World events of the last decades are directly linked not so much
to the inner factors of the development of certain states
as to the turning point in the development of capitalism
as a system. By world events I mean first of all
ethno-political and social conflicts, civil wars, destruction
of a number of large states, escalation of military
tensions, degradation of the principles of international law.
Serious changes in the modes of functioning of capitalism,
in the spatial configuration of the processes of capital
accumulation have been taking place since mid-1970s
it was only by the end of the century that they reached
a bifurcation point. In the 1970s there prevailed the tendency
to shifting capital accumulation processes from the countries of the
«golden billion» to the periphery. But in the 1980s a return
movement took place: the centralization of capital moved back to the
countries and regions with high income. Both tendencies demonstrated great
geographic mobility of capital. The return movement of capital
in a way was also linked to the fact that until the very end
of the 1980s a large part of world space was controlled
by the anticapitalist system of with the USSR as the core.
The turning point in the contemporary history of capitalism came
with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Here I speak not of the
ideological component of the confrontation of the two world political
poles but of the political and economic deterrence of capital’s
movement by the Soviet system. Having removed this obstacle, capitalism
became a genuinely global system. That was marked by the era
of globalization. The latter in its turn symbolized not only spatial
but also substantial triumph of capital which freed itself from redundant
guardianship of the state. As David Harvey noted as early
as in 1989, in the conditions of globalization there came
«the transition to the rule of financial capital over
It is no secret that capitalism «prefers» liquidity. That
is why it tries to create such a situation in which
extremely large share of money flows remains in a liquid form.
Because of unique technological and communicational achievements
of the so called «postindustrial society» of the late
twentieth — early twenty-first
century global money markets
dramatically reduced state’s possibilities to control financial and
economic flows. I agree with A. Fursov that globalization has radically
changed the correlation of levels of the Modern epoch: the state and
local levels have receded into the background giving way to global and
The analysis of the world economy since the late 1990s has revealed
another side of globalization — the regionalization of the
world. This process develops along supranational and subnational lines. The
first one is the forming of supranational economic and political
structures like EU, WTO or NAFTA. The second line is the emergence
of a «region-state» (RS) phenomenon which according
to some researchers, for example Kenichi Ohmae who coined the terms
«regional economy» and «region-state» as special ones,
is becoming the basic unit of global economy. These regional entities
solve regional problems using global resources and are closer linked
to other RS than to their own countries.
The functioning of a RS is defined by purely economic
and not political, still less social, historical or cultural imperatives.
RS is no more than a unit of demand and consumption.
The population size must correspond to it. According to Ohmae
it must not exceed 20 mln people (otherwise the unity of citizens
as consumers will not be guaranteed). At the same time
it must not be less than 5 mln to guarantee economizing
at the cost of services, particularly those which are important
to guarantee effective participation in global governing.
Global economy is not a whole fabric, it is not
a universal thing, but a network of 100–200
points-nodes («pointilist society» as Andrey Fursov puts it).
This network as if hovers over the rest of the world with its
«sovereign» (in quotation marks) states. In fact RS means
desocialization, denationalization, hence desovereignization of the state.
These processes have been caught by Philip Bobbitt. In his opinion
nation-states no longer manage to solve the problems and
contradictions which tear the world apart. They are being replaced
by a new order of «market states» where most management
functions are given to the private sector. A participant less and
less relies on regulation and more and more — on market
mechanisms and incentives. Whereas a RS still preserves
characteristics of a nation-state together with
characteristics of a sovereign body, a market state loses them
entirely. So RS is a transitional form
to a genuinely global structure composed — in according
to neoliberal ideals of market states.
Note should be taken that the offensive against nation-state
«on all fronts» of course is not connected solely with the
«preference» of liquidity. It is obvious that capitalism emerges
and flourishes when it, as Fernand Braudel noted, «identifies itself with
the state, when it itself becomes the state». But coming across the
opportunity to get rid of the unnecessary guardianship of the
state, capital did not miss it. Capitalism made a choice in favour
of not national but transnational domination due to a number
of reasons. «Quite cumbersome and in outward appearance unchanging
configuration of political power which connected large trade unions, big
business and… the government by written and acquired rights more and more
preventing normal work… rather undermined safe capital accumulation than
guaranteed it» (D. Harvey). Largest corporations saw in neoliberal
globalization not only a convenient way to free themselves from state
regulation, tax burden and control of national institutions but also the
opportunity to remove (by selective use of liberalization
principles) those elements of the past which were out of favour with
them (for example, social programmes). Besides, given the weakness
, especially peripheral one, large capitalist
structures relying on their already accumulated advantages and might got
the prospects to create new centres of power, to form peculiar
rules of market game on a world scale.
Whereas in developed countries the neoliberal model
of globalization was applied cautiously and selectively, there was
no hesitation towards peripheral spaces such as Latin America,
South-Eastern Europe or post-Soviet space.
As a result of the neoliberal Blitzkrieg vast new regions and
spheres of human activity have been drawn into capitalist circulation
of goods and money during the last ten — fifteen years. For Europe
alone it is eighteen states in the zone of former Soviet
influence. New correlation and alignment of forces have emerged between
economic and political subjects, the state and corporations, production and
finances. Economies of many countries have become import dependent and
export oriented. Historically conditioned inter-state
struggle has become sharper. Also there emerged the confrontation between the
state and transnational corporations. The UN report named «Globalization
Favours Rich Nations» (July 12, 1999) says that in 85 countries out
of studied 174 people according to the «index of human
development» live worse than before whereas five leading countries —
Canada, Norway, the US, Japan and Belgium — have improved their situation.
