The Nation in the Global Economy
In the era of globalization, the predominant discourse emphasizes the subordination of nation states’ interests to transnational corporations and bodies. According to globalization scholars such as Philip McMichael, a virtual discursive space has been constructed in which responsibility for economic and political decisions and crises are not only shared but simultaneously avoided. The global economy has become the catchall culprit, hero, and future of any number of international and domestic incidents. In this context, the recent announcement by the Swiss bank, USB, that it would reveal the names of thousands of Americans holding offshore accounts (see NY Times article) serves as a reminder that the power of the nation state is alive and well. Though the ability of the nation state to assert itself it based on its relative standing in the world, the fact that the United States Internal Revenue Service was able to bear sufficient pressure on Swiss Banks to expose this “secret” information illustrates some shortcomings in globalization discourse. One such problem is that globalization in its transnational/global economy form is a discursive space that depends upon ideological maintenance as well as nation state involvement. Secondly, the nation state is still an active agent in any global network due to legal structures, civil society networks, and political compliance. Only by understanding globalization in its discursive form can we see the possibility for change and agency.
Europe and the United States were winning the globalization race until 2008, as master bankers handling the export earnings of other states.
The flip side of the equation is that the United States and Europe gained cash but lost their bread-and-butter capability – manufacturing.
I think the USB announcement is less about discourse and more about how the state (not nation-state) carries out one of its primary tasks in a global economy: regulating and enforcing social contracts. To tax American citizens for income on earned interest, the government requires the compliance of banks inside the US, and in the global finance era banks outside US boundaries now comply. Finance is one of the most globalized fractions of the economy–it is not surprising that this most globalized segment is the frontier of the globalization of state functions (regulation and enforcement).
Great link to the Blackwell Companion–this is an invaluable reference. And this is a very interesting news story, too. Thanks for the tip.