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But that's the whole point.  There is a consensus discourse on the basis for international law and norms for behavior as it regards how individuals engage in cross-border relationships, and that discourse is not likely to be shared by Russia, China, Libya, etc. absent US power to push it on actors from those regions when they engage with others.  The discourse is what we know as "liberalism," or rights-based discourse, which provides for individual human rights and private property rights as the basis upon which other discussions of how to interact across borders begins.  Without a common discourse, and a means of enforcing it on others who don't share it, transnational relationships of all kinds become inherently more risky, and thus reduced. (That's my hypothesis, at least.)

China and Russia are perfect examples of this, since their internal political discourse is often so contrary to the liberal one.  Their external discourse, however, is completely consistent with liberalism as actors from those countries relate with others in any number of spheres, from business activity to participation in liberal institutions such as the UN.  Property rights and individual liberties do form the basis of the way they relate with everyone outside of their own countries, and it is because they <i<have to</i> in order to have those relationships with anyone from the American-dominated world, which is almost everyone else.

My hypothesis is that without a powerful sponsor to champion a world-consensus on basic things such as individual rights to private property and freedom from government persecution, globalization will be reversed and transnational relationships will dwindle, like they did in the early part of the 20th century when colonial empires started to crumble.  That development can actually be a good thing for many people, but it would be a bad thing for others who currently enjoy the benefits of transnational relationships, including just about anyone who uses the internet as we do to communicate with others around the globe.  

Note that this does not speak at all to whether specific values promoted by the liberal discourse of America and its allies are inherently good or bad - just to the ability for that discourse to provide a common, universal ground for rules and norms of transnational behavior, reducing the risks of engaging in those relationships.  Empire provides a universality of discourse within it, and it is the global extent of the American empire that provides for the phenomenon we call globalization today. If my hypothesis is correct, the caveat would be that if the American empire were not global in extent but reduced to something much smaller, transnational relationships of the kind we see all over the world today would be reduced to regional areas of respective empire-like domains, just as they were in the 19th century.

What's some falsifiable evidence that would invalidate my hypothesis? I think historical evidence showing that there were, in fact, as many transnational relationships between imperial domains in the 19th century as within them would compel me to rethink it.

by santiago on Thu Sep 16th, 2010 at 10:26:45 AM EST
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