Will technology end the nation state


MPIfG Working Paper 04/4


Globalization: Myth and Reality


Wolfgang Streeck, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies


Academic lecture at the Annual General Meeting of the Max Planck Society 2004, Stuttgart, June 25, 2004





The process of globalization began in the early modern period and preceded the emergence of the modern nation state. For a century and a half, the nation-state organization of world society has asserted itself surprisingly successfully in the face of ever new internationalization spurts. Even today there can be no talk of an erosion of the nation state. Rather, it remains the privileged form of organization of political communities. However, in the course of the advancing economic division of labor across national and continental borders, both the position of the nation state externally and its policies internally are changing. Of particular interest for a political sociology of globalization is the use of national power and legitimacy in striving for sectoral specialization in niches in the world market. Smaller countries seem to have an advantage over larger ones, which are subject to increasing pressure to decentralize.





Globalization has been under way since the beginning of the early modern period and preceded rather than followed the rise of the modern nation-state. Surprisingly, in spite of successive waves of internationalization, the organization of the world society has remained primarily nationally based. Even today it is misleading to speak of an erosion of the nation-state. This holds even though both the external position and the internal politics of the nation-state are radically changing as the economic division of labor increasingly transcends national and continental boundaries. Of special interest for a political sociology of globalization seems to be the use of national political resources to advance the specialization of territorial communities on niches in the world economy. Small countries seem to be advantaged here compared to large ones, which are exposed to growing pressures for decentralization.







The internationalization of the nation state

Convergence and divergence: trends towards sectoral specialization

Expansion of comparative advantages

International integration

Size as a disadvantage?

Final remark






According to current political mythology, globalization began sometime in the 1980s and is now in the process of making the nation state obsolete as a form of political organization. In reality, neither globalization is new, nor is the nation state outdated. A global world society has existed at least since the end of the 15th century, when the two branches of humanity, which had spread around the globe from Africa, met again in what is now the Caribbean. With the conquest of the Aztec Empire by Spanish troops in 1521, global politics began to encompass the globe, with diverse economic and cultural interactions between peoples and continents. The Aztec gold accelerated the transition to the monetary economy in Europe and thus to capitalism. The superior agriculture of the American Indians changed the eating habits and shaped the emerging national eating cultures of the Europeans: no German cuisine without potatoes, no Italian cuisine without tomatoes or corn. And when the British Empire replaced the Spanish one, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were able to speak of a "world market" as early as 1848, in the Communist Manifesto, which "made the production and consumption of all countries cosmopolitan":


The ancient national industries have been and are still being wiped out on a daily basis. They are being displaced by new industries ... which no longer process domestic raw materials but rather raw materials belonging to the most remote zones and whose products are used not only in the country itself, but in all parts of the world at the same time ... In place of the old local and national self-sufficiency and seclusion ... an all-round dependence of nations on one another ... (Marx and Engels 1971 [1848], 529)


Most of the developments that are in the process of bringing about the end of the nation state in the myth of globalization are in reality as old as this or older. These include the diverse efforts to incorporate state action into international norms and to domesticate national interests through universal law. (Anyone who forgets that also forgets how often and how dramatically this program has failed.) The same applies to the existence of what is now called international civil society. Social groups spanning national borders have existed since there were national states, and always in an organized form, from Roman Catholicism to the various Socialist and Communist Internationals, from Pan-Slavism and Pan-Germanism to Pan-Islamism or the Freemasons. Anyone who believes that international NGOs have only been contesting nation states for their sovereignty for a decade or two overlooks the fact that the history of the nation state as a form of political organization was also a story of its repeatedly successful assertion against rival international structures and loyalties, from the German Kulturkampf to the Victory of "Americanism" over socialism in the US trade unions after the First World War.


