Some speak of globalization describing it as an event from some not-so-distant future. In fact, we are already living in the globalized world and have been living in it for the past couple of decades. This is the new major change in the structure of the whole world. The previous one has happened back in the nineteenth century with the formation of nation-states (Sinclair, 2003, p. 68). And now these separate countries seem to merge and create one global community. Even though the rules of this new world haven’t fully formed yet, there are already some major tendencies. One of them is the decreasing role of the separate states and the growing importance of international organizations and unions. But, despite the decreasing role of independent countries and their governments, they still manage to hold the power by uniting in supra-national entities (Al-Rodhan, 2006). The growing globalization of the world does not deprive nation-states of their power, but rather stimulates separate countries to unite in order to maintain control over a region.
After the World War 2nd the Western world has come up with an agreement that only united countries will be able to avoid the further major international conflicts. That is how the first international organizations, such as the United Nations (UN), were created. Economy has also played a significant role in the future of the globalized world. Led by the United States, which were much stronger than the European countries in the post-war period, an international market was established. It was supported by the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (Al-Rodhan, 2006). Stimulated by the two major international organizations global marked has began its’ rapid development, involving more and more countries in the process. Transnational capital became the new power-agent of the global economy (Robinson, 1996, p. 16).
The changes that were caused by the growth of the global market were so significant that it is actually complicated to say, which part of the human lives remained untouched. Globalization along with economy changed politics, international relations, social life, culture, etc. Sinclair (2003) describes the significance of the concept of globalization as a “key idea by which we understand the transition of human society into the third millennium” (p. 65).
The success and failures of globalization
The new economic conditions have boosted the development of some parts of the world, which were less accessible before. The possibility to reach for resources from all over the globe as well as increase the scope and territory of trade has significantly helped the development of the economy of many countries. For example, the famous Asian Miracle could have never happened in the conditions of the closed separate states.
Despite all the advantages of the new world order, there are some not-so-pleasant consequences of the global market. By covering the whole world, the new international market has established very harsh rules and fierce competition. Not all the countries were able to survive in the new economical conditions. Without the ability to compete the majority of weaker countries have started to decline and thus were very dependent on the stronger states (Collins, 2011). Moreover, these weaker players could not protect own interests on the global scale. Therefore, while a part of the world was benefiting from the new conditions on the international market, the other part was getting weaker day by day.
The Changing Role of Nation States
It is obvious that the allocation of power in the new world order had to changed. With economy at the basis of the world capitalism it was clear that the influence of separate countries was constantly decreasing. With the processes of economic integration the decline of the role of nation-states is considered to be inevitable by many scientists (Robinson, 1996, p. 14). And those countries, which are not ready to adjust to the new conditions, are only suffering. Being not fully able to participate in the development of the world market and thus have no possibility to benefit from it. The exclusion from the global financial operations and resources leads to the decline of national economy, which consequently leads to numerous problems within the nation-state. Therefore, independent countries had only two basic choices in the new world conditions: either to open their borders and loose some part of the power, or keep the country at the previous level of integration and face the overall economical decline. It is clear that the majority of nation-states have chosen the first variant.
Economy is overall more flexible than political powers because it is less dependent on national institutions and can easier adapt to the changes in the society and the world. Therefore, with moving financials operations to the global scale it took political power some time in order to adjust. With the rapid development and high flexibility of economy the political life of countries had just to adapt to the constantly changing and evolving conditions. But the new economic structure has deprived states of a large part of their control over financial life and operations. Currently the economic power is separated from the national governments. The new world order simply eliminates the state intervention in economy, as well as any regulation of transnational economic operations on the territories of independent nation-states (Robinson, 1996, p. 16).
The national boundaries are getting more and more vague. With these erased borders individual nations are simply unable to “sustain independent, or even autonomous, economies, polities, and social structures” (Robinson, 1996, p. 15). The destruction of the borders means not only the easing process of international financial operations, but also the overall increase of the move of goods and services conducted without national control. By loosing the ability to check and limit all the economical operations conducted on or over the country’s territory, nation-states have simultaneously were deprived of various advantages, such as taxation on the country’s territory (Tanzi, 1998, p. 13). This has decreased not only the economic role of nation-states, but also their political power, which often depends on the economic powers and abilities of a country.
