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C. FUCHS: THE SELF-ORGANISATION OF POLITICS, POWER AND THE NATION STATE

The Self-Organisation of Politics, Power and the Nation State Christian Fuchs Institute of Design and Technology Assessment Vienna University of Technology Favoritenstr. 9-11 A-1040 Vienna Austria christian@igw.tuwien.ac.at http://cartoon.iguw.tuwien.ac.at/christian/ INTAS PROJECT “HUMAN STRATEGIES IN COMPLEXITY” RESEARCH PAPER

Abstract

Society is self-organising or re-creative in the sense that new emergent structures result from interactions of actors, these structures enable and constrain actions and stimulate further practices. Political self-organisation is a reflexive process where political agents co-ordinate their actions in such a way that political power structures emerge and are differentiated, these structures enable and constrain political activities and stimulate further political practices. Power and the establishment of collective decisions are central aspects of the self-organisation of politics. In the modern State system laws are the most important power structures that stimulate political practices. The modern State consists of two subsystems (the system of rule and the system of civil society), it is organised around the competitive accumulation of power. Central features of the modern state include the regulation of economic autopoiesis, it organises and defends the autopoiesis of society within a bounded territory by making use of the monopoly of the means of coercion, it organises the self-observation, self-containment and self-description of modern society and is a meta-storage mechanism of social information. The Postfordist mode of development of society that is based on economic globalisation and transnationalisation has changed the role of the state. Actors such as transnational corporations (TNCs), non-government organisations (NGOs) and nonprofit organisations (NPOs) are gaining increased importance, the structural coupling between the economy and the State is becoming more rigid in the direction where the economy influences the state system, parts of the welfare system are either shifted to the mode of economic autopoiesis or to the system of civil society. Postfordism is shaped by an increase dominance of economic autopoiesis over political, cultural and life-world autopoiesis. This doesn’t imply a “weak state” or the end of the nation state, the latter transforms its functions and answers with measures of re-organisation to the increased globalisation and complexity of the world. Selfobservation, self-containment and self-description are altered by the nation state in such a way that the closure of society increases although the openness of the world economy grows.

Keywords: nation state, autopoiesis, society, self-organisation, self-organization, governance, globalisation, globalization Fordism, Postfordism, regulation, Giddens, Marx, Marxism, systems theory Acknowledgement: This paper is based on research done within the framework of the project ‘Human Strategies in Complexity: Philosophical Foundations for a Theory of Evolutionary Systems’ (http://www.self-organization.org) funded by INTAS (#0298) and supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.

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1. Introduction The aim of this paper is to point out some aspects of considering politics and the state as selforganising systems. First a short introduction is given to the theory of self-organisation and its application to society (part 1), then politics and the state are considered as self-organising, recreative systems (parts 2, 3) and finally some aspects of the evolution of the self-organising state system during the last decades is outlined (part 3). The theory of self-organisation has lead to a change of scientific paradigms: from the Newtonian paradigm to the approaches of complexity. There is a shift from predictability to non-predictability, from order and stability to instability, chaos and dynamics; from certainty and determination to risk, ambiguity and uncertainty; from the control and steering to the selforganisation of systems, from linearity to complexity and multidimensional causality; from reductionism to emergentism, from being to becoming and from fragmentation to interdisciplinarity. In physics and chemistry, self-organisation has been described as the spontaneous emergence of order out of chaos in thermo-dynamical systems (Nicolis/Prigogine 1989, Prigogine 1980). Similarly to Prigogine, Hermann Haken has described aspects of physical self-organisation, but in terms of synergetic systems which can be characterised by synergies between their parts that result in the emergence of new qualities (Haken 1978, 1983). In biology, selforganisation has been conceived as the autopoietic self-reproduction of living systems (Maturana/Varela 1992). Niklas Luhmann (1984, 1988) interpreted social systems as autopoietic, but by denying the importance of the human being in society he functionalistically syncopates the complex relationship of actors and structures (cf. Fuchs 2002e, 2003e). Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela (1992) have tried to find a consistent definition of life, they say that living systems are biologically self-organising ones, i.e. the permanently produce themselves. They call such self-producing systems autopoietic (autos=self, poiein=to make something). Autopoietic systems or biological self-organisation can be characterised by the following items: 1. They permanently produce their parts and their unity themselves 2. An autopoietic organisation is characterised by relations between its parts 3. These relations result in a dynamic network of interactions 4. Autopoietic systems are operationally closed: the effects of the network of interactions don’t go beyond the net work itself 5. The autopoietic unit forms its own border, it delimits its structure from its environment. In a cell the membrane is such a border. 6. The production of the system’s components enables the forming of a border, a border is a precondition for a dynamic that is needed for the self-production of the system (circular causality) 7. Living systems constitute themselves as different from their environment, they are autonomous units. 8. Structural coupling: Perturbations from the environment can influence an autopoietic unit, but it can’t fully determine changes of the system’s structure The main characteristics of an autopoietic system are self-maintenance, self-production and production of its own border. Concerning causality, the new sciences suggest a shift from reductionism and determinism to emergence and mutual as well as circular causality. Reductionism can be defined as 2


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epistemology that explains new properties of a system and the whole in terms of old properties and the system’s parts. A system is se en as the agglomeration of its parts, a differentiation of a system, its structure and its behaviour in time and space are explained by reference to processes immanent to single parts of the system. Determinism can be defined as a mechanistic and rigid epistemological approach that argues that an event or a sum of events necessarily result(s) in a certain way and in a certain output. Emergentism which can be considered as the philosophical level of the new sciences of complexity (see Corning 2002, Goldstein 1999, Krohn/Küppers 1992, Stephan 1999) argues in opposition to reductionism that the new and the whole are more than the old and the parts (of a system). A system is considered to be more than the sum of its parts. The qualities that result from temporal and spatial differentiation of a system are not reduced to the properties of the components of the system, it is maintained that the interactions between the components results in new properties of the system that can’t be fully predicted and can’t be fou nd in the qualities of the components. Microscopic interactions result in new qualities on the macroscopic level of the system. Checkland (1981: 314) defines an emergent quality in similar terms “as a whole entity which derives from its component activities and their structure, but cannot be reduced to them”. Self-organising systems have a complex and circular causality. In such systems, causes and effects can’t be mapped linearly: similar causes can have different effects and different causes similar effects; small changes of causes can have large effects whereas large changes can also only result in small effects (but nonetheless it can also be the case that small causes have small effects and large causes large effects). Speaking philosophically, it can be said that all self-organising systems are circular causal because such a system is reason and cause of itself. It is not in need of other concepts to be explained, it is its own reason (causa sui), its essence involves its own existence. The new sciences of complexity do not simply substitute determinism by complete in-determinism and do not suggest that all evolutionary processes (in the universe, nature and society) are completely governed by chance (this would also have to result in a dismissal of the human capability of intervention and systems-design that can increase the possibility that a system will develop in a desirable way). Rather it suggests a dialectic relationship of chance and necessity: There are certain aspects of the behaviour of a complex system that are determined and can be described by general laws, whereas others are governed by the principle of chance. I want to point out shortly some foundations of a dialectical theory of social self-organisation. Unfortunately, I have no space here to cover more details and the reader must be referred to other works (Fuchs 2001, Fuchs 2002a-g, Fuchs 2003a-e, Fuchs/Hofkirchner/Klauninger 2002, Fuchs/Schlemm 2003, Fuchs/Stockinger 2003). Social analysis has to begin with “individuals producing in a society“ (Marx 1857: 615), “the existence of living human individuals“ (Marx/Engels 1845/46: 20). The human being is a social, self-conscious, creative, reflective, cultural, symbols- and language-using, active natural, labouring, producing, rationally abstracting, objective, corporeal, living, real, sensuous, anticipating, visionary, imaginative, expecting, designing, co-operative, wishful, hopeful being that makes its own history, with chances to strive towards freedom and autonomy. All social systems and societies permanently reproduce themselves, hence in some respect it can be said that on a synchronous level of description society can be seen as an autopoietic system. Social structures don’t exist externally to agency, but only in and through agency, in mutual penetration. By social interaction, new qualities and structures emerge, they cannot be reduced to the individual level. The process of bottom-up emergence is called agency, invention or creation. Emergence in this context means the appearance of at least one new 3


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systemic quality that cannot be reduced to the elements of the communication system to which the action is coupled. So this quality is irreducible and it is also to a certain extent unpredictable, i.e. time, form and result of the process of emergence cannot be fully forecasted by taking a look at the elements, their history and their actual interactions. Social structures are coupled to and influence actions and thinking, although not linearly. They constrain and enable the practice of social actors, “guiding” them in this way. This is a process of top-down emergence where new properties of actors and groups can emerge. The bottom-up- and the top-down-process together form a cycle that permanently results in emergence on the level of structures and the level of actors. This whole cycle is the basic process of systemic social self-organisation that can also be called re-creation (see fig. 1). By permanent recurrence to processes of agency, constrained/enabled actions co-evolve within a social system, which therefore can maintain and reproduce itself. Agency again and again creates its own unity and maintains itself. Social structures enable and constrain the practice of social actors and are a result of social actions. Individuals are “crea tive as well as created” (Williams 1961: 82). structures

agency

social selforganisation

constraining and enabling

actors Fig. 1.: Self-organisation in social systems Society reproduces human actors as social beings and human actors produce society by socially co-ordinating human actions. Man is creator and created result of society, structures and human actors produce each other mutually. Such a conception of social self-organisation acknowledges the importance of the human being and its actions in social systems. Saying that man is creator and created result of society corresponds to Anthony Giddens’ formulation that in and through their activities agents reproduce the conditions that make these activities possible (Giddens 1984: 2). Re-creation denotes that actions, as moments of a social system, permanently change their communicative environment. This enables the social system, as a necessary condition for it, to change, maintain, adapt and reproduce itself. The term re-creation refers to the ability of humans to consciously try to shape and create social systems and structures, an ability that is based on self-consciousness and the reflexive monitoring of action. Social systems are recreative ones because they can create new reality, not from zero, but by changing the old one. The socio-cultural human being has the ability to create the conditions for his further evolution all by himself. Creativity means the ability to spontaneously, gradually or revolutionary change actual settings, creating something new that seems desirable and helps to achieve defined goals. It is not an isolated human quality, but linked to the co-evolution of other human social qualities. Terming the self-organisation of society re-creation acknowledges as outlined by Giddens the importance of the human being as a reasonable and knowledgeable actor in social theory (for a discussion of the relationship between structuration theory and social self-organisation see 4


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Fuchs 2002e, 2003e). Giddens himself has stressed that the duality of structure has to do with re-creation: “Human social acti vities, like some self-reproducing items in nature, are recursive. That is to say, they are not brought into being by social actors but continually recreated by them via the very means whereby they express themselves as actors“ (Giddens 1984: 2). Saying that society is a re-creative or self-organising action system means that the structural properties of social systems are both medium and outcome of the practices they recursively organise and both enable and constrain actions. Structuration theory holds that the structures drawn upon in the production and reproduction of social action are at the same time the means of system reproduction (Giddens 1984: 19). In this respect, human social activities are recursive because they are continually recreated by the actors whereby the latter express themselves as actors. Social structures don’t exist outside of and are based on actions, they are “rules and resources, or sets of transformation relations, organised as properties of social systems” (Giddens 1984: 25). In and through their activities agents reproduce the conditions that make these activities possible (ibid.: 2). “According to the notion of the duality of structure, the structural properties of social systems are both medium and outcome of the practices they recursively organise” (ibid.: 25) and they both enable and constrain actions (ibid.: 26). S ocial systems and their reproduction involve conscious, creative, intentional, planned activities as well as unconscious, unintentional and unplanned consequences of activities. Both together are aspects, conditions as well as outcomes of the overall re-creation/self-reproduction of social systems. On the structural level of society, we find social forces and social relationships (Fuchs 2003c). Social forces are entities that enable social organisation and are developed by human beings entering social relationships. Social forces are modes that co-ordinate, orient, guide, enable and constrain social actions and relationships. They are medium and outcome of social actions and can be considered as a materialisation of social relationships. In society we find economic (productive), political and cultural forces. And there are different social relationships – economical, political and cultural ones – that individuals enter which are mostly independent and party dependent from their will. In re-creation of society and social systems, we also find a dialectic of social forces and social relationships on the structural level (cf. Fuchs 2003c): Based on social forces, individuals enter social relationships which are already a structural aspect of society. Agency within these relationships results in structural forces which again influence social relationships. Within these social relationships, individual actions and thinking are imprinted, constricted and enabled by the structural forces. So the process of structuring influences social relationships in a first step and the individual in a second step. The re-creation of society involves a dialectic of structures and actions as well as a dialectic of social forces and social relationships. The re-creation of society results in qualitative moments such as the economy, politics and culture that form subsystems that have their own relative autonomous logic and way of functioning (Fuchs/Schlemm 2003).

