New Regionalism in a Multi-Polar World Core readings: Schmidt, Johannes Dragsbaek (2007) Social Compacts in Regional and Global Perspective, Canadian Journal of Development Studies, vol. 28, number 3-49
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Core readings: Schmidt, Johannes Dragsbaek (2007) Social Compacts in Regional and Global Perspective, Canadian Journal of Development Studies, vol. 28, number 3-49
Deacon, Bob (2001) The Social Dimension of Regionalism. A Constructive Alternative to Neo-Liberal Globalization
Guerrero, Dorothy (2001) Regionalisms and Alternative Regionalisms in Asia and the Pacific Basin, Project Discussion Paper No. 5/2001, University of Duisburg, (Institute for East Asian Studies/East Asian Politics)
http://www.wun.ac.uk/cks/teaching/horizons/documents/robertson/Guerrero.pdf Secondary readings: Dieter, Heribert and Richard Higgott (2002) Exploring alternative theories of economic regionalism: From trade to finance in Asian co-operation, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation, University of Warwick,
Söderbaum, Fredrik and Timothy M. Shaw (2003) Theories of New Regionalism, A Palgrave Macmillan Reader, Chapter 1 and 2
The main argument is that we have reached the end of globalization and will probably move into a period of renewed nationalism and protectionism.
It seems that energy depletion and climate change are important factors converging with a global economic meltdown, exacerbating it and creating the grim post-neoliberal collapse of the world economy.
There are specific and uncovered strengths for mobilizing an alternative in the informal sector.
Finally these discussions are put into the greater picture concerning the current debate about rights, democracy and civil society based organizations in Asia and Europe under the cacophony of crises.
Furthermore the unequal distribution of health-damaging experiences “is not in any sense a ‘natural’ phenomenon but is the result of a toxic combination of poor social policies and programmes, unfair economic arrangements, and bad politics”
“…. unequal distribution is not in any sense a ‘natural’ phenomenon but is the result of policies that prize the interests of some over those of others – all too often of a rich and powerful minority over the interests of a disempowered majority”
“….. social injustice is killing people on a grand scale”
The deep systemic causes of the social and environmental dramas unfolding around us are related to the growth of endless consumption, increasing levels of inequality, and the unwise institutional pathology which to a very large degree has been induced by US administrations. The neoliberal imperative has depleted the natural life support system of the planet, disrupted hydrology and climate systems, and is indeed threatening human survival
The contagion effects of the crisis of capitalism represents nothing less than what Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy aptly described as a "gigantic system of speculating, swindling, and cheating." It has reached the global level and pose tremendous challenges to people’s organizations, solidarity movements and those who fight for increasing social, political and ecological rights of ordinary people. The dominant response on both left and right is the call for more regulation and government intervention. But this answer “fails to shed light on the convergence of interests of business and political elites as well as the ongoing class war that has eviscerated the ranks of unionized labor, stagnated wages, and casualized workers across all sectors of the economy”
In principle this crisis could be resolved by a major systemic shake-up, involving (for example) new economic doctrines and new forms of international relations.
In this respect, regional social compacts ought to be understood as constructed endeavours of resistance by social actors in response to the looming crisis of contemporary international capitalism. In this sense, the regional dimensions of structural change have been something of an inconvenience for the less reflexive globalizers who have used the hegemonic discourse of globalisation to dispense with any meaningful notion of a national state
To claim that there are oppositional regional resistances and in some cases like the power structured WTO alliances to this may seem challenging. However it might be the only route out of the crisis of a dysfunctional global governance system and at the same time the only “rational choice” of policy makers, politicians, and other socieral actors.
Thus I claim that it is possible to identify four regional social compacts all based on different institutional structures and cultural orientations - from government monetary, fiscal and industrial policies to labor legislation, work ethic, trust and even the creation of new identities. Regionalism itself constitutes an element of an increasingly complex system of governance operating at a variety of levels in which questions about public goods, welfare, economic organisation and political participation are addressed
1) The Anglo-Saxon political and economic liberalist compact which still is the dominant global model claims that coping with globalization - maximizing gains and minimizing risks - requires flexible domestic economic structures so that economic agents can adapt speedily and effectively to external pressures. Small rule-bound government upholding property and contract, within which framework private actors interact freely on the basis of a decentralized world price-mechanism, best serves national flexibility. Here the deregulated labor market is prevalent. This model is furthermore characterized by weak labor unions and lack of bargaining power.