In reality, I have said, globalization began before nation states were formed. In Europe it ran parallel to another world-historical process that sociological theory describes as modernization: the differentiation of social orders into functionally specialized and thus mutually dependent subsystems. Even the classics of the 19th century knew that functional differentiation - what Adam Smith, Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim called Division of labor - closely related to the territorial scope of social relations. The extent of the division of labor, according to Smith in "The Wealth of Nations", is determined by the Size of the market[1] The emergence of the nation-states was initially understood and welcomed by the classics as a process of expansion, centralization and standardization of social contexts. [2] However, they saw it as nothing more than a brief intermediate stage in the transition to a global economic society in which there was no longer any room for particular state rule. The rise of the modern nation-state to the dominant form of social order since the middle of the 19th century must therefore appear to liberals and socialists as an astonishing relapse from the level of global integration that had long been achieved with the advancement of industrialization.


How can the consolidation of the nation state as a form of political organization be explained when it has to be explained as a moment in a process of global modernization - in the sense of a territorially wide-ranging functional differentiation of systems of action? I can only touch this question here. Most of those who study it today agree that the emergence of nation-states as one first answer to those associated with functional differentiation Coordination and integration problems must be understood (Hahn 1993). In order to guarantee the smooth interaction of the interdependent specialized subsystems of modern society, the 19th century, to put it simply, used the dynastic feudal state, rationalized through bureaucratisation and gradually democratizing itself, as an instrument of partial, or more precisely: segmental, re-integration. The emerging nation-state made it possible to coordinate the differentiating subsystems of a society that already tended to be a world society by dividing it into local segments. Each and every one of them basically contained all of them functional Subsystems of modernity as national Subsystems, understood and organized as functionally more complete Microcosm of modern economic society - with its own industry, its own electricity, railway and telephone networks, its own science, its own civil religion, its own army with all three branches of arms, etc. At the same time, each segment was small enough to be able to use the hierarchical means of bureaucratic control, supported by nationalist- particularistic identifications of citizens with their respective "imagined community" (Anderson 1991), to be held together and controlled by continuous authoritative coordination of its subsystems.


In other words, the nation-state solved the problem of coordination functional Subsystems of the developing modern world society by modularizing it to a certain extent and in internal coordination problems of a multitude of parallel operating territorial Transformed subsystems. National borders served as "interdependence breakers" (Kaufmann 2004). For the external coordination the nation-state segments, however, had nothing better to offer than the equilibrium politics of the 19th century. As the two great wars of the 20th century have shown, the rivalry between the national sub-societies, which is inevitable because of their structural similarity, could not be kept under control with it. In addition, the state system of the interwar period was unable to guarantee a crisis-free interaction of the subsystems of an already largely integrated world economy: In the medium of domestic and foreign policy of a large number of sovereign and competing territorial states, world economic policy could only be made more efficient at the price of national political and global economic Operate instability (Polanyi 1944).


However, the multiple catastrophic failure of the nation-state organization of globalization has neither discredited the nation state nor halted globalization. On the contrary, it was precisely the two world wars that pushed globalization forward without, contrary to what many expected in 1918 and again in 1945, calling the nation state into question. On the contrary, they not only resulted in a significant increase in the number of nation states, but also culminated after 1945 in their comprehensive global institutionalization as a quasi-compulsory form of political organization in modern societies. While the United Nations still had 51 members when it was founded, the number had risen to 82 in 1960, largely as a result of decolonization. In 1973 it was 135, and in 1988 it was 159. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, the UN now consists of 191 states that have divided up the entire territory of the world, with very few exceptions. Diverse separatist efforts around the world lead us to expect that the number of nation states will continue to grow in the coming years (Gentile 2004). There seems to be no minimum size for the emergence of new nation-states or the survival of old ones. For example, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which together have fewer inhabitants than Lower Saxony, never thought of organizing themselves otherwise than as independent nation-states after 1989, and as such, like other small countries such as Malta or Cyprus, were able to join the European Union . I will come back to this point below.


If one understands the development of the global system of sovereign nation-states as a moment in a long process of simultaneous modernization and globalization of social orders that precedes the nation-state, one will no longer want to infer an imminent end of the nation-state from the progress of this process alone. In retrospect, it becomes clear that the system of nation states has always been a form of organization of world society: an institutional architecture for dealing with complex coordination problems in a social structure that has long since been globally differentiated. What we are experiencing today as globalization is therefore not the replacement of national societies by a global society - this has existed for a long time - but rather a reorganization of the latter, albeit a far-reaching one. Changes in the role and functioning of the nation state must take place in the context of a changing relationship between internal coordination within political units and external coordination between the same, whose driving forces are the progress of the global division of labor on the one hand and the intrinsic logic of the evolution of political orders and institutions on the other.