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social forces agency/ innovation

social selforganisation

constraining and enabling

social relationships Fig. 2.: The dialectical relationship of social relationships and social forces In this paper I concentrate on aspects of the self-organisation/re-creation/self-reproduction of the political system (for the self-organisation of the economy cf. Fuchs 2002a, 2003f, Fuchs/Schlemm 2003). 2. Politics as a Self-Organising System Politics deals with collective decisions that refer to the way life conditions are set (including how economic resources are being used and how they are distributed). The decisions that are being reached in a social and communicative way in the area of politics turn out to be just another type of social information. Politics encompasses a dual process of decision-making and authorisation of actions: Decisions are made on the basis of available resources in order to assure the functioning of society. These decisions either take on coded or non-coded forms. Once a decision is reached the next step is to execute it. And executing decisions always means that members of the society are authorised to act in a particular manner. This authorisation involves both enabling and constraining actions. political structures

agency

political selforganisation

constraining and enabling

actors Fig. 3.: Political self-organisation, part I On the political level of society, we find political relationships that individuals enter based on political forces. In modern societies these are political groups (political parties and political organisations in civil society) and relationships between these groups that follow organised procedures (political discourse, elections, protests, parliamentary discussions etc.). By such relationships, a specific disposition of political power is formed and political conflicts may arise. This results in the emergence and differentiation of political forces. The important political force is power. Power can be defined as the disposition over the means required to influence processes and decisions in one’s own interest, domination refers to the disposition over the means of coercion required to influence others, processes and decisions. Power is a social force in the sense that it can be considered as a materialisation of the relationships of 6


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political groups. Collective decisions (such as laws), power structures (such as government, parliament, councils etc.), political institutions (such as ministries, bureaucracy, courts, public offices and departments) reflect the existing power relationships and the existing distribution of power. Politics does not necessarily involve leadership as suggested by Max Weber1. Domination always includes sanctions, repression, threats of violence and an asymmetric distribution of power. In political relationships it is determined how power is constituted, distributed, allocated and disposed. Political forces are the foundation for political relationships and they are differentiated and developed by political relationships. In modern society, basic political relationships are laws and the state. They influence individual actions/thinking and political forces. Political re-creation is a double process of agency (decision procedures) and enabling/constraining. This is the basic cycle of political recreation/self-organisation (fig. 3). In relation to available power resources, decisions are being reached in politics, in order to organise the functioning of society. Political relationships result in the emergence of new power structures, these structures enable and constrain the actions of the human beings in a society and result in new political activities that set themselves goals of changing or maintaining existing rules and dispositions of power. On the structural level of the political system we find a mutual relationship of political relationships and political forces: The active relationships between political groups (governmental parties, opposition parties, non-parliamentary opposition and support groups) result in the emergence of new political forces/power resources (decisions, laws, rules, political institutions, allocation of offices, appointment of civil servants etc.). These forces enable and constrain the political actions of political groups and result in further political commitments, new goals, ideas, etc. Politics is a dynamic system that is based on the permanent emergence of new power structures. Political agency is a creative activity that results in new properties of society, based on knowledgeable, reflective human actions new political realities are constructed and established. Based on the fundamental human properties of creativity and innovation, politics itself is a (re-)creative system that permanently reproduces itself in and through political agency. Politics has to do with the establishment of social connections that can be organised in order to influence decisions. Power as a political force hence can in the terms of Pierre Bourdieu also be described as social/political capital (cf. Fuchs 2003b for a discussion of implications of Bourdieu’s theory for a theory of social self-organisation). Political/social capital is “a capital of social connecti ons, honourability and respectability that is often essential in winning and keeping the confidence of high society, and with it a clientele, and may be drawn on, for example, in making a political career” (Bourdieu 1986: 122). Power as a structural feature of society both involves connections in terms of political groups and materialisations of these relationships. Political capital describes both the connections and their materialisations. Niklas Luhmann stresses that politics is the capacity for providing collectively obligatory decisions (Luhmann 2000: 86, 254, 266, 271). In contrast to other definitions of politics he accurately stresses the importance of collective decisions. But Luhmann’s understanding of politics (and social systems) lacks an understanding of the dialectical relationship of structures and action (cf. Fuchs 2002e, 2003e). He describes the self-referentiality/autopoiesis of politics as decisions producing further decisions (Luhmann 2000: 105, 147, 431)2. This 1

“Politics is any kind of leadership in action (Class, Status, Party: remember, social clubs and grad school cohorts can have parties, just as states can). For this lecture, we will understand politics as the leadership or influencing the leadership of a political association, today (1918) a state” (Weber 1972). 2 „Das Entscheiden erzeugt, wenn rekursiv und autopoietisch gehandhabt, die Möglichkeit des Entscheidens, da es die eigene Zeit in die ohnehin laufende Zeit wiedereinführt. [...] Jede Entscheidung macht weitere Entscheidungen erforderlich – und möglich“ (Luhmann 2000: 431).

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concept neglects the importance of human knowledgeable, creative actors in social systems and of the duality of structure that enables the autopoiesis of society. A decision stimulates further decisions and communications, but it doesn’t produce them because decisions are the result of the synergies between political actors. Hence a process of political self-organisation as illustrated in figure 3 seems to be more realistically than one where decisions and communications constitute the political system and human beings are only outside observers. Power and decisions are the fundamental aspects of politics. The classical definition of power is the one of Max Weber who sees is as the “chance of a man or a number of men to realize their own will in a social action even against the resistance of others who are participating in the action“ (Weber 1972: 28). He defines domination as “probability that certain specific commands (or all commands) will be obeyed by a given group of people“ (Weber 1972: 38). Weber’s definition of power seems to imply that power is something that is necessarily coercively defended by one group against other groups. It also seems to imply an unbridgeable gap and relationship of domination between the powerful and the powerless. The difference between power and domination in Weber’s theory remains unclear, both seem to be related to sanctions, struggle, disciplines, commands and coercion. For Weber power is something that is exerted on someone against his own will. Foucault is right in asking: “If power were never anything but repressive if it never did anything but say no, do you really think we should manage to obey it?”(Foucault 1979) and in stressing the productive, creative aspect of power: Power “runs through, and it produces things, it induces pleasure, it for ms knowledge, it produces discourse; it must be considered as a productive network which runs through the entire social body much more than a negative instance whose function is repression” (Foucault 1979). “We must cease once and for all to describe the e ffects of power in negative terms: it ‘excludes,’ it ‘represses,’ it ‘censors,’ it ‘abstracts,’ it ‘masks,’ it ‘conceals.’ In fact, power produces, it produces reality, it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth. The individual and the knowledge that may be gained of him belong to this production“ (Foucault 1976b: 250). political forces political self-organisation political relationships Fig. 4.: Political self-organisation, part II The assumption that power is immanent in all social relationships and that it is the possibility of influencing collective decisions in one’s own sense in contrast to Weber’s definition makes a clear distinction between power and domination and can be helpful in showing that also dominated groups have power that they can make use of in order to change their situation. Power doesn’t exist outside of social relationships and isn’t a thing that is simply controlled by some groups that try to withhold it from other groups and people, power is produced and reproduced in and through agency. Franz Ofner (1997) has shown that power always has to do with dependency on others. Someone depends on someone else if he strives for goals that he can only achieve with the help of someone else who controls certain resources. It has to do with the control of resources 8


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that are required to influence decisions, it is the disposition over the means required to influence processes and decisions in one’s own interest. Power is related to dependency, but dependency doesn’t automatically mean repression and domination, people can depend on each other in social situations in the sense that they want to reach a certain goal together and co-operate in order to achieve these aims. Power can be distributed in different manners: In more symmetrical distributions of power, actors can influence the decisions which affect them to a large degree, in an asymmetrical distribution of power certain actors control resources in such a way that they can influence decisions in their own sense and circumvent the possibility that others can also influence these decisions. Domination is based on asymmetrical distributions of power, but it means more than that, it also includes means of coercion that are employed in order to influence others, processes and decisions in ones own sense. Domination always includes sanctions, repression, threats of violence and an asymmetric distribution of power, it is a coercive, institutionalised social relationship of power. Domination can’t be distributed in a symmetrical manner, it always involves an asymmetrical distribution of resources and possibilities, it necessarily is exerted on someone against his will. Coercive means are an expression of the possibility of disciplines, sanctions and repression. Domination means that these coercive means exist along with the threat of their being used against someone or certain groups. Domination can also be found where these means are not directly employed, but only exist as a means of threat. Michel Foucault (1976a, b, 1978) pointed out that power is not an abstract entity “out there”, it is not something that one cannot know or pinpoint. His work made clear that power doesn’t exist outside of the human being, but operates in and through the human body and within daily routines and actions. Foucault opposed the idea that power is only located in dominating classes and the state and that it is something that others don’t have and is withheld from them. Power would have a networked character that affects all social relationships. Foucault never gave a definition of power, only one of power relations: “The exercise of power is not simply a relationship between partners, individual or collective; it is a way in which certain actions modify others. [...] Power exists only when it is put into action, even if, of course, it is integrated into a disparate field of possibilities brought to bear upon permanent structures. What defines a relationship of power is that it is a mode of action which does not act directly and immediately on others. Instead it acts upon their actions: an action upon an action, on existing actions or on those which may arise in the present or future“ (Foucault 1982). For Foucault power is productive and produces knowledge. The exercise of power may need violence, but violence for Foucault is not inherent in a power relation3. A power relation would be an action that influences another action and determines a field of possibility for it. In this field, ways of resistance and counteraction would always be present. Similarly to Foucault Anthony Giddens stresses that power also has to do with counteractions. He speaks of the dialectic of control: “All strategies of control employed by superordinate individuals or groups call forth counter-strategies on the part of the subordinates. […] To be an agent is to be able to make a difference to the world, and to be able to make a difference is to have power (where power means transformative capacity)” (Giddens 1985: 10f). Giddens defines power as “’transformative capacity’, the capability to intervene in a given set of events so as in some way to alter them” (Giddens 1985: 7), as the “capability to effectively decide about courses of events, even where others might contest such decisions” (ibid.: 9). For 3

