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Regionalism - Essay Example

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The present day erosion of the nation-state is most often linked to globalisation and the overwhelming influence it has had on the economic, social and political policies of these units. Governments are often portrayed as being at the mercy of transnational actors whose only loyalty is to their profit making abilities…
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Download file to see previous pages In this sense regionalism is seen to provide a buffer against the run away train of globalisation, yet, as we shall see in many ways regionalism's aims quite often run parallel to those of globalism.
Keohane and Nye (2000) define globalism as the "state of the world involving networks of interdependence at multicontinental distances."1 Regionalism, on the other hand, can be defined as the move by two or more states towards greater political, economic and social integration. Oman (1999) claims that it can be a "process, driven by the same microeconomic forces that drive globalisation or it can be a process, driven by political forces, which may in turn be motivated by security, economic, or other objectives."2 Both globalism and regionalism have the ability to stretch over the economic, social and political institutions of a country.
The definition of regionalism has changed over the last twenty-five years. Dutta (1999) claims that since the end of the Cold War "regionalization has become more economic than political. The two international arrangements that dominated the political and economic dialogues over the past several decades have come to outlive their usefulness."3 The opening of the global economy and the intensity of change in technological areas since this time have resulted in an assortment of pressures upon states. States, in turn, are adapting to these pressures by taking part in regional trading blocs. For Habermas (2001) globalisation and its challenges must be offset by an expansion of political authority that reaches beyond the national but does not go to the extent of being global."4 In addition, Lupel adds, "If under conditions of globalisation the state has begun to lose its capacity to protect its people from the exigencies of the world economy, and if processes of globalisation have left influential forces beyond the steering capacities of the democratic nation-state, then political change is clearly on the agenda. The integration of separate nation-states into new political and economic units is seen as one way to respond to this new conjuncture."5
Regional ties differ from global ties in that they bring together groups of nations who share linguistic, cultural or historic similarities. They present an 'us' and 'them' scenario with the rest of the world. While the global community has no "ethical political self-understanding of citizens" a regional one does and according to Habermas that is essential for developing a sense of identity and solidarity.6
These regions may also give smaller countries a platform to push issues of their own concern. Oman (1999) claims that because bargaining power in multilateral trade negotiations depends largely on domestic market size a regional grouping should have greater bargaining power than any of its members would have individually.7 In addition, Fernandez Jilberto and Mommen (1998) state, "Regional arrangements provide external credibility for their own programmes of trade and investment liberalization, as well as wider market access, particularly in the protection-prone industrialized capitalist world.8 For many developing and smaller countries regionalism would serve to re-emphasise collective autonomy in relation to US and the EU economic policies.9
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