Fiona Clyne and Roger Woock

Thinking about global governance and Giddens forces us to agree with Anitra with regard to further study of Giddens. The model she suggests with a short comment plus short reading seems quite useful. Are we at a stage to do this as a group? A useful discussion about global governance requires us to go beyond Anthony Giddens and we have done this in the comments that follow.

Global Governance

From the perspective of global governance, Giddens seems if anything to be retreating from a strong, ie control of capitalism, model, as his writing develops. He is stronger on the need to control, modify, replace capitalism in Beyond Left and Right than he is in The Third Way. In The Third Way (p 144) he suggests the European Parliament as a model for a stronger UN General Assembly and the need for a stronger international Court of Justice. “The expansion of cosmopolitan democracy is a condition for effectively regulating the world economy, attacking global economic inequalities and controlling ecological risks” (p 147). This quote encapsulates the three elements which Giddens thinks are crucial — (1) the need for cosmopolitan democracy, (2) concern with unequal distribution and (3) potential ecological disaster.

In The Third way and its Critics, Giddens seems to become even softer, focussing on what he calls global ecological management which he argues would be accomplished by cooperation between corporations and levels of government. He mentions here non government organisations which all writers we are looking at point to as important.

Ulrich Beck in his What is Globalization (Polity Press, 2000), goes well beyond Giddens in a range of proposals for global governance which range from international cooperation to the interesting concept of the transnational state:

The model of the transnational state thus conflicts with all other models of cooperation. Transnational states come together in response to globalization and thereby develop their regional sovereignty and identity beyond the national level. They are thus cooperative and individual states — individual states on the basis of cooperative states. In other words, interstate unions open up new scope for action by post-national individual states. (p 133)

He argues for a move from exclusive to inclusive sovereignty. Beck like Giddens uses the term cosmopolitan democracy and argues that the scope for this arises out of varied networks of non governmental organisations.

Jürgen Habermas in his collection of essays The Postnational Constellation (Polity Press, 2001) and particularly the long chapter titled ‘The Postnational Constellation and the Future of Democracy’ (p 58-113) makes a slightly different argument about the globalised world and the importance of democracy. Habermas is a modernist and does not believe in the postmodern world like Hardt and Negri (see below). He is a universalist and believes the values growing out of the Enlightenment are not simply local and historically contingent. Democracy then occupies a central place in his view of what should occur as the world globalises. He argues that the democratic order does not inherently need to be rooted in “the nation” as a pre-political community of shared destiny. “The strength of the democratically constitutional state lies precisely in its ability to close the holes of social integration through the political participation of its citizens” (p 76).

Habermas like Giddens points to the European Union as a model useful for global governance. His analysis is much more precise and his claims are more reasonable than Giddens. Habermas appears to believe that cosmopolitan citizens and a strong global democracy can overcome at least the worst excesses of capitalism.

Another interesting perspective on world governance is provided by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in Empire (Harvard University Press, 2000). This is in our view an extraordinary study which for the first time makes sense of postmodern society and its relationship to phenomena like class, production, imperialism, etc. The main argument of the book is that Empire is currently replacing capitalist imperialism as the organising principle of the world. It is not American centred and in fact is not constituted as a national centre of power.

… when the separate place of use value disappears from the imperial terrain, the new forms of labour power are charged with the task of producing anew the human (or really the post-human). This task will be accomplished primarily through the new and increasingly immaterial forms of affective and intellectual labour power, in the community that they constitute, in the artificiality that they present as a project.

…The force that must …drive forward theoretical practice to actualise these terrains of potential metamorphosis is still (and ever more intensely) the common experience of the new productive practices and the concentration of productive labour on the plastic and fluid terrain of the new communicative, biological, and mechanical technologies.

Being republican today, then, means first of all struggling within and constructing against Empire, on its hybrid, modulating, terrains. And here we should add, against all moralisms and all positions of resentment and nostalgia, that this new imperial terrain provides greater possibilities for creation and liberation. The multitude, in its will to be-against and its desire for liberation must push through Empire to come out the other side(p 217-8)

This analysis seems very much a postmodern analysis of the revolution.

In a chapter called ‘Mixed Constitution’ the authors argue for the increased importance of NGOs. They even include a positive but slightly patronising reference to Richard Falk. They are particularly concerned with those NGOs characterised broadly as humanitarian organisations and argue that they are among the most powerful and prominent in the contemporary global order. In a section called ‘Crisis’ they summarise a large section of the book as follows:

Post modernization and the passage to Empire involve a real convergence of the realms that used to be designated as base and superstructure. Empire takes from language and communication, or really when immaterial labor and cooperation, become the dominant productive force… The superstructure is put to work, and the universe we live in is a universe of productive linguistic networks. The lines of production and those of representation cross and mix in the same linguistic and productive realm. In this context the distinctions that define the central categories of political economy tend to blur. Production becomes indistinguishable from reproduction; productive forces merge with relations of production; constant capital tends to be constituted and represented within variable capital, in the brains, bodies, and cooperation of productive subjects. Social subjects are at the same time producers and products of this unitary machine. In this new historical formation it is thus no longer possible to identify a sign, a subject, a value, or a practice that is “outside”.

The formation of this totality, however, does not eliminate exploitation. It rather redefines it, primarily in relation to communication and cooperation. Exploitation is the expropriation of cooperation and the nullification of the meanings of linguistic production. Consequently, resistances to command continually emerge within Empire. Antagonisms to exploitation are articulated across the global networks of production and determine crises on each and every node. Crisis is coextensive with the postmodern totality of capitalist production; it is proper to imperial control. In this respect, the decline and fall of Empire is defined not as a diachronic movement but as a synchronic reality. Crisis runs through every movement of the development and recomposition of the totality.

…It is midnight in a night of spectres. Both the new reign of Empire and the new immaterial and cooperative creativity of the multitude move in shadows, and nothing manages to illuminate our destiny ahead. Nonetheless, we have acquired a new point of reference (and tomorrow perhaps a new consciousness), which consists in the fact that Empire is defined by crisis, that its decline has always already begun, and that consequently every line of antagonism leads toward the event and singularity. What does it mean, practically, that crisis is immanent to and indistinguishable from Empire? Is it possible in this dark night to theorize positively and define a practice of the event? (p 385-6)

The above gives a flavour of the analysis but we believe that Empire is well worth more detailed analysis.