„In itself the exercise of power is not violence; nor is it a consent which, implicitly, is renewable. It is a total structure of actions brought to bear upon possible actions: it incites, it induces, it seduces, it makes easier or more difficult; in the extreme it constrains or forbids absolutely; it is nevertheless always a way of acting upon an acting subject or acting subjects by virtue of their acting or being capable of action“ (Foucault 1982)

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Giddens power is related to (allocative and authoritative) resources, to material facilities and means of control. Power is characteristic for all social relationships, it “is routinely involved in the instantiation of social practices” and is “operating in and through human action” (Giddens 1981: 49f). I agree with Foucault that power is not necessarily something repressive and coercive and with both Foucault and Giddens that it operates in and through social relationships and on the foundation of daily routines. When I’m talking about power as a fundamental aspect of the self-reproduction/re-creation of the political system I’m acknowledging Foucault’s emphasis that power has to do with knowledge and production processes. Power stems from the creative political relationships of human beings, they are both subjects (the bottom-up-arrow in fig. 3) and objects of power (the top-down-arrow in fig. 3). The problem in Foucault’s work is that his concept of power is very diffuse and he doesn’t give a clear definition of it. Giddens is right in defining power in relationship to decisions and resources, but he sees power not as a political phenomenon, rather as both an economic and political one. For Giddens the political realm of society has to do with the “capability of marshalling authoritative resources or what I shall call administrative power” (Gidd ens 1985: 19). This would always include control, surveillance, domination, sanctions, physical violence and threats of the use of violence. Giddens naturalises relationships of domination, coercion and heteronomy as fundamental aspects of all social systems and societies. But historical and archaeological studies show that there were successful cultures such as the Minoan one that were remarkably peaceful and one can imagine social systems and societies that are largely based on co-operation instead of domination, violence and coercion. I don’t agree with Gidden’s (1984) view that the end of domination is an unrealistic goal and image. Giddens basic notion of power sounds very reasonable, but suggesting that political power is always repressive and dominative results in an unclear differentiation between power and domination (as it also can be found in the works of Max Weber). For Niklas Luhmann power is a symbolically generalised medium of communication that regulates and overcomes contingency and increases the possibility of selections in communication processes (Luhmann 1975, 2000). In a first general sense Luhmann’s definition of power as ability to act effectively reminds one of Gidden’s definition and as action that affects other actions it reminds one of Foucault (Luhmann 2000: 39). But Luhmann says that such a definition is too broad because this would mean that all simple activities like brushing one’s teeth would have to do with power. Hence in a narrower definition he sees power as the achievement of inducing someone to act in a certain way that he wouldn’t act normally and only does so due to the announcement of possible sanctions (ibid.). Power would always be connected to influence that is generated by communicating possible (positive or negative) sanctions. Political power would be based on negative sanctions, threats and coercion. Physical violence would be the best means of threatening someone and for generating power and would be closely connected to the state (55). Power would never include consensus, the life-world wouldn’t be as assumed by Habermas be a pool of consensus (53f, 76). Consensus would make the use of power superfluous. Luhmann analyses power as something necessarily coercive and hence his concept is closer to Weber than to Foucault. Luhmann’s assumptions imply that organisations that are largely based on consensus and co-operation are powerless organisations. Such an assumption seems unfounded to me because economic organisations are keen on fostering consensus and cooperation among its members today and reality shows that many of them are successful in both fostering economic and democratic efficiency. Collective modes of organisation of all sorts are an expression of a certain degree of power that can be employed in order to achieve 10


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goals. If there is a low level of conflict in an organisation and all actors can achieve their goals by co-operating and achieving consensus by dialogue, neither they nor their organisation are powerless, but an expression of co-operative modes of power. Tooth brushing and other activities don’t have much to do with power not because conflict and coercion is missing, but because they are simple individual activities, whereas power occurs only in social relationships and situations that require collective decisions. 3. The State as a Self-Organising System In modern society, the state is the organisational unit of political self-organisation. It is based on organised procedures and institutions (representative democracy) that form the framework of the competition for the accumulation of power and political capital. Various groups compete for gaining power, an increase of power for some groups automatically means a decrease of power for other ones. The state is a form of political self-organisation that is based on asymmetrical distributions of power, domination, the permanent constitution of codified rules (laws) in the process of legislation, the sanctioning and controlling execution of these rules and the punishment of the disobedience and violation of these rules (jurisdiction). Political parties/groups want to shape these processes according to their own will and hence compete for influence and the accumulation of power. The basic process of self-organisation of the state is based on competitive relationships between political groups that result in a certain distribution of power and the permanent emergence of new features of this distribution (laws, regulations, cases, filling of public offices and civil services according to specific political interests etc.). These new emergent qualities enable and constrain political practices, political engagement for stabilising or changing a certain constellation of power. Political practices that constitute the modern state include running for political offices, elections, parliamentary debates, the working out of bills, the passing of laws, political discussions (also in everyday life), political media coverage (press, television, radio, Internet etc.), protests (petitions, demonstrations, strikes etc.). Existing laws and political events (the outcomes of the enactment of laws and the processes of establishing new laws) stimulate political organisation, they result in new, emergent properties on the level of political groups, i.e. in new ways of thinking and acting that try to stabilise or change the existing distribution of power. The development of the state is not a static, but a dynamic process, it is based on the permanent political interactions of various political groups that result in the emergence of new political capital/power structures that stimulate further political actions which try to stabilise or change the existing distributions of power. Competition and accumulation of power are fundamental aspects of the selforganisation of the modern nation state. The state should not only be understood as the unity of parties that run for elections and are represented in parliament and the institutions these parties form in order to exercise power. One shouldn’t ignore the importance of non -parliamentary groups in the autopoiesis of the political system. They are an important location of power and legitimisation. Antonio Gramsci stressed that the state means “political society + civil society” (Gramsci 1971: 263). This is the integral meaning of the state that I concur with. The state consists of two major subsystems: the system of political rule and the system of civil society. The system of political rule consists of the parties that are represented in parliament, official political institutions such as parliament, government, ministries, public offices, police, military, courts, secret service. This system forms the core of the process of constituting and enacting laws. Civil society is the system that is comprised by all non-parliamentary political groups. These groups either run for elections, but are not represented in parliament due to their reaching not 11


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enough votes or not running for elections because they rely on non-parliamentary forms of political practice. Political groups that are part of civil society represent certain aims and interests and try to influence power relationships in such a way that their ideas and interests are represented. Their chief practice is the lobbying for certain political ideas (lobbying doesn’t only include procedur es of influencing powerful political actors that are based on personal and cultural relationships as well as on economic resources, also all forms of protest can be considered as a type of lobbying for certain ideas and material interests). The selforganisation of the state can only be accomplished by complex interactions between the system of political rule and civil society, it is not solely comprised by interactions within the first. The two subsystems are structurally coupled, i.e. each perturbates the other, but can’t determine the practices and structures of the other to a full extent. Lobbying as the main practice of civil society is a perturbation for the ruling system, it will result in a change of existing structures, i.e. a sort of response, but it is not determined how this change will look like, to which extent this change will take place and whether it will be a rather important, major change or a rather unimportant, minor change. In many nation states, referenda that can be initiated by civil society are a sort of non-parliamentary political procedure: Certain groups of civil society can initiate it and the citizens can support it by signing the referendum. If such a referendum takes place, parliament must react to it, but it is not determined in advance how it will react. In most countries where such a mechanism exists, parliament must only discuss the demands formulated in the referendum if a certain amount of citizens has signed, whereas in others such as Switzerland4 plebiscites must be held if the number of signatures is large enough. In case of a plebiscite the result is again not determined. Lobbying also includes the membership in political parties of members of a group that belongs to civil society. Political events that take place within the system of rule (new laws, appointments etc.) perturbate civil society in the sense that the organisations of civil society form opinions and views concerning these events. Political events stimulate political practices. It is not determined whether or not this will result in support or opposition. Certain political events can result in political mobilisations within civil society that support or protest against certain events in the system of rule. It is not determined in advance what will happen, how civil society will react to new emergent properties of government. It is determined that such emergence will result in further political practices within both subsystems of politics, but not in which ones. Politics contains both aspects of chance and necessity. Due to the emerging new networked forms of politics that are due to the changes that have affected society during the last 30 years, the growth rate of the research literature on civil society and governance (a term employed for describing political practices that are organised within civil society and significantly diverge from governmental practices) has increased. There are various ideas about governance and civil society, most scientists involved with these issues agree that both notions have to do with voluntary political action in order to advance common purposes. Louis Althusser (1971) has distinguished the “repressive state apparatus” (government, administration, army, police, courts, prisons) from the “ideological state apparatuses” (religion, school, family, legal system, parties, trade unions, media, culture). This is a very broad conception of the state that results in the fact that everything that has a non-economic character is considered as a state-run institution or practice, society is considered as economy 4

In a facultative referendum a plebiscite concerning already existing laws is held if at least 50.000 citizens sign the referendum. In a public initiative there must be 100.000 signatures so that parliament must discuss certain proposed amendments of the Swiss constitution. Parliament can work out an alternative proposal and the citizens and cantons select one of the alternatives in a plebiscite. There are also facultative referenda concerning international treaties or the entry of Switzerland into international organisations as well as obligatory referenda where the citizens can vote on the retention or abolition of constitutional amendments or emergency laws one year after their passing.

