Globalization: Social & Geographic Perspectives

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Global Organized Crime

October 26th, 2010 · 1 Comment
Apr 5/Political Globalization & Cultural Globalization

Perhaps one of the more enlightening chapters so far, this reading goes further in laying out the new ground rules all social scientists must now ponder when thinking about world politics. Mittelman holds no punches in his analysis and does not merely deem the state less relevant, like Strange did, but also relegated to the role of  ‘courtesan’.  Brilliant.What better way to describe entities who continually allow themselves to be used by the highest bidder and yet still try to exude a sense of legitimacy?

The role of the Transnational Corporations as criminal elements is hardly new. Yet, while comparing them to actual criminal syndicates, like the Triads, on the basis of they operate across jurisdictions, often with impunity, the author reaches the conclusion that the state’s former claims of territoriality should be called into question. Obviously the author himself has already done so, but the answer is still elusive. Another question that needs to be addressed is whether the state should be upgraded from mere ‘courtesan’ to “accomplice” and perhaps even to criminal levels. The current “War On Terror” is an example of a state, the US, acting like a transnational and operation across traditional jurisdictions. In fact, pioneering the extent to how much a state can operate on the global stage… all in the name of security.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1    Prof. Hala // Nov 1, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    You make important connections between Strange’s argument and Mittelman’s, between transformations in state authority and the growth and spread of transnational criminal organizations. You ask important questions, like whether TNCs and even states themselves should be considered criminal syndicates. These are empirical questions. It depends on the TNC and the state, and the particular empirical-historical context. In democratic states, governments change, and so do the interests they serve. As Strange reminds us, even though state authority is declining across the board, there is still great asymmetry among states, in the authority they exercise in the society and the economy.

    And this gets to the question of legitimacy, and to the case of the War on Terror. Of course there are many who consider the military actions undertaken in this war “criminal.” If the same actions were undertaken by a different state, or by a nonstate actor, they’d be labeled as such by relevant international authorities and powerful states. Whether such force is deemed legitimate or illegitimate depends less on what you or I or the rest of the US citizenry thinks than on what other power-holders say and do, at least according to scholars like Charles Tilly. In Tilly’s political realist view, legitimacy is “the probability that other authorities will act to confirm the decisions of a given authority.” An act is legit if other authoritative people say it is, and no one resists. Again, it all comes down to power.

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