Globalization and the Nation State

Globalization and the nation state

8th e-Lecture on Globalization and the Nation State by Prof Rajen Harshe, Founder and former Vice- Chancellor of Central University of Allahabad.

The speaker outlined the essential points of the lecture as follows:

The current phase of globalisation, post-Cold War

Salient features of Globalization, and the intertwining of capitalism and globalisation.

Definition of a nation, nation-state and their functions. How is the nation-state affecting the process of globalisation? 

Imperialism and gloablaisation. 

The disintegration of the Soviet Union marked an important event in the history of world affairs. In 1970, Russia became a communist county providing an alternative to the Capitalist economy. It wanted to provide equality of opportunities to all and create a utopia for consumption, exchange and production of goods. But, in 1991 the Soviet Union disintegrated giving rise to the dominant, capitalist economy.

The speaker defined “globalisation” as a complex, multi-faceted and varying social process where the world is recognized as a single unit- a global village, with time and space being compressed. The global village is connected through advanced international communication technologies, which is a passage to the free flow of capital, knowledge, ideas, finance, goods, drugs, terror and disease.

Not only has technology widened the gap of cooperation but of conflict too. Issues of climate change, violation of human rights, ecological imbalances, the rise of multinational terrorist groups, etc cannot be tackled only by a nation-state. The setting up of the transnational communities is an important step towards combating these issues. Therefore, a nation-state is important when these alliances were struck. 

The fall of the Soviet Union and the Socialist ideas have gained a lot of disrepute. While Capitalism is the driving force of the world economy which is characterised by the following features:- 1. means of production are privately owned and controlled.

2. There exist a conflictual and cooperation relationship between wage labours and the capitalists.

3. The production process get socialized at every step.

4. Appropriation of profits

5. As the production process is socialised, there exists a surplus which gets accumulated on the world scale. 

Tran-national banks, firms and corporations are running the whole of the economy. The rise of capitalism has led to new ways of response from the nation-states, leading to the setting up of regional organisations, such as the North American free-trade agreement, Shangai corporation, European Union, South African Development Community etc. 

Since the 16th century, capitalism emerged as a theory and is still a complex system, taking up new roles and dimensions with each era. A striking feature of capitalism is that it can handle crisis well and flourish back.

Capitalism has different social bases, in Europe, its catalyst was the class system, in Japan the community, in South Africa the race, and in India the family-based capitalist. 

It is wrongly understood that only liberals are capitalists. In the course of history, authoritarian regimes like Nazis have also followed capitalism. 

 A major drawback of capitalism is the social inequality that exists which even reflects in the process of globalisation. 

Capitalism is an agent of globalisation and vice-versa. The emergence of capitalism has led to transnational regimes such as the World Trade Organisation, World Bank and IMF. Here, nation-states come together and sign agreements and abide by it. Thus, to carry this out a nation-state is essential. 

The state is a jurisdictional/legal entity. It has legitimate coercive force. It can levy taxes on its subjects and punish them for their wrongdoings. A nation is a psycho-cultural entity. It is an imagined community that ties with our culture. 

The theory of, “one nation one state”,  can never be achieved. According to the speaker, nation and state both are violent enterprises. For example, in Sri Lanka, the Tamilians are trying to assert their identity by fighting for a separate legal State. 

The speaker then elucidates on the different regions and their relationship of the nation-state. In Europe, the EU could not maintain its collaborative efforts for the common good, as each State tried to assert its dominance-the feeling of nationalism took over, consequently leading to Britain exit from the EU.

In Africa, State subverting nationalism is the new normal, in countries like Angola, Uganda the ethnic groups are trying to express their multicultural demands or nationalistic sentiments in the open. 

In Asia, diasporic nationalism is a key characteristic. Migrants from different countries, help in building the revenue of that State and in return the State also introduces laws protecting their interests.

 The speaker concluded his arguments with the relationship between imperialism and globalization.

Imperialism is an asymmetric power relationship of interdependence between materially advanced and backward societies. Imperialism still exists, powerful countries like China and the USA are on the run to claim their dominance. Their intervention in matters of human rights in various countries is an example of how imperialism is always a possibility. 

Therefore, nation-states need to be active and our a primary actor in international politics which will not only collaborate with others but also will work for the common good of the society. 

One of the questions asked was,  how is a nation different from trans-nation? To which the speaker replied when one crosses the nationality and State and strike something that works in a transnational firm in more than one nation-state, is a trans nation.  The trans here is not of a metaphysical kind but that of a physical trans.

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