Pols 374 foundations of global politics
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POLS 374 Foundations of Global Politics. Global Politics and the State Lecture October 25, 2005. Global Politics and the State Biswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?.

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POLS 374 Foundations of Global Politics

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Pols 374 foundations of global politics

POLS 374 Foundations of Global Politics

Global Politics and the State Lecture

October 25, 2005


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

  • Basic argument: Author disagrees with those who believe the nation-state is in crisis or is somehow in danger of disappearing or being replaced.

  • At the same time, author does agree that something is happening and that the nation-state as we currently know it is not impervious to change


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state1

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Key Points

  • First, notes that most scholars who believe the nation-state is in crisis focus on two inter-related processes.

  • The first is pressure from below, or the forces of fragmentation, and the second is pressure from above, or the forces of globalization.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state2

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Key Points

  • Biswas notes that these scholars also assume that the forces of fragmentation and globalization are part of the same process, a process that operates according to a very strict logic.

  • In this view, the state is seen largely as a passive object, pushed and pulled in different directions by forces over which it has little or no control. The end result is the demise of the state.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state3

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Key Points

  • Second, Biswas argues that a big problem in many contemporary analyses is based on an analytical mistake. Specifically, the author argues that many writers confuse the related, but separate processes of nation-building and state-making.

  • But nation-building and state-making, according to Biswas, are analytically separate processes. To be sure, they overlap, but this does not mean that they are the same.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state4

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Key Concepts

  • Nation-building relates the construction of a common identity, or a form of “cultural community.”

  • State-making, on the other hand, refers to the creation of a particular type of political institution with the authority to make and enforce decisions on behalf of a political community.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state5

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Nation-building and State-making: Conceptual Issues

  • There is, as I’ve already suggested, a tendency to conflate concepts of nation-building or state-making--that is, to see them as largely one-in-the-same. This is a mistake.

  • To understand why, and to understand why it is dangerous to conflate the concepts, we need to take a step back. In particular, need to consider what the concept of “nation-building” really means.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state6

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

National Identity and Nation-Building

  • Biswas suggests that we cannot discuss nation-building without understanding that it is, first and foremost, a process of creating a “national identity.”

  • As we have learned from our textbook, “national identity” is a powerful force in global and international politics.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state7

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

National Identity and Nation-Building: Key Points

  • Biswasargues that there are no “natural” nationalities. Instead, all national identities are, in an important sense, socially constructed or created. This is what is meant by nation “building.”

  • Example: Consider the case of Iraq today. One of the biggest problems facing the country right now is the lack of a cohesive, unifying “national identity.” Instead of one Iraqi identity, there are multiple, competing identities: Sunni, Shiites, and Kurds. The situation in Afghanistan is even more complex and volatile.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state8

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

National Identity and Nation-Building: Key Points

  • Some scholars use the concept of an “imagined” political community to describe the process of nation-building.

  • Nations are imagined “because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion” (quoting from Benedict Anderson)


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state9

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

National Identity and Nation-Building: Key Points

  • Second Point: Biswas argues that state-building is often premised on nation-building, and vice versa; that is, once a national identity is created, members of the nation want or demand their own state.

  • At the same time, nation-building has always been a project of the state. That is, most states are deeply concerned with building and then maintaining over time a national identity.

  • But this raises an important question: Why do states need nations? (Discuss)


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state10

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

National Identity and Nation-Building: Key Points

  • States need nations …

  • because claims to “nationhood” give the state authority over its people as well as international standing within a larger system of states.

  • Nationhood is the way for states to seek and ensure legitimacy within a system of states in which the ideal of the nation-state is a universal organizing principle for collective identity.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state11

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • Coming back to the author’s main argument:

  • Biswas does not dispute the argument that states are subject to two competing pressures: fragmentation from below and globalization from above. And, he does not disagree that these are important forces operating in the world today. What he believes, though, is that the consequences and implications of these forces are not as clear cut as they may appear. Consider fragmentation …


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state12

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • There is plenty of evidence to show that states are fragmenting. All one needs to do is look around the world: from obvious cases such as Bosnia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, to less obvious places such as Spain, Canada, and even Hawaii.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state13

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation: Hawaiian Independence?

  • “THE STORY IS a familiar one: a small nation with a distinct ethnic and cultural identity, struggling against a dominant and oppressive overlord. But this is not Kosovo or Tibet. It's a favorite travel destination: Hawaii, where an aggrieved native population is demanding a change after a century of U.S. rule. While the rude cry of "Haole, go home" is seldom heard, virtually all Native Hawaiians want to repair or even reverse what they see as the unjust and illegal U.S. military-backed overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893.”

  • For more, go to: http://www.hawaii-nation.org/flag.html and http://www.hawaii-nation.org/


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state14

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • To Biswas, the real question is not so much whether fragmentation is occurring (of course it is!); rather the question is: What are the implications of fragmentation for the future of the nation-state?


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state15

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • To answer the question, we need to understand, first and foremost, that fragmentation is really only a threat to the existence of particular states, not the system of nation-states as a whole.

  • This is an important observation, for, if correct, it tells us that fragmentation, rather than challenging the ideal of the nation-state, is actually a testament to its success.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state16

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • The logic here is simple: People challenge existing nation-states because they no longer consider the state that supposedly represents their interests legitimate.