The internationalization of the nation state


So how is the architecture of global social complexity currently developing, in contrast to both the emerging global industrial society of the classics and the previous forms of the system of competing and cooperating nation-states? Like other forms of social organization, the state order that emerged after World War II was historically open in that it had to allow or even encourage developments that were incompatible with its unchanged continued existence. One can speak of a dialectical connection here. In particular, it was the rapid increase in cross-border transactions that was indispensable for the development of productive forces and cultural progress on the one hand, and on the other hand and at the same time robbed the nation-states of control over their borders and the international ones - with far-reaching consequences for their internal power relations and their governability Division of labor across these continued.


The nation-states of the 20th century were never self-sufficient, even if they often strived to do so and in any case tried to acquire the full range of institutions and sectors of modern society. There has always been international trade, and in fact the average share of foreign trade in the national product of industrialized countries was not much lower at the end of the 19th century than it is today. After that, of course, it declined, and Keynesian economic theory, which became global practice in the West after 1945, could take for granted that the external economic relations of the national economies did not fundamentally call into question their national controllability. [3] In the last two decades, however, the (renewed) internationalization of the product markets has been accompanied by that of the value chains, large companies, the capital market and even the labor markets. New means of communication, from jet planes to the Internet to the partial regaining of the multilingualism of earlier centuries, have led to a multiplication of the relationships that cross the borders of the nation-state "containers" (Beck 1998) and the national identity of economy, culture, politics and society in general Seemingly dissolved forever.


My thesis is that the increasing internationalization of the national segments of modern world society has set in motion far-reaching changes in the "architecture of complexity" (Simon 1962) of functional differentiation and social integration. In the following I would like to work out one of the effective tendencies in a typifying manner. Of course, in every historical situation there are always several development tendencies present at the same time, which mutually reinforce one another, but can also overlap, mix or displace one another. Social scientists can, if you will: model them more or less plausibly in a partial analysis; It is much more difficult for them to understand or even predict their interaction. The developmental tendency with which I would like to deal is by no means the only one that is currently effective, and it is not even certain whether it is or will remain the determining factor.



Convergence and divergence: trends towards sectoral specialization


My starting point is the popular debate about the convergence and divergence of national systems under the influence of globalization (for an early example see Berger and Dore 1996). Internationalization: the increase in cross-border social relationships can lead to a leveling out of national differences. The dismantling of trade barriers in the broadest sense - metaphorically speaking, the harmonization of interfaces between national economic systems - that is necessary to open up national economies can also have this consequence. At the same time it can be observed that convergence often goes hand in hand with divergence. There are Chinese restaurants everywhere, but Chinese food tastes different in each country. German potatoes are very dissimilar to Peruvian ones, and the French understand European integration to be something different from the Irish or the Hungarians.But above all, convergence in one Area efforts to diverge in other trigger - to defend identity and independence, but also, in order to avoid excessively fierce competition among equals in favor of exchange among different people.[4]


It is precisely this mechanism, whose fundamental importance for the structure of social orders was first described by Emile Durkheim (1964 [1893]), seems to be at work in the current phase of globalization. The nation-states that many declared dead play an important role in this. [5] Their political instruments are used by the national societies, which can no longer be locked from the outside, to identify and expand their particular economic strengths under the pressure of growing international competition. Globalization thus becomes a politically driven process of sectoral specialization territorial economic societies - the exact composition of which follows economic geographic principles of agglomeration formation, about which we still know little, but which seem to resemble those of regional economies more than traditional economies. [6] In any case, the economic division of labor breaks away from its integration into parallel nation-state coordination regimes and tends to develop into a global division of labor, the functional sub-units of which are concentrated in different nationally organized territories.


