Obsolescence of the Nation State?

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jk1921
Obsolescence of the Nation State?
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This was a very good article that correctly points to the tension in capitalist development between the creative-deastructive tendencies of capital as a social relation and the political needs of the nation-state to legitimate the system. I am not sure that we can say the nation-state is obsolete in a strict sense though. What we can say is that there is a real contradiction between these two different, but inextricably intertwined logics that is expressing itself in a concerted way today, as a result of the continuing crisis. Decomposition is also a factor in that the bourgeoisie itself is now sharply divided over these questions, threatening the legitimacy of its system. While the main factions of the bourgeoisie are still united behind a neo-liberal consensus that has seen the nation-state weaken over the last several decades to the point where its ideological, political and social capacity to bind the populace together in a kind of national-communitarianism is weaking, there is is now a kind of anti-consensus, insurgent wing of the bourgeoisie that is trying to reverse this process, but with the cosnequence of threatening the other pillar of bourgeois state ideology--democracy.

 

Where this ends up can't be concluded right now, but it is worth asking if the nation-state is becomming obsolete are there other ways that the system can be legitmated? It seems like there may be another trend afoot today in which people are coming to see themselves less as citizens of particular nations and more as members of expressive moral communities (that sometimes even transcend national boundaries). But can this really legitimate a system that is predicated on the economic competition between national capitals? From a certain perspective, captialist society is starting to look more like it did during its infancy in the early modern period, during the wars of religion, with various moral communities fighting one another in the manner of a crusade over issues of virtue and moral and religious purity, the saved vs. the damned. But it was precsiely the disintegrating effects of such a state of affairs that the development of the national state (enshrined as the dominant political form of modernity with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648) had to overcome. In this sense, for all its nastiness and viciousness and whatever threat it poses to democratic ideology, populism today may be a kind of political defense mechanism of the state against the worst instincts of capital to create too much change, too fast. But this again raises the question of what is more important to the continued legitimacy of the system: the nation or democracy? Can the two be reconciled anymore?

Tagore2
The state is a management

The state is a management committee of capitalists nationally and internationally: there is no opposition between capitalists and state.

The nation-state is obsolete in the sense that global labor productivity would be at least doubled without nation-states, even if capital continued to exist.

The imprisonment of the productive forces, especially the proletariat itself, between the arbitrary boundaries of nation-states prevents the optimal allocation of resources, even from a capitalist point of view.

Without nation-states, there would be an astronomical reallocation of resources worldwide, the movement of goods, services and men could be 5 times greater than the world trade.

jk1921
Tagore2 wrote:

Tagore2 wrote:

Without nation-states, there would be an astronomical reallocation of resources worldwide, the movement of goods, services and men could be 5 times greater than the world trade.

This may be true from a technical econometric point of view, but what is the meaning of it? Of course, more goods, services and people would move if there were no national borders (or even just thinner borders, as evidenced by the last thirty years of neo-liberal globalization), but why is that a good thing necessarily? Do people really want to move?

Besides, the question is whether or not capitalism can properly legitimate itself without the ideological power of nationhood? There is obviously a relationship between capital and the state, but I think to see the state as the management committee of capital is too instrumentalist. The state has a distinct intrest in reproducing itself, while the purest logic of captial accumulation is to go beyond borders. There is a tension between the two that we are seeing play out today in rather dramatic fashion with the rise of populism.

jk1921
So, last week there was a bit

So, last week there was a bit of a media storm over comments Hillary Clinton made to the Guardian arguing that Europe had to get its migration problem under control in order to prevent the spread of right-wing populism. This week John Kerrey made similar comments and it has come to light that Obama actually counseled Angela Merkel against admitting too many migrants in 2015 (her decision to do so now being identified with the political pressures causing her to give up leadership of the German CDs). There seems to be some growing recognition among more central bourgeois factions that migration and the subsequent weakening of the nation-state are indeed possible threats to "normal" bourgeois politics and that if not gotten under control it could pose a danger for the neo-liberal consensus itself. Even Bernie Sanders was forced to admit this week that not every migrant attempting to enter the US as a member of the so-called caravan has a real refugee claim. Of course, all of these figures were slammed by the mouthpieces of the borugeois left, so it would be a mistake to overstate this tendency--the resistance to Trump is still founded on the idea that immigration is always a net social and economic good for the receiving society.

Still, closer to home, the ostensible leftist Angela Nagle recently wrote this piece: The Left Case Against Open Borders, arguing both that migration hurts low wage native workers and is exploitative of the migrants themselves, that people need to feel rooted in a national community and that real justice for the world's oppressed lies not in uncritically promoting migration, but in improving social and economic conditions the world over so people don't have to move, as most people if given the choice would stay put in places they feel rooted. This piece has been highly controversial and as best as I can tell Nagle has pretty much been excommunicated from the online left at this point.

This seems to dovetail into the broader discussion of identity politics. To what extent is it permissible to forgoe advocating particular claims to justice in the pursuit of broader or more historical ends? Does this amount to fighting regressive political currents by adopting (some of) its program, waiting for history to eventually make those claims irrelevant?