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+ state and hence culture is fully reduced to ideology and the state. I think that there is a difference between politics and culture, the first is organised around power and collective decisions, the second around knowledge, values, norms, traditions and life styles. Culture is a separate, relatively autonomous self-organising system of society that is based on its own structures, institutions and material practices. It consists of institutions such as education, religion, mass media, health, art and science. Ideology operates both in and through politics and culture, politics and culture both have public and private aspects, they overlap and are structurally coupled, but nonetheless have different priorities5. Elections are important mechanisms of stabilising and changing existing distributions of power within the state. Political parties compete for votes that determine the distribution of power within the system of rule. Elections and economic markets have certain similarities. Joseph Schumpeter stressed that modern democracy is a product of the capitalistic process (Schumpeter 1950: 471) and Anthony Downs’ main hypothesis was that parties in a political system are analogue to corporations in a profit-based economy (Downs 1968: 295). Both the economic and the political autopoiesis of modern society are based on accumulation and competition. Modern representative democracy is based on the accumulation of power and votes, the central motive of politicians is the pursuit of power in order to realise their political ideas and programs. Politics in modern society is oriented on its exchange value: Political decisions and positions that are based on a certain amount of votes are exchanged for an increase or decrease of votes during the next elections. The political process that is based on elections can be described in the form V-D-V’ or P -D-P’: votes -decisions-more votes, powerdecisions-more power. However, the accumulation of power is uncertain because an election is an evaluation of the work of politicians and only if the voters are satisfied with a government they will increase the government’s power. This means that in the formula P’ = P + dP, dP can be negative or positive, there can be either an increase or a decrease of power for each party that runs in an election. Politicians hope that after the end of a legislative period their work will be evaluated positively and they an increase their power. Elections are based on the exchange of representation/decisions and votes, they are procedures for increasing and decreasing the power of political groups that are part of the system of rule. Parties also try to increase their (political and economic) power by increasing the number of memberships. Elections take place all couple of years, this means that the distribution of power within the system of rule changes slowly, this subsystem of politics is reproduced in a process of slow, conservative autopoiesis whereas the autopoiesis of the whole state system permanently reproduces itself due to synergetic interactions between political groups that result in new qualities. If one compares the self-reproduction of the modern economy with the selfreproduction of the system of rule one discovers that the economic reproduction process (i.e. the accumulation of money capital) takes place permanently, i.e. the total amount of economic capital is permanently increased and re-distributed. This is a very dynamic process. Political power also changes permanently in the sense that new political groups, laws, views, ideas, regulations etc. emerge, but the distribution of power between the elements (i.e. parties) of the system of rule only changes slowly. Chance and discontinuity is only introduced once every couple of years into the system. Representative democracy and its electoral system are based on conservative types of autopoiesis. This conservative type of self-organisation results in certain dichotomies and asymmetrical distributions of political power. It functions based on dichotomies of government/opposition and parliament/people. This means the constitution of exclusiveness and the delegation of the competence of reaching decisions to certain political groups. In the representative political system we are confronted with asymmetries and dichotomies in a double sense. First, the dichotomy of electorate and the ones elected. 5

The self-organisation of culture and its institution is an important topic for future research. For a discussion of the self-organisation of mass media see Fuchs/Hofkirchner (2003), chapters II.5, II.8.3.3.

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Secondly, the dichotomies of government/opposition and majority/minority. The organisation of the state functions in accordance with the principles of exclusion and competition, the political laws that are produced are exclusive social structures. Dynamic types of political self-organisation where decision power is re-distributed and re-produced permanently occur in organisations and systems that are based on the principles of direct democracy and selfgovernment. In such systems there is a more symmetrical distribution of power and all individuals concerned by certain collective decisions participate in the constitution of these decisions. In processes of discursive communication they try to reach a consensus on certain decisions. In modern society, laws are constituted by a certain subsystem of politics (government, parliament), such a type of political autopoiesis is inherently hierarchical, asymmetrical and a type of top-down-constitution of decisions. Helmut Willke (1995) mentions that democracy is organised around the binary code majority/minority where the majority determines collectively mandatory decisions that all citizens must submit to and are coercively forced to submit to. Hence democracy would be a “general relationship of violence”. Willke and Luhmann suggest that democracy is a system that is governed by Prigogine’s principle of order through fluctuation because there are permanent spontaneous fluctuations/changes of interests, trends, views that produce order as well as elections that as fluctuations produce new order (Luhmann 2000: 430, Willke 1995: 151). Gus diZerega (1989, 1994) argues that democracy is a spontaneous order in the sense of F. A. Hayek. Spontaneous orders according to Hayek do not exist to attain any particular end, don’t have predetermined goals, are polycentric and the details of the interactions in it and its future characteristics are uncontrollable. Certain abstract procedures such as citizens’ rights would constitute the framework of democracy, democracy would not pursue any particular purpose in the sense that it would allow an indefinite and unpredictable number of positions to compete for public support. There would be various elites competing and interacting in order to win public support and citizens would develop means of influencing government customary and spontaneously. Democratic coordination and distribution of political information would be a networked, complicated, uncertain process. Incremental bargaining and rare important innovations that change the polity’s character would be the continuous and discontinuous forms of “political entrepreneurship” that result in the coordination of knowledge and interests within politics. Democracy would provide some general rules and facilitating procedures for enabling people to get together to decide what to do. Democracy would mean an unpredictable process of discovering the public good. “It is their complexity which prevents a majority faction from arising and turning the polity into an instrumental organization dominating its members for the enrichments of its ruler” (diZerega 1993). diZerega overemphasises chance and unpredictability in the state system. The latter is not fully determined by chance and its development is not fully unpredictable. During phases of relative stability, there is a certain degree of necessity and predictability of political actions. But of course it is the creative capacity of political agents that always maintains a certain degree of chance (during phases of social change such as elections as well as during times of government). diZerega overlooks that the state is not simply a mechanism that facilitates chance interactions of political actors, but that the conflicts in society are reflected within the state’s own organisation and that the state’s organisation is based on an asymmetric distribution of power. All types of modern states are much more than mechanism that provide actors with some abstract rules that coordinate their political actions. diZega underestimates functions of the state such as the monopoly of the means of coercion, self-description, selfobservation, meta-storage of social information structures and the regulation of the basic conditions for economic autopoiesis. The development of the state is based on contingent 14


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necessity, incomplete determinism and relative chance: Certain aspects can’t be predicted (such as the outcome of elections) to a full extent, they are contingent, but past political events can be evaluated and one can predict to a certain degree whether these events will influence the future political actions of the subjects. The organisation of the state is also based on necessity: there are fixed bureaucratic and political procedures that regulate the development of the state and the relationship between political actors and between the state and the citizens. E.g. elections can only be held successfully if they are defined by strict procedures. But such necessities are themselves contingent in the sense that there can be unpredictable fluctuations that cause the disorder of the regularised, planned development of certain political procedures and processes. The modern state is not simply a fully spontaneous order, it is based on a dialectic of chance and necessity, a dialectic of spontaneous political events and actions and organised, instrumental, planned events and actions. The state is a force that is imposed on the individuals and exists external to them and relatively independent of them. The state reproduces itself in and through human agency, but its autopoiesis can’t be directly controlled and determined by all members of society, only by a certain specialist group. The state is a power alien to the human being, this alienation is a reduction of complexity of organisation and a necessary condition for the autopoiesis of the state. Enlarging the scope of participation in political systems means shifting the system’s autopoiesis towards more dynamically states that are based on symmetrical distributions of power and bottom-up-constitutions of decisions. Such political systems are dynamical, antihierarchical and have a networked, co-operative, participative character. Co-operation is a form of human co-action that involves mutual dependence, benefits of all actors, shared goals, reaching of goals in a more quickly and efficient manner than on an individual basis, communication about goals and conventions in order to reach a common understanding, concerted use of existing structures in order to commonly produce new structures, mutual learning, the common production of new reality, interconnectivity, mutual responsibility and a high degree of networked, interconnected activity (Fuchs 2003d). A system can be considered as participatory if power in the system is distributed in such a way that all members and concerned individuals can own the system co-operatively and can produce, decide and live in the system co-operatively (ibid.). Participation is more than co-operation, it is an integrated notion of co-operative activities. Participation is based on self-determination, direct democracy, co-operation and inclusion, it stands in opposition to heteronomy, social hierarchies, coercion, competition and exclusion. In a participatory organisation, each involved individual has the same possibilities and means of influencing the resulting structures in his own sense and purpose, the macroscopic structures are co-operative social relationships. In participatory organisations, Owning, producing, deciding, living and learning are co-operative and inclusive processes. Parliament, the party system, representative democracy and elections are important aspects of many modern states, but they are not necessarily part of the state as fascist and totalitarian rules have shown. In such systems, the system of democracy is abolished and substituted by a one-party system, repression against opposing forces and dictatorship. Both the fascist systems in Italy and Germany and Stalinism were based on a State system without democracy and were inherently modern societies in the sense that they were based on the modern mode of economic autopoiesis, i.e. capital accumulation. The autopoiesis of the state is closely related to the autopoiesis of the economy not only in the sense that both are based on accumulation processes. Economic autopoiesis (Fuchs 2002a, 15


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2003f, Fuchs/Schlemm 2003) means the accumulation of money capital: These accumulation processes are autopoietic or self-producing in the sense that the system reproduces itself by increasing the quantitative amount of one its elements, i.e. it transforms its elements and herewith creates its unity. In the economic cycle of self-organisation this means that from an initial quantity of capital more capital is produced. Capitalism is based on self-increasing, self-valorising, self-expanding cycles of capital accumulation where capital is produced by labour power and in wage labour processes. These autopoietic economic cycles are based on private property and wage labour relationships. The states regulates economic autopoiesis, i.e. its own autopoiesis organises certain necessary conditions of economic accumulation. The maintenance and actualisation of property rights is an important aspect of the autopoiesis of politics that enables the autopoiesis of the modern economy. The state and the economy are structurally coupled and mutually dependent, the economy is in need of certain laws that enable economic accumulation, the state depends on economic accumulation and the taxes derived from capital and wage labour. Economic and political autopoiesis are mutually dependent and coupled, their autonomy is only a relative one. This means that in order to make capital accumulation possible for a certain period of time, political regulation of the economy is necessary. “A regime of accumulation is not, however, some disembodied entity which exists in the etheral world of schemas of reproduction. If a schema is to be realized and to reproduce itself for any length of time, there must also be institutional forms, procedures and habits which either coerce or persuade private agents to conform to its schemas“ (Lipietz 1987: 33). “Capitalism cannot secure through market forces alone all the conditions needed for its own reproduction that it cannot exercise any sort of economic determination in the last instance over the rest of the social formation“ (Jessop 2002: 11). The state realises in its autopoiesis certain general conditions necessary for economic autopoiesis. The economy can’t co pe with its own complexity, it can’t organise itself all the conditions necessary for its autopoiesis. Hence the state takes over certain of these tasks and integrates them into its own autopoiesis and helps to reduce the complexity of the economy. These activities of the state can include welfare, wage policy, labour legislation, subsidies, taxation, property rights, regulation of competition, antitrust laws, contract laws, research politics and subsidisation, central bank policies etc. Luhmann mentions in this context that due to the activities of the state other systems can realise their own self-constitution without permanent intervening physical violence (Luhmann 2000: 57f) and says that economic topics play a significant role in politics (ibid.: 111). He also mentions that the liberalisation of economic action is in need of “corrective and compensating measures of the state” concerning unjust distributions of wealth and the basic conditions for the functioning of the economy (Luhmann 2000: 209). Formulated another way one can say that the capitalist economy is a crisis-ridden, antagonistic system that in its development produces “market failures”. The state tries to compensate for these failures in many respects. The basic conditions of economic autopoeisis secured by the autopoiesis of the state can also include the organisation and maintenance of infrastructures like transportation, energy supply, communication, education. These infrastructures can have and frequently do have a public character, but this must not be the case as the privatisation and deregulation of public infrastructure that has taken place in many countries in recent years shows. In order to describe the role of the state as regulating instance of the economy, the concept of the mode of regulation has been developed by the French theory of regulation. Alain Lipietz (1986: 16) argues that the mode of regulation encompasses the entirety of institutional forms, networks and explicit and implicit norms that ensure compatibility of behaviour within the 16