At least where politically constituted territorial communities succeed in securing a niche in an increasingly open and systemically integrated world economy to compensate for the lost control over their borders by expanding their comparative advantages (Porter 1990), this is not the case today convergence the dominant tendency of globalization, rather Convergence in interaction with divergence. Interestingly, as national units cease to strive for functional completeness, their comparability decreases (Sorge 2004): The goal of state policy is no longer to be the same as the others, but to be different from the others. Instead of homogeneity potentially self-sufficient subsegments occurs Complementarity within the framework of a worldwide division of labor. The earlier segmental integration of functional differentiation in the nation-state framework is supported by a novel entanglement of political-territorial and functional differentiation replaced, in which politically organized territorial communities specialize in selected subsystems of an increasingly functional and increasingly less segmentally differentiated world economy.


Growing international division of labor and nation-state political organization, increasing global economic integration and ongoing political fragmentation, denationalization of the economy and the continued existence of the nation state do not seem incompatible in the current stage of globalization. In fact, national sovereignty is still highly valued and resolutely defended almost everywhere, precisely because of the challenges and risks of globalization. However, brings the replacement of the national segmentation modern society through national specialization a shift of coordination tasks from the nation state to the international system and requires a new adjustment of the interplay between internal and external coordination. With it, the rules of the game and the conditions for success of nation-state politics change internally and externally, and in often surprising ways. In the following I would like to go into some aspects of these changes, as far as they can be recognized from the perspective of political-economic globalization research today, first for domestic and then for foreign policy.



Expansion of comparative advantages


Sector specialization of politically organized territorial communities follows the economies of scale of expanding global markets to the point where a country's core sectors and their infrastructure tend to employ all of the national production capacity. Sectors without comparative advantages are disappearing; their products are imported. By restructuring themselves into international market niches that ideally only they can serve, national economies seek to avoid tough price competition in favor of substitution competition, which primarily depends on the ability to innovate, i.e. to continuously adapt production to the quality of the developing Needs of the customer.


Contrary to what is assumed in the myth of globalization, there can be no talk of a loss of importance in state politics. On the contrary, sectoral specialization requires an integrated national economic, structural, social and educational policy tailored to the expansion of existing comparative advantages. It also requires adapted institutional regulations, for example for the labor market, which enable optimal use of national resources for the benefit of the respective core sectors. The structural change in the Netherlands in the last two decades to become the logistical center of the European continent was based on the expansion of the Amsterdam airport and the port of Rotterdam, the promotion of a high-performance freight forwarding industry, a service-friendly tariff and tax policy and, last but not least, high educational expenditure to maintain it the multilingualism of the population. The rapid transformation of the Irish economy into one of the most important production centers of the American microelectronic industry, for the sake of which the recently introduced smoking ban in Irish pubs was probably introduced, was also politically wanted. In these and other cases, the instruments of the nation state are used to identify indigenous sectors with comparative advantages and to defend their competitive edge with often drastic political measures.


There have been numerous attempts in the literature to summarize the current changes in the functioning of the nation state. The increase in cross-border social relationships that are beyond the regulatory grasp of the nation state leaves some of them general Erosion of statehood speak. [7] However, this seems only partially justified. Where national societies respond to the loss of control over their borders with sectoral specialization, they rely on a state that is still highly active. However, that is changing quality of statehood. Here is of a transformation of the post-war Keynesian welfare state into one "Schumpeterian Competition State" the speech whose most important goal is to secure international competitiveness (Jessop 2002). Of course, the term is often associated with the idea of ​​an international undercutting competition, which is primarily about which state can get rid of its welfare state inheritance as quickly as possible. But this is only one possible variant of sectoral specialization, the goal of which - to conquer niches within the emerging system of global division of labor - can also be achieved by other means under favorable conditions.


However, this also puts the redistributing and status-securing welfare state of continental Europe under pressure, in the sense of an erosion of the state, insofar as it functions or has acted as an agency for an authoritative allocation of values. Companies in the process of sectoral specialization resemble conglomerates that focus on a core business: they put an end to the redistributive cross-subsidization of weaker ones in favor of investments in the efficiency of strong sectors that are promising in the world market. Social policy, which was previously taken out of competition or served to partially reverse its results, becomes a "location factor" in the competitive state: it no longer serves to correct, but to accommodate markets - less for "social justice" than that Activation and qualification of flexible human capital. It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between social policy and economic policy: their common goal is to improve the international marketability of society members and society as a whole. [8]