3) The East and Southeast Asian Model, including China and Japan, has been characterized by a corporatist arrangement without labor, and a substantial state involvement in economic affairs. This compact relies on a specific type of highly cohesive and disciplined civil society, structured by strong developmentalist institutions and orientations, which is easy to mobilize for collective action and protects society from the dysfunctions of possessive individualism, excessive competition, and noncooperative, particularistic rationality. By putting ‘politics in command’ the developmental state in East Asia played an important role in the capitalist growth process. The developmental state restrains market rationality in order to pursue a policy of industrialization and growth per se. China plays a major role as catalyst and fascilitator in the creation of an East Asian alternative to US hegemony.
4) There are other important attempts to redress existing or new defensive regional social compacts There are interesting similarities as well as important differences between the SARDC, African Union and MERCOSUR and ALBA regions. The most important being that Southern Africa has spend numerous efforts and energy on reconciliation and the creation of stability and security in the aftermath of apartheid and wars. The experience of resistance has been heroic regardless of the conditionalities of the IFIs in the region. Venezuela plays an important role together with Brazil in Latin America but it remains to be seen whether it is a viable counter-hegemonic project!
The Latin American and African models today are characterized by a massive restructuring of capital-labor relations. The contraction of domestic markets, the dismantling of “uncompetitive” national industry, the growth of the informal economy, revised labor codes directed at making labor flexible and austerity programs have resulted in the informalization of the work force, mass under- and unemployment, a compression of real wages, and a transfer of income from labor to capital, but as mentioned new types of pro-active regionalisms are emerging
This is indeed the case in corporate driven EU where the central problem is its undemocratic nature which partly translates into more and more EU scepticism on the part of the European populations. We are witnessing a swing back to national agendas taking precedence over regional problem-solving; furthermore the general lack of democratic transparency – the socalled democratic deficit - in the commission and the European Council and the lack of real democracy has together with the stalemate surrounding the constitution turned the vulnerable segments of the populations against the EU.
Another reason why democracy and human rights are in jeopardy in Europe is the migrant issue and the campaign against terror which has created a draconian climate of fear, extra-judicial detention and expulsion of socalled illegal immigrants leading to serious violation of human rights and a virtual and physical surveillance system of Orwellian scope. Combined anti-terror laws and European foreign policy support for the wars in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and the hostility towards real democratization, secularism and human rights in the region show the hypocrisy involved and create the real paradox – more fear and more terror – thus paving the way for an authoritarian solution to the present financial crisis!
In the context of the mood against economic and political refugees, xenophobia fuels rightwing “identity politics” in Europe
We see the introduction of measures limiting civic rights in European and other Western societies. This solution potentially prepares the ground for a proto-type of fascism which can be used against progressives and labor movements in case the economic crisis becomes politically uncontrollable
In fact the question we may ask in Europe (and the US) today is whether the political and economic elites are looking to China for a model to solve the inherent contradictions between individual human rights in the political sense and economic efficiency and profit!
What is at stake for anti-systemic forces is first and foremost to acknowledge that it is not the removal of market failure or governing the market that is important. In the last instance, such an approach re-legitimizes capitalism as a socio-economic system based on class differentiation and competition, thereby representing more of an alternance than an alternative to real existing capitalism
In the contemporary international system, two types of actors are seeking a return to a multipolar international order.
One is China, whose dramatic ascendancy poses the most serious
challenge to the post-Cold War balance of power.
Another country seeking multipolarityis France, which asserted its independence from the US by refusing to endorse the Bush administration’s
plans to invade Iraq.
Both see American hegemony as a grave threat to world order, challenging the possibility of both peace and justice.
But China is a rising power, while France by itself is not.
China’s desire for multipolarity is hence motivated to a greater degree by its perception of American dominance as a threat to its own regional power ambitions. And while China’s is largely a national quest for multipolarityFrance’s is framed within a “Euro-nationalism”- calls the EU to become an actor in the world stage to counterbalance the United States.”
Seven Great Powers
Global Great Depression
Democracies deeply fearful of war and fail to maintain balance of power
No consensus on international system and No moral-intellectual consensus
International law and League weak ‘
Universal pursuit of ‘national interests
Germany, Italy and Japan reckless
No monolithic Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis, but great threat to democracies, USSR and China
Military developments not major barrier to war
Two Superpowers, three Great Powers
Western, Communist, Third World economic ills
Democracies refuse to “think about the unthinkable”
No consensus on international system and No moral-intellectual consensus
International law and U.N. weak
Universal pursuit of national interests
Russia and China both cautious
No monolithic Communist bloc, indeed deep and bitter Moscow-Peking rift
Nuclear weapons major deterrent to total war, but may not maintain balance of power