The Westphalia Model of Sovereignty of 1648 was the birth of the sovereign Nation-State. It implied that all nations are equal under the eyes of a just world government; the national considerations, identities, economies, weighed as equal and their individual capacity to inviolably exist as a sovereign and lasting principle.
Globalization has given a new meaning to this supremely idealistic document, radical in its high-mindedness, and utterly classic in its total abdication of political reality. It may be said, that the conceptual birth of this sovereign nation-state, was the first sentence inscribed in the legacy of modern Globalization. The Nation-State was the seed for the incipient Global Order.
According to Jean-Marie Guehenno (2000) “What distinguishes a national community, as the Europeans have defined it, from all other communities lies in this: it brings people together not for what they are but for the memory of what they have been. A nation has no other definition but historical. It is the locus of a common history, of common misfortunes, and of common triumphs” (pg. 4).
Globalization aims to foster distinct and interrelated economic ties between nation-states to a point where breaching established ties and trade norms effect deep negative socioeconomic externalities.
Guehenno (2000) adds, “Territory (spatial proximity) is of dwindling importance, now that not only agriculture but industry, too, represents a decreasing part of economic activity. To be master of the cultivable land in order to be able to feed oneself was for long the principal political objective of men who had become sedentary. As industry developed, the control of raw materials on the one hand and the necessity to gather thousands of men in the mines on the other contributed to link economic activity to a certain organization of space. Because industry dealt in cumbersome materials and concentrated large numbers of men in one place, space was of the essence. In an automobile- the characteristic industrial product of the first half of the twentieth century- raw materials represent 30 percent to 40 percent of its value. In an electronic component, the symbol of the new age, raw materials barely represent 1 percent” (pg. 8).
The commonly needed products and services designed and freely marketed towards a great pool of human beings bridge otherwise divisive and distinct gaps in culture, idiom, and attitudes, replacing those social barriers to entry with coerced economic ones.
“The world is becoming more abstract, more immaterial. Wealth has become less and less tangible. In the formation of value, it is more and more difficult to localize its material components. And value is based on the capacity to be accessed. Someone who has access to the files of the fifty thousand richest people in France is wealthier than the jeweler who owns a gold brooch: as soon as penury disappeared, value was created in bringing together the right offer with the right demand. So, with the revolution in telecommunications, the network is divested of territoriality: we have passed from a network of navigable waterways and railroads to an infrastructure of air transport and telecommunications that has profoundly upset the notion of space” >(Guehenno, 2000).
The fact of this coercion is opposite to an ideological coercion, where in the case of the latter a defined concrete idea is a sanction and established through archetypical constructs, carefully policed, and established as the status-quo.
This ideological coercion is the distinct feature of the nation-state. It sells itself as a product, as an identity, inspiring a following by manipulating localized ideas: nationalism, ethnic exclusivity, cultural uniqueness, a flag, a national anthem, social programs (most pejorative of which is ‘Education’), and other social idiosyncrasies and peculiarities that we attribute to the distinctiveness of nation-states.
What would the Frenchman for instance be, if he did not wear a beret? He would obviously be a Frenchman who does not wear a beret; therefore not so much a Frenchman but rather, more in the make of a European: ‘white’ and continental. This is naturally, the concept of European Union.
Globalization however, transcends in its ultimate phase, the concept of European identity: the white pigmentation, the cultural consciousness, is still too limiting for its pervasive, all encompassing appetite to normalize across a broader, what it calls more “equitable”; spectrum.
Free-market, with its universal brand merchandizing, common economic context, and consumption patterns, eliminates all inhibitions to associate freely. Free association and a totally non-heterogeneous identity is the only way, and the ideal way, in which trade can occur. There is a cultural agreement in what one wants.
“Since embracing world trade and moving away from Communist policies in favor of what is increasingly a free-market, China has become a major producer of world goods. We do not suffer because Chinese are doing better today than 25 years ago. We benefit from it because we can buy goods that are cheaper or better or just more desirable. Likewise if Africa, North Korea and all the other countries embrace proper economic policies, including free-trade and globalization, we will again benefit from the products of their brains and labor” says David Storobin (2005).
The Chinese peasant foregoes his appetite for rat-meat sautéed in traditional sauce and vinegar, he prefers rather, McDonald’s magical meat, assembled in machines with artificial concoctions invoking the deepest of human desires in palate (measured combination of salt, flesh consistency, and flavor) to Scientific precision and infallibly pleasing; joining the modern palate of the modern Greek, the modern Zulu, the modern Estonian, and naturally, the modern American: the epitomy of a quasi-post-modern modernity.
According to Marion Nestle (2003) “…Important reason for low food prices is that the government subsidizes food production in ways that are rarely evident. The most visible subsidies are price supports for sugar and milk, but taxpayers also support production quotas, market quotas, import restrictions, deficiency payments, lower tax rates, low-cost land leases, land management, water rights, and marketing and promotion programs for major food commodities. The total cost of agricultural subsidies rose rapidly at the end of the twentieth century from about $18 billion in 1996 to $28 billion in 2000” (pg.19).
In appearance Globalization does not seem like a coercion, because the coercion is more automatic, and deceptively, seductively, low profile. It is more voluntary. After all, when the mind is fully normalized, the consensus is technically fully democratic: mental discrimination succumbs to a sense of “righteousness”.