The political power of nation-states has also decreased with the globalization, because only the strongest ones were able to impose own opinions on the global scale. The same as the global financial organizations became more important in the management of the world economy than the national economies, the political life of the whole world or some of its’ regions became a subject to the management an control of supranational organization (Kahler, 2003, p. 3). Thus, the political powers of independent states have automatically began to loose power, because the decisions made on the global level could easily go against the national policy and impose some less favorable conditions on the national governments.
On one hand, supranational organizations like the UN had an amazing goal to keep the world at peace and so far were quite successful doing it. On the other hand, the decrease of the role of national governments has led to some unfavorable consequences. A great problem is that supranational organizations are sometimes able to impose their decisions on the nation-states. Therefore bureaucrats, who were just put to a certain position, are able to influence the democratically elected governments. This automatically decreases the role and influence of democracy, as well as the trust of people in democratic values.
It is interesting that the role of cities has as well changed with the world globalization. With nation-states loosing power, cities start entering the world arena as independent actors. This happens because cities start to feel that their countries are not able to provide adequate help and support in the further development. According to Keans and Paddison (2000), cities are trying to somehow separate their action from the one of the country’s and in some cases even outperform the nation-state they belong to (p. 845).
It might seem that nation-states are constantly loosing their power in the conditions of globalization. In fact, there is already a solution to this tendency. Many countries are uniting in smaller groups within their geographical regions in order to protect own interests within the global economy. This tendency is galled regionalism.
The new tendency of regionalism in the development of the world economy and politics identifies a number of supranational organizations formed in different regions of the world. Sinclair (2003) defines two types of such organizations: regional trading blocks and international trade organizations (p. 78). The most famous of the international trade organizations is the WTO, while the regional trading blocks have formed throughout the world: the EU in Europe; the NAFTA in North America, Mercosur in Latin America, APEC in Asia, etc.
In some cases these unions made only on with economic interests in mind, while other examples, like the European Union, have more than economic interests on their agenda, such as union-wide politics, culture, identification issues etc. The EU has its’ Member States decide on a number of union-wide policies, which involve international affairs, legal issues, civil liberties and the development of the whole region (Conversi, 2006). Therefore, while loosing some part of the national power, nation-states automatically gain an ability to shape the whole supranational union.
Regionalism can be defined as a solution to the problems raised by globalization (Collins, 2011). Being a part of a regional union gave weaker countries more chances on the world financial agenda, as they have gained a possibility to protect own interests on the global market. The new form of cooperation also provided weaker states a protection from the harmful effects of globalization on their economies (Collins, 2011). Within a smaller union nation-states are on one hand able to contribute to the common good of the supranational entity and on the other hand had the protection of the union on the global scale. Therefore, although still loosing some part on the national level, independent countries are able to execute it within the region, and thus influence the global agenda by shaping it through the regional policies.
It is thus not surprising that regionalism has become a solution to the problems created by globalization. It can be perceived as n important step between the power of individual nation-states and the global world order. Within regional organizations countries were able to preserve some part of their powers, while participating in the development of global economy and international market.
Globalization has definitely changed a lot in the processes that help the modern world function. It has increased the pace and scale of all operations from different spheres. Stimulated by the economic development and creation of the common market, globalization has rapidly changed all aspects of the lives of individuals, as well as the nation states. From the very beginning it was clear that independent countries will have to loose tome part of their power because on one hand they will loose a possibility to control transnational financial operations conducted on their territories, and on the other not all the countries will have a chance to express own opinions and be heard on the global scale.
Regionalism became an adequate solution to the problems created by globalization. United in smaller groups within geographic region countries were on one hand protected by the power of the union, and on the other were able to be a part of the global economy. It is clear that regionalism is only a step towards the globalization of political power. But currently it has become the newest form of political power and gave nation-states a possibility to execute own authority through supranational organizations.
The shift of powers in the epoch of globalization has definitely happened. But thanks to the politics of regionalism it wasn’t as dramatic as some might think. Nation-states did not loose their power, it has rather moved to a higher level. Nowadays the nation-states are not only able to maintain a part of control and power over their territories, but they are also influencing the decisions made on the world agenda through participation in the decision-making processes within the regional organizations. Therefore, it would be fair to say that although the power has shifted, it still remained within the hands of nation-states and thus has just evolved.