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frame of accumulation regime – according to the condition of the social situation as well as exceeding its conflicting characteristics. “The mode of regulation [...] designate[s] any set of rules and individual and collective behaviours which [...] make possible conflicting decentralized decisions compatible without the necessity for individuals or even institutions to comprehend the logic of the whole system; they control and regulate the prevailing accumulation mode; the reproduce basic social relationships through a system of historically determined institutional forms“ (Boyer 1988: 75). The mode of regulation refers to the institutional framework of economic autopoiesis that is organised by the State. Its result is the accumulation of political capital within the framework of antagonistic political forms (laws, the state) and political relationships. The State not only includes the coercive apparatus of political society, but also civil society, i.e. the political nongovernment institutions (Gramsci 1971: 262f). The mode of regulation includes market rules, money relationships, financial networks, welfare, associations, trade unions, the political system, think tanks, police, military, secret service, the juridical system, parties, social movements, federations, consultants, monetary and credit relationships, the institutional relationships of capital and labour (as e.g. in social partnerships), forms of state intervention and international regulatory instances. The mode of regulation describes the form of the state, i.e. the unity of the system of rule and civil society, during a certain period of development (termed “mode of development”) and mode of (self -)organisation of society. The definitions given by the regulationists for the regime of accumulation and the mode of regulation are not simply structuralistic definitions. Lipietz says that regulation includes “norms that ensure compatibility of behaviour within the frame of accumulation regime”. This shows that regulation means agency that works as a sort of cohesive force on the economy. There are both systemic, objective and action-based, subjective aspects in the categories employed in regulation theory. Lipietz has pointed out a dialectical relationship of strucutres and actors that is very close to e.g. Giddens’ duality of structure. He says that the human being is both a subjective and an objective being, “to produce objects he is produced and reproduced himself as a social being; […] he obeys the laws of nature” (Lipietz 1993: 123f) . “Objectifying practice” and “objectified practice” would be two dialectically connected moments. “The question is neither of two different moments (humans will sometimes be followers of routine, and sometimes innovators), nor of a division of humanity into two groups (‘leaders’ and sheep), but into two aspects, always coexisting in variable proportions, in all human practice. Such is the opposition currently used (from Poulantzas to Giddens) between structure and practice” (ibid.: 124). The state holds a centralised control/monopoly of the means of violence and is organised within a certain natural and social territory. The autopoietic processes of society take place within strictly defined boundaries. These means of violence are used in order to secure the autopoiesis of society, the state protects society from external and internal influences that threaten its autopoiesis. The nation state is based on a certain territory, it has natural and social boundaries that are defended with the threat of using violence. The autopoiesis of modern society takes place within this bounded territory. The nation state is a pre-condition of the organisation of an economic system of accumulation because regulatory rules and the organisation of the infrastructure of the economy is efficiently possible only within a bounded territory that is controlled by a system that monopolises the means of violence. The development of the modern economy and the modern state system was a process of coevolution, hence both are based on similar principles and depend on each other. Economic autopoeisis is based on wage labour, the effective organisation of wage labour relationships is only possible within a bounded territory that is controlled by the nation state. The modern 17


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nation state is both based on the notion of the individual as citizen that has certain basic rights and the idea of the individual as private owner of property and labour power. The organisation of the modern economy, i.e. of separate, controlled markets for commodities and labour power, is only possible within such a bounded territory that is secured and defended by the state. The bounded territory is also necessary for maintaining a unified administrative apparatus. The state’s monopoloy of violence consists of both int ernal defence (police, legal system, secret service) and external defence (military, secret service). The differentiation between internal and external aspects of defence of the system’s boundary has resulted in the differentiation between the police and the standing army. Political colonialism means the enlargement of the border of the state by making use of violent means. Warfare is the central means of the state for defending and enlarging its bounded territory. Where the enlargement of economic spheres was coupled with warfare activities of the state one formerly talked about imperialism. Today many countries worldwide (although not all) abhor from entering warfare with other nation state, there is a certain degree of pacification of international struggles characteristic for the post world war II-situation. This also has to do with the development of extremely dangerous nuclear, biological and chemical weapons that can’t be used by one side without suffering the same destruction as the enemy. This parado x situation has made international relations more dangerous, but has also advanced dialogue to a certain extent. The horror and terrors of the military expansion of the autopoiesis of National Socialism have shown to many countries and political communities that violence is not an adequate means of international relations and communication. However, even after the end of the cold war period not all states and groups are willing to engage in civilised dialogue, but make use of armed interventions and attacks in order to enlarge their spheres of influence. The aim of these interventions is the steering of the autopoiesis of certain states and regions by certain other autopoietic nation state systems that consider themselves as central forces and actors of the autopoiesis of the world society. Enlarging economic influence today is mainly an economic affair within the autopoiesis of the world market and the world economic system. Corporations enlarge the boundaries of their autopoiesis and hence their influence by globalising and decentralising production. Already Max Weber described the monopoly of the means of violence as a central characteristic of the state: “A state is defined by the specific means peculiar to it, the use of physical force. The state is a human community that successfully claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Politics, then, means striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power, either among states or among groups within a state. The state is a relation of men dominating men by means of legitimate violence“ (Weber 1972). Similarily Niklas Luhmann speaks of the state as a “apparatus of enforcement” (Erzwingungsapparat, Luhmann 2000: 56). But one should add that the state system that as a central feature is based on violence and the threat of using violence doesn’t use violence as an end in itself. It is structurally coupled to other autopoietic subsystems of society and makes use of coercion in order to guarantee the autopoiesis of overall society and of its subsystems (economy, politics, culture). Both a bounded territory and violence are central features of the state6. Legitimisation is another aspect of the nation state: the existence of the means of violence in the hands of the state and their usage must be explained and justified. Niklas Luhmann (2000: 193) mentions that semantics and ideologies have to be worked out that 6

“A state can be defined as a political organization whose rule is territorially ordered and which is able to mobilize the means of violence to sustain that rule“ (Giddens 1985: 20). “The nation state [...] is a set of institutional forms of governance maintaining an administrative monopoly over a territory with demarcated bondaries, its rule being sanctioned by law and direct control of the means of internal and external violence” (Giddens 1981: 190).

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explain the use of violence. The legitimisation of violence has become a “permanent affair of politics“ (ibid.). One can observe this phenomenon especially during times of warfare and its prearrangements. Luhmann (1987, 1989, 1992), Teubner (1987, 1993) and others argue that the legal system is a separate, autonomous, functionally differentiated subsystem of society that is organised around the binary code legal/illegal. In my view the legal system is an institution that is part of the state system, precisely a part of the system or rule within the state. Legal actions are based on laws that are passed in parliament. Rules enable and constrain political actions and everyday life (see fig. 3), the legal system plays a decisive role in the top-down-process between political structures and human beings. It is the part of the state that judges whether or not certain members of society have violated existing rules and determines how they should be punished if they are found guilty. The working of the legal system is based on the generation of legal cases, but these cases are not produced by the system itself, they stem from the complex interactions, conflicts and antagonisms of society and the application of laws to the life-world, i.e. everyday life of human beings. The legal system doesn’t exist outside of the state system and it is closely coupled to other subsystems such as the economy and culture because it prosecutes violations of laws that regulate economic, political, cultural and private affairs. The legal system and courts decide about legality and illegality, but they don’t define laws themselves, they only interpret them. The courts don’t decide alone what is legally right or wrong, they are closely coupled in these decisions to the government, parliament, police and witnesses. The legal system is not as closed as Luhmann argues and it is based on human actors that constitute courts, juries, prisons and act in the legal system as judges, witnesses, employees, civil servants, jurors, defendants, convicted persons, lawyers, public prosecutors etc. Anthony Giddens (1985) stresses that the emergence of the “internally pacified state” that centralises the means of violence and hence prevents armed struggles between opposed classes was accompanied and enabled by a large expansion of the apparatuses of surveillance and bureaucratic administration. Giddens argues that the nation state is a “power container” (Giddens 1985: 13) that stores and concentrates authorative and allocative resources and that with the rise of capitalism the nation state replaced the city as the most important power container. Whenever a system organises itself, it produces information (Fenzl/Hofkirchner/Stockinger 1998, Hofkirchner 1999, 2001, Fleissner/Hofkirchner 1996). Re-creative, i.e. social systems, reproduce themselves by creating social information. Social structures store information about society. Social information contain information about past social actions and simplify future social situations because by referring to social information the fundamentals of acting socially do not have to be formed in each such situation by human agents (cf. Fuchs 2002d, e; 2003c, 2003e; Fuchs/Hofkirchner/Klauninger 2002, Fuchs/Hofkirchner 2002a). Power structures are the political type of social information, technologies, means of production, property and goods are economic information and definitions (norms, values, knowledge, traditions, ideologies) cultural information. The nation state is a container of structures and hence not only a power container, but also a meta-storage mechanism: It stores and concentrates structures that store information about society. The nation state is a meta-storage of social information structures. Giddens’ theory of structuration suggests such a usage of the term information in the social sciences (Giddens 1981: 35, 39, 94f, 144, 157-181; Giddens 1984: 180-185, Giddens 1985: 13f, 172-197). He argues that there are storage capacities in society which enable the existence of institutional forms which persists across generations and shape past experiences that date back well beyond the life of any particular individual. Allocative and authorative 19


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resources can be stored across time-space distances. Storage of authorative resources involves the retention and control of information. In non-literate societies the only “container” storing information were human memory, tradition and myths. Writing and notation have allowed a certain time-space distanciation of social relationships. Other forms of storing information that have followed and have caused further time-space distanciation are cities, lists, timetables, money, money capital, nation-states, communication and transportation technologies in general and especially the rapid-transit transportation and electronic communication technologies (including electromagnetic telegraph, telephone and computer mediated communication). Social information advances the time-space distanciation of social relationships. Giddens (1985) emphasises the relationship between surveillance and the nation state. He argues, the nation-state and surveillance7 have become the fundamental mechanisms of integration of modern society . ”Surveillance as the mobilising of administrative power – through the storage and control of information – is the primary means of the concentration of authorative resources involved in the formation of the nation-state” (Giddens 1985: 181). With capitalism, a global world system emerges. The modern state makes use of surveillance in the sense of gathering information about the subject population in order to allow overall organisation and control8. Information gathering includes data on births, marriages, deaths, taxation, criminal records, demographic and fiscal statistics, ‘moral statistics’ (relating to suicide, divorce, delinquency and so on) etc. and results in the power of the state and bureaucratic organisation. Computer technology expands surveillance in the sense of information control. Modern technology also allows a technical control and supervision of workers that is a much more anonymous form than face-to-face supervision that was used in the early days of capitalism. In capitalist societies, administrative organisations such as business firms, schools, universities, hospitals, prisons etc. are centres for the concentration of resources and the nation-state is the most important power container allowing a massive concentration and control of resources. Aspects that have been involved in the consolidation of the administrative unity of the nation-state include the mechanisation of transportation, the severance of communication from transportation by the invention of electronic media and the expansion of documentary activities of the state. With electronic modes of storage, the second and third aspect would have increasingly emerged. The nation state is a power container, a meta-storage of social information structures and a system that implements the self-observation of society. In order to maintain and reproduce itself and to foster the various autopoietic self-reproductions of its subsystems, society must observe itself. Surveillance understood in Giddens’ sense of information gathering about the activities of the citizens is a central feature of the nation state’s observation of society. These processes of observation are based on information-generation and -processing, statistics and 7

By surveillance Giddens refers to the accumulation of information defined as symbolic materials that can be stored by an agency of collectivity as well as to the supervision of the activities of subordinates by their superiors within any collectivity (Giddens 1981: 169). 8 Giddens is aware of the fact that the expansion of the means of control and surveillance in the hands of the state during the 20th century and especially with the rise of computer technology has resulted in the danger of totalitarian controls. But other than Foucault, he doesn’t see surveillance, control and coerci on as something entirely negative and dangerous. He argues that these phenomena also enable modern organisation and simplify human existence. Giddens doesn’t make a clear distinction between technologies employed as means of organisation and as means of surveillance/control, the latter in the repressive sense of the terms. Both surely enable and constrain human activities, but concerning means of surveillance this analysis isn’t satisfying because from a political perspective it is important to analyse which dangers certain usages of these technologies pose and if the degree of constraining is much larger than the one of enabling or not. In fact, one of the fundamental political questions in the information society is if the level of constraining caused by the state-use of modern surveillance technologies can be limited to such an extent that basic rights are not violated.

