‘Under confinement we rediscover the strength of “proximate” solidarity in the family and amongst friend; we also rediscover the power of forms of national solidarity. The states, even those at the heart of the Schengen Area brutally close their borders in often precipitate and disorderly manner. We must not see this solely as nationalism of the worst kind, but more as a manifestation in times of severe crises of a collective will to survive clinging to the most tangible organised reality – the nation.’ (Djaïz 2020, p. 10; translation from French AF)
A friend has drawn my attention to this publication where Djaïz updates his ‘Slow Démocratie’ (Djaïz 2019) discussing the corona crisis alongside with 9/11 and the sub-prime crisis, all creating chain reactions with incalculable consequences showing the need to carefully manage globalisation.
Like I myself, Djaïz figures states are islands in an archipelago, with each responsible for the supply chains to, and social provisions in their respective hinterlands. His hope is, however, that the current drive for national solidarity will not go at the expense of awareness of our being part of a wider world.
At the same time the state is – and continues to be – the insurer of last resort. Echoing a topical theme, Djaïz says also that it ‘…must “assume responsibility” for the temporary decline in activities due to public health measures and protect employees much as enterprises from their disastrous long-term consequences.’ (p. 14) The crises of this century so far have raised concerns about collective security, personal safety and now also public health. What is required is a new architecture the like of which we have not seen before, with administrations the flood gates regulating the flow of events. Since human, economic or financial flows have sanitary, social and/or economic consequences, in so doing national governments (or a European executive for that matter) can impose controls.
So the point is not to withdraw behind the ramparts but to engage with globalisation by creating safety valves preventing the precipitous spread of disturbances. In this, international institutions and international law should not replace states but complement them in safeguarding global public goods like the environment, air quality, health, financial stability. Djaïz thus talks about an ‘interactive universalism’. He lauds peaceful competition between nation states but utters stark warnings against excessive nationalism bringing the danger, as always, of ending in a gulf of fire and steel. ‘Neither hyper-globalisation nor hyper-nationalism is exactly a good thing.‘ (p. 19)
So he is not against globalisation as such. The point is to decide in a democratic manner what has to be done locally and whatglobally. One may of course object that this would create territories of different speeds. But those are already upon us. What is rather needed ‘…is a new story line re-establishing solidarity between highly mobile and locally rooted sectors and where territorial fractures are make room for cooperation and complementarity.’ (p. 23) The unsavoury alternatives are ultra-localism and ultra-nationalism. So, the long and the short of it is to re-invigorate public authorities enabling them to reduce the negative consequences of neo-liberalism:
‘Thirty years ago it would have been possible to conceive of an globalisation taking an altogether different path based on interdependence and solidarity, but this would have required a starkly different manner of tooling up public power. In its place, we have had interdependence without solidarity. Now we appreciate where this has made us vulnerable. (p. 25)
Strong states taking account of interdependencies, as Djaïz suggests, is different from the territorialism that I have made the but of my criticisms. But we must also look at the mode of production of democratic legitimacy: elections by territories. This, the productive force of territorialism needs to be looked into. Suggesting trading votes, Blatter and Bauböck (2019) provide one conceivably way for dealing with interdependencies.
Blatter, J., Bauböck, R. (Eds) (2019) Let me vote in your country, and l let you vote in mine. A proposal for transnational democracy, EUI Working Paper RSCAS 2019/25, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Global Governance Programme.
Djaïz, D. (2019) Slow Démocratie, Allary éditions; Paris.
Djaïz, D. (2020) Coronavirus – La mondialisation malade de ses crises, Le Grand Continent, 23 March.
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