea that the globalization process must be understood in terms of a multi-causal logic. Examining the arguments of certain social theorists, like Anthony Giddens and Ronald Robertson, I agree to the fact that there are other socio-historical and political factors that determine the evolution of the globalization process. Globalization obeys a multi-causal logic as a socio-historical process. According to Giddens, the factors that finally intersect and converge towards the globalization of the society are capitalism, the interstate system, militarism and industrialism11. Because of this, globalization means “the intensification of the world wide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa. This is a dialectical process because such local happenings may move in an obverse direction from the very distanced relations that shape them”12. So, the character of the globalization process, though dialectical, is contingent. Through this way of articulating the internal structure of the globalization process, the last theories on this phenomenon avoid the historicist tendency, specific of the dialectical philosophy of history, of a Hegelian type. The contingency of the globalization process is determined by the fact that the interdependency between certain events, taking place in different parts of the globe, does not mean as well the possibility of controlling the consequence of those interdependencies. It is necessary to underline the importance of the term interdependence: in order to determine the contingent character of the social theory of globalization, we should reveal the conceptual difference between two terms – interconnection and interdependency13. While the last term would involve a state of mutual vulnerability between the economic events, on one side, and the political and cultural ones, on the other side, the notion of interconnection is the synonym of globalization14. Therefore, globalization is not a process that would have as a result the dispersion of the Occidental institutions around the world or that would take the shape of a new imperialism. Neverthless, some authors consider that we could speak about globalization in terms of ideological expansion. According to this perspective, considering the economic globalization would mean in fact the promotion of cultural synchronism, which supposes that a particular type of development of a metropolis-country is persuasively transmitted to the receiver-countries. Thus, the “cultural synchronism” implies that the traffic of cultural products (in the wide sense of the term) follows a single direction and is based on a synchronic mode15.

But is globalization a one-way phenomenon? Of course, this is a process that occurred in the Western space and that can be explained in the specific terms of essentialism and universalism of the European thinking. As Roland Robertson16 shows, the globalization process starts with a germinal phase, localized in the Europe of the 15th-17th centuries, continues with the starting phase, which lasts up to 1870, goes through the take-off phase, with “the crystallization of conceptions of formalised international relations, of standardised citizenly individuals, a more concrete conception of humankind” (1870-1920), then becomes pronounced in the-struggle-for-hegemony phase (1920-1960) and finally reaches the uncertainty phase. We are now in this final stage, a historical globalization process in which the nation-states must answer to problems related to the multiculturalism and poliethnicity. These last two concepts define the complementary globalization tendencies, but in paradox appeared in the very middle of this framework. These tendencies show that if, in time, globalization advances as an economic process by excellence, cultural and political processes will mutually “oppose”  it. The globalization process seems to be essentially characterized by an internal dialectics, and here I must emphasize that its understanding is possible in terms of a consequential contingency (that refers to the consequence of various interdependent events, with different locations on the globe).

Understanding the globalization process by means of the post-modern social theory indicates that the Western imperialism idea is marked by relativity. This is not an unusual hypothesis: the pluralism of values supposed by the globalization process constitutes “the dialectical mechanism” of its becoming. The globalization tendencies are opposed by fragmentary tendencies during the same process. It is not an opposition in the hard sense of the word, but a dialectical evolution. Making a theory out of this phenomenon implies the explanation of the difficulty revealed by the dialectical, divergent tendencies supposed by the globalization process, such as: universalization versus particularization, homogenization versus differentiation, integration versus fragmentation, centralization versus decentralization, juxtaposition versus syncretization. This is the result of the multicausal logic that I have mentioned above, a logic marked by an unequal inexperienced in time and in space and discontinuous character17. Consequently, “globalization is not what everyone of us, or at least the most talented or enterprising of us want or hope to do. But it is what is happening to all of us18.

