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New Left Review I/235, May-June 1999


Jürgen Habermas

The European Nation-State and the Pressures of GlobalizationThis article originally appeared in Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, April 1999, pp. 425–436.

‘The all-important question today’, we read in the introduction to a book entitled Global Dynamics and Local Environments, ‘is whether, beyond the limits of the nation-state, at the supranational and global levels, capitalism’s potential for playing ecological, social, and cultural havoc can be brought back under control.’ [1] R. Münch, Globale Dynamik—lokale Lebenswelten, Frankfurt 1998. The market’s capacity to steer the economy and bring new information to light is beyond question. But markets only respond to messages coded in the language of prices. They are insensible to their own external effects, those they produce in other domains. This gives the liberal sociologist Richard Münch reason to fear that we will be faced with the depletion of non-renewable resources, cultural alienation on a mass scale, and social explosions unless we succeed in politically fencing-in markets which are, as it were, running away from enfeebled and overburdened nation-states.

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