domenica 16 marzo 2008

Saskia Sassen, Magnus Wennerhag "Denationalized states and global assemblages"

Denationalized states and global assemblages
An interview with Saskia Sassen
"The liberal state has been hijacked for neoliberal agendas," says Saskia Sassen in interview, and in some cases even for "very modern despotisms". It is necessary to repossess the state apparatus for genuine liberal democracy, and ideally to create a "denationalized state".
Magnus Wennerhag: Today, there is an obvious difference between the rhetoric of liberalism – that is, liberalism as political ideology – and the actual workings of the state in liberal-democratic polities. From an historical perspective, how should we understand this difference?

Saskia Sassen: I would distinguish two issues. One is that historically, liberalism is deeply grounded in a particular combination of circumstances. Most important is the struggle by merchants and manufacturers to gain liberties vis-à-vis the Crown and the aristocracy, and the use of the market as the institutional setting that both gave force and legitimacy to that claim. Seen this way, why should liberalism not have decayed? What rescued liberalism was Keynesianism, the extension of a socially empowering project to the whole of society. This is the crisis today: Keynesianism has been attacked by new types of actors, including segments of the political elite. What is happening today is on the one hand a decay (objectively speaking) of liberalism even as an ideology – being replaced with neoliberalism, attacks on the welfare state, etc – and, on the other hand, a decay of the structural conditions within which Keynesian liberalism could function. So the struggle today has been renamed: one key term is democratic participation and representation, and those who use this language will rarely invoke liberalism. When we praise liberalism, it is often a situated defense: as against neoliberalism, as against fundamentalisms and despotisms – this is not necessarily invoking historical liberalism, which at its origins was defending the rights of an emerging class of property owners, but the best aspects of a doctrine that had to do with the fight against the despotism of Crown and nobility.

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