Saturday, October 7, 2017

"Why nation-states are good"

Yesterday two Alphavilleins, Izabella Kaminska on Twitter and Kadhim Shubber in the Further Reading post highlighted this Dani Rodrik essay at Aeon.

We've been kicking around ideas on how to profit from a devolution of power from larger entities (nation-states) to smaller (city-states) should said devolution occur. So, stealing a way of thinking from Eisenhower, in another context, obvs.:
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
 - Dwight D. Eisenhower
Our most recent piece on what may or may not be a phenomena was last month's "Return of the City-State, Or: The End of the Nation State May Be Upon Us" which also linked to Aeon.

I'm not sure where Kadhim comes down on the structure-of-power thing but I suspect Izabella might not be aghast at a return to prominence of the Baltic City-States although probably not the Hanseatic League.

From Aeon:

Why nation-states are good
The nation-state remains the best foundation for capitalism, and hyper-globalisation risks destroying it
The populist revolt of our day reflects the deep rift that has opened between the worldview of the global intellectual and professional elites, and that of ordinary citizens. These two groups now live in parallel social worlds and orient themselves using different cognitive maps. Yet the intellectual consensus that brought us to this chasm remains intact. Proposed remedies among mainstream thought leaders rarely go beyond an invocation of the problem of inequality, and a bit more focus on compensating the losers.

But the problem lies deeper, in elites’ attachment to a globalist mindset that underplays and weakens the nation-state. Without a shift, we might find not only our open global economy, but also our liberal, democratic order swept away by the backlash wrought by the blind spots and excesses of this mindset.

Among the intelligentsia, the nation-state finds few advocates. Most often, it is regarded as ineffectual – morally irrelevant, or even reactionary – in the face of the challenges posed by globalisation. Economists and centrist politicians tend to view globalism’s recent setbacks as regrettable, fuelled by populist and nativist politicians who managed to capitalise on the grievances of those who feel they have been left behind and deserted by the globalist elites. Last October, the British prime minister Theresa May ignited an outcry when she disparaged the idea of global citizenship. ‘If you believe you’re a citizen of the world,’ she said, ‘you’re a citizen of nowhere.’
Markets need regulatory and legitimising institutions to thrive – consumer-safety rules, bank regulations, central banks, social insurance and so on. When it comes to providing the arrangements that markets rely on, the nation-state remains the only effective actor, the only game in town. Our elites’ and technocrats’ obsession with globalism weakens citizenship where it is most needed – at home – and makes it more difficult to achieve economic prosperity, financial stability, social inclusion and other desirable objectives. As we’ve all seen, elite globalism also opens political paths for Right-wing populists to hijack patriotism for destructive ends.

The globalist worldview is grounded in the argument that an interconnected world economy requires collective action at the global level. But this premise is largely false. The conventional picture of the world economy as a ‘global commons’ – one in which all nations would be driven to economic ruin unless they cooperate – is misleading. If economic policies fail, they most often do so for domestic not international reasons. Global governance remains crucial in some areas, for example climate change or health pandemics, where the provision of global public goods is essential. But in the economic sphere the best way in which nations can serve the global good is by putting their own economic house in order.....MORE