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Shen Hongwen: Habermas talks about globalization and European national countries
发布者:发布时间:2018-10-18 19:25阅读:1520

The British "New Left Review" published a paper named "The Pressure of European National Countries and Globalization" by the famous German scholar J. Habermas in May and June 1999, it discussed the challenges faced by European national countries under the globalization, different answers to challenges and ideas for the future of Europe. The main contents of the article are as follows.


The preface to the book Global Dynamics and Local Environment reads: “The current crucial question is whether it can transcend the national countries and control the ecological, social and cultural destruction of capitalism from a supranational and global level.” This means: firstly, politically domesticate the capitalism on a global scale; second, create a unique and well-functioning democracy in a broader context. We will explore it from the following aspects.


I. The challenges faced by democratic institutions and national states

The trends of “globalization” are changing the historical pattern of the unity of the state, society and economy within the territory. The immigration process and cultural stratification have accelerated, thus internally destroying the relatively single domestic population composition, which is a political premise that enables citizens to merge into a nation state. More importantly, a country that is increasingly involved in the interdependence of the global economy and global society is losing its autonomy, control ability and the conditions on which democracy depends. This is manifested in the following three aspects.


1. The country’s control ability is weakened

The loss of autonomy means, first and foremost, that a country can no longer rely on its own power to provide its residents with adequate protection from the events that occur outside their borders. On the one hand, it refers to the phenomenon of “naturally crossing the border”, such as pollution, organized crime, arms smuggling, plague, security risks of large-scale technology, etc. On the other hand, it refers to the passive accepted consequences of well-planned policies by other countries, which have the same impact on those who are not involved in the formulation of policies, such as the danger of nuclear reactors built in other countries.


2. The decision-making process is increasingly lacking legitimacy

Whenever those who making decision are not those affected by the decision, there will be a lack of democratic legitimacy. When the demand for cooperation caused by increasing interdependence is met through an agreement between countries, democratic legitimacy will also be weakened. The more important things resolved through negotiations between countries, the more political decisions will be made not through the unique channels of national states that express opinions and aspirations of the people. Within the EU, the bureaucratic decision-making process of Brussels experts is an example.


3. The country is increasingly unable to exercise its regulatory and organizational functions to ensure its legitimacy

While the space of action of the national countries is limited to the territory, the globalization of the market and flow of capital are accelerated, and the gap between the two is expanding. In this case, “the functional self-sufficiency of the domestic economy” was thrown aside. Unfettered capital has never been obligated to seek investment opportunities only at home. Whenever the government maintains a stable job in order to maintain social standards, or insists on managing demand by itself, and thus strictly controls the domestic investment environment, speculative profits will threaten to withdraw from the country. Therefore, the governments of the national countries have been unable to use all mechanisms that regulate the domestic economy to stimulate growth, thus ensuring their legitimacy.


II. The four answers to the challenge

There are two general answers to this challenge and two nuanced answers. One is to support globalization and non-territorial sovereignty, and the other is to oppose these two trends. The division of the two camps led people to look for a "third road," which was divided into a defensive third road and an offensive third road.


1. Support globalization

This attitude is based on the Neoliberal Orthodoxy that was proposed in the process of transitioning to an economic policy that emphasizes supply in the last two or three decades. Proponents of globalization have advocated the unconditional obedience of the country to the urgent need for market-driven global social integration; they called for the establishment of an “entrepreneur’s country” that does not engage in labor non-commercialization programs or environmental resource protection. In the process of being pushed to the supranational economic system step by step, the state will enable residents to have negative freedoms to participate in global competition, and the state can only provide infrastructure that promotes entrepreneurial activity and makes local profitable attractions in a practical way.


2. Against globalization

Victims in structural change and in the process of losing power in democracies and their inhabitants are falling into the lower layers of society, and those who resist it formed alliances. However, the desire to stop this torrent finally shows that this “territorial sovereignty” raises questions about the egalitarian and universal foundation of democracy itself. At least, the idea of rejecting diversity, fearing foreigners and rejecting other nations, anti-modernism and rejecting complex social conditions are all protectionist ideas and emotions. The goal of this ideological sentiment is to oppose anyone or anything that crosses the borders of the nation.


3. The defensive third way

People who hold this view believe that although it is impossible to change the situation that politics is subject to the global society unified by the market, the national states should not only play a role in responding to stimulation. The role is to not only create favorable conditions to stabilize investment capital, it should also actively strive to provide residents with the skills they need in the competition. The new welfare policy is as universal as the old welfare policy. However, the main purpose of the new welfare policy is not to protect residents from the typical risks of professional life, but to provide them with the entrepreneurial skills of the “successors” who can take care of themselves.


