Three principal positions on political globalisation

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A number of categorisations have emerged attempting to organise the various positions on political globalisation. Anthony McGrew, for instance, classifies the proponents of the varying views into globalists, internationalists, and transformationists.

The globalists

are still rooted in the first stage of the globalisation debate. They argue that in a globalised world dominated by multinational capital, national governments are increasingly powerless and unimportant. While being too small to tackle effectively the global challenges impacting on their nationals (such as global warming or drug traffic), they are too large to solve local problems (such as waste recycling). In the United Kingdom, for example, as argued by McGrew, the power of the British Government is undermined by the supranational European Union at one end, and by the growing importance of institutions at the sub-national level (such as the Parliament of Scotland) as well as those that compete with the Government’s political powers (multinational corporations) at the other end.

The internationalists

maintain, to the contrary, that the ability of national governments to regulate the lives of their respective nationals and manage global affairs has never been greater. The end of the national state, they believe, is not being brought about by the process of globalisation, but globalisation, contrariwise, reinforces the importance of national governments in managing human affairs.

The transformationists

came to life during the second stage of the globalisation debate. They disagree with both the schools, saying that national governments must alter their roles and functions in a globalised world. A significant reconfiguration of power, authority and legitimacy of the national state is taking place as a consequence. The national state loses none of its importance, as claimed by the globalists, but its power does not simply grow, as claimed by the internationalists. It must adapt to the new contexts in which its power and sovereignty are shared with many other public and private institutions. That is manifested, for example, by the surrendering of certain authorities and part of the sovereignty to the supranational level (such as the EU) on the one hand, and by decentralisation on the other hand.