July 8, 2014

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO TRANSNATIONALISM:

Why international interdependence has reduced the costs of secession (LORENZO PICCOLI, 8 July 2014, Open Democracy)

In Europe the majority of countries that were created over the last century has emerged from the disruption of established political unions. However, the breakdown of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union bears little resemblance to the situation that is currently under discussion in the United Kingdom and with the debates on independence that are under way in Spain, Belgium, and Italy. While there is little doubt that these contemporary forms of self-determination claims have deep historical roots, they have not been caused a sudden change in the internal economic, political, or social conditions of the state. The puzzling question is why the political leaders of these regions are now successful in translating their long-term discontent into explicit demands for secession. The question is, in other words, what conditions allowed secessionism crises to gain momentum across Europe.

There are different answers to this question. Some have argued that the consequences of economic crisis have fuelled the flames of secession. Others have suggested the negative attitude of the central governments in power in the last few years has made a difference in most of these countries. These arguments help explain why the dream of nationhood is now being translated into a secession crisis across Europe. Yet, there is one crucial aspect that the debate on independence referendums has relatively overlooked, taking it for granted or treating it as something of marginal importance only. This concerns the international context and whether it has created more favourable conditions for secession. In this article I will explain that the changes that have occurred to the international environment in the course of the last twenty years have greatly contributed to turn secession into a viable political option for regions and their political leaders. My argument, in short, is that the contemporary international context has decreased the benefits that were previously associated with membership to a larger sovereign nation-state and has therefore contributed to augment both the desirability and the feasibility of secession.

One of the central arguments of Redefining Sovereignty was that the End of History (the triumph of consensual government) means that we need not overmuch fear transnationalism--no one will choose it.
Posted by at July 8, 2014 6:29 PM
  
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