23 Mar 2015
Is the Nation State dead? It is one question among the profusion of apocalyptic predictions of the demise of the nation state caused mostly by the Globalisation. In the same way, the word globalisation seems nowadays to be used all the time on many occasions which thus does not give a clear meaning. We are going to try to define the term of globalisation in order to have a better analysis of our subject. The term refers more to a process which could be describe as the increased movement of people, knowledge and ideas, and goods and money across national borders which have create more interconnectedness among the world. For some it is just an economic phenomenon defined as "the increasing worldwide integration of economies over recent decades and is associated with the triumph of liberal capitalism as the dominant economic mode" (King and Kendall, p 142). But it really includes political and cultural areas as well. Then, why is it considered as a threat for the Nation State? The nation state is a political system invented in occidental Europe that took six century, while it had to co-exist with cities, Empire and papacy, to affirm itself. The Nation State triumphed as a political organisation as one goes along with the different acquisition of independence of countries. Decolonisation in the 1950s put the Nation state definitely as a model for the world political system.
So whilst the Nation state remains the principal focus of political identification and the principal place to debate why does people enquiry about the death of the Nation State? The mainly dangers of the globalisation argued are the loss of the sovereignty and of autonomy of the Nation state. We can wonder, indeed, about the role of the nation state in a world where transnational and international activities are the new way. Some say that the later could hollow out the authority of the Nation State and preventing it to be the legitimate body.
But before digging the grave of the Nation State, we should wonder about what impact has globalisation had on the Nation State? To answer this question we will first present the different principal perspectives about this supposed impact, according to the Hyperglobalist, the Sceptical and the Transformationalists. Then we will explain what new dimension has the globalisation brought to the Nation State. To do so, we will focus first on the economical scheme with the Multinational corporations and the idea of competiveness and secondly we will look into the new political dimension such the new actors on the international system as well as the boundaries.
Today, globalisation's impact on states is a debatable argument; there is not really agreement on the subject. We are going to introduce the main theories about it.
Hyperglobalists argue that the world had evolved these past years and that it is now more borderless, especially in the economic field. National economies are now part of a global economy where international financial markets and transnational dominate. They say there is a denationalization but that it is part of an economic logic in which "national governments are just transmission belt for global capital" (King and Kendall, p144). For them, the power of the Nation Sate has been supplanted by business activities (Ohmae, 1995). Today, it is more the global finance, rather than state, that has influence over the organisation, location and distribution of economic power and wealth. We are in a time of a borderless economy and where the state is territorially limited, global markets are free to escape political regulation. The role of the state is now to accommodate the structure of the domestic economy to the imperatives of international competitive. Furthermore, the current international institutions in charge of the economy, such the IMF or World Bank help the formation of this global market. Because states can no longer modulate exchange and interest rates (King and Kendall, p144), they are becoming transitional modes of economic organization and regulation. Their conclusion is the demise of the Nation State but we can critic this theory by saying that they do no distinguish the quantity of influence and of power among countries. In the case of the countries of the European Union for example, we can see that their sovereign power has been given away or at least reduced (Europeans institutions) when it is not true for the United states which keep a state strength. Hyperglobalists see the globalisation as a good thing which would give opportunities to societies to develop.
In contrast, Sceptics disagree with this thesis; they think that the world has not evolved much and that instead of being in a globalised world we are now in a more international world. Hirst and Thompson argued that "whereas tendencies towards internationalisation can be accommodated within a modified view of the world economic system, that still gives the major role to national-level policies and economic actors; when firms, government and international agencies are being forced to behave differently, but in the main they can use existing institutions and practices to do so" (Held and McGrew, chap 1). For the Sceptics, the State remains central in the business activities and even that it is the most powerful actor in domestic economy and in international agreement and regulations. Multinational corporations having headquartered in different countries can be described as national companies operating internationally and thus subject to the national regulation. Moreover, the Sate has still a crucial role in the scheme of governance and regulation and through elections it remains the critical agencies of the popular representation. And to conclude they state that the world is now divided into larger regional area rather that into one world.
However, Transformationalists take a middle ground approach between the two previous extreme views of globalisation. They argue that globalisation is a multi-scalar process and do not believe in a single global society. The current global interconnections and interdependence will forge new networks and maybe dissolve some existing ones. As Held say "relationships among nations and people will be reconfigured and power relationships restructured. It will not be the end of the Nation State, more a reconstruction of the Nation State. According to Held and McGrew, globalisation refers to a shift in the scale of human organisation that links distant communities. There will be a wider impact of power relations across the world's regions and continents. But even through a reconfiguration, the state remains an important actor in global political economy. They also state the emergence of a new 'sovereignty regime', arguing that it is today "less as a territorially defined barrier than a bargaining resource for a politics characterized by complex transnational networks" (Held and McGrew).
