Thursday, October 11, 2012

European Trilemma?

Purple People Eater?
Eeyew!
Illustration by Chris Van Es

I think I've previously blogged about Harvard professor Dani Rodrik's views on the problems faced by the European Union (EU), but why should that stop me from posting again? In an article "The Truth About Sovereignty," written for Project Syndicate (October 8, 2012), Rodrik explores what he calls the EU's trilemma:
That is where my political trilemma begins to bite: We cannot have globalization, democracy, and national sovereignty simultaneously. We must choose two among the three.
By "We," he means the EU. But why can't 'we' have all three? Does Rodrik mean that a democratic nation-state cannot participate in globalization? If so, then is he implying that a world government is necessary for globalization to take place? He seems to understand globalization in primarily economic terms, as a large-scale integration of the world economy. But for that to work, there must be rules that can be enforced by one political center, and that excludes democratic national sovereignty. The world is the EU writ large, it seems. But wouldn't globalization also exclude nondemocratic national sovereignty? You'll have to read the article to try to follow his argument.

I do think that the EU faces a trilemma, but I wouldn't use the term "globalization." I'd refer to "economic union," instead. If the EU wants economic union, then national sovereignty doesn't seem to fit, as we see in Europe's current economic difficulties. But that means that democracy at the nation-state level won't have much authority over fiscal policy, so to save democracy in the EU, the EU will need to ground democracy at the EU's political level.

But is globalization the same as economic union? Can any reader clarify this for me?

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3 Comments:

At 5:49 AM, Blogger dhr said...

is globalization the same as economic union? Can any reader clarify this for me?

... agree with you, rather than clarify: the problem is usually set in the terms you mention, not in Rodrik's.

On the other hand, Rodrik being a Briton, he would not like a "sover"-national European sovereignty, let alone any economic unity. In fact, UK belongs to the EU but doesn't belong to the Eurozone -- and surely they wouldn't join now.

Anyway, something will have to change in the way EU political structures work, in general. How? I think "we" honestly don't know, in spite of so many conjectures being made by experts.

 
At 5:52 AM, Blogger dhr said...

Corrigenda: Rodrik is absolutely not a Briton. Well, his Turkish origins gives a different nuance to the whole problem since a big question is: Can UE 'afford' a member like Turkey? Globalization...

 
At 6:04 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

He's from Turkey and married to the daughter of a general there, but he's Jewish ethnically, and he lives in the States, so I wouldn't know how to make any links between his country of origin and his views on globalization. The issue is probably a link he makes between globalization and economic union because he sees the former in largely economic terms, but argues that economics has political consequences.

Jeffery Hodges

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