Are states now losing sovereignty?

#1
Just been thinking about this lately, the rise in influence from bodies or organisations that are not states (big business, religion, terrorism etc) seems to be increasing to the extent that I believe states are losing sovereignty (i.e., multinational corporations can influence govt policy).

Any thoughts on this?
 
#2
Every time a state signs an international treaty or enters into some form of international obligation it results in a small loss of sovereignty in that particular area (e.g. it can't break the conditions of the treaty). That small loss is not normally permanent since the state can withdraw from said obligation/treaty at a separate stage in the majority of cases. Usually such treaties (e.g. the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea - my personal favorite) exist to clarify states duties, rights and obligations and as such provide rules as to how states interact with each other; without them there would be a bit of a free for all with the potential for people to start banging one another over the head.

I don't necessarily buy the argument that the EU has prevented another war in Europe (that is if everyone conveniently forgets the Balkans), but I would submit that membership of the majority of international organisation (e.g. UN, NATO etc...) has been largely beneficial to the states concerned, enabling differences to be resolved peacefully under a previously agreed set of rules.

Of course I could be wrong and it could all be a conspiracy designed to rob Englishmen of their red blood cells...
 

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LE
Book Reviewer
#3
Ever heard of the following:

Trilateral Commission, Council of Rome, Bilderburger's, European Commission, The World Bank, Globalisation, The Vatican, Tony B Liar, Mandelson, The Labour Party, The French & Germans etc etc etc?
 
#4
WRLounger said:
I don't necessarily buy the argument that the EU has prevented another war in Europe (that is if everyone conveniently forgets the Balkans)
In fairness, the EU only covered Western Europe until quite recently - they had no more legitimate authority in the Balkans during the wars than the African Union or Organisation of American States had.

Agreed that Treaties are voluntary cedeing of sovereignty, but more to the point sovereignty is to the nation-state what freedom is to the individual. It's constrained by a number of factors; obligations, capabilities and external actors being among them. Luxembourg has sovereignty, but I don't see them being willing or able to enforce a claim over ownership of Manhattan any time soon.

Long story short, not even the US has true sovereignty in this day and age. Certainly no less powerful nation has as they can all be constrained in their freedom of action whether they agree to it or not.
 
#5
Perhaps I was being a little unfair to the good old EU; it might have been fairer to say that the EU's existence is not the only reason that there hasn't been a war in western europe.

The analogy of a state's sovereignity and an individual's freedom is a good one, which I will use at work probably within the hour. I may even make no reference to the fact that s_a_c came up with it before me and for that I apologise in advance.
 
#6
Welcome to International Relations 101, chaps. I'll sit this one out and see where this goes. ;)
 
#7
International Relations is really interesting, I have started to buy text books for it and I am getting into it in a major way.

Firstly, it certainly appears to me that non-state actors are becoming increasingly powerful; see the effects of religion, terrorism and commerce. It strikes me that states were the be all and end all of international relations, but now the above actors I mentioned can rival a state in terms of influence, but obviously not in military capability (but then al qaeda did immense damage to American security)...
 
#8
Bigdumps said:
International Relations is really interesting, I have started to buy text books for it and I am getting into it in a major way.

Firstly, it certainly appears to me that non-state actors are becoming increasingly powerful; see the effects of religion, terrorism and commerce. It strikes me that states were the be all and end all of international relations, but now the above actors I mentioned can rival a state in terms of influence, but obviously not in military capability (but then al qaeda did immense damage to American security)...
Blackwater? Measure military strength in terms of effects and since the Yanks would be screwed without the PMCs... Also, since they can impose their will on a sovereign nation, it could be argued they'd class as a nation-state-level military power.
 

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LE
Book Reviewer
#9
When non-state actors, such as The World Bank, or huge international trading conglomerates can severely damage a nation through its activities, one does indeed wonder just how much power a sovereign nation has.

Britain, supposedly the 7th richest nation on the planet or something, had its currency kicked in the gonads by ONE financial speculator - George Sorros.

Makes you think doesn't it.
 
#10
The development of global markets and businesses has certainly led to a weakening of the nation state. Look at the power that Microsoft has as a world influence. Global branding respects no borders. As an example, with our drift into a multi-cultural society, Britain no longer has any unified cultural or moral identity . . it's a financial centre. People are not coming here to see the lovely landscape or due to some attraction to the British way of life, they are coming here for financial gain, because they can perpetuate their cultures in a financially more advantageous environment. It happens everywhere. Whether the world can be effectively 'managed' on a purely financial and marketing basis is doubtful but it's certainly the way it's going.
 

