Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Nation-State and Global Integration

A few questions about strains on the power and efficacy of the nation-state:

(a) Does the global financial crisis call for international management of, say, currency exchange rates?

(b) Do globalization and the near-global triumph of capitalism undermine the greatest incentive (namely, international competition, respectively, among capitalist powers and between capitalist and non-capitalist powers) for leading capitalists to attend to the well-being of those who are not succeeding?

(c) Do global warming and other environmental strains demand an internationally-coordinated response that cannot entirely be managed by one nation-state?

My answer to all of these questions is 'yes' and points to the growing importance of international cooperation to solve many of our most pressing problems. I am not arguing that states are not strong. Neither am I am arguing necessarily for inter-governmental cooperation to solve these problems (although, such will sometimes be vital). Rather, I am arguing that a global perspective is becoming of greater importance. In due time, I believe that such a perspective will become the dominant paradigm, superseding the nation-state paradigm.

It is no coincidence that this pattern of integration presents itself as we find ourselves in a world in which everyone can be lifted out of poverty and in which universal education can be imagined. These goals can be achieved because (a) the global economy is sufficiently integrated to distribute basic goods, services, and skills to those in need of them, (b) globalization and the near-triumph of capitalism have led to a global economy in which human capital is of ever-greater economic value, and (c) environmental challenges force us to focus on how we can develop wealth without solely relying on materials. The best answers to this question are the development of technology and of human capital.