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lists are traditionally employed for organising these processes. The rise of computerised information technology gives new means to the state that are employed to optimise information gathering and processing, i.e. the self-observation of society. Computer networks and databases are a powerful means for self-observation and increase the potential power of the state. Digital information can easily be combined, linked and connected. Hence the new electronic means of self-observation pose not only new possibilities, but also a threat of establishing a dense network of control and totalitarian forms of self-observation. The expansion of storage capacities generates power, complex power structures require responsible management. In order to simplify the self-observation of modern society that is organised by the state, the modern state is based on an individualisation into individual citizens, labour forces, commodity owners, private owners and voters. The individual is granted certain rights such as the rights to organise, express himself, vote, run for public office, assemble himself with others, make use of different sources of information and to choose his own religion. These citizenship rights are necessary conditions for the economic and political autopoiesis of modern society, Giddens stresses that civil rights “are intrinsically linked to the modes of surveillance involved in the policing activities of the state. Surveillance in this context consists of the apparatus of judicial and punitive organizations in terms of which ‘deviant’ conduct is controlled” (Giddens 1981: 205). During feudalism, economic and political domination/autopoiesis were united in one system. The monarch ruled and controlled the country both politically and economically. The modern nation state co-evolved with capitalism, it is a separate, relative autonomous subsystem of society that monopolises the means of violence. One central feature of modern society is the separation of spheres, the disembedding of politics from the economy. Both systems work according to their own logic and have their own processes of self-reproduction. Nonetheless they are mutually dependent. State and economic capital accumulation are two separated autopoietic subsystems of modern society. The rise of capitalism was based on the commodification of land, products and wage labour power. This wasn’t possible as a purely economic process, the state’s role of guaranteeing a centralised legal order that protects contractual and property rights and of centrally co-ordinating a monetary and taxation system developed in order to enable the autopoiesis of the economy. The centralisation of state power was a necessary condition for the formation of commodity money and wage labour. The development of the modern state with its monopoloy of the means of coercion means that the dominant economic groups don’t have direct access to the means of violence to sustain the autopoiesis of the economic system. This is also an aspect of the separation of state and the economy. Economic coercion and (direct or technological) supervision replaces state coercion in directly controlling labour power. Marx in this respect spoke of “dull economic compulsion”, individuals are forced to sell their labour power in order to survive. In order to get access to the material means that are necessary to uphold the biological autopoiesis of the human body, the human being must enter the autopoiesis of the economy and become the component of this autopoietic process. The modern state shouldn’t be understood as a simp le instrument of class domination as has been done in various traditional versions of Marxism9. The state is a terrain and complex 9

Many orthodox Marxists have tried to derive the concept state from the concept of the capitalistic economy. Such an economic determinism is to a certain extent grounded in Marx’s works because he considers the state as “ national power of capital over labor, [...] a public force organized for social enslavement, [...] an engine of class despotism“ (Marx 1871: 336) and as “organized power o f one class for oppressing another” (Marx/Engels 1848:

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social relationships that reflects many interactions between different actors such as parties, classes and their representative organisations, bureaucracy, social movements, minorities etc. Modern society is based on and produces conflicts between different groups due to the fact that its autopoiesis is based on accumulation, competition and exclusion in all of its subsystems. The state mediates conflicts between opposing groups, classes and class fractions in non-violent forms. It is a social relationship that reflects the various lines of domination and conflict of modern society and tries to pacify these conflicts based on a majority rule and democratic procedures. Modern society is not organised around one single line of conflict, there are numerous lines ones organised around differences such as class, gender, origin, age, status, influence, education etc. The state is embedded and immersed into these lines of conflict and tries to integrate the opposing groups and to win their consent. The state is not centrally steered by the interest of one group, all groups involved in conflict try to influence the state in their sense by reflexively monitored, consciously planned actions. However, due to the complexity of the state and of social relationships it is not determined in advance to which extent the state will actually represent their interest, the state is a complex reflection of various interacting interests, it is a system of interaction, mediation and pacification of these interests. The autopoiesis of the state is based on taxation, i.e. on money stemming from the economic production process. Taxation means that a certain share of wages and profits is collected by the state in order to finance its own autopoiesis. The autopoiesis of the modern economy is based on the accumulation of money (capital). The state decreases the mass of accumulated money and distributed wages and hence negatively influences the autopoeisis of the economy in order to employ these means as a foundation of its own autopoiesis. Not only economic autopoiesis is based on the state, all activities that constitute the autopoiesis of the state are based on economic autopoiesis. Taxation is in need of a specialised bureaucratic apparatus (revenue offices, tax collectors) that monitors and accredits the income of all members of society. Hence taxition is bound up with the surveillance operations of the state. The participants in a society have the duty to pay taxes, the state monitors whether all subject to this duty or try to evade taxes. Money stems from economic autopoiesis, its foundation is produced by the self-valorisation of capital. The state controls and regulates in addition to the tax system also the money system and hence reduces the complexity of the economy. The state as a modern organisation is based on the definition of membership, it organises the rights it grants to individuals along the differentiation between citizen/non-citizen. In order to maintain a border of the modern state system it is necessary to define who is allowed to live, work, vote and contribute to economic, political and cultural autopoiesis. The nation state is necessarily based on exclusion and a differentiation of membership status. The members of a territorially bounded society have different rights that are determined by their status and along the definition of citizen/non-citizen. The definition of membership is necessary in order to construct national markets for commodities and labour forces. The formation and maintenance of a bounded territory is based on the formation and violent maintenance of a difference between the system and its environment. This border between system and environment defines a differentiation between inside and outside of society. In order to legitimise and maintain itself, the state system must describe itself. National identity is the 482). Marx is right in stressing that the state is a territory that mediates social struggles and that it has to do with organised power and violence. But the state has its own relative autonomy and autopoiesis, it can’t be reduced to the economy and is complexly related to many material conflicts. It is debatable whether or not Marx could have seen the complex and pluralistic character of the state already in the 19th century, but due to social transformation it is surely insufficient to consider the state simply as a machine for oppressing the working class in the 20th and 21st century.

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result of the self-description of society. The state constructs a common identity of its members in order to create the unity that is necessary for maintaining the autopoietic processes that constitute a society that is organised within national boundaries. In describing itself society refers to and fosters constructed symbols of unity such as language, traditions, origin, money, culture. The existing boundaries of a nation state are a result of various conflicts, wars and international treaties. Originally culturally, economically and politically relatively autonomous groups of people have been artificially united within one nation state. The existence of various minorities and regional traditions, idioms, symbols, practices and habits is an expression of the artificial character of the nation. “National identity is not pre-given, it must be defined, attained and secured” (Luhmann 2000: 210). A united, centrally controlled territory is in need of an identity that legitimises the common sharing of a part of space-time by a vast number of people. This organisation and unification of space-time is a necessary condition for the economic and political autopoiesis of modern society. The nation is a symbolic, imaginary community that functions as the self-description of the state and is the result of the process of describing society that is organised by the state. The education system is an important institution in establishing and maintaining the ideological self-description of society. The autopoiesis of the economy and politics of modern society are both in need of active human agents (labour force and citizens). One role of the state is the facilitation of population growth by managing population policy. All social autopoietic processes within society are in need of biological autopoiesis in the sense that the reproduction of the species is necessary for supplying active human beings that enter social relationships in order to maintain and reproduce self-organising social systems. The biological autopoiesis of the human being is in modern society coupled to the autopoiesis of the economy and politics, people have to enter and actively participate in these systems in order to survive and maintain their own biological and social autopoiesis. The family is the germ cell of economic and political autopoiesis, its autopoiesis produces human beings that sustain the autopoietic social processes of modern society. The self-reproduction of modern society is necessarily based on definition of membership/exclusion concerning membership, national identity and the family. The state organises these three integrational and interrelated elements of modern society. The construction of artificial, imaginary identities10 concerning origin, ethnicity and gender are central features of the ideological function of the state. The description of society generated by the state produces clear cut identities along the lines of origin, ethnicity and gender and assigns certain roles to each identity and its opposite by fostering the difference between these roles. Each identity generated in the process of self-description comprehends itself in opposition to other identities that are frequently perceived as threats. The state’s involvement in migration and territorial control has ‘racial’ implications, its involvement in organising citizenship ethnical implications and its involvement in family policy gender implications. 4. Postfordism, Self-Organisation and the Nation State For considering the recent changes of the state form, one must first take a look at the broader societal change from Fordism to Postfordism. The Fordist mode of development that shaped the Western countries for several decades after 1945 was economically based on features such 10

Louis Althusser (1971) said that ideology represents "the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence“ and that ideology interpellates the individuals as subjects in the name of an absolute subject and results in material practices oriented on complying with the absolute subject. The nation as a constructed identity of modern society surely can be considered as an imaginary absolute subject.