  • This may be because the state has marginalized or subordinated their identity or excluded them from the political process. The best solution, then, is to create their own state.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state17

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • Repeating Key Point: From Biswas’ perspective, we can see that the forces of fragmentation do not, in any fundamental way, undermine the legitimacy of states as a whole; if anything, just the opposite is the case: Fragmentation, paradoxically, reflects the continued importance and significance of the state.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state18

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • What about the forces of globalization? What effect is globalization having on states? Is the effect positive, negative, or something else? (Discuss)


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state19

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • Biswas agrees that globalizing forces are having a “negative” effect on states, but this doesn’t mean that states will ever disappear.

  • To understand the logic of Biswas’ position, we need to recognize that there are at two distinct aspects of globalization: economic and cultural.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state20

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • Economic globalization: The basic argument among those who see the coherence of the state slipping away is that the shift from the internationalization of economic activities to the globalization of economic activities has reduced the ability of states to control and influence their own domestic economies.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state21

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • Biswas does not disagree with the basic story, but it is important to understand that states are not dinosaurs. That is, states have a great capacity to change and adapt as the environment in which they make their decisions changes. Plus, unlike dinosaurs, states play a key role in shaping the environment of globalization. In other words, states are an agent of globalization--not simply a passive object.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state22

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • To put it simple, while states may no longer be able to fulfill exactly the same role they have for the past 100 years or so, it is likely that they will develop new roles to play and in different forms.

  • Consider, in this regard, the European Union, or NAFTA, or other type of state-based organizations.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state23

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • We must also remember that states, however imperfect they may be, will continue to be the site where ordinary citizens seek protection from some of the effects of global corporate capitalism.

  • In this regard, we should not forget the “lesson” of the 1920 and 1930s--that is, when capitalism began to fail, states had to step in to rework the system in major way. Without massive state intervention, capitalism--and globalization--may well have died right then and there.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state24

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • Cultural globalization: Refers to the globalization of a common or shared set of ideas, beliefs, and values. These include: democracy, human rights, the nation-state, consumerism, and so on.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state25

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • Main point: Cultural globalization is a process that simultaneously brings the world together (an homogenizing affect) and splits it apart.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state26

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • Homogenizing aspects: Cultural globalization is largely responsible for the universalization of the appeal of the nation-state as an ideal cultural-political form of collective identity.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state27

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • The global system of nation-states is based on global norms that define external and internal sovereignty

  • This aspect of cultural globalization, therefore, reproduces and sustains the nation-state system.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state28

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • Consumerist homogenization is another aspect of cultural globalization, although it tends to pull the world in many different direction. Symbolized by the phrase, McWorld versus Jihad.

  • McWorld is global consumer culture, which may, on the surface, create a sense of transnational loyalty, but on the other hand, the invasion of corporate symbols tends to create the impetus to “rescue parochial identities.”


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state29

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • Heterogenizing aspects of globalization: We are increasingly living in a world where we have an expectation and even right of uniqueness

  • This leads to even more claims for national self-identity, which can lead to more fragmentation, because people expect the state to be the primary means by which their uniqueness is promoted and protected.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state30

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • Given these contradictory tendencies, what is the future of the nation-state? How does Biswas answer this question?


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state31

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • The real question is what national identity or state identity will mean in the face of globalization and fragmentation. Here, too, the answer is unclear.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state32

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • There is a possibility that these identities will broaden and be based more on supranational entities, such as the UN or the EU. But the author doesn’t think this can go too far – i.e., there almost certainly will never be a world government.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state33

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • At the same time, the author does see more of a possibility that national identity may become a less meaningfully tied to specific territories (that is, a nation-state); if this happens, a whole new world of possibilities will emerge.

  • If this happens, it will be much easier to ask questions about those things that transcend national borders—human rights, the global environment, a non-national political community, alternative modes of democratic governance, and so on.


Global politics and the state biswas w h ither the nation state34

Global Politics and the StateBiswas: W(h)ither the Nation-State?

Globalization and Fragmentation

  • Concluding Point: Although the author does not say so, the path we take ultimately depends on the role that people play in global politics.


Global politics and the state beck beyond the nation state

Global Politics and the StateBeck: “Beyond the Nation-State”

  • Basic Position: Beck focuses primarily on neoliberal globalization or the economic aspects of globalization and how this has affected local control, largely in negative terms.

  • According to Beck, what is globalization doing to most societies? (Discuss)


Global politics and the state beck beyond the nation state1

Global Politics and the StateBeck: “Beyond the Nation-State”

  • How do you think Beck would respond to the argument being made by the authors of Global Politics as if People Mattered? (Discuss)


Global politics and the state beck beyond the nation state2

Global Politics and the StateBeck: “Beyond the Nation-State”

  • Beck’s position is well-reflected in the following statement:

  • “The debate must begin on how responsible globalization can be politically molded and achieved. The age of globality should bring not the end of politics but a new beginning, through the growth of transnational states, such as the European Union, the development of international law, the rise of trade unions and consumer groups that cut across national boundaries, as Greenpeace and Amnesty International do. The paradoxical principle for states is one of self-empowerment through self-deprivation of power. Only by co-operating with others can post-national states renew and expand their capacity to influence events.”


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