To Be Or Not To Be: The Nation Centric World Order Under Globalization
By Jerry Harris

The major dialectic in the present period is the contradiction between the nation/state system and the transnational world order. This conflict between nationalism and globalization contains the main economic, political and social divisions in today’s world. It is manifested in both internal class conflicts and as a struggle between classes. Underneath this dialectic there are further contradictions within nationalism and within globalization. But to interpret the deep structural moment of today one must grasp the central transformation around which all else revolves, the universalization of capitalism to a globalized system of accumulation based on a revolutionary transformation of the means of production.

Most schools of thought, whether Marxists or mainstream, still define the international system as one centered around nation/state competition based on the struggle for supremacy among groupings of nationally identified monopoly capital. The state represents these interests on the international stage and seeks security or hegemony as the ultimate guarantor of a strong nationally based economy. This interpretation of global capital, as an extension of industrial era imperialism, seeks to identify a single national hegemonic power. Within this analytical context only the United States qualifies as the dominant superpower.

But this analysis, empirically supported by the policies of the Bush regime, fails to place the US within the existing economic structures of global capitalism and the emergence of a transnational capitalist class. Today’s dominant form of accumulation is based on transnationalized production and finance, global labor stratification, and the emergent transnational capitalist class and transnationalized state. This is no longer predominantly a world in which national monopolies compete for international markets with states fielding armies to capture territory and resources. Yet the political and economic interests that are connected to the old state system, its international structure of accumulation and the labor relations it produced still struggle to shape the new order more fully in their own image.

It is the clash of the old and new forms of accumulation and their subsequent organization of the international system where the heart of the dialectic resides. The transnational system is characterized by cross border mergers and acquisitions, foreign direct investment, cross border flows of capital, global production chains, foreign affiliates, outsourcing labor, multilateral trade agreements, the creation of a common global regulatory structure for finance, trade and investment, and using the state to rearrange national structures to serve the global economy. The nation centric international system is based on guarding the home market for national capital, competing over world markets through exports, state directed and protected economic development, expanding the national job base while incorporating large sectors of the working class into a social contract, and using the state to advance the position of national monopolies and their access to international resources and markets.

These two forms of accumulation clash on many fronts with class interests played out in various combinations. Because this is a transitional period social actors often have economic and political interests in both forms of accumulation and vacillate between the two. To fully capture the structural moment both sides of the contradiction, the national and global, must be analyzed as a connected transformational process. More >>


WELCOME! You are visitor number

Designed by ByteSized Productions © 2003-2006