Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sovereign Democracy

Nicolas Véron is critical of Jacques Sapir's concept of "sovereign democracy." Sapir, dubious of the effectiveness of multilateral organizations such as the EU in controlling the market, favors a left-tinged version of "economic patriotism," which he dubs sovereign democracy. Nation-states remain the real nexus of power, he argues, and bilateral accords between nation states are the only effective checks on the market. Véron counters that this necessarily involves a turn toward protectionism in one guise or another, with ultimately negative consequences for economic growth.

The lines are a little too sharply drawn for my taste, however. Multilateralism and bilateralism are not mutually exclusive categories. One way of looking at Sarkozy's innovations in foreign policy is to see him as engaged in changing the mix of multilateral and bilateral commitments in France's external relations. The need for such a change is a consequence of shifting priorities: scaling up the size of the domestic market and establishing a credible commitment to price stability have receded in importance, while securing a stable supply of energy, food, and other resources have moved to the fore.

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