Globalization and the Transformation of the International State System

Norbert Lechner Lecture, Diego Portales University, Chile, November 14, 2018.

In a globally integrated capitalist economy borders between states are supposed to become economically irrelevant. Globalization is the ultimate form of liberalization; it shields free markets, instituted on a global scale, from national state intervention, in particular of a redistributive kind. Rather than markets located in states, under globalization states become located in markets. This has momentous consequences for the nature of statehood, both domestically and internationally. States located in markets lose the capacity to protect their economies and societies from market competition; in fact their economic role, if one is left for them at all, is to deregulate their national economies in order to make them more competitive, internally first and as a consequence externally as well. (…)

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L’Europa sotto il Merkel IV: un bilancio di impotenza

Pubblicato su Appello al popolo, rivista del Fronte Sovranista Italiano, 28 novembre, 2018.
Tradotto dall’inglese da Massimiliano Sist.

Original title: Europe under Merkel IV: Balance of Impotence, appeared in American Affairs Journal Volume II, Number 2 (Summer 2018): 162–92.

L’Europa organizzata, o disorganizzata, nell’Unione europea (UE), è una strana bestia
politica. Consiste, in primo luogo, nelle politiche interne dei suoi stati membri che, nel tempo, si sono profondamente intrecciate.
In secondo luogo, gli stati membri, che sono ancora Stati sovrani, perseguono interessi definiti a livello di singola nazione attraverso le politiche estere, ancora nazionali, all’interno di relazioni internazionali intraeuropee. Qui, in terzo luogo, possono scegliere tra fare affidamento su una varietà di istituzioni sovranazionali o su accordi intergovernativi tra coalizioni selezionate di volontari.
In quarto luogo, dall’inizio dell’Unione Monetaria Europea (UME), che comprende solo diciannove dei ventotto stati membri della UE, è emersa un’altra arena di relazioni internazionali europee, costituita principalmente da istituzioni informali e intergovernative, guardate con sospetto dalla sovranazionale Unione Europea.
Quinto, tutto questo è radicato nelle condizioni geopolitiche e negli interessi geostrategici di ogni nazione, che sono legate in particolare agli Stati Uniti da un lato e alla Russia, all’Europa orientale, ai Balcani, al Mediterraneo orientale e al Medio Oriente dall’altro.
E sesto, c’è, in fondo al sistema statale europeo, una battaglia in corso per l’egemonia tra I suoi due maggiori paesi membri, Francia e Germania, una battaglia che entrambi negano. Ognuno dei due, a suo modo, considera la sua pretesa di supremazia europea come una realtà giusta e assolutamente ovvia, la Germania tanto da non riconoscere nemmeno le sue ambizioni in quanto tali. (…)

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L’Europe sous Merkel IV. Un équilibre de l’impuissance

Published in Le débat No. 202, novembre – décembre 2018: 60-80.

Original title: Europe under Merkel IV: Balance of Impotence, appeared in American Affairs Journal Volume II, Number 2 (Summer 2018): 162–92.

L’Europe, telle qu’elle est organisée – ou désorganisée – dans l’Union européenne (UE), est un étrange animal politique. Elle comprend d’abord les politiques intérieures de ses États membres qui, au fil du temps, se sont profondément entrelacées. Deuxièmement, les États membres, qui sont encore des États-nations souverains, poursuivent des intérêts définis au niveau national par le biais de politiques étrangères nationales dans le cadre des relations internationales intra-européennes. Troisièmement, ils ont le choix entre s’appuyer sur une variété d’institutions supranationales ou sur des accords intergouvernementaux entre coalitions choisies de volontaires. Quatrièmement, depuis le début de l’Union monétaire européenne (UEM), qui ne comprend que dix-neuf des vingt-huit États membres de l’UE, une autre arène des relations internationales européennes est apparue, constituée principalement d’institutions intergouvernementales informelles, considérées avec suspicion par l’UE supranationale. Cinquièmement, tout cela s’inscrit dans les conditions géopolitiques et les intérêts géostratégiques de chaque nation, qui sont liés en particulier aux États-Unis d’une part, et à la Russie, à l’Europe de l’Est, aux Balkans, à la Méditerranée orientale et au Moyen-Orient d’autre part. Et sixièmement, il y a au plus profond du système étatique européen une bataille permanente pour l’hégémonie entre ses deux plus grands pays membres, la France et l’Allemagne – une bataille que les deux nient.(…)

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 14. Oktober 2018, Seite 44.