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as mass production, mass consumption, Taylorism, assembly lines, separation of manual and mental labour, centralised and hierarchical structures in economic organisations, command and control, standardisation of individual parts, standardisation of products, location of corporations in one central spot, large single factories, vertical integration, strict regulation of the work day, strict division between employees and the unemployed (cf. Fuchs 2002a for a detailed discussion of Fordism and Postfordism). Fordist culture was characterised by standardised consumption norms, consumption of standardised commodities, hegemony of the American way of life. The Frankfurt School stressed that the standardised way of life would result in standardised, one-dimensional, manipulated forms of consciousness (cf. Fuchs 2002f, Fuchs/Hofkirchner 2003, chapter II.8.3.3.1). The Western nation state became a welfare state that pursued the aim of increasing living standards and wages as well as expanding welfare rights in order to facilitate mass production and mass consumption. Welfare politics regulated the reproduction of the labour force and the supply of wage labour. The state advanced standardised consumption norms. Important aspects of the Fordist state have been the commodification of the private sphere of reproduction, redistribution of wealth, internalisation of consumption norms, public services, obligatory social security insurance, securing wage increases in order to stimulate productivity and demand, state regulation of wages, education, health services and housing; old age insurance, state control of key industries and services, institutionalised pacification of class struggles, installation of collective bargaining systems and corporatism that are based on a mediation between the representatives, associations and unions of working class interests and the representatives, association and unions of corporate interests. The state intervened into the economy by planning monetary policy, fiscal policy, industry policy, research policy, business cycle policy, growth policy, employment policy and policies concerning the distribution of wealth. Protective tariffs were used in order to secure national markets. The interventionist policies were based on Keynes’ doctrine of deficit spending that assumed that by intervening into the economy capital investment, consumption and growth could be stimulated. Keynesian economics assumed that state investment financed by budget deficit would anticipate future growth and that this deficit would be compensated by the promoted economic growth. Politicians and economists dreamt of an endless golden age of prosperity, but underestimated the crisis-ridden, antagonistic nature of capitalism. The international dimension of the dense system of state regulation was the system of Bretton Woods. The Fordist welfare state was neither universal nor homogenous, I have listed here some key features that have not present to the same extent in the developed countries. In the early 1970s, the Fordist mode of development of capitalism entered crisis (cf. Fuchs 2002a). One of the reasons was that the hierarchical Taylorist model of organising work reached its limits and promoted refusal of work and class struggle because the work force 11 couldn't stand the permanent and extraordinary psychological and physical burdens . Other reasons were the technological and organisational limits the centralist Taylorist methods had reached. As a result, the growth rate of productivity decreased and wages and constant capital relatively increased. The centralised and hierarchic forms of economic organisation increasingly proved to be inflexible and rigid. The costs of wage labour had increased 11

Helmut Willke (1995: 81ff) points out that increasing complexity with the help of hierarchy results in a point where efforts and costs for organising correct communication becomes counterproductive. Complexity would become unmanageable due to the increase of complexity of things (instruments, machines, technologies), communications and interactions, time, space, time, space and cognition. One can say that at the beginning of the 1970ies Fordism had reached a point where hierarchical steering in economic organisations became impossible due to the increased complexity of production.

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relatively fast during the 1960ies due to the power of the organised interest of the working class. The growth of productivity was relatively slow during the 1960ies, the growth of wages relatively fast. These two factors negatively influenced profit rates. The economic hegemony of the USA was questioned during the 1960ies by the fast economic development of European countries and Japan. This competition along with expenditures of the US state for financing the Vietnam war resulted in a large budget deficit and in deficits of the balance of trade. The role of the US dollar as “world money” was increasingly questioned and finally the system of Bretton Woods broke down in the early 1970ies. Stagflation appeared as a new economic phenomenon. The Keynesian policy of deficit spending was based on the assumption that the crises of capitalism could be overcome, but once the crisis of Fordism began and the profits fell the state also entered crisis because it heavily depends on taxes that stem from the production process (taxation of wages and profits). The increasing international character of production came into conflict with the nationally organised policies of regulation. The antiwar movement, the student-protests and the emergence of new social movements questioned the Fordist way of life. Taken together, all these tendencies produced an overall economic, political and ideological crisis of world society. Fordism reached its end during the first half decade of the 1970ies. The transition from Fordism to Postfordism took place in the framework of the search for a solution of the crisis of Fordism and capital accumulation. The Postfordist economy is based on the outsourcing, decentralisation and "flexibilisation" of production, lean management, just-in-time production, the flattening of internal hierarchies in corporations, small organisational units in corporations, delegation of decision-making from upper hierarchical levels to lower ones, decentralisation of organisational structures, team work, semiautonomous working groups, network-organisations (see Castells 1996ff), tertiarisation and informatisation of the economy, triadisation of international trade and of capital-export, strategic alliances, team work, semi-autonomous working groups, participative management (for a discussion see Parker/Slaughter 1988, Fuchs 2002a), a new phase of economic globalisation (see Fuchs/Hofkirchner 2001, 2002b, c), diversified quality production, automation and rationalisation mediated by computerised information- and communicationtechnologies (ICT). Speculative (“fictive”) capital that is detached from material production and constitutes fast, self-increasing, unstable (“bubble economy”), global flows of capital is gaining importance. The economic diffusion of computer technology is also related to the crisis of Fordism (see Fuchs 2001a, b, 2002a). As a reaction to the relative fall of the profit rates, computerisation and automation have been put forward in order to save labour costs and to increase the rates of profit again. Informatisation and computerisation are medium as well as the outcome of the crisis of Fordism. The use of modern information and communication technologies (ICT) in organisations is due to economic interests. Without the global crisis of Fordism, the new technological paradigm would have emerged sooner or later, but this process would have taken place much more slowly. The massive diffusion of ICT results from capitalism's permanent search for effective means of production, rationalisation and mechanisation. ICT make outsourcing and de-centralisation of production, team work, the "flexibilisation" of jobs and the flattening of organisational hierarchies much easier. The individual in Fordist capitalism was expected to carry out monotonous labour; management expects individuals in post-Fordist capitalism to be flexible, innovative, motivated, dynamic, modern, young, and agile, and it wants them to identify with the corporation and to have fun at work. Strategies of participative management aim at the ideological integration of labourers into corporations. This is a new quality that does not aim at a humanisation of work and life, but at a rise of profits by an increase in productivity and cost reductions achieved by the workers' 25


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disciplining themselves. Bonus systems, team work, share options, corporate identity, attractive design of the work place, construction of a community between management and workers ("we"-identity), advancement of spirit of enterprise within the workforce etc. are part of this strategy. The restructuring of corporations (de-centralisation, flexibilisation, outsourcing, lean management, flattening of hierarchies, just-in-time-production etc.) is aiming at increasing profits by cutting costs. The model for this is the Japanese Lean-Production-system of Toyota, hence one also quite often speaks of Toyotism. The goals of the existing forms of automation and computerisation are the decrease of labour costs in order to increase profits. Transnational corporations (TNC) are an important aspect of the Postfordist economy. Their number has increased from approximately 7000 to approximately 37000 at the end of the 20th century. Transnationalism is different from the export strategy and multinationalism. In a corporation that employs an export strategy a foreign branch of the corporation distributes the corporation’s commodities in a specific country and is controlled by the centre of the corporation that resides in one country. Multinational corporations are based on the idea that all establishments should be relatively autonomous and should try to autonomously control certain local, regional and national markets. Transnational corporations break the production process down into small units and make use of outsourcing and sub-contracting in order to produce each unit in a part of that world where the conditions of production are attractive. Transnational corporations have a globally distributed and networked character, they produce and market different and diversified products and services all over the world on local, regional, national and international markets. The role of the state in society has changed in Postfordist society. When a social system enters crisis it is determined that a new order will emerge, but it is not predetermined how that order will look like (Fuchs 2002a, 2003f). The outcome depends on social practices and struggles, it is influenced by the prior existing social structures in the sense that they condition a field of possibilities. The form of Postfordist politics is neither pre-determined, nor homogenous. Is the state the organisational centre of society? Is it impossible for the state to influence economic processes? Is the state a “weak” state? How does g lobalisation influence the nation state? Globalisation can generally be defined as the stretching of social relationships in space-time, a globalising social system enlarges its border in space-time, as a result social relationships can be maintained across larger temporal and spatial distances. Anthony Giddens similarly defines globalisation as “intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occuring many miles away and vice versa” (Giddens 1990: 64). Globalisation is based on processes of disembedding, i.e. the production of time-space distanciation of social relationships. Processes of disembedding are accompanied by processes of reembedding that adapt the disembedded social relationships to local (temporal and spatial) conditions. Globalisation involves the stretching of practices and actions that constitute self-organising social systems in time-space. Globalisation is a general process of humankind. During the history of society the organisation of social relationships has become more global in temporal and spatial scope. Hence globalisation is a general tendency of humankind (Fuchs/Hofkirchner 2002b) that is embedded into a dialectical relationship of the local and the global. This tendency involves the increase of the networked character of human actions, the increase of the number of actors and complexity of society due to the latter’s enlargement and the increase of complexity of social relationships. Economic globalisation means the enlargement of economic structures of 26


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production, distribution and consumption, political globalisation the enlargement of powerand decision structures, cultural globalisation the enlargement of knowledge structures and the dispersion of certain norms and values. Globalisation enlarges structures and the respective practices in time-space. Capitalism is due to the world market an inherently global economic system. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels described this global character of modern society. “The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. […] All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. […] In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations” (Marx/Engels 1848: 466f). Marx spoke about “ the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world-market“ and “the international character of the capitalistic regime“ ( Marx 1867: 790). The world-market would be the basis of capitalistic production and the “immanent necessity of this mode of pro duction to produce on an ever-enlarged scale tends to extend the world-market continually“ (Marx 1894: 346). The development of the productive forces would “put world -historical, empirically universal individuals in place of local ones“ (Marx/Engels 1845/ 46: 36) and would establish a “universal intercourse between men“. The global character of capitalism would have produced a universal dependence and history as world history. It would have “ produced world history for the first time, insofar as it made all civilised nations and every individual member of them dependent for the satisfaction of their wants on the whole world, thus destroying the former natural exclusiveness of separate nations“ (Marx/Engels 1845/46: 60). Marx stressed the relationship of economic globalisation and technological progress: “Whereas on the one hand the improvement of the means of transportation and communication brought about by the progress of capitalist production reduces the time of circulation of particular quantities of commodities, the same progress and the opportunities created by the development of transport and communication facilities make it imperative, conversely, to work for ever more remote markets, in a word – for the world-market“ (Marx 1885: 254) Means of transport and communication would be “the weapons for conquering foreign markets“ (Marx 1867: 475). When we talk about globalisation today, we mainly talk about economic globalisation because this is the dominant mode of globalisation. The push of economic globalisation characteristic for Postfordism doesn’t mean a large increase of world trade, the annual growth of world trade was 6% in the years 1948-1960, 8% in the years 1960-73, 4.5% in the years 1973-79 and 4% in the years 1980-88 (Hopkins et al. 1998: 71). This means that the growth rate has actually slowed down with during the emergence and consolidation of Postfordism. The share of worldwide foreign direct investment inflow into the developing countries has decreased from 20,9% in the period 1970-1974 to 11.7% in 1988, whereas it has increased from 78,9% to 88,3% in the Western industrial countries (ibid.: 73). This shows that Postfordist economic globalisation doesn’t mean increased investment in the Third World. Postfordist economic globalisation means the creation of new basic conditions for the valorisation processes of capital in the form of the deregulation, dismantling and removing of the institutional barriers for these processes as well as the internationalisation of capital in the sense of a triadisation (concentration within the three large economic regions Europe, United States and Southeast Asia) of world trade, capital-export and foreign direct investments. The Third World is increasingly uninteresting for Western economic interests and is simply ignored. 27


