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obvek's avatar

What is your response to the ideas of Philip Bobbitt-- that we are in transition from an era of nation-states to an era of market-states and that terrorism is a consequence of the rise of the market-state?

Asked by obvek (1415 points ) June 6th, 2011

I came across this guy from this recent article, although the article seems to be more alarmist than Bobbitt himself comes across. This interview of Bobbitt seems to do a better job of summarizing his ideas on political history from 500 years ago to the present and then if you dig around a bit on reviews of his most recent book, you get further understanding that terrorism is a necessary byproduct of the coming to power of the market-state. Maybe your search will turn up other useful summaries.

He also explains that the market-state sheds the nation-state’s directive to provide for the welfare of its citizens as well as the citizens duty to serve when the nation-state is in need. Instead, he asserts, the market-state offers a rising tide of greater efficiency and ever increasing opportunities for individuals to seek wealth and well being. Belief in the ultimate efficiency of markets, for example, means abdicating traditional Medicare in favor of vouchers in a free market with an ever increasing number of options.

Among my reactions is mainly one of finally feeling like I understand where the ground is and which way is up in this chaotic and confusing (unless you’re simply accepting what you’re told about the world today) period in citizenship. I find his ideas seductive—especially in his use of history to frame today’s changes as part of the natural order of political evolution. I question whether his assertion that the “contest” of competing political models is as organic as he portrays and whether non-Western models are ignored. I’m also kind of relieved to understand what the name of the new game is (or at least what it’s being sold as). I think there’s a degree of legitimacy to it in terms of what material conveniences we all many enjoy relatively cheaply as a result of globalized markets. And, it provides a somewhat satisfactory response to a disposition of conspiracies in that he speaks towards similar ends while providing a more “reasonable” (sounding) explanation of the motives behind the paradigm changes. At least it provides some relief from the kabuki theatrics in politics and media circuses.

Do you agree with Bobbitt’s assertions? Thoughts? Reactions? How does it make you feel about “traditional” values such as patriotism? Do you like the idea of transitioning from a nation that provides for the welfare of its citizens (to whatever degree) to one that offers ever increasing opportunities to obtain that welfare in a free market? Do you agree that terrorism is a natural byproduct of the rise of market-states? Should we transition our loyalty from nation-state values to market-state values and align ourselves with markets and against terrorists by supporting ideals such as ubiquitous surveillance?

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10 Answers

Ron_C's avatar

I find that statement alarming and if it is, I would have more sympathy with the terrorists. Of course the American colonists that resisted being part of a “market state” run by the East India Company with nominal suggestions from King George were considered terrorists.

An absolutely free market is what will drive us to the level of street merchants in India but with less access to state services.

Just imagine having to resort to the U.N. to protect our human rights! We have enough people on the right attempting to limit democracy, we (I) don’t want it curtailed because of market expediencies.

zenvelo's avatar

Interesting thoughts. But we don’t have to go down that path. Corporations don’t believe in free markets (they want markets free for themselves only), and we don’t need to worship at the altar of the unregulated market either.

Too much of the infrastructure of commerce is dependent on the stability of the nation-state; even in non- western societies. Where that breaks down (ie., central Africa) the economy collapses too.

basstrom188's avatar

I’m confused. Why the withering away of the nation state appears to be the aim of both the Marxist and Corporate entities?

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I see no structural difference between the period of the late 1920’s, 1930’s, early 40’s and today.

This was a period of time when citizens experienced deprivation based on the failures of market based national policy. That period ended with the GI Bill, which was a massive redistribution of wealth in a form that was palatable intellectually and morally.

Our period of deprivation will end when we again redistribute wealth in a manner that we find emotionally and intellectually palatable.

CaptainHarley's avatar

It’s too simplistic.

obvek's avatar

Another source that more directly addresses the terrorism component according to this guy.

dabbler's avatar

@basstrom188 to disenfranchise regular folk and concentrate power into fewer hands.
“Globalization” has undermined a lot of our capacity for self-determination.

WasCy's avatar

I would have to read his book, I suppose, to make any sense of it. The reviews provided via the links here make no sense.

“Market-state” is an oxymoron. The terms are contradictory.

The idea (expressed in the interview link) that “the nation-state saw its role as increasing the material wealth of the nation’s people and was charged with making sure it was fairly distributed” is completely laughable, as is the idea (from the same link) that “[s]tates exist to maximize people’s opportunities to advance themselves, and to get out of the way.” This is decidedly not true.

Ron_C's avatar

@obvek I watched about a third of the link, Before you credit this guy you should read his wikipedia entry here he has spend most of his time in an office away from any real conflict or terrorist event. He did support terrorist in that he was counsel for the Iran/Contra committee. I am sure that he, like John Yoo who wrote memos justifying and finding “legal” way to torture people.

It is funny that the most pragmatic and belligerent are usually the ones with the least experience in and with the military.

incendiary_dan's avatar

“Fascism can more appropriately be called corporatism, because it’s a merger of state and corporate power.”

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