I have inferred that between the economic globalization, on one hand, and the political and cultural globalization, on the other hand, there are mutual interconnections, taking place in what is called the dialectical process of globalization. But the globalization levels are connected not only in a horizontal plan, but also in a vertical plan. In this new context, the principal aspects of the dialectical process of the society globalization are integration and fragmentation – two types of an interglobal development that constitutes itself in meaningful answers to the advancing globalization. As a reverse of one of the aspects of globalization, “integration implies a process whereby the economics and decision making procedures of participating states become progressively linked, to the point of fusion, and to the development of institutions whose power in transcending those of the individual member states, become supranational”19. Today, the economic and political evolution of the European Union might represent an example of integration, which implies as well the pressure exerted from above, by this supranational structure on the sovereignty of the nation-state it includes. The other type of interglobal development, fragmentation, comes to demonstrate that the nation-state is still important in our world, even if we talk about the existence of some disintegrating pressures from below: “Demands for national self determination, from Scotland to Catalonia, have been stimulated by the development of the European Community, which has both exacerbated perceptions of distance from the decision making process and provided a familiar and supportive framework within the newly independent states could operate”20.

The theorists’ perception of global politics cannot avoid taking into account these contradictory processes. While fragmentation brings about the issue of sovereignty, being a matter of domestic security, integration involves an essential challenge for the nation-state and for the traditional models of the international politics. The trajectories of the global changes exert pressure upon the political structure of modernity, questioning even the theories related to it. However, being far from extinction, the nation-states should be sooner capable to offer solutions to the global issues: “Above all, globalization is a political process, involving issues that demand decision and action at a level higher that the individual nation-state. The development of a global economy dominated by the operation of transnational corporate capital and the complex issues associated with global environmental change suggest the need for management at the global level”21. Still this does not mean the dissolution of the nation-state as a political entity, but on one side a transfer of sovereignty to superior authorities (like the supranational structures of EU or UN) and on the other side a diminution of autonomy.

Another important aspect of globalization shows that this process is not only a discontinuous one – involving, simultaneously, phenomena such as integration and fragmentation, homogenization and differentiation, etc. – but un unequal one as well, experimented in time and space, because “the loss of autonomy by some states or groups of states is often accompanied by a gain of this by other states, as a result of alliances, wars or political and economic changes of different types”22. By understanding the process in these terms, a distinction between the two meanings of globalization is, in my opinion, imperative:

1.      Active globalization, that supposes relations established in a bi-directional way, between states or groups of states23 that have quite the same cultural, political and economic power. For these phenomena to happen, it is not essential that the states involved should be exclusively equal even in the economic power. The economic influence of a state can be counter-balanced by the cultural or political influence of that state. This makes certain regions of the globe more involved in the globalization process then others, and some nation-states or groups of states more integrated in the global order then others24.

2.       As a consequence, we can also speak about passive globalization, which means the existence of one-way relations between states or groups of states with visible differences of a cultural, political or economic nature. This underscores the discrepancy between the states or the group of states that impose certain values and those which cannot but accept them. The last ones are the most permissive to the birth of ethno nationalist and fundamentalist moves, because, as David Held suggests, “the desire to keep something meaningful and tangible in the existent local culture, in the context of profound tendencies of globalization, is what most of the current political phenomena, from ethnical resuscitation up to political separatism and movements for local democracy base on”25. This makes us think at that after the beginning of democratization process in Central and South-Eastern Europe, most of the tendencies of fragmentation have been dominated by an ethnical meaning, and not by one pertaining to in the democratization logic.

 

 

3.      Political globalization and the nation-state

 

For the theorists of the international relations, modernity consists of a world state-centric system, dominated by the principle of realism. Post-modernity implies, alongside with the explanations concerning the globalization process, the political vision of a multicentric world that still preserves some of the specific aspects of the modern period. My assumption is that we can speak – following Rosenau – about two worlds of global politics, dimensions that are contained by the framework delimited by the globalization process. There are two interactive worlds in which the social change knows an alert rhythm. In this world the globalization levels (economic, cultural and political) get together in a permanent interconnection. The question that still arises is whether the political globalization – the abandon of the idea that the nation-state is the primary unit in the international relations – is a necessary consequence of economic globalization. A first step towards a possible answer is the idea that the interconnection between different events specific of globalization, particularly between the economic and the political domains, reveal an erosion of the status of primary political unit of the nation-state. The challenges of globalization determine the modern nation-state to develop specific mechanisms, in order to maintain, if not the sovereignty, at least the national identity and culture. Furthermore “it is slightly possible that a global culture will show up or that the national identities will not suffer any modifications as a consequence of their mingling in wider communication structures”26. We are, for the moment, in terms of the two worlds of the world political system, state-centric world, as a part of the national actors playing the primary role, and a multicentric world made up of various actors and relatively equal27. The interdependence between these two worlds is generated as part of the globalization process. Under the political aspect, globalization has a more rapid rhythm in post-modernity and finds an obstacle in the creations of modernity. One of these creations is the nation-state. As far as I am concerned, the combination between the state-centric and the multicentric world structures a world system, non-centric in its essence.

