William Mitchell and Thomas Fazi (WM/TF) have written a piece that – under the presumptuous title of Everything you know about neoliberalism is wrong – offers a critique of the idea that nation states need to pool sovereignty in order to enact progressive policies and makes a plea for a “progressive emancipatory vision of national sovereignty”. It has attracted some favourable attention, not least from colleagues at Eurointelligence. I consider that unfortunate, for the analysis fails, in my view, in both goals. It does not convincingly discredit the view that pooling sovereignty is a sensible response to the constraints imposed by globalisation. Nor does it make the case for a specifically left-wing strategy of enhanced national sovereignty, traditionally the mantra of the hard right, that might endear it to progressive politicians and academics.
The article alone would not necessitate a response: I am well aware that textual analyses do not make racy reading. But given the increasing hold of such ideas on parts of the European Left – some elements of which are taking positions indistinguishable from the extreme right – while social democracy is visibly searching for new ideas, the arguments made are important and a critical analysis is in order.
The piece starts with a statement of what the authors see as the “conventional wisdom” (to be debunked), namely that globalisation undermines national sovereignty and therefore “our only hope of achieving any meaningful change is for countries to ‘pool’ their sovereignty together and transfer it to supranational institutions (such as the European Union) that are large and powerful enough to have their voices heard, thus regaining at the supranational level the sovereignty that has been lost at the national level”. That is a clear and accurate statement. What, according to WM/TF, is wrong with it? [Read more…]