By Suhail Khan Mandokhel.
In the recent twilight of state, government across the world have become colourless, if not meaningless. “Market states” have overdeveloped to an extent that an observer gets confused while differentiating between state actor and non-state actor. Students of social sciences are always taken aback upon reading the profile of United Fruit company which was more powerful than many nation states. Does the sovereignty propounded by Hobbes exist nowhere in modern world? Explaining this burning fact, two views hold necessary weightage. One is realist view and the other, we know, is liberal view. According to the former school of thought, the only overriding motive for states should be‘ the wish to survive’ regardless of inner socio-political composition. Near to like-minded realists, overdeveloped sub-state actors like Transnational corporations and NGOs can’t hollow out the sovereignty of a state. To the disbelief of liberals, realists discount any linkage between socio-political conditions of a state and its external sovereignty. Arrayed against this dominant school of thought are liberals who use term ‘post-sovereign governance’ for modern governments and so too, they give supportive arguments for the manifest transition of modern states from being sovereign to redundant due to globalization. They feel pity for those realists who consider state to be a black box and nullify any impact of non-state actors on sovereignty.
Under the shrill tension created by political, cultural and economic globalization; the idea of state as autonomous and independent is collapsing. Amid this development, the debatable point concerning the receiving ends and losing ends of neo-liberalism need serious contemplation. Despite so-called fairplay induced by modern era, developing countries which emerged on world map after decolonization are still lagging far behind. Just like their glorious era of imperialism, US and European union are still enjoying status of exceptionalism. Nation-states, which hardly managed their freedom from imperialists in pre-modern era, seem even today to be as copycats of these superpowers as they had been prior to self-determination. Why is it so? Answer to this much-regurgitated question lies somewhere in analytical and historical research of state formation and then transformation.
The era of nationhood came of age when French volunteers heavily defeated the Prussian regulars in Valmy, northern France on September 20th 1792. This triumph of nationhood against Princedom gave way to the inherent desire of self-determination amongst nations. For much of twentieth century, the principal motor behind state construction was struggle for self-determination characterised by nationhood. Number of states spiked to 192 from 50 between 1945 and 2009 as recorded by UN. Hastened by the decline of imperialistic power, this process of statehood broke out like a contingent development. Meanwhile this phenomenon, Colonizers had never been silent spectators. In order to preserve their hold over nascent states, they thought out a plan based mainly on monetary dependence. Policies were made to prevent states from becoming self-reliant. Here it is suffice to say that imperialists changed their form but their function remains same.
As Wordsworth said of River Duddon:
“ still glides the stream and shall forever glide,
The form remains and the function never dies”
These imperialists, through using globalization and modernism, have obscured the sovereignty of states to an unexpected extent and this compelled Kenichi Ohmae to write: “ Traditional nation-states have become unnatural, even impossible units in global economy”. Worst onslaught inflicted on independent states was launched through monetary unions, CNN, internet and non-governmental organisations. First of these ploys used by big powers is monetary policy chartered by Bretton woods. States are offered loans in exchange for domestic institutional changes, such as conditions to extinguish cartels and purge corrupt elements. It is needless to say that this crackdown against corruption is always selective and is aimed at breaking up independent cartels. Cheryl Payer, in his book, “ the debt trap: international monetary fund and third world”, has taken an insightful dive into the baleful role of IMF aimed at destroying the financial self-sufficiency of member states. Hence, monetary unions like IMF, world Bank and WTO are largely responsible for reversing the economic sovereignty of states.
Next comes the turn of mass media which has become the weapon of mass deception. In least possible time, media can unfold countrywide fury in the name of freedom of expression. An influential person sitting thousands of miles away from a place can unravel a discussion there through creating identity crisis and political prostitutes. This destability, in aftermath, renders internal sovereignty of a state meaningless. Yuri Bezmenov, KGB propagandist, in his book ‘ Deception was my job’ has made an illustrious account of psychological warfare played by media in unmaking a settled government. Media has become an emissary of globalization and it is in this context that regional formations of capital seek to colonize communication space and then uses it to propagate cultural imperialism. Liberty of people , which formulates the liberty of state, is now losing ground at hands of media.
With the shift of emphasis from religious toleration to human rights, role of NGOs has increased to an unfavourable extent. In the light of reports documented by NGOs about the status of human rights in any country, super powers take no scruples in intervening. For example, NATO created a protectorate in Kosovo under the pretext of safeguarding human rights. Externally controlled authority structure in Bosnia, including human rights commission comprising upon members from west was appointed in Bosnia for the covert purpose of checking anti-west sentiments. Boob Woodward, in his book “ Obama’s wars” has betrayed the purpose of NGOs to readers by explaining that human rights commission and NGOs work for protection of human rights besides westernizing societies. It means, these self-governing bodies play a dual role. Nonetheless, it is unfair to discredit NGOs for their humanitarian ventures which have been rendering lives of poor people easy-going .
States are no more independent. The basic feature of state, a specific juridical and political territory, is on decline due to supranationalism and intergovernmentalism. Even if it may be exaggeration to write down that external sovereignty of states has lost to globalization and modernism, one can’t deny the presence of overdeveloped non-state actors which dictate state policy through ability of product relocation and investment at ease in a globalised economy. In the presence of such multi-layered state and non-state actors, most unfortunate communities are those which don’t have considerable representation in state institutes and non-state formations.
Suhail Khan Mandokhel hails from Zhob, Balochistan and currently doing Law at University Law College, Lahore. Contributes regularly to different dailies and weeklies like Balochistan voices, Balochistan point and young-diplomats. He can be reached at twitter at SuhailMandukhel