The two worlds of the global politics are superposed and interactive, so that none of them can maintain its own identity and its own sphere of activity because of the different processes connecting its actors. Thus, the organizing principle of realism, specific of the state-centric world – in accordance with the nation-state still facing a security dilemma that comes as a threat from the other nation-states –, is combined with the principle specific of the multicentric world. According to this last one, the systems and the subsystems from the higher levels than that of the nation-state confront an authority dilemma in the shape of the more often changes regarding their identity and integrity. What follows is that the multicentric world is one of an accelerated political globalization, context in which the actors bring about issues such as sovereignty, while the state, as an institutional and administrative element, becomes in a certain way external. More than that, the relations between the actors of the multicentric world are established suddenly and are more temporary. Such a world is opposed by the state-centric world, where the decisions in the international relations belong to the nation-state and where the principle of sovereignty, at least under the theoretical aspect, plays a privileged role. These considerations reveal that the image of a non-centric world, in which humanity remains divided by race, religion and welfare, so that the “physical unity” (time-space) of the globe, characteristic to the multicentric world, should not be mistaken for a “moral unity”28, a unity of civilisation, economic or political principles.

On the other side, it seems that the contemporary period, one of post-colonialism and post-communism, is witnessing a proliferation of the nation-states, and not a transcendence of them. In the same time, “the new networks of communication and the information technology are stimulating new forms of cultural identity an are intesifying certain old forms”29. How could be explained these tendencies in the process of globalization context? Political globalization is facing certain opposition, due to the universalization-particularization internal dialectic of this process. These contradictory forces are strengthening the nation-state political position. It seems to me that the most important of them are the potentially existence of nationalism, the nation-state monopoly over the military power and the international cooperation between states, who is assuring their sovereignty. Thus, “states, through their monopoly over the means of violence, and their attention to the balance of power, are therefore critical agents in maintaining global order”30. The reverse of the coin is that the fragmentation tendencies, which are specific of globalization, are threatening the nation-state unity from below, because it is not necessary for nationalism to manifest itself only on the state policy level. Because the resurgence of the nationalist and fundamentalist tendencies on the local level has the same importance: “the developing of the globalized social relations is probably serving to the diminution of certain aspects of the nationalist sentiments that are linked to the nation-states (or to certain states), but they could be causally related to the intensity of the more localized nationalist sentiments”31.

