“Il faut couper la tête du roi et on ne l’a pas encore fait dans la théorie politique”. When Foucault challenged Hobbes and Bodin’s monolithic concepts of State and sovereignty, the term “globalization” was not particularly widespread and the process of globalization was not yet notably studied. Yet, even though Foucault’s reflection is antecedent, it calls to mind a “classical” debate in the field of globalization studies: that of the relationship between globalization and the nation-state’s sovereignty.
As pointed out by Stephen D. King (Grave New World. The End of Globalization, the Return of History), globalization is not a teleological and inevitable necessity; on the contrary, it originates from the crossing of social, political, economic (in short: human) relations established by several actors, including the nation-states. Indeed, as stressed by many scholars, the relationship between nation-states and globalization is far from being mutually exclusive: there is no either/or situation. Instead, one can observe a continual interaction in which, however, the ation-states transform themselves.
These “alterations” are often called “crises”: starting from these crises, Claude De Vos and others (À qui le pouvoir?) reflect upon the future of politics and democracy in the contemporary global context, characterized by an economic, moral, social and institutional crisis. Fred Dallmayr’s proposal (Democracy to Come. Politics as International Praxis) to consider democracy as “relational” – a never-finished project, a “democracy to come” – could answer the same questions about the future of politics and democracy: both must remind us that, ultimately, we as interrelated humanity are the agents of our fate.
These interrelations within humanity have place both in the global and in the local sphere, starting from the “more local” one: the cities we all live in. For this reason, the issue of the city and its transformations has long been key in the debate on the globalization process. Julie-Anne Boudreau (Global Urban Politics. Informalization of the State) points out how global urbanization affected the political process in the past four decades, from interpersonal street-level politics to transnational governing institutions. Similarly, Robert Gottlieb and Simon Ng (Global Cities. Urban Environments in Los Angeles, Honk Kong, and China) analyze Los Angeles, Honk Kong and key urban regions of China stressing that these cities, although global, preserve some peculiarities and different patterns of development which allow to compare them, but do not permit a whole overlapping: every global city is, at the same time, a local (and localized) one.
The centrality of the cities in the global background is undeniable, especially when the privileged point of view is an economic one. Ugo Rossi (Cities in Global Capitalism) analyses the ways in which urban economies and societies reflect and at the same time act as engines of global capitalism. Rossi answers the questions on the city-capitalism nexus, showing how cities play a central role in the global accumulation of capital. That is to say, more and more global cities abound with contradictions and conflicts. They are “cities of power”, as stated by Göran Therborn (Cities of Power. The Urban, the National, The Popular, The Global); therefore, in the words of Foucault, “cities of resistance”.
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