Monday, August 15, 2016

Dani Rodrik, global governance and the nation-state

In my modest opinion, economist Dani Rodrik is taking the wrong exit to his own trilemma. It is absolutely true that there is a tension between democracy, the nation-state and globalization. In theory, one solution is to try to stop globablization and focus democracy on the nation-state, as Rodrik seems to try to be arguing for. He talks about the false promise of global governance, and there is little doubt that there is little democracy currently in global governance. But we have little choice but to try to improve it. It is not that democracy in nation-states is all that wonderful. Democratic countries are still a minority. Non-democratic ones are scary, and they are more scary the less well developed and democratic global governance is. Nation-states promote nationalism, which has proven not to be very healthy for civilization. Many borders are disputed and there are secessionist tensions that undermine democracy pursuing the myth of the free nation-state. The Balkan wars are a sad reminder of that. Rodrik argues that "perhaps the biggest policy letdown of our day is the failure of governments in advanced democracies to address rising inequality. This, too, has its roots in domestic politics – financial and business elites’ grip on the policymaking process and the narratives they have spun about the limits of redistributive policies." But increasing concentration of wealth is an international phenomenon that has its roots in the free international mobility of capital. Rodrik only accepts climate change as an argument for global governance, as if climate change and threatening refugee crises derived from it were not enough of an argument. But there are many more, and increasingly more, global problems that require global democratic action. Branko Milanovic and Charles Kenny have listed some of them in twitter after Rodrik's last article: technology, climate, oceans, biodiversity, infectious disease, nuclear and biological weapons, intellectual property rights, tax evasion, "fair trade", child labor, Internet protocol, airline regulation, time zones...

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