A New Conflict

By Ferraro, Vincent | Harvard International Review, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

A New Conflict


Ferraro, Vincent, Harvard International Review


Professor Maier's article ("Dark Power: Globalization, Inequality, and Conflict," Spring 2007) argues that other forces in the international system--what Maier labels "dark power"--will increasingly restrict the power of the state, leaving it relevant to only a narrow set of circumstances. The one issue that almost completely repudiates the traditional conception of world politics is, as Maier points out, the phenomenon of globalization. Globalization views the world as a single entity. Territorial demarcations are impediments to its full realization.

By the end of the 20th century, it became apparent that the unequal effects of globalization were not restricted to relations among nations, but also within nations. The concern is the likely dispute between rich and poor individuals who can plausibly argue that their best interests are not served by the state. The state has made itself increasingly irrelevant to the daily lives and livelihoods of citizens.

The interests of the rich are clear. Their perceived interests are served by the universal harmonization of regulations and policies governing trade, investment, environmental protection, worker protection, and tax policies, all at levels consistent with their desire to maximize profits. In this strategy, states are nothing more than useful bargaining chips to extract concessions from other states. In a fully globalized world, there is absolutely no reason at all for private interests to have any primary loyalty whatsoever to any state.

The interests of the poor are also clear: they need decent incomes, medical care, education for their children, and economic assistance for retirement. In the United States, many individuals are losing their health insurance, their pensions, and their jobs. In the past, private corporations provided such essentials, but that contract is now shattered. The poor now look to the state for protection, but they are often disappointed. …

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