Philip G. Cerny


What’s on my mind

Cover Interview of December 21, 2011

In the 21st century, national governments are too small to provide the kind of public goods (international? transnational? global?) that are necessary to make things work, opening the way for transnationally organized cartels, lobbies, markets, mafias, etc., to increasingly control the allocation of resources and—pace David Easton—of values.

Can a regional institution like the European Union manage this situation for the common good (re the “common good”: I was taught by Straussian Aristotelians) and provide at least some of the transnational public goods that are needed? I doubt it. Bigger, but still too small.

And “global governance” is a washout, a bunch of talking shops dominated by fragile coalitions among increasingly neutered national governments led by transnationally emasculated technocrats—as shown by the current crisis of the Euro.

Is this transnational neopluralism—as in my book Rethinking World Politics? Or neomedievalism?

Today’s first 21st century generation will have much to be bitter about.  But unfortunately their own airy-fairy proposals and their assumption that existing governance processes can address these problems are also naïve. Their faith in national governments, regional institutions, and so-called “global governance” is like generals fighting the last war.

The world is very different now.  James Rosenau wrote about “fragmegration”—the combination of integration and fragmentation. I’m not sure how this is going to be addressed, at least at the level of existing political structures and processes.