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