« Paul Krugman: Severe Conservative Syndrome | Main | Links for 2012-02-14 »

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rodrik: The Nation-State Reborn

Dani Rodrik argues that the demise of the nation state is not as close as you may have been led to believe:

The Nation-State Reborn, by Dani Rodrik, Commentary, Project Syndicate: One of our era’s foundational myths is that globalization has condemned the nation-state to irrelevance. The revolution in transport and communications, we hear, has vaporized borders and shrunk the world. New modes of governance ... are ... supplanting national lawmakers. Domestic policymakers, it is said, are largely powerless in the face of global markets.
The global financial crisis has shattered this myth. Who bailed out the banks,... engaged in fiscal stimulus, and provided the safety nets for the unemployed...? Who is re-writing the rules on financial-market ... regulation to prevent another occurrence? ... The answer is always the same: national governments. The G-20, the International Monetary Fund, and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision have been largely sideshows. ...
Yet even as the nation-state survives, its reputation lies in tatters. ... First, there is the critique by economists who view governments as an impediment to the freer flow of goods, capital, and people around the world. Prevent domestic policymakers from intervening with their regulations and barriers, they say, and global markets will take care of themselves,... creating a more integrated and efficient world economy. But who will provide the market’s rules and regulations, if not nation-states? Laissez-faire is a recipe for more financial crises and greater political backlash. ...
Second, there are cosmopolitan ethicists who decry the artificiality of national borders. ... It is unclear how much of this is wishful thinking and how much is based on real shifts in identities and attachments. Survey evidence shows that attachment to the nation-state remains quite strong. ...
The trouble is that we are still in the grasp of the myth of the nation-state’s decline. Political leaders plead impotence, intellectuals dream up implausible global-governance schemes, and the losers increasingly blame immigrants or imports. ...
To be sure,... we should not entirely dismiss the likelihood that a true global consciousness will develop in the future, along with transnational political communities.
But today’s challenges cannot be met by institutions that do not (yet) exist. For now, people still must turn for solutions to their national governments, which remain the best hope for collective action. The nation-state may be a relic bequeathed to us by the French Revolution, but it is all that we have.

    Posted by on Monday, February 13, 2012 at 10:35 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (29)


    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.