Why does Financial Capitalism Hate Sovereign States?

The semantic and symbolic ambivalence of the term “Globalization” is what, de facto, makes possible the transformation of the process of unification of the global sphere of economy and toxic finance, of lifestyles and expressive and linguistic modes, into “an ineluctable destiny and a political project of universal liberation at the end of a natural evolution, into a civic and ethical ideal that, in the name of the supposed link between democracy and market, promises a political emancipation to the peoples of all countries.”

Indeed, the persuasive “ideology of globalization” openly promises emancipation and access to modernization, in an overcoming of trivial forms of existence, but also of political forms judged as “pre-modern,” i.e., incompatible with the new globalized order; and, secretly, it aims exclusively at the destruction of cultural and linguistic differences, of production and relationship with the world, so that all the peoples of the planet are subsumed under the depoliticized and borderless ordo oeconomicus, without States and without any dimension of meaning superior to the sovereign market.

It promises the full implementation of “global democracy” in the same act with which it eliminates the still perfectible democracies that existed during the second half of the nineteenth century, in the spaces of sovereign nation-states; in their place, it establishes the dictatorship of the cosmopolitan ruling class, hidden under the mask of the sacra voluntas of the Stateless markets. Returning to Marx’s grammar in his On the Questionn of Free Trade (Discours sur la question du libre-échange), (1848), the dominant pole returns once again to “designate with the name of universal fraternity exploitation in its cosmopolitan form (Désigner par le nom de fraternité universelle l’exploitation à son état cosmopolite).”

The “Inglobalization,” that is to say, the Westoxication linked to the neutralizing inclusion of all the peoples of the planet within the armored walls of the New World Order, entails at the same time the “Glebalization” of the peoples, condemned to capitalist polarization and the associated forms of super-exploitation; it thus favors the “passage to the West” of every area of the planet under the glamorous dictatorship of “Globalitarianism;” that is to say of the totalitarianism of the class civilization of the market. To the latter—which is all the more totalitarian, the more it manages to smuggle as freedom the slavery it generates on a planetary scale—Adorno’s words fit: “the new world is a single concentration camp that believes itself to be a paradise because there is nothing to compare it with.”

This occurs simultaneously with the reduction of humanity as a whole to the condition of a post-bourgeois and post-proletarian replebeianized mass, without Identity and without Culture. The whole world is redefined as a single depoliticized market, as a smooth and borderless plane for the unlimited flow of commodities and commodified human beings. The co-essential logic of technocapitalist globalism lies in its tendency to make all human beings “encompassed in the flow of globality.”

In this scenario of refeudalization of the capitalist bond, the most modest and elementary demands for a dignified existence acquire the appearance of luxuries inaccessible in the present, typical of those who for a time were accustomed to “living beyond their means.”

Consequently, the globalist ideology represents, to all intents and purposes, the most emblematic superstructural culmination of the de-eticized and absolute “system of needs.” The dialectical phase of capitalism was still governed by the State as a power at the service of economic mechanisms. And it is for this reason that Marx and his epigones, in the concrete historical framework in which they worked and acted, raised, by contrast, the issue of the internationalist way as a moment of conflict and counterposition with respect to the historically determined capitalist relation of force.

In its logic of development, which leads it from the antithetical-dialectical to the synthetic-speculative phase, capital enters into conflict with the State, just as it does with the bourgeoisie, with which it had coexisted and of which it had availed itself for a good part of the time of the modern adventure. It must overcome them in order to be able to impose itself absolutely. Technocapitalism absolutus is, for this very reason, post-bourgeois and anti-bourgeois.

More precisely, it must de-sovereignize the States in order to impose as the only sovereign reality the depoliticized and borderless capitalist market, with the annexed redefinition of the bourgeois pole and the proletarian pole as the new polychromatic, consumerist and unified plebs.

The dialectical character of the nation-state has been emphasized, among others, by Ralf Dahrendorf of The Modern Social Conflict (1988): “Historically at least, the nation-state has been a necessary condition of progress when unfortunately it has become a source of regression and inhumanity.” On the one hand, it guaranteed the rights associated with citizenship, the general democratic and social conquests of the subaltern classes: it generated “domesticity” connected to an immunological structure that protected its inhabitants. And on the other hand, it provoked the pathologies of imperialism and nationalism as instruments of the dominant pole. It is Engels himself who lets emerge this contradiction embedded in the figure of the national state, which guarantees its dialectical character:

The State, since it was born of the need to curb class antagonisms, but at the same time arose in the midst of the conflict of these classes, is as a rule the State of the most powerful class which, through it, also becomes politically dominant.

In short, the State is ultimately an instrument of the ruling class, but it arises to “curb” class antagonisms, to allow the dominated not to be disintegrated and (at least from the point of view of the figure of the citoyen) to have equal rights.

Even as Dahrendorf has pointed out, “no less important benefit of the nation-state was that it generalized the ancient idea of citizenship,” transforming it into a universal right for all the inhabitants of the nation-state. On this same basis, “constitutional norms were introduced to prevent wealth from being translated into the power to deny citizenship rights to others.”

In other words, the nation-state, which originally favored the genesis of modern capitalism and later also figured on multiple occasions as its protector, also dialectically became the locus of the rights and conquests of the oppressed classes. Therefore, it also ended up being a brake against the unstoppable voracity of capital, delimiting a space of rights and protections inaccessible to the purely undemocratic logic of the market.

In this perspective, Marx’s analysis according to which “modern state power is nothing more than a committee that administers the common affairs of the entire bourgeois class (ein Ausschuß, der die gemeinschaftlichen Geschäfte der ganzen Bourgeoisklasse verwaltet),” becomes true only in the context of inverted Keynesianism and the absolute primacy of the economic.

Hegel’s interpretation is more well-founded: the State was essentially the guarantor of the primacy of the political and of the solidary protection of the community, the wall that knew how to discipline the “wild beast” of the market and the “ethical tragedies” of the system of needs. And it ended, in congruence, by entering into conflict with that capitalism which had also originally found in it its own locus naturalis. In its fundamental lines, this explains the enmity between the national state and globalist capital, which has become the central figure of the post-1989 era.

The de-sovereignization of the nation-states is presented, within the framework of the New World Order, as a fundamental moment of the depoliticization of the economy and of the aggression against the State form as a compendium of eticity and the possibility of regulating the market.

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre ReturnsThis article appears courtesy of Posmodernia.