International integration


Domestic policy alone is not enough for sectoral specialization. With the advancing global division of labor, the coordination of the functionally differentiated sectors of modern economic society can no longer take place nationally, but only internationally. In the international system, however, unlike within the nation state, hierarchical control instruments are only available in exceptional cases. The process of globalization is therefore today also a process of liberalization - namely the shifting of control functions from (national) hierarchies to (international) markets. [9] National societies that want to respond to the growth of economies of scale beyond their limits with sectoral specialization need not only have the confidence of being able to assert themselves in a system of free international pricing. They must also be able to rely on the fact that other companies will not block their markets from them: without the German autobahn, as every motorist suspects, the Dutch freight forwarding industry would not exist. In order to secure international market access for nationally specialized national economies, the nation state is once again being used, this time as an instrument of foreign policy.


The process of European integration is a prime example of this. Revisionist historians have long denied that the European Union is an event aimed at abolishing the nation state. The small countries of Europe in particular, such as Alan Milward in his book "The European Rescue of the Nation-State" (1992), have always pursued European integration with precisely the opposite goal: that of securing their existence as politically independent communities. Indeed, it must be noticed that small countries with pronounced national consciousness, such as the Netherlands, Portugal, Ireland, Finland or the newly independent states of the Baltic States, are often at the same time ardent advocates of European integration. This is likely to be related to the fact that small countries not only have to embark on the path of sectoral specialization earlier than others, but can also pursue it more promisingly - provided that their international environment is so organized that large countries are prevented from taking it with the resulting structural dependence to blackmail politically or economically.


In other words: by securing access to increasingly incomplete national economies to international markets, international integration serves to flank a domestic policy of sectoral specialization in foreign policy. The logic that takes effect appears to be entirely new. A bon mot that emerged in the 1980s began with the question of what was worse than being exploited by capitalism. The answer was: Not to be exploited by capitalism. The rules of the game of the current phase of globalization cannot be summarized more succinctly. Even if none of the nation-states of the past was ever completely self-sufficient, it was always assumed as a matter of course that national sovereignty required a high degree of functional completeness of the national economy. This was therefore a necessary, albeit often costly, goal of national economic and structural policy. The imperialism of the center vis-à-vis the periphery consisted in including it as an extended workbench in one's own economy. National self-determination and political sovereignty accordingly required the establishment of as complete an industrial sector as possible with the help of a policy of import substitution, which was considered an indispensable prerequisite for a later integration into world trade as an equal partner.


Hardly anything reminds us of this world today. Nothing is more ruinous than import substitution when national technologies can only be backward technologies and national markets have become too small for the development of products other than backward ones. In contrast to classical imperialism, the greatest danger for peripheral societies today is no longer to be included in the world economy, but to be excluded from it and thus from the possibilities of export-driven growth. The catastrophe is no longer inclusion, but, see large parts of southern Africa, exclusion. Countries like Poland, Albania or Turkey therefore use all foreign policy means of their national sovereignty, some of which have only recently been achieved, to be accepted into the European Union as quickly as possible - not to give up their national independence, but on the contrary: to help them secure access to the global division of labor in the modern economy. Imperialism of the center versus the periphery means today: refusal of integration.


In the current phase of globalization, the goal of the nation-state's foreign policy is no longer to avoid dependency by securing independence, but rather to avoid it one-sided through manufacture mutual Addiction. Those who are unilaterally dependent can be blackmailed; only if the other needs your own achievements just as you need the achievements of the other, they can terms of exchange be fair (Blau 1964). One-sided dependency and thus exploitation can be avoided by defending one's own comparative advantages through strategic investments. In addition, however, there must be secure access to free, not "bequeathed" world markets, guaranteed by a reliable international legal system that also binds economically and militarily strong states to general rules. The partial transformation of the international state system into a political "multilevel system" (Scharpf 2001) with the ability to produce binding, quasi-constitutional decisions on a supranational level has therefore always been pursued primarily by the smaller countries.



Size as a disadvantage?