Didier Eribon lag mit seiner Kritik an Sahra Wagenknecht in diesem Feuilleton falsch: Offene Grenzen sind noch keine Politik. Die Linken brauchen vielmehr einen neuen Internationalismus.

„Sahra Wagenknecht ist mitverantwortlich für das, was in Chemnitz geschehen ist, weil sie die sogenannte Migrantenproblematik zum Bestandteil der linken Agenda gemacht hat (. . .) Wagenknechts Aussage, sie sei gegen das Konzept offener Grenzen, (. . .) suggeriert, dass man mit ihr auch über Grenzzäune, Hunde und Internierungslager reden kann.“ Das ist eine Menge Holz, vor allem von jemand, der sich „in gewisser Weise“ für das „verantwortlich“ erklärt, was Wagenknecht so alles unternimmt. Ich habe, wie andere auch, Eribons „Rückkehr nach Reims“ – als Soziologe war er und ist er mir bis heute nicht aufgefallen – durchaus mit Bewegung gelesen. Hätte ich das Buch zu rezensieren gehabt, hätte ich den Dauertriumphalismus des Autors über seinen eigenen Bildungsaufstieg etwas nervig gefunden; Bildungsaufsteiger gibt es in unserer Generation ja nicht gerade selten. Wichtiger, mir wäre die geradezu ontologische Beschreibung der Arbeiterklasse, jeder Arbeiterklasse und nicht nur der Familie Eribon, als „rassistisch“ merkwürdig und bemerkenswert erschienen. (…)

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From Speciation to Specialization

Published in Social Research Vol. 85: No. 3: Fall 2018, 661-685.

On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Charles Darwin

For a social scientist, reading Darwin’s origin of species is a simultaneously humbling and reassuring experience. What an achievement! Science and scientific writing at their best. A book that is the product of long thinking, such as we today, haunted by deadlines, can only dream of, and written in a clear, engaging language, immensely readable for even the (educated and interested) layperson. Everything is as simple as possible but no simpler, as allegedly demanded by none less than Albert Einstein himself. And profoundly honest: the open questions, the remaining mysteries carefully exposed, careful attention paid to the difficult spots, and the arguments of the opposition, both real and anticipated, treated with polite respect. (…)

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Taking Back Control? The Future of Western Democratic Capitalism

Published in Efil Journal of Economic Research, Vol. 1 (2018), No. 3, 30-47

The international state system is in turmoil, due to pressures on its architecture that emanate from capitalist-economic globalization. Large states in particular seem to be losing the capacity to hold their societies together through economic redistribution from prospering to lagging sectors and regions. The results are centrifugal tendencies toward decentralization and secession, as well as toward exit from international organizations. To defend centralized rule, governments of large political units tend to turn authoritarian. Experimentation with small-scale units of governance seems attractive in many places, given the example of successful small countries that have preserved their national sovereignty, like Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland. Small states tend to be more homogeneous, more suitable for democratic self-government, and more capable of specializing on niches in the global economy where they are comparatively safe from head-on competition. (…)

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Between Charity and Justice: Remarks on the Social Construction of Immigration Policy in Rich Democracies

Appeared in Culture, Practice & Europeanization, August 2018, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 3-22

As a sociologist working on political economy, one of the most difficult questions I encounter is how social norms, the location of actors in the class structure and the collective construction of reality, present and future, hang together. How are facts construed to fit, justify and make appear possible moral or economic practices, or economic practices defended as moral ones, and how do socially constructed factual accounts of the world reflect, preserve and produce political identities and cleavages and the prevailing interpretations of structurally based social interests? This is the classical theme of Ideologiekritik and, later, Wissenssoziologie. Both interrogate the collective “ideas”, the legitimacy-enhancing “narratives” and the conceptual “frames” of the common sense of the time as to the hidden impact on them of material interests growing out of the social locations of actors and the specific cognitive and moral perspectives they impose on them. It cannot possibly be my intention here to try to present a complete analysis of this extremely complicated subject. Rather, I will limit myself to exploring a few selected facets of the interconnections between interests, politics and moral values, drawing for illustration on one of the most intriguing moral-political-economic issues in the rich democracies of today, which is immigration. (…)

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