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The policy of state regulation is shifting from Keynesianism to neoliberalism. Neoliberal politics aim at creating a framework for the economy that makes it possible to raise profits by minimising the costs of investment, reducing social security, and preaching self-help and selfresponsibility of the individual for his/her problems and of the capability of the market to regulate itself without human intervention. This results in de-regulation, precarious job relationships, the dismantling of the welfare state, deterioration of labour and social policies, lowering of taxes on capital, flexible labour times, privatisation of formerly public services and industries, liberalisation of international trade policies, rise of new free trade associations (EU, NAFTA, APEC, AFTA, MERCOSUR etc.). Aspects of neoliberalism include: the withdrawal of the state from all areas of social life, destruction of the welfare state and collective responsibility; preaching of self-help, selfresponsibility of the individual for his/her problems and of the capability of the market to regulate itself without human intervention; growth, productivity and competition are presented as the only goals of human actions; old ultraliberal ideas are presented as modern and progressive (in fact they constitute a conservative restauration); homogenisation of the money and finance markets under the dominance of a few nations; this ideology makes use of a kind of new Social Darwinism that puts across the message that only the strong and remarkable survive in society and on the market; establishment and institutionalisation of a permanent insecurity of wage and living conditions (“flexploitation”) and of an individualisation of work contracts; state-assistance and -subsidies for large corporations; neoliberal ideologies claim that the economy is independent from society, that the market is the best means of organising production and distribution efficiently and equitably and that globalisation requires the minimisation of state spending especially for social security; these developments are presented as something inescapable, self-evident and without alternatives. The neoliberal state creates the legal framework for flexible wages and flexible working times. Collective bargaining systems are increasingly superseded by systems at a sectoral, regional or company level. The state tries to facilitate capital investment and technological progress by subsidies, R&D programmes, funds and institutional support. The transition to the information society has produced new areas of regulation such as data protection, data security, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, cybercrime. The state increasingly tries to activate entrepreneurial thinking of the individual by creating new forms of self-dependence and self-employment, reducing unemployment benefits and welfare, tightening eligibility criteria, installing sanctions and coercive activation programmes (“workfare”, “welfare to work”). Pensions are increasingly cut and the retirement age lifted, priva te pension funds are encouraged. Universities are considered as enterprises and co-operation between universities and corporations is encouraged. Regulation is increasingly important on and shifted to the supranational, regional and local level and networks/links between cities, regions and federal states are established (also on a cross-border-basis). Certain state functions are shifted to civil society (neo-corporatism). Public enterprises and services are increasingly privatised and commercialised. Welfare is shifted from the private to the corporate level. TNCs have become important political actors and the state has transformed itself into a competitive nation state (Cerny 1997, Hirsch 1995, 2002, Jessop 2002): Corporations invest capital where they find the best conditions of production, “movement of production” has become a threatening formula that is implicitly used by corporations to influence politics. There is a competition for good conditions of economic investment between nation states and hence nation states are frequently forced to facilitate privatisation, deregulation, deterioration of wages, labour legislation and welfare policies in order to attract the interest of the nomadic, flexible and transnationally operating capital. The nation state is by definition inflexible and 28


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fixed in space-time whereas capital is operating globally and is making use of modern technologies in order to decentralise its means of organisation. The state attempts to fix an increasingly mobile and flexible capital in its own territorial space by creating incentives. New information- and communication technologies facilitate the de-localisation and disembedding of economic communication in the sense of the generation of spatial and temporal distance. The Postfordist internationalisation of production is facilitated by these technologies. ICT are medium and outcome of the economic globalisation of capitalism. On the one hand they make the generation of temporal and spatial distance possible, hence local processes are influenced by global ones and vice versa. ICT simplify global communication and world trade. ICT push ahead globalisation, de-centralisation and flexibilisation of production, they are a medium of the territorial restructuring of capitalism. The generation of networks of production that are typical for transnational corporations has been made much easier by ICT, the latter are also a result of the economic movements of restructuring that are typical for capital. ICT are not only medium of globalisation processes, they are also an outcome of them. In order to optimise the accumulation of capital, technologies have to increase their productivity. This results in phases of heavy automation. ICT are a result of this. Historically shipping, railway, telegraph, telephone, radio, TV, automobile, aircraft, computer and nowadays new ICT have been logical results and functional categories of the international dimension of capitalism. Toni Negri and Michael Hardt argue that in Postfordism “sovereignty has taken a new fo rm, composed of a series of national and supranational organisms united under a single logic of rule” (Negri/Hardt 2002: 10). They call this global system Empire and say that it is decentered, deterritorializing, encompasses the spatial totality, rules over the entire "civilized" world and has no territorial boundaries that limit its reign. It is a “dynamic and flexible systemic structure that is articulated horizontally” (ibid.: 29). The state system would change in the Empire. In order to change and enlarge the scope of consensus and hegemony for the Empire, certain parts of it like the USA would based on some higher ethical principles start police interventions and claim that they have a universal right of intervention. Supranational law would today frequently overdetermine domestic laws of nation states. The mobility of capital and people (migration) would make it “increasingly difficult to manage national markets (particularly national labor markets) individually. The adequate domain for the application of capitalist command is no longer delimited by national borders or by the traditional international boundaries” (ibid.: 265). Today “large transnational corporations have effectively surpassed the jurisdiction and authority of nation-states” (ibid.: 317), this wouldn’t mean a victory of capitalist corporations over the state, but the “concept of national sovereignty is losing its effectiveness, so too is the so-called autonomy of the political. Today a notion of politics as an independent sphere of the determination of consensus and a sphere of mediation among conflicting social forces has very little room to exist. Consensus is determined more significantly by economic factors, such as the equilibria of the trade balances and speculation on the value of currencies” (ibid.: 318). Politics and the state wouldn’t disappear, only their autonomy, politics would be integrated into a system of transnational command. Negri and Hardt overemphasise the role of subjectivity and neglect objective aspects of modern society (and its crises) and they mistakenly conceive new types of labour (“immaterial labour”) as liberating subjectivity, not taking into account that these types are subject to new forms of integration. Nonetheless their approach is important because they discuss the changes of the world system and of sovereignty and describe the transnationalisation and globalisation of modern society.

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Some scientists argue that modern society is inherently centreless because each subsystem would have its own logic and mode of self-organisation. Due to the complexity and networked character of modern society, it would have a polycentric and decentralised character and it wouldn’t be possible for one subsystem to steer or regulate others. Helmut Willke (1989, 1995) argues that the political function system is not a “clear top of a hierarchic order of society” (Willke 1995: 20). The dominance of only one subsystem would not be compatible with the structural principle of functional differentiation. All subsystems of society would be highly complex, structurally determined, self-steering, self-transforming, self-referential and operationally autonomous. Society would today have a polycentric character. In situations of high differentiation, complexity, autonomy and operational closure as they can be found in modern society “hierarchic -direct relationships of dependence and steering are neither realistic nor realisable” (Willke 1989: 50). Neither hierarchy (state) nor market would be able to steer society. The traditional alternative would be the one between consensus and control. For Willke politics shall not try to operate as a hierarchical top of society, but as an expert among other necessary experts in discursive bargaining systems (Willke 1995: 122). Neither full external nor full internal steering would be useful for coordinating complex, self-referential social systems. Luhmann (2000: 215f) argues that the welfare state tries to solve all problems of society, but that this would be impossible because politics would just be one subsystem of a functionally differentiated society and is swamped with solving problems of other subsystems. For Luhmann all subsystem of society (politics, economy, family, legal system, education, mass media, religion, science) are functionally differentiated, i.e. they have their own autonomous self-referential autopoiesis. Hence it would be impossible for one subsystem like politics to steer others. “In a functionally differentiated society there is neither a top nor a centre that could represent society in society and hence could give access to its ‘essence’. […] All function systems realise a dramatic increase of their own relevance and of their own efficiency in society, but none of them can make a claim on representing society in society” (Luhmann 1988: 253). Andrew Dunsire considers governance as an autopoietic system and says that hence social systems are “unregulable from any center if not altogether ungovernable” (Dunsire 1996: 301). From a similar position that stresses social autopoiesis John H. Little (2001) concludes that in governance power is dispersed, none of the actors dominates the others and that hence in “ complex networks governance is a matter of autonomous self control and not top down steering from a central position" (Little 2001: 160). Walter Kickert argues that “direct top down control by government is being steadily replaced by a self-governance autonomy of social institutions“ (Kickert 1993b: 276, see also Kickert 1993a for a discussion of governance and autopoiesis). Friedrich August Hayek (1969, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1988) argued that the market economy is a spontaneous order that doesn’t serve specific purposes and permanently produces new system states. There would only be abstract contextual rules and prediction of the system’s development would be possible only to a very limited. Hayek calls spontaneous orders cosmos or catallaxy and says that intervention into spontaneous orders like the market by systems like the state would harm society. He conceives the economy as a fully autonomous system that is capable of steering and organising itself. The goal of politics in a society of free individuals could only be an abstract order. Hayeks main thesis is that spontaneous orders can’t be steered and that outside interventio n is harmful.

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Kevin Kelly (1995, 1999) argues that the economy is a “vivi -system”, a non -linear, selforganising, decentralised system where no central control from the outside is possible. The market would have the capacity to regulate itself, intervention would be harmful. The principle “no one is in control” would imply that interventions into the economy by the state should be minimised. Representatives of Evolutionary Economics frequently argue that the theorem of the invisible hand of Adam Smith shows that the market economy is a self-organising system. Ulrich Witt (1997) says that there are two characteristics of self-organising processes: self-regulation (negative feedback, stabilises given structures) and self-augmentation (positive feedback, destabilisation of given structures, emergence of new structures). Intelligent human activities and ideas would result in the emergence of new economic knowledge and this would be the self-augmenting aspect of economic self-organisation. “There is the self -regulating price mechanism, based on an institutional set-up with binding budgetary constraints, on the one hand, and the self-augmenting effect of new knowledge emerging and diffusing in the economy on the other hand“ (Witt 1997: 497). The self -regulating part is conceived in terms of the invisible hand-theorem of Adam Smith. The market would order itself by egoistic investments of single, independent entrepreneurs. The emergence of new knowledge would mean the carrying out of new combinations in the sense of Schumpeter: “If people are successful in their search for innovations, new profit opportunities (a corridor between upper and lower price bounds) are opened up through new knowledge. By way of imitation new knowledge may diffuse through the economy so that new products, production technologies, and/or markets are formed“ (Witt 1997: 499). Malik/Probst (1984) see social self-organisation as the idea that social systems can be organised and guided only to a limited extent through conscious, planned intervention. Selforganisation implies a polycentric system with self-coordination and reciprocal, participatory adaptation and modification of behaviour. In this concept, self-organisation is conceived as the ability of systemic self-reproduction of a system which implies that steering by a hierarchical command structure will fail or result in failures of the system. These examples show that based on self-organisation theory one can argue that all subsystems of society are operationally closed and autonomous and that hence state intervention is harmful. Opposed to this view one finds scientists that argue that self-organisation of society is based on human intervention and that the state must function as a centre of society in order to enable the self-organisation of society. Walter L. Bühl (1991) argues that applying autopoiesis to society puts forward the ideas of deregulation and the state having to retreat from society in order the guarantee the latter’s continued functioning. Luhmann, Willke, Teubner and others who argue that functional differentiated society is becoming centreless would deny aspects of domination and preach abstention from action as well as resignating reflexion for the less-powerful. It would be the task for a theory of autopoiesis to develop suitable strategies of control and interaction for the relationships between strongly autopoietic and also between less autopoietic systems. Problems of design, control and planning would not disappear by saying that one should stress autonomy instead of control. The thesis of the non-steerability of complex systems would result in the legitimisation of inactivity and incapability to act. This thesis would be the result of scientific constructivism, but not from political or economic reality. Bühl stresses the possibility to act in and control autopoietic systems to a certain extent. Social systems would not run all by themselves, but they would be in need of organisational efforts and input of physical and mental energy. Self-steering would reach its limits if the input of energy is not 31


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sufficient. Control of complex system is not necessarily something hierarchic for Bühl, he says