One of the surprising consequences of the new demands on the internal structure and foreign policy of nation states is that the traditional advantage of larger over smaller countries seems to be reversed. One, albeit important, exception is the largest country, the United States, which, in addition to its sectoral monopoly on the use of military force, has the most complete of all economies and is therefore less dependent on each of its trading partners than they are on them. Medium size, on the other hand, seems to have become a problem. In the 1990s, the decade of reforms, the small countries of Europe tended to be considerably more successful than the large ones, particularly Germany, France and Italy, in adapting to the new global conditions. This could be because small countries not only have to rely on a strategy of sectoral specialization earlier than large ones and are more familiar with its logic, but are also able to implement it more easily than countries whose populations are too large to be absorbed into a small number of core sectors to be able to. [10]


The international system of the past rewarded the size of a country. Size goes ceteris paribus along with internal heterogeneity; both jointly established external power and political independence based on a tendency towards self-sufficiency. Anyone who was not big enough - whoever was not a "power state" in the sense of Max Weber (1980) - had to fear being ruled by others. Today, on the other hand, the size and heterogeneity of a country mean above all that they necessitate institutions and policies that have to match many special sectoral conditions and therefore cannot exactly match any one - if only because they can only come about through compromises between conflicting interests. The internal redistribution necessary for this and for social cohesion in general causes costs, just as the inadequate adaptation of general rules to special conditions leaves resources unused. Size and internal diversity, which used to guarantee external sovereignty, now seem to have the main effect of preventing governments from adapting national regulatory systems and political interventions to the special needs of core sectors, which must and can withstand global competition for innovation and substitution.


Such considerations cast an interesting light on the German case, which I would like to address briefly in conclusion. The development of the German economy after reunification could serve as evidence that, under today's international competitive conditions, uniform sets of rules for heterogeneous economic and branch structures can have devastating effects. The fact that in 1990 the entire institutional system of the West German Federal Republic was transferred to the former GDR relieved the former of the necessity - and at the same time deprived it of the possibility - of developing its own set of rules, such as Hungary, Poland or the Czech Republic, tailored to their particular economic situation. If today the gross domestic product of the countries "new" for almost a decade and a half is still lower than that of Portugal, this could also be due to the fact that the institutions imported from the West stood in the way of catching up sectoral specialization. At the same time, the national transfers required to maintain uniform living conditions for securing and building sectoral competitiveness in the west of the country are no longer available. Solidarity, redistribution within a large and heterogeneous nation state, which adjusts the standard of living of the citizens, is not a problem as long as national economies are still predominant Volkseconomies and potentially mobile production factors can be forced to stay in the country. Both conditions are no longer given today.


The fact that it has become a disadvantage to be larger than Holland but smaller than the USA probably also explains the increasing demand for decentralization of the German federal state. More autonomy for the federal states, according to a contribution to the work of the Federalism Commission of the Bundestag and Bundesrat, which is currently in session, "could ... enable the adaptation of legal rules to the particular location conditions and the economic structure of the individual state and thus facilitate the exploitation of economic specialization advantages. . "The necessary optimization of the" legal framework for corporate activity "in a liberalized international market that no longer allows" competition-distorting "state interventions could" in view of the heterogeneous German economic structure (and accordingly different interests in the Bundesrat) ... through generally applicable changes to uniform federal law can hardly be achieved ". Therefore, "the state legislature's extended scope for action ... is a necessary precondition for greater economic innovation and competitiveness" (Scharpf 2004).


If you spin the idea further, you can also relate it to the representation of regional interests to the outside world. The German federal states not only lack the possibility of adapting their regulations, including the design of the welfare state and collective bargaining autonomy, to the needs and development opportunities of their respective economic structures. In contrast to the similarly large economic areas of the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, they also do not have the foreign policy instruments of sovereign nation states to optimize their positioning in the international market. The chemical policy of the European Union would be different if not only the Prime Minister of Sweden, but also that of North Rhine-Westphalia had a seat on the European Council.