            The new global politics really indicates the fact that the sovereignty of the nation-state (a fundamental principle of the modern world order) is nowadays in a delicate situation. This is because globalization is questioning the political identity of the nation-state as an entity, which is able to answer to the challenges specific of the contemporary epoch. On the other side, there was never existed an absolute sovereignty of the nation-states32. Though, the principle of sovereignty, as it was understood in the political theory of the last three hundred years, is affected, because the world economy, the international organizations, the regional and global institutions, the international laws and the military alliances are now operating, more clearly, in order to order and diminish the nation-states’ options. All these are representing realities that are eroding the autonomy of the political and administrative apparatus, which is localized on the nation-state level33. The sovereignty doctrine is conceived as having two different aspects. There is the internal aspect, which imply the belief that a political body, instituted as a sovereign one, exerted the legal power in a particularly society, and the external aspect, which reveal the supposition that, beyond the nation-state, there is no other absolute political authority. The process of globalization, which exerts pressure upon the national state and, consequently, upon its fundamental principles, requires, however the change over the understanding the sovereignty as localization of ultimate power within a political community with territorial limits to the idea that “sovereignty itself is to be conceived today as being divided into a number of national, regional and international agencies, as well as limited by the very nature of this plurality”34. Most obviously, this “dissipation” of the sovereignty of state control can apparently be present, to a higher degree, in a multicentric world, imposed by the process of globalization. Actually, to speak about the impact of globalization upon the nation-state as if it represented a unitary process, taking the same form in each economic or political sector and for each nation-state would mean to be in error35. Globalization is, by excellence, an unequal process. More than that, I have shown that we could speak about active globalization and about passive globalization. In order to set a relation between these two types of globalization, I consider that active globalization is a determining phenomenon within the multicentric world, while passive globalization is rather a feature of the state-centric world, although it is not necessary. Still, I must emphasize upon the fact that, paradoxically, the erosion of of the sovereignty principle is more pronounced in the context of the state-centric world, where the passive globalization operates. As they interact economically, politically and culturally, the states-actors of the multicentric world can maintain, to a certain extent, their sovereignty and, thus, their political identity. Anyway, these situations imply that the contemporary experience demonstrates that a peculiar type of engagement, be it active or passive, to the global economic system and to the global market is inevitable36. It is certain that even the ability of the economically or politically most powerful states to controll the transnational exchanges has begun to diminish. On the other hand, the transnational actors operate changes both in the multicentric world of global politics and in the state-centric one37. What remains after such an impact of globalization is the image of a world which, despite the fact that certain aspects of national state is still going. At the same time, a national political identity can be preserved38. But sovereignty can develop several meanings. Thus, we can speak about an interdependent sovereignty, which is nothing else than the sovereignty of the nation-state, affected by the process of globalisation, as the state is no longer able to control the flow of people, goods, pollutants, etc. across its borders. Which happened since the very appearance of states in the primary stage of nation-states, as these always depended on one another as concerns resources, mutual support or security. Another meaning is that of domestic sovereignty, a part of the logic of  state control, i.e. no real state can exist in its absence. Consequently, we can say that this meaning of sovereignty, though affected by globalization, is still preserved, because, in its absence, the very nation-state would be doomed by disappearance. A different meaning is conveyed by the legal international sovereignty, implying the recognition of a nation-state by the international community, its acceptance as an equal entity from the point of view of law, as well as the recognition of the diplomatic immunity of its representatives. Officially, this meaning is, again, not eroded by the process of globalization, although we can consider that passive globalization can be an expression of the extinction, to a certain extent, of  this meaning of sovereignty. Next on the list is the “Westphalian model of sovereignty, which includes the principle of non-intervention, in my opinion an already outdated model in the context of the present global relations. We can see that, of the four meanings of sovereignty exposed above, only two are still valid, in the process of globalization: the domestic sovereignty (whose terms of  possibility are offered by the nation-state itself, from within) and the legal international sovereignty, which, although dated to a certain extent, is reserved by terms of possibility offered from outside.

            My opinion is that the reassertion of the identity of the nation-state, as a tendency mutual opposed to the process of globalization is supported mainly from within the state. Beside the domestic sovereignty, another force revived by the globalizing phenomena becomes a tendency opposed to them. I speak here about nationalism. As I have already mentioned, oane of the main forces that seem to consolidate today the nation-state is the potential existence of nationalism. Together with its monopoly in the meaning of violence39, the nation-state provides the idea of a personal and community identity. It can be inffered that as opposed to the globalizing tendency of the world state-centric system, there is a nationalizing tendency of the global system, a quite recent phenomenon, a yet unfinished project of modernity. As David Held implies, “the importance of the nation-state and of nationalism, of the territorial dependency and of the desire to establish or regain or maintain the ‘sovereignty’ has apparently not diminished lately”40. Therefore, the evidence of nationalism is so powerful that, although the state might seen functionally redundant (given the erosion of its sovereignty), in a cultural and psychological respect if preserves a critical meaning as regards the structuring of the political and social organization of humanity. Before being an ideology transgressing the national borders, nationalism is indeed a cultural and psychological phenomenon, implying “the existence of symbols and beliefs either launched by the elite groups or supported by the members of the regional, ethnic or language categories of a population and implying a communion between those members”41. The rebirth of nationalism is part of the very multicausal logic of globalization, a logic of unity and fragmentation. Nationalism assumes the image of the nation as a manifesto, as a latent or desirable from of colective identity, as an attempt of defining of the proper and the improper, of the fellow and the foreigner42. This image is usually associated to the nation-state. On the other hand, nationalism makes the nation and the national imagery internalize the global horizon, in which context the image of the nation becomes that of a cultural totality, able to impose a new unity open the divergence of the “world order”. In fact, this image is nothing else than an answer to the globalizing process and an attempt of “neutralizing” it on its own field43.