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#12
#13
singha61 said:
The British East India Company is a classic example of a compnay becoming all powerful and independant of the state
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_East_India_Company
Not entirely independant as its charter was eventually revoked and the Crown took over direct rule of its Indian posessions. It did operate with an astounding degree of autonomy, I'll grant you.

Does any kind of effective State control over todays multinationals exist, though?

Edited because I must work harder on my grammar.
 
#14
ericthellama said:
Look at the power that Microsoft
Pfft, MS is still answerable to truly global bodies like the EU. It may hold sway over some countries/blocks that it can bully, but there is alot of resistance and that resistance will only grow as Asia grows. MS has to change to survive and I have no doubts that it will.
 
#16
The EU is hardly a global power. The influence that Microsoft has goes way beyond financial. They have the most widely used software formats on the planet and even when people adapt it, they follow the same format because Microsoft have moulded the way you think when you use a computer. Even the Open Source software that is created has to follow the same basic rules.

In modern Britain virtually everything has a monetary value, even human and moral issues are reduced to a cost or value in Pounds Sterling. There has been a strong case put forward by economists over recent years that even moral issues can be dealt with effectively by economic forces.

What interests me is whether the world can be effectively managed by economics. Reading that the first 'baby boomer' was now drawing her pension, that in the USA this shift in the demographic could bankrupt the nation and comparing this to the fantastic rate of growth of the Chinese economy makes me wonder how it will develop over the next few decades.
 

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#17
ericthellama said:
The EU is hardly a global power. The influence that Microsoft has goes way beyond financial. They have the most widely used software formats on the planet and even when people adapt it, they follow the same format because Microsoft have moulded the way you think when you use a computer. Even the Open Source software that is created has to follow the same basic rules.

In modern Britain virtually everything has a monetary value, even human and moral issues are reduced to a cost or value in Pounds Sterling. There has been a strong case put forward by economists over recent years that even moral issues can be dealt with effectively by economic forces.

What interests me is whether the world can be effectively managed by economics. Reading that the first 'baby boomer' was now drawing her pension, that in the USA this shift in the demographic could bankrupt the nation and comparing this to the fantastic rate of growth of the Chinese economy makes me wonder how it will develop over the next few decades.
Isn't the principal of 'Game Theory' something that places a monetary or greed value on everything?
 
#18
Dunno Guv. I'll Google it and find out. It's interesting that this thread has appeared at a time when I have been thinking much the same thing, that overall control is falling outside the remit of the nation state.
 

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LE
Book Reviewer
#19
ericthellama said:
Dunno Guv. I'll Google it and find out. It's interesting that this thread has appeared at a time when I have been thinking much the same thing, that overall control is falling outside the remit of the nation state.
Wiki:
Economists have long used game theory to analyze a wide array of economic phenomena, including auctions, bargaining, duopolies, fair division, oligopolies, social network formation, and voting systems. This research usually focuses on particular sets of strategies known as equilibria in games. These "solution concepts" are usually based on what is required by norms of rationality. The most famous of these is the Nash equilibrium. A set of strategies is a Nash equilibrium if each represents a best response to the other strategies. So, if all the players are playing the strategies in a Nash equilibrium, they have no unilateral incentive to deviate, since their strategy is the best they can do given what others are doing.

The payoffs of the game are generally taken to represent the utility of individual players. Often in modeling situations the payoffs represent money, which presumably corresponds to an individual's utility. This assumption, however, can be faulty.

A prototypical paper on game theory in economics begins by presenting a game that is an abstraction of some particular economic situation. One or more solution concepts are chosen, and the author demonstrates which strategy sets in the presented game are equilibria of the appropriate type. Naturally one might wonder to what use should this information be put. Economists and business professors suggest two primary uses.
 
#20
I remember reading that both NATO and WP used Game Theory to predict the outcome of a nuclear war.

NATO assumed that the USSR were too rational to launch a first strike as the massive NATO response would ensure it just wasn't worth it.

The USSR assumed they could get away with tactical strikes as the US was too rational to escalate the exchange; the massive WP response would ensure it just wasn't worth it.

If your initial assumptions are gash, the predictions will be too. How the cockroaches didn't inherit the planet, I'll never know.
 

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