Author: Isaac Piano
Published: 2021-10-03
Datafeed Article 231
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711 words - 146 lines - 4 pages

A great epochal war has just ended. The various competing systems of the contemporary nation-state (fascism, communism, parliamentarism) that fought that war all took their legitimacy from the promise to better the material welfare of their citizens. The market-state offers a different covenant: it will maximize the opportunity of its people.
~ Philip Bobbitt, 2002

Introduction by StJohn Piano

The Long War (1914-1990) was a conflict between three different types of nation-state that emerged from the Industrial Revolution: Fascism, Communism, and Parliamentarism (usually known as Liberal Democracy).

This conflict is over. Liberal Democracy won. No state is seriously interested in trying either of the other two options again. [0] To do so is to lose.

Post-2020, however, Liberal Democracy is looking somewhat... fragile.

Philip Bobbitt, in his 2002 book The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History [1] explored how the Liberal Democratic nation-state cannot handle new problems created by its victory in The Long War, and how it will be replaced by its successor, the market-state. A lot of what he wrote has unfolded very much as he described.

This article contains a selection of 10 key excerpts by Isaac Piano, which outline the emergence of the market-state.

Excerpt selection by Isaac Piano

Excerpt 1 (pages 215-216):

Very simply, the strategic innovations of the Long War will make it increasingly difficult for the nation-state to fulfill its responsibilities. That will account for its delegitimation. The new constitutional order that will supersede the nation-state will be the one that copes better with these new demands of legitimation by redefining the fundamental compact on which the assumption of legitimate power is based.

Three strategic innovations won the Long War: nuclear weapons, international communications and the technology of rapid mathematical computation. Each has wrought a dramatic change in the military, cultural, and economic challenges that face the nation-state. In each of these spheres, the nation-state faces ever increasing difficulty in maintaining the credibility of its claim to provide public goods for the nation.

Excerpt 2 (page 216):

A State that could neither protect its citizens from crime nor protect its homeland from attack by other states would have ceased to fulfill its most basic reason for being.

Excerpt 3 (page 223):

Mass electronic communications made possible mass ideological propaganda on a scale and of an immediacy hitherto impossible.

Excerpt 4 (page 223):

On behalf of the victorious nation-states of the Long War, propaganda has been chiefly directed at advertising the ideology of democracy, equality, and personal freedom.

Excerpt 5 (page 226):

More than any other development it is the increased influence of the news media that has delegitimated the State, largely through its ability to disrupt the history of the State, that process of self-portrayal that unites strategy and law and forms the basis for legitimacy.

Excerpt 6 (page 227):

Computer technology has decentralized the availability of information.

Excerpt 7 (page 227):

Moreover, insofar as computer technology has breached the security of the State and ever more widely distributed the information government once claimed to possess solely, it has contributed to the decline in prestige of the State. The Xerox Copier not only threatens national currencies; it also threatens the currency of bureaucracy, which is the control of the flow of information. ... This may be an important contribution to openness and honesty in government, but it cannot be a step that strengthens the nation-state, a structure that must often maintain itself by taking decisions and then, and only then, persuading its public.

Excerpt 8 (page 228):

The market-state is a constitutional adaptation to the end of the Long War and to the revolutions in computation, communications, and weapons of mass destruction that brought about that end.

Excerpt 9 (page 229):

[The market-state] depends on the international capital markets and, to a lesser degree, on the modern multinational business network to create stability in the world economy, in preference to management by national or transnational political bodies.

Excerpt 10 (page 229):

Whereas the nation-state justified itself as an instrument to serve the welfare of the people (the nation), the market-state exists to maximize the opportunities enjoyed by all members of society.

[start of notes]

The initial quotation is taken from the Prologue to The Shield of Achilles, page xxvi.

[end of notes]

[start of footnotes]

For example, the current Chinese system, while authoritarian, looks much more Chinese than Communist.

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Published by Allen Lane The Penguin Press.

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