Sovereignty in a globalising world

A thought:

We live in a historically unprecedented age. In the past, sovereignty and wealth were synonymous. Sovereign control over territory meant control over productive resources, control over resources meant wealth, and wealth, in symbiosis with power, secured sovereignty.

This is no longer so; we live in an age where, for the first time, economic gain can be pursued independently of sovereignty. The key dynamics of this change are the increasing integration of states into global economic structures, and their reliance on the gains from these structures for their legitimacy.

Take the case of the South East Asian Tigers. They depend heavily on external investment, over which they have no control, and the North American market, over which they have no influence, for their economic growth, and depend on this growth for their domestic legitimacy. They are therefore takers, not makers, of the rules that most fundamentally define their political standing. This is not, by any definition, sovereignty.

And yet, they thrive. Wealth accrues whilst sovereignty wanes. This gives lie to the oft spouted claim that globalisation is undermining the position of states in the international economy. In fact, many are richer, happier and more confident than ever before; but in a Faustian twist, they may be selling their political souls to be so. 


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