Power of the Nation-State in Terminal Decline


The increase or decrease of nation – state’s power can be best understood by looking at how globalization has affected it. In a book by Held (1999), globalization may be explained as the expansion, ineptness, and acceleration of global interconnectedness in the social, cultural, economic, and spiritual aspects of life. A debate on globalization has culminated in three schools of thought namely: Hyperglobalizers, skeptics, and transformationalists.

According to hyperglobalizers, current globalization defines a new period where most people worldwide are following the demands of the global marketplace. Skeptics argue that globalization blindfolds one from seeing the truth about the international economy divided into some blocs where governments are retaining their great power.

According to the transformationalists, globalization is leading to a change in both states and societies as they strive to get into a more interconnected but yet unclear world. In brief, hyperglobalizers argue that globalization is reducing the power of a nation-state; skeptics are opposed to this while transformationalists hold a neutral standpoint. This works aims at discussing the effect of globalization on the power of a nation-state from these three schools of thought.

The Hyperglobalist school of thought (The power of a nation-state is in terminal decline)

Globalization marks a long journey in human history where the conventional national states have not only become artificial but have also lost their position in the worldwide economy. It is argued that globalization eliminates the nationalization of economies through the establishment of international networks of production, commerce, and finance. In this boundless economy, the role of national governments is reduced to either mere transmissions of capital or intermediaries overpowered by local, regional or worldwide forms of governance. In this vein, most hyperglobalizers think that economic globalization is putting up new forms of social set-ups that may with time disempower the conventional nation-states as the Chief economic and political portions of our contemporary society.

Despite varying conceptions, there exists a bottom line that globalization is an economic concept, that an elaborate interconnected world economy exists and the demand for global capital compels governments to develop an economic discipline such that a government’s political function is not defined by the possibility but rather by the practice of reasonable economic management. There are also claims that economic globalization is not only leading to both winners and losers in the economy but also to a replacement of the conventional structure by the new worldwide division of labor with a more complex mechanism of economic power, which gives governments the responsibility of managing the social effects of globalization on both social democratic models of democracy and the welfare state policies.

Globalization may be closely associated with the widening gap between the rich and the poor in the global economy. This ought not to be so since in the neo-liberal context, global economic rivalry must always result in visible impacts. Even though some groups within a certain nation may not be better off, almost all countries have a common advantage of producing some goods that can be used for quite a long time.

Neo-Marxists do not concur with such a view on grounds that it is unjustified, maintaining that global capitalism contributes to inequality not only within a nation but also between nations. However, they have a common point of agreement with their Neo-liberal friends that social protection options within the traditional context are becoming threatened and hard to maintain. For the contemporary marginalized, the global consumerist concept also brings in an aspect of identity, substituting conventional cultures and ways of life.

The worldwide diffusion of liberal democracy further contributes to an element of global civilization guided by worldwide levels of political and economic structures. The global civilization is characterized by its aspects of global governance such that states and people are continuously being ruled by authorities at either the regional or global level.

In a book by Albrow (1997), the rise of organizations of global leadership, and the world wide spread and blending of cultures are seen as the epitome of the new world order that seeks to lead an end of the nation-states. Given that the national economy is subject to both international and global interactions, as opposed to the basic confines of the national socio-economic operations, the power and validity of a nation-state are put into question making it difficult for national governments to be able to regulate incidences within their jurisdiction or to meet the requirements of their people. Additionally, as global and regional institutions expand, the sovereignty and independence of the state are also diminished.

On the other hand, the conditions surrounding the interaction of people from all nations within this global context are advantageous given global communication networks and the rising enlightenment on many interests. This spells out evidence of an emerging global civil society. Both economic and political power are being spread away from the nations such that nation-states are becoming dynamic vehicles for managing economic affairs.

The skeptical perspective (Globalization cannot terminate the power of nation-states)

According to this view, contemporary economic interdependence is not in any way historically unparalleled. According to a study by Hirst and Thompson (1999), Instead of globalization, which from the skeptical standpoint simply implies an interconnected global economy where the singularity of price dominates, the historical evidence only reveals interactions between national economies.

In their argument about globalization being a myth, skeptics rely on the concept of economic globalization and equate it with a perfectly interconnected worldwide market. By arguing that degrees of integration fall short of the expected standards and that the current form of integration remains much less important than the nineteenth century’s, the skeptics are at liberty to declare that the level of the current globalization is fully overstated. In this vein, skeptics regard the hyper globalized theory as not only fundamentally wrong but also politically wanting since it overlooks the ability of national governments to control their economic activities with other nations.

Rather than being without control, the globalization forces are themselves determined by the role of national governments to ensure that there is ongoing economic emancipation. Skeptics appreciate the fact that if the current situation indicates anything, it is that economic development is being regionalized as the global economy changes into the direction of three major blocs: Europe, Asia Pacific, and North America (Ruigrok and Tulder, 1995, p. 309).

Internationalization can lead to the economic growth of national governments

Skeptics regard globalization and regionalization as two conflicting aspects. It is also asserted that about the era of global empires, the international economy has not become so much global in its geographic settings. Skeptics also tend to oppose the fact that internationalization is likely to result in the surfacing of a new, less state-oriented world order. Rather than regarding the weakening of national governments due to internationalism, they depict their growth in regulating cross border commerce.

Most skeptics agree with the fact that whatever may be its causes, internationalization has not gone along with the attrition of North-south inequalities but rather by the increasing marginalization of most third world states as the rich north continues to experience high economic growth compared to other parts of the globe.

Transnational economization cannot weaken national governments

Additionally, the skeptical thesis disregards the fact that internationalization is resulting in great changes in global economic relations. Generally, skeptics reject the idea that the power of national governments is being diluted in the contemporary world by global governance or transnational economization. It is argued that globalization and state doings have gone on in the cycle. Government policies have not been adversely affected by the open operations of foreign capital markets and that there has been no connection between government expenditure and resource flows (Krasner, 1999, p.223).

Transformationalist’s school of thought

On the other hand, transformationalists assert that apart from globalization being attributed to a new era of sovereignty, it is also associated with the upcoming forms of political and economic structures in the global setting such as multinational organizations and international social movements. In this perspective, World order cannot be conceived as a function of the operations of the state but rather as authority that has greatly spread out to both private and public agencies at all levels. Nation-states are no longer the main sources of principal forms of power globally.

Works cited

Albrow, M., 1999. Sociology: The Basics. London: Routledge.

Held, D., 1999. Global Transformations: Politics, Economy and Culture. California: Stanford University Press.

Hirst, P. and Thompson, G., 1999. Globalization in Question: The International Economy and the possibilities. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Krasner, S., 1999. Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Ruigrok, W. and Tulder, R., 1995. The Logic of International Restructuring. London: Routledge.