Nation-States on the Wane
Even as the United States stomps around the globe, ostensibly "nation building," the sovereignty of our own nation is less than it once was, as can be seen today
In a landmark decision, the World Trade Organization ruled against American cotton subsidies in a case brought by Brazil, officials from the two countries said on Friday.
The decision could eventually lead the United States to reduce subsidies for its entire farm sector and encourage other countries to challenge such aid in wealthy nations, analysts said.
The W.T.O. report, which was not made public, upheld a preliminary ruling in April that supported Brazil's claim that the more than $3 billion in subsidies the United States pays its cotton farmers distorts global prices and violates international trade rules.
"We are very satisfied with the panel's decision," Roberto Azevedo, who heads the trade disputes department at Brazil's foreign ministry, said in a phone interview from Brasília. "Once this is all over with, we expect the United States to comply with the ruling."
In Washington, Bush administration officials criticized the decision, arguing that the best way to address distortions in world agriculture trade was through negotiations, not litigation. The officials also said the United States would appeal, a process that could drag on for months, and possibly more than a year.
That the U.S. will kick and scream about this a bit is to be expected. The important point, to my mind, is that there is an international body, the WTO, that has been granted authority that trumps the laws enacted by the government of the United States.
For all that the right trumpets patriotism and all that, and periodically lambasts the pernicious United Nations, they are very much in favor of the international trade fostered by such organizations as the WTO. An interesting bit of schizoid thinking, revelatory of the fundamental contradiction between national authority and the logic of capitalism.
Anyway, I am by no means an advocate of nationalism, nor an opponent of globalization. However, the way in which globalization is being enacted is utterly backwards. Even as people (or labor, or workers, however you want to say it) are facing stringent restrictions to their movements, capital is freer than ever to flow hither and yon, enacting serious social consequences as it does so.
Globalization should work for people, not for capital.