It is the manipulation of instinct, not intellect. It does not propose to create an Aryan Superman, a Selfless Proletariat, or even a Conservative Capitalist. It meticulously analyzes thinking itself and brilliantly commodifies and quantifies the dollar values and appeal of human experience. It addresses basic cravings and biological tendencies, and it despises the intellectual.
The Aryan Superman, the Selfless Proletariat, and the Conservative Capitalist all come together in the panacea of a fast food lifestyle, chased away from their personal kitchens by automatic volition and an “I’m way too busy to cook” philosophy. They have no time to contemplate and pontificate or frankly, care, about each other’s exclusivity, each one, normalized in the long, eager, line in front of the checkout counter.
“In 2000 the number of overweight people in the world for the first time matched the number of undernourished people- 1.1 billion each…In the early 1960s, the French diet contained just 25% of calories from fat, but the proportion now approaches 40% as a result of increased intake of meat, diary, and processed food. Despite contentions that the French are protected from heart disease by their wine consumption (a phenomena known as the French Paradox), they are getting fatter by the day and experiencing increased rates of diabetes and other health consequences of overeating and overweight” >(Nestle, 2003).
In relentless advertisements of the female form in its meta-normal slenderness, in its surreal shapeliness, in its unfettered sexiness, Globalization addresses the very crux of human existence: the human biology: the psychosomatic animal: the noblé-sauvage.
Psychologist Barbara A. Cohen (1984) observes “The achievement and maintenance of thinness and beauty is a major female pastime, as reflected by all of the magazines, newspaper articles, T.V. shows, commercials, idealized role models, and books that are aimed at the female audience. This endeavor consumes an enormous portion of the females’ time, energy and money, leaving her little time for other activities and/or important life issues. But, we as women play a major role in perpetuating our culture’s ridiculous ideals by buying into the image with the purchase of the magazines, diet books, beauty books and designer clothes thrust upon us, rather than developing an acceptable, personal idealized image of our own.”
Propaganda is present here, in the sense that it is creating an ‘ideal’: an ideal that must be accepted if profit margins are to be maintained and increased. Yet, the multiplicity of choices, a carefully cultivated illusion, (after all, if one is exposed to 10,000 different seven second ad-bites promoting in some distinct way human sexuality in different presentations, one is still participating in the premise of sexuality: an Ideal of One. The multiplicity is deceptive: the premise is singular, the heterogeneity absent.
The individual is content to “choose”: he/she perceives these “choices” as the crystallization of Democracy, it is in fact, the American Dream. It is absurd therefore, and being absurd, evil, to hate America. “They hate us for our freedoms”. Of course. Sure. Naturally. Uh-Huh.
Chalmers Johnson ( 2004) reports, “By 2002, international meetings of the globalizing powers were drawing protests half a million strong. By and large globalists, assisted by the big media corporations, chose to vilify the protestors. Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain declared them to be “anti-democratic hooligans: and a “traveling circus of anarchists”. Robert Zoellick, U.S. trade representative in the second Bush administration, compared the protestors to the September 11 terrorists by archly suggestion, “It is inevitable that people will wonder if there are intellectual connections with others who have turned to violence to attack international finance, globalization, and the United States” (pg. 275).
Refusing Globalization, therefore is the perfect reason to wage war against “injustice” and “undemocratic” peoples. Eventually they would also become, in the second phase of incipient Globalization, a European Union, a Middle Eastern Union, a Banana Republic Union.
Rejecting the interconnectedness of Globalization would create in repercussion inevitable economic negative externalities such as war, famine, disorder, IMF “structural loans”; and social externalities such as a return to social xenophobia, and social alienation. In this last capacity, the nation-state, the ideologue and “moral precedent” remains intact, a willing counterpart of Globalization, just as the Papal system’s willing executioner once was the Monarchy. “Thou shall not deny democracy, lest thou art a member of the Satanic, infernal, heathen-like, Axis of Evil, for under the eyes of God, all men are created perfectly equal”. The analogy is apt.
The days of Nation-State as economic entities are extinct.
Consumerism has become a raison d’etre for human existence, carefully and deliberately designed that way by Neoliberal Economics and transnational corporatism; designed to be seen as indispensable.
The relaxing of, and cultural antagonism against traditional thinking marketed as democracy has spelled extinction for national identity, and by extension credence and persuasion of the nation-state. Tax dollars are converted into a Neoliberal agenda favoring corporations, and very effectively diminishing the welfare limbs of the Nation-State.
Also eschewed is the capacity of the Nation State (with the introduction of the floating-currency exchange system, in particular) to regulate its own economic discipline, leaving each Nation-State vulnerable to manipulation by a greater “international market”.
Nation-States continue to remain nevertheless, the police, the military, and the education entities: critical means of proselytizing, persuading, and persevering in a single ideology that resembles “Order”, “Morality” and other such cryptic concepts, easily molded to fit the greater, non-governmental, non-national economic model.
Indeed, as Margaret Thatcher declared, this is TINA: There is No Alternative.
The traditional separation of the Church and State may just have been then the harbinger of the contemporary, growing, separation of the Nation-State Order from the New World Order.
Storbin, D. (2005, Jan 27). In defense of globalization, free-trade and free-market. Global Politician, Retrieved Dec 13, 2005, from http://globalpolitician.com/articleshow.asp?ID=324&cid=12&sid=54.
Johnson, C. (2004). The sorrows of empire. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Guehenno, J. (2000). The end of the nation-state. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Nestle, M. (2003). Food politics. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Cohen, B. (1984). The psychology of ideal body image.