            It can be inferred from this multicausal logic of  the dialectical process of globalization that “nationalism… is still alive and gets a long well. Far from being secondary or out of date, the nation-state, nationalism and the idea of national interest are central elements in the politics of the contemporary world”44. And nationalism is resurgent not only in post-communist Europe, but also in Western Europe. Thus, the European Union, an “experiment” of the process of globalization on a regional scale, reveals the fact that the rebirth of nationalism, otherwise always potentially present, is a phenomenon that may appear at any time. This resurgence can represent precisely a reaction to legal statements as the one set by the Court of Justice of the European Union: “by creating a Community for an unlimited time, with its own institutions, its own personality and partciluarly real powers imposing a limitation of sovereignty and a transfer of powers from the member states to the Community, this once have restricted their own rights to sovereignty”45.

            Moreover, the latest course of events in the area of the European Union seems to reinforce the image of the nation-states not so willing to give up their national identity and of nationalism supported by democratic mechanisms (the case of Austria). Even politicians who have contributed to the regional unity of Western Europe are now reconsidering their position, so that Europe is no longer seen as a supra-nation but rather as a federation of nation-states: “If we aim at rearching the objective of a political Europe, this avant-garde must be allowed to constitute what I call a ‘federation of nation-states‘, since I do not believe that nations are condemned to dissapear. This project should be the object of a special treaty, more exactting and more explicit”46.

            On the other hand, despite this optimistic considerations on the world system of nation-states, certain social and political theorists underscore that their political and administrative structures cannot oppose the globalizing tendencies. They argue that, although the nation-state is not doomed to disappear, the political decisions in the contemporary world rather imply an interconnection between the local, national, regional and global levels. Besides, the democratization presupposed by the political globalization seems to give birth to another phenomenon: glocalization. The concept of glocalization already well-imposed in the social theory of the last decade, wants to suggest that, when the sovereignty and consequently the capacity of the nation-state to make political decisions in the internal of international area have diminished, the autonomy of political structures on the local and regional levels in relation to the problems specific of the global level has considerably increased. As a result, “the recognition of the fact that some of the function and duties of the state are and must be achieved on various political levels – local, national, regional and international – does not imply that the idea of modern state has completely disappeared; It rather suggests that this idea should be adapted so as to be extended beyond the borders”47. In this context, certain authors propose the creation of a global political structure coordinated by democratic rules, where the poltical decisions should be made on various levels. For Anthony Giddens, for instance, this means “the creation of some models of utopic realism”48 which will not be limited to the area of the nation-state, a project of modernity. Most certainly, this is not a holistic, total vision of human society, but a perspective implying the logic of democracy, of the democratic consensus between the levels of political decision mentioned above. Another project with democratic implications is the one proposed by David Held, called “the cosmopolitan model of democracy (…), a democartic government system adapted to the conditions and interconnections of the various peoples and countries”49. Through the meaning of these projects is utopian the idea of global democracy is based on the analysis of the types of relations implied by the political globalization, proposing models of a desirable society.

             However, it is quite improbable that, in the nearest future, such a “real utopia”, actually what I would call the last utopia of our times, could be implemented. For the time being, beyond the nation-state there lies a utopia under construction, that can be noticed aspecially on the regional level of the EU. The tendencies toward fragmentation are, in the most general context of globalization, counterpart of the intagrating ones, as the former ones imply the existence of particualr environments of culture and civilization. At the same time, for great part of the world globalization still is a “Western luxury”.

            The conclusion inferred by the present study is that, in the process of globalization, the nation-states have given up certain rights and liberties, but have obtained and extended new ones. Moreover, we can consider, in this perspective, that nations, the nation-states and nationalism work, on one hand, as connections between the global context and its various levels and, on the other hand, as a “counterweight”, real or imaginary, for the very process of globalization. Finally, what we find remarkable is that both the unifying and the fragmentary tendencies are to be understood in relation to the global human condition specific of postmodernity50.                                       

 

 

 

NOTES:

 


1 ROSENAU, James N., Turbulence in World Politics, 1990, Brighton, Harvester Wheatsheaf, pp. 6-7, 97-100, 102-104, 249-252

2 HELD, David, Democracy and the Global Order. From Modern State to Cosmopolitan Governance, 1995, Cambridge, Polity Press; Romanian version: Democraţia şi ordinea globală. De la statul modern la guvernarea cosmopolită, Ed. Univers, Bucureşti, 2000

3 GIDDENS, Anthony, The Third Way and Its Critics, 2000, Cambridge, Polity Press

4 WATERS, Malcolm, Globalization, 1995, London, Routledge

5 WALLERSTEIN, Immanuel, Culture as the ideological battleground of the modern world-system, in Featherstone, Mike (ed.), Global Culture. Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity, 1990, London, Sage Publications, pp. 31-55

