June 16, 2007

Cato Unbound » Blog Archive » Globalization and Global Governance

Rastiala's conclusion about the impact of globalization on the power of the state is now up, with some thoughts for libertarians

Cato Unbound » Blog Archive » Globalization and Global Governance

"A useful analogy when thinking about the politics of global governance is that of the federal government. When Washington was a small town, and the federal government much smaller than it is today, we didn’t have legions of lobbyists working K Street and national organizational headquarters crammed into every office building in Washington, DC. As the power of the federal government to regulate the national economy grew in the 20th century, however, lobbyists and various interest groups rapidly set up shop in Washington. These non-state actors became omnipresent and at times quite influential.

Yet one could hardly argue that the federal government began to wither away in the 20th century. Quite the contrary — the presence of all these non-state actors was a testament to greatly enhanced government power. The power of the central government to regulate and control was, in fact, never stronger.

Who lost power in all this? It was not the federal government whose autonomy was diminished by the arrival of a host of non-state actors. Rather, to some degree it was the individual states, and to a large degree it was the individual, who was now subject to a panoply of regulatory rules that never existed before. In many cases these constraints on autonomy were necessary, because society was far more dense and because technology created new externalities that demanded regulation. The underlying lesson, however, is an important one for libertarians to ponder. The rise of interdependence and NGOs in American society didn’t signal the end of the state; it signaled the growth of the state."

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