Is the Government Relevant and Powerful in an Era of Global Capitalism?

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“This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations. How is this?” – Rutherford B. Hayes The above quote, written in 1888, is taken from the diary of Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States (1877–1881). In this powerful statement, Hayes condemns the influence and sway large corporations held over the economic policies of his time and, in doing so, he questions the power of his nation’s government when made to operate in the same economic spheres as these companies. His comments, although written and concerned with issues that occurred more than a century ago, echo many of the concerns about globalisation and global capitalism that have been central to international debates and global discourse in modern times. Opinions on the issue of globalisation range from the absolute to the sceptic but in most cases the power and relevance of nation-states is often called into question. On one side of the spectrum, hyper-globalisers forecast the rise of a borderless world where the authority of national governments is challenged by intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) and powerful transnational corporations (Ohmae, 1999). While on the other hand, sceptics refute the reality of globalisation by arguing that the current levels of world trade and financial interdependence are not unprecedented (Giddens and Sutton 2013). In place of globalisation, they propose the concept of internationalisation – which retains national governments as central players in global economic forums and sees regional trading blocs take the place of widespread global trade (Boyer and Drache 1996). With these views in mind, I intend to arg... ... middle of paper ... Institute of International Affairs 1944-), pp. 427-452. Smith, D., Solinger, D. and Topik, S. 2002. States and Sovereignty in the Global Economy. London: Routledge. Stoudmann, G. and Al-Rodhan, N. 2013. Definitions of Globalization: A Comprehensive Overview and a Proposed Definition. [e-book] Geneva, Switzerland: Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP),. Available through: International Relations and Security Network (ISN) [Accessed: 18 Dec 2013]. Taleb, N. 2012. A Conversation With Nassim Nicholas Taleb. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 17 Dec 2013]. Therborn, G. 2011. The World: An Introduction. Cambridge: Polity.

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