6 ROSENAU, James, Op. cit.

7 GILPIN, Robert, War and Change in World Politics, 1991, Cambridge University Press, pp. 212, 223-226, 228-230

8 McGREW, Anthony, A global society?, in Hall, S., Held, D., McGrew, A. (eds.), Modernity and Its Future, 1992, The Open University, pp. 62-116

9 JAMESON, Frederic, Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, 1991, London, Verso Press Ltd.

10 GIDDENS, Anthony, The Third Way. The Renewal of Social-Democracy, 1998, Cambridge, Polity Press, p. 130

11 McGREW, Anthony, Op. cit., p. 72

12 GIDDENS, Anthony, Consecinţele modernităţii, Ed. Univers, Bucureşti, 2000, p. 64

13 I have emphasized this distinction in an earlier paper, called Globalizare şi identitate în orizont contemporan (Globalization and identity in a contemporary horizon) and published in Xenopoliana, No. VIII, 2000, 1-4, pp. 28-37

14 McGREW, Anthony, Op. cit., p. 94

15 MOHAMMADY, A. S., The many cultural faces of imperialism, in Golding, Peter, Harris, Phil (eds.), Beyond Cultural Imperialism. Globalization, Communication and the New International Order, 1997, London, Sage Publications, p. 49

16 ROBERTSON, Roland, Mapping the global condition: globalization as the central concept, in Featherstone, Mike (ed.), Op. cit., pp. 26-27

17 McGREW, Anthony, Op. cit., p. 74

18 BAUMAN, Zygmunt, Globalization. Human Consequences, 1998, Cambridge, Polity Press, p. 66

19 PONTON, G., GILL, P. (eds.), Introduction to Politics, Third Edition, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 1993, pp. 226-237

20 Idem

21 Ibidem

22 GIDDENS, Anthony, Op. cit., p. 67

23 BAUMAN, Zygmunt, Op. cit., p. 69

24 McGREW, Anthony, Op. cit., p.76

25 HELD, David, Op. cit., p. 274

26 Idem, p. 155

27 ROSENAU, James, Op. cit.

28 GILPIN Robert, Op. cit.

29 HELD, David, Op. cit., p. 154

30 McGREW, Anthony, Op. cit., p. 92

31 GIDDENS, Anthony, Op. cit., p. 64

32 HOLTON, John, Globalization and the Nation-State, 1997, Oxford, Polity Press, p. 84

33 HELD, David, Op. cit. and Democracy, the nation-state and the global system, in Held, D. (ed.), Political Theory Today, 1991, Cambridge, Polity Press, pp. 127-135

34 HELD, David, Op. cit., p. 222

35 HOLTON, John, Op. cit., p. 81

36 Idem, p. 96

37 RISSE-KAPPEN, Thomas, Bringing Transnational Relations Back In. Non-State Actors, Domestic Structures and International Institutions, 1995, Cambridge University Press, p. 6

38 JOFFE, Jose, Retinking the nation-state. Thea many meanings of sovereignty, in Foreign Affairs, nov./dec. 1999, pp. 122-128

39 GIDDENS, Anthony, A Contemporary Critique of Historical Materialism, 1995, London, Macmillan Press Ltd., p. 190

40 HELD, David, Op. cit., p. 117

41 GIDDENS, Anthony, Op. cit., p. 191

42 BAUMAN, Zygmunt, Modernity and Ambivalence, in Featherstone, Mike (ed.), Op. cit., pp. 143-169

43 ARNASON, Johann P., Nationalism, globalization and modernity, in Featherstone, Mike (ed.), pp. 207-236

44 McGREW, Anthony, Op. cit., p. 93

45 MANCINI, G., quoted in Held, David, Op. cit., (1995), p. 112

46 Statement of Jacques Delors, in Le Monde, January 19, 2000

47 HELD, David, Op. cit., p. 171

48 GIDDENS, Anthony, Consecinţele modernităţii, Ed. Univers, Bucureşti, 2000, p. 145

49 HELD, David, Op. cit., p. 171

50 ARNASON, Johann P., Op. cit., pp. 227-232

 

 

 

Studiu publicat in culegerea editata de Alexandru Zub si Adrian Cioflanca, intitulata Globalism si dileme identitare. Perspective romanesti, Editura Universitatii “Alexandru Ioan Cuza, Iasi, 2002



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