Financial regulation is one of the main ways of government.
Karl Marx had named state debt the «alienation of the state». However,
he could not have foreseen that this «magic wand» would be found
in the hands not of states but of international and
nongovernmental organizations and would lead to unprecedented
concentration of financial capital. This in its turn would
in fact plunge all countries of the world in debt. Moreover,
their existence and hence politics and economy would directly depend
on the «ever-full hand of the giver» who would easily
provide nonproductive money with productive power by ways
of crediting of a country turning the money into capital —
long-term capital at that. In contemporary conditions
international crediting is one of the main open, legal sources
of enrichment of some people and empoverishment of others:
«debtors grow poorer, creditors grow richer».
During in the last twenty years the agrarian-industrial
periphery ceased to be quite successful regions and turned not simply
into world back yard or even back street but into a «credit cow» for
the capitalist system. Following regularity is significant: the more
developed the country’s economy once was, the larger its present debts prove
to be. Karl Polanyi justly noted that «finance… played the part
of a powerful coersive factor in the plans and activity
of a number of small sovereign states. Loans and their renewal
depended on credit and the latter — on good behaviour».
So, the turning point in the history of capitalism
is directly linked with neoliberal globalization. The age of this
globalization began after the collapse of anticapitalism — the Soviet
system. Then capitalism having freed itself from the guardianship of the
nation-state became able to exploit previously undeveloped
spaces thus guaranteeing stable liquidity of capital.
Joseph Brodskiy was right when he wrote that «the genuine equivalent
of the Third World War seems to be the prospect
of an economic war. The absence of international antitrust
legislation provides the prospect of entirely unlimited rivalry where all
means are good and the goal of victory is a dominant position.
Battles of this war will be supranational in character but the
triumph will always be national, that is happen in the place
of victor’s registration. Financial ascendancy usually takes different
forms of expansion — economic, political, cultural. To buy
is easier than to kill. National debt as a form
of occupation is more reliable than a military garrison.
It seems highly probable that the countries of Eastern Europe having
got rid of communist supremacy will find themselves in the position
of debtors… that is countries occupied in the new manner».
It is obvious that in the conditions of globalization
politico-territorial ideal of sovereignty grows dim,
nation-state ceases to be the only subject that
integrates the interests of large social and economic communities and
represents them in the world arena. Transnational participants play more
and more active role in the world political and economic process. The
forming of megasociety, the emergence of interconnected and
interdependent world set the mankind the task of managing global
development: in breadth — in the whole of the planet —
and in depth — on all levels of organization from local
The architects of global corporate management insist that elementary
uneffectiveness of the state compels them to reduce its powers, curb
its sovereignty. Among the main causes of the nation-state
«incapacity» scholars distinguish the following: the presence of external
factors of influence not subject to state control; shortage
of resources; unwillingness/ uninterestedness in fulfilment
of its duties or incomprehension of existing problems. More and
more researchers are of the opinion that nation-state
all its attributes is simply inadequate to the world
of neoliberal globalization. From that world’s point of view
is not only irrational but is a poor
competitor since it is overloaded with social duties towards the mass
of the population.
Scholars and experts are active in their versions of what will
replace nation-state, of who will become the heir of the
part of its sovereignty. Some think it will be world government,
some — civilizations, others — region states, still others —
corporation-state. Models are numerous but one thing
is obvious: the existence and development of the contemporary
nation-state, the mutation of the category
of sovereignty are directly linked to globalization.
Globalization not only changes social and economic picture of the world
but it also transforms the internal essence of sovereignty, depriving
the state of the functions to organize and govern physical space.
I speak of the forming of new approaches and centres
of government, the emergence of new concentrations of economic
power and ascendancy, of the legitimate global intervention.
For instance, ex-councillor of McCain and
well-known American observer Robert Kagan in a recent
article («The Washington Post», 2008, December, 2) openly states that
in cases when this or that state (say, Pakistan) is not able
to provide security, to fight terrorism, to avoid humanitarian
catastrophies etc. it must not pretend to sovereignty. Here
we see political and theoretical justification of desovereignization
of nation-states in the interests of so called
«world community» which in reality means global capitalist class and its
main cluster — the USA.
At the initial stage globalization meant macroeconomic restructuring which
on the world scale reflected the experience of the industrial
revolution which occurred at the national level. Now specialization and
economic optimality make capitalists shift production to such zones where
intensive use of labour enables them to get largest profit, where
there is relatively cheap qualified labour or considerable reserves
of natural resources. Nowadays dependence of national economies
on the activity of globalizational core develops
in a geometrical progression.
Transnational corporations and banks are the most active bearers
of globalization. Larger and larger space is occupied
by corporations sharing global transnational «citizenship». Due
to globalization transnational corporations, having got sizable
opportunities to evade state control and regulation, have accumulated
means several times larger than the resources of even rather big states.
Simultaneously with the maturing of private transnational corporations
international economic organizations were being transformed into powerful
centres of decision-making whose decisions were more and more
often binding for the states. Moreover, they were turning into centres where
institutional and legal framework of the neoliberal economic order was
In such a situation the state is going through a crisis.
However, it does not at all mean that the state has come to its
historical end as a political institution, as a «form
of life» (to use Rudolf Kjellen’s term). The play is not
finished yet. Nation-state
is really fading away. But
is this structure really the last form of the state?
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