Those who advocate this type of “third way” (such as the New Labor Party and the New Centre) are exactly the same as liberals who only look at social equality from an investment perspective and equate social equality with equal opportunity. The public has been unable to distinguish between Thatcher and Blair, first because the "Newest Left" adopted the neoliberal morality.


4. The offensive third way

Those who do not want to cross the dividing line between "New Left" and "New Liberalism" want to take the offensive third way. They believe that politics should be higher than the logic of the market. They believe that politics should be higher than the market. Solve the problem of either disarming the welfare state democracy or re-arming the nation state. People need to turn to a larger political unit and a supranational system, so that it can neither damage the legitimacy of democracy nor loss the function of the national states. People naturally use the EU as an example of a democratic system that functions beyond the limits of a national states.


III. The status quo in Europe, the future of European camps and Europe

If we look at the evolutionary path of the EU, we will find that the newly created political institutions such as the functional agencies based in Brussels, the European Court of Justice, the European Central Bank, do not mean that politics has gained greater importance. The latest step in the EU monetary union is simply to "create a market between governments." Today's EU includes a vast area of continental Europe. Economically, due to the role of the market, it has developed into a tightly intertwined network, but politically, the non-direct legally generated authority has weak political management of the region. Since member states have handed over the highest control of the currency to the European Central Bank, they have also surrendered the power to regulate the national economy by adjusting the exchange rate. The intensification of competition in the single currency zone will lead to new problems. Europe is made up of countries with different levels of economic development and different political systems, and the interaction between them will inevitably lead to friction. Europe faces the choice of either lifting the pressure through market channels, through competition between different economic activity centers and different social security policies, or through political means by doing a good job of “coordination” and gradually adjusting welfare policies, labor market policies and tax policies. The basic question is whether the EU framework of organization, which is the balancing conflicting national interests through inter-country negotiations, should be maintained at the expense of comprehensive competition; or the EU should go beyond the current form of alliance among nations, Moving towards the real federation. Only in the latter case can it gather political power, adopt effective measures to correct the negative consequences of the market, and establish a management mechanism for redistribution.


In the current debate on globalization, Europe is divided into several camps. The “Extreme European Skeptics” adopt protectionism and exclusion. The “European Market Theorists” are very satisfied with the monetary union that ultimately led to the formation of the European internal market. The "European Federalists" are working to turn the existing agreements between European countries into a political constitution in order to have a legal basis for the resolutions of the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Court of Justice. The views of those who have a cosmopolitan attitude are different from the above three. They see the European Union as the starting point for a network system composed of transnational political institutions that can implement policies similar to global internal affairs even without establishing a world government.


However, European marketers have secretly formed alliances with former European skeptics who are looking for a third path based on the existing monetary union, which complicates the main opposition between European federalists and European marketers. European market commentators are willing to maintain the status quo in Europe, because it subordinates fragmented nation states to market-driven integration. Indeed, the European marketers believes that “in the era of globalization, it is impossible to remove restrictions on state power, ... (globalization) first requires us to enhance autonomy and liberalism in civil society. "The power" is "the people's personal initiative and personal responsibility." Those Social Democrats who want to open a third path and advocate the preservation of the national state also agree with this concept. This common premise explains why they change their attitudes and form alliances. Although the motives and goals of the two are different, the former European skeptics support European marketers to maintain the status quo in Europe now.


Thus, the debate between the Neoliberal and European federalists and the debate between the defensive and offensive variants of the “third way” within the Social Democrat camp (i.e. The debate between Schroeder and La Fontaine was stirred up) are mixed up.  This conflict touches not only whether the EU can win back the lost space of action of the national state by coordinating the fiscal, social and economic policies of different national states. The debate between European skeptics and European federalists involves, first and foremost, whether the EU can develop into a real country, or the negotiating system of new corporatism must still be upheld, if the EU member states have a wide variety of ethnicities, languages, and cultures. European federalists are committed to improving the governance of the EU in order to be able to implement pan European policies and regulations, even if the measures taken are redistributive, forcing member states to coordinate their actions. They believe that expanding the EU ability to act politically must go hand in hand with expanding the democratic and legal foundation of the EU.


There is no doubt that the prerequisite for the formation of the will of all European people is wider unity. This social solidarity has so far been confined to the national state, and it must be extended to every EU citizen. Democracy itself is a form of legal intermediary for political integration. In turn, the premise of democracy is that all residents enjoy a common political culture. One European constitution is not enough. Only the existing political parties first discuss the future of Europe on the stage of the national state. In the process, they find the interests that transcend national borders. Then, the European political party system is likely to emerge. Only the national education system can ensure that Europeans have the same foreign language knowledge, and the multinational language can establish a multilingual environment. Only in this case will the cultural heritage left by the common history of Europe gradually regroup to form a common political culture.


Originally published in Foreign Theoretical Dynamics, No. 11 of 2000