Final remark


The driving forces behind the change in social order include strategies of collective action that must be chosen with a high degree of uncertainty and which are often nothing more than bets on a hoped-for future. Whether they will succeed and what social structures they will ultimately condense into is something that you only know with certainty in retrospect. Social formations only appear in retrospect, free of contradictions and only possible; There is hardly a present that is not perceived as a crisis, and hardly a solution that does not become a problem at some point. Sectoral specialization is intended to secure a place for state-organized national societies in a world economy that is reorganizing itself across national borders; at the same time, however, it makes it vulnerable in a new way, not least because specialization is often only available at the price of reduced adaptability. Many questions remain open. Is the performance ethics of industrial districts - as described by Marshall (1919) at the end of the 19th century - sufficient to integrate modern societies and secure the legitimacy of their order? Can the emerging regional centers of international economic excellence really employ all members of their respective societies, or only some of them? How can those who are not up to the intensified performance competition find a place in a performance society that has to get by without a redistributive welfare state? What possibilities are there, if at all, to counter the apparently increasing inequality between successful and unsuccessful regions of the world economy through an - investing - international social policy? Ultimately, only practice can find answers to this. The main contribution of science is to ask the right questions.






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"As it is the power of exchanging that gives occasion to the division of labor, so the extent of this division must always be limited by the extent of that power, or, in other words, by the extent of the market" (Smith 1993 [1776], 26).



Again the Communist Manifesto: "The bourgeoisie ... has agglomerated the population, centralized the means of production and concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralization. Independent, almost all allied provinces with different interests, laws, governments and tariffs were huddled in a Nation, a Government, a Law, a national class interest, a Douanenlinie "(Marx and Engels [1848], 530).



It can be left open whether the second post-war order was a hegemonic international regime, which derived its legitimacy from the fact that it left its weaker member states the illusion of national autonomy, or whether it was an ingenious arrangement to secure national sovereignty through an accommodating international regime Order acted.



This does not have to mean that there cannot be a global process of convergence after all. The differences between Spaniards and Mexicans are likely to be less dramatic today than they were at the end of the 15th century, and Italians and Chinese are probably more similar in the 21st century than they were during the Antonine and Han dynasties. Anyone reading Gibbon's description of the way of life of the Asian barbarians who invaded the Roman Empire in the 4th century (Gibbon 1995 [1776-1788], chap. XXVI), may not contradict his judgment, according to which in his own time, at the end of the 18th century Century, the peoples of the world were more alike than in antiquity (chap. XXXVIII). Especially against the background of an emerging common world culture, remaining or even sought-after "small differences" (Bourdieu) could become all the more important.



And not even necessarily because of emotional identifications. It is entirely sufficient that the nation state is still the most effective instrument of collective action for protection against the vicissitudes of free markets. The Catalans would rather have their own nation-state. As long as this does not exist, however, they use the Spanish one as much as possible to enforce their commercial or structural interests. "Path-dependent" pragmatism is completely sufficient to explain why territorial communities in the age of globalization do not want to forego their traditional state organization.



Regional economies are characterized, among other things, by the fact that they have to get by without an authoritative redistributive state. Their sectoral composition arises "voluntarily" due to the possible advantages of geographical proximity of producers. The formation of "clusters" in sectorally specialized nation states can apparently follow very different principles and take place both along the value chain and at individual stages of the same. On regional economies see, among others, Becattini (1990), Brusco (1982) and Sabel (1989), and more recently Crouch et al. (2004).



Münch (2001) is particularly worth reading because it makes use of sociological classical music in an original way.



For the change in social policy under conditions of global liberalization, see my essay on "competitive solidarity" (Streeck 2000). The need to adapt to changed economic framework conditions does not pose a threat to democracy - see successful "reform countries" such as Sweden or the Netherlands - but a shift away from social and towards liberal forms of democracy (Streeck 1998).



Its participants, contrary to what is required by the pure doctrine of economic liberalism, expected or hoped for, states that are highly active in industrial and socio-political terms. Collective political action to protect against market risks is by no means abolished by globalization. However, the meaning of the post-war peace formula of "embedded liberalism" is changing fundamentally: instead of embedding international free trade in national social policy, there is, conversely, embedding national policy in international free markets.



In other words: the disadvantage of not being big enough to ever become "complete" and thus truly independent is turned into the advantage of being small enough to be able to specialize in a specific sector.



Copyright © 2004 Wolfgang Streeck

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