Nation-State under Globalisation

Presently, there is a growing trend to reduce the role of the state and hand over many state concerns to the world-market.

The nation-state is in trouble and may not survive the growing pressures from within and without.

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The nation-state today is in disarray. It is ceasing to be the central mechanism of the nation and is in the process of acute fragmentation, multiple polarisations and likely disintegration. Both the retreat of the state and erosion of the nation are going hand in hand.

Autonomy of civil society is declining. Retreat of state in domestic field has resulted in its decline in the international field also. Increasing dominance of new world order is strengthening authoritarian structure of governance. Masses are alienating from the ruling strata. The number of ‘dharnas’, strikes, rebellion and ‘bandhs’ against the government is on increase. Culture of violence is growing. The concept of one world is moving to ‘one worldism’. This one Worldism has been hijacked by global capitalism. All these call for new theoretical reconsiderations on relationships among power, ideology and institutions.

Some other major consequences of globalisation have been:

(i) The dislo­cation of traditional religions and belief systems;

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(ii) The beginning of the disintegration of the traditional social fabrics and shared norms by consum­erism, cyber-culture, newfangled religions and changing work ethics and work rhythms;

(iii) The fast spreading anomie forcing an ever increasing number of individuals to fall back upon the easily accessible pretentious religious banalities; and

(iv) Religion related creation and acceleration of extremist, fundamentalist and terrorist tendencies in the third world countries.

The state had statism. Statism entails governance that is for all intents and purposes reducible to the state. Owing to transplanetary and supraterritorial connectivity and half a century of accelerated globalisation statist conditions no longer exist. Governance now involves suprastate (regional and trans world) regimes that operate with some autonomy from the state. Many sub-state, municipal and provincial governments engage directly with spheres beyond their country.

The Westphalian sovereign state did not share governance over its realm with any other party. Globalisation has made that sovereignty obsolete. The state is unable to exercise control over so many things like electronic mass media, global trade, global currencies, trans world ecological development, etc. Trans world bonds on lines such as class, gender, profession, race, religion etc. have overridden national boundaries. The world has moved into ‘the twilight of sovereignty” or ‘beyond sovereignty’. Sovereignty is no longer sacrosanct and it has lost much of its significance.

It has become obsolescent but has not ended. There is ‘partial’ or ‘shrunken’ sovereignty as states have surrendered their prerog­ative in certain areas. States enjoy ‘limited’, ‘qualified’ or ‘shared’ sovereignty. Some have recommended ‘enlightened sovereignty’, where states presently cede control in areas subject to universally agreed norms and values. Clearly, the statist conditions to which sovereignty referred in the past are gone. States are impotent in the phase of contemporary globalisation. They can only shape the effects of globalisation on their terri­tories and populations.

However, it does not mean the end of state. It survives despite dismem­berment and fragmentation. Its territorialism has passed away but its territoriality remains. In fact, it has never remained fixed. It has been perpetually in motion, evolving, adapting and incorporating. Now it has to address global matters such as ecological change, electronic finance, human rights and trans world production, trans world telecommunications, super-territorial mass media operations etc.

There is pressure on its welfarism, such as, provision of education, health care, housing, pensions and the like. Globalisation has undermined the fiscal capacities of states. Globality has reduced some incentives for interstate warfare. There is little focus on territorial conquests.

The latter no longer give control over the internet, electronic finance, trans world production chains, global consumer markets, trans planetary ecological trends, or global governance regimes. The recent ‘war on terror’ has involved satellite remote sensing, monitoring of bank accounts, and hacking into computers along with armed combat.

Defence, trade and foreign ministry officials from different states collab­orate in non-proliferation export regimes. They engage as members of the nuclear suppliers group and the missile technology control regime in respect of materials that could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction. Similarly, officials are now more and more busy to deal with the problems of disease control, asylum and refugees on a global scale.

The MOUs (memorandum of understanding), in contrast to treaties, do not require ratification by legislative bodies, so that trans-state relation can easily become technocratic networks that operate outside democratic oversight. States have entered the era of macro-regional and trans-world governance.

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