Among these different theories, the Transformationalists one seems to be the more accurate according to our second part.
Globalisation becomes such a debatable process that we are going to show what economic impact it has made.
Multinational corporations' mobility is seen as an impact of the globalisation on the Nation State. As the hyperglobalists stated it, it is becoming the new primary object, but as the Transformationalists show it does not undermine the role of the Nation state. Indeed along all the way of the development of the globalisation and thus the global market, states have formed the regulation to maintain it. Global capital needs the states functions to be effective. As we saw before, Nation states are home base for multinational corporations and so subjected to the domestic policy of the State. While the company is working transnationally, headquarter is in a single nation. All the investment and benefit made are likely to be sent back in the country of origin. It is true that nation states can retain juridical and other restrains on their citizen which can hardly be matched with multinational companies but if high levels of social expenditure help improve or maintain a good productivity, there is no reason for them to leave or to object. Sometimes it can be benefit for multinational to offshore, but for some such agricultural or manufacturing it can be more difficult because of a lack of synergy or of application du to the geographical position. So the multinational corporations' mobility can be disputable and may not be seen as a bad impact on the nation state. "Analyses of foreign direct investment flows indicate that in high technology and knowledge-intensive sectors, multinational companies are attracted more by knowledge-intensive labour than by low cost employee" (King and Kendall, p142). So offshore are not always a good deal and the primacy can be accorded on the Nation State. Moreover, a lot of trade still occur within national state and it is often more easier to remedies to the problems domestically than abroad. Thus Multinational Corporations are welcome to keep on the administrative and legal functions of nation states.
On the other hand, it has been show that globalisation intensifies competition which in fact stimulates innovation. As Gibbons say "globalisation puts firms and others organisations under competitive pressure to innovate" (King and Kendall, p148), so it stimulates new research practices. Firms have now to innovate because if they don't their existence might be threatened by others who do innovate. Thus as the benefit mostly come back on the nation state of origins, globalisation's impact can be well accepted.
In conclusion, Multinational corporations depend on state structures to guarantee their rights and globalisation is a factor for competiveness and thus development. As Hirst and Thompson stated "international business are still largely confined to their home country in terms of their overall activity.
Globalisation is not, as we state earlier, an economical phenomena only. At the root of the globalisation there is an important technical revolution which is the abolition of the distance thanks to progress and communication.
The authority of the nation station was mostly based on the distance because it gives a meaning of the territorial boundaries and a mediatory function of the State as soon as individual wanted to communicate between each other. But how deal with the amount of transnational activities between individuals beyond boundaries going round the state; it does not make sense today. With globalisation, borders are less significant and boundaries of decisions are much broader that the actual boundaries (Dahl). Before, these international institutions let a great part of independence and autonomy to national systems but not anymore, "they penetrate deeply in the national system" (Zürn). Hence the reorganization of the nation states' functions insofar as for new political perspective to govern in a system where communication goes beyond it and where it has to ensure the regulation of this transnational activities' boom. Sometimes international relations seems more important that nationalism; when the FMI was endorsing the idea of a common currency, countries such France or Germany known as a strong nationalism tendency, gave up without problem to their national currency. It is so a reconsideration of the state, it can not be identified by its currency or by the opening of its market anymore. Globalisation would sustain the demise of the nation state by reconsidering the general functions of the state and the dimension of the nation. State should be more modest and delegate part of its 'sovereign mission' to other some forms of governance, local or global.
Some new actors of course take advantage of the process of globalisation, such economic actors. But we can also observe alternative forms of transnational solidarity. With widening of the image, the information and the communication, individuals are being involved in domestic affairs of neighbouring states. Globalisation allow the emergence of an important amount of actors which are going to have their own international action, such the NGOs or will put pressure on state to make them intervene on the international scene, such the international public opinion. So we cannot speak of end of the state, it is more a transformation of the state which is now working with non state actors while losing much of its sovereignty principle. But the state stay the privileged actor, it is easier to negotiate with a state than with a transnational flux. The state is identified by the international rights and organisations. Furthermore, we can state that the population developed a strong nationhood over the past years and indeed would give its trust to the national parliaments more that in the European institutions for example.
Globalisation does not mean the end of the Nation State, not now anyway. It redefines it; some state's functions can not have substitute. The state is yet competent and not really disputed in term of stability and domestic security. It is still a supplier of homogeneity and especially of social homogeneity. Moreover globalisation could be seen as a good effect on the national economies. Because some decisions are made on another level than the state (such in UE) the new challenge is to organise a new way for the citizenship, maybe a global citizenship.
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