08 March 2007

Public and Private in the Market State

The Nation-State's Changing Role
Gregory F. Treverton

The role of government will be transformed.

"The government of the territorial state was a doer; "make, buy, or regulate." For tomorrow's public managers, the choice will be "cajole, incentivize, or facilitate"--"carrots, sticks, and sermons." What the government, and particularly the American federal government, will have is infrastructure and, more questionably, legitimacy. It exists, with taxpayers providing buildings and secretaries and travel budgets."

"More and more, the role of government will be to convene groups of the willing. Operation Desert Storm against Iraq in 1991 was an early example. In the future, those groups will bring together public institutions and private entities; like Desert Storm's partners, they will come from more than one nation. What the government will provide is its power to convene, its infrastructure, its legitimacy, perhaps, and its information--or intelligence."

The market state implies dramatic changes in "private" responsibilities.

"Traditionally, private actors were objects, not subjects of international politics. States, or groups of states acting through international institutions, might try to regulate their behavior, but the private groups had little responsibility for setting norms."

"The transition to the market state implies a vast increase in the responsibility of private actors, from companies and individuals to so-called NGOs. They are becoming, in ways hardly realized let along charted, not the objects of the international order but its subjects, its architects."

The market state devalues international organization.

"At a minimum, international institutions are orthogonal to the market because those institutions are creatures of states, rooted in notions of state sovereignty.

..not only are most of them swamped by private international transactions--what the IMF or Bank do is more and more overshadowed by private capital flows--but also the status of those institutions is itself ambiguous, for they too are creatures of governments, not of the forces that drive international politics."

To some extent, law itself is also devalued by the market state.

"After all, law is rooted in the traditional state. And so, at a minimum, the legitimacy of law is more and more questioned. Charles V of Spain could simply order a criminal's head chopped off. American presidents can hardly come close.

President Clinton could sign and the Senate could ratify a treaty banning chemical weapons which contains provision for challenge inspections of suspected private production facilities, but neither he nor the Senate could promise to deliver on that promise.

They could only promise to try; whether the Constitution would permit such a government reach into the private sector is unclear. As the market state erodes distinctions between citizens and noncitizens, older notions of civil liberties or of law enforcement, which accorded the sovereign's subjects greater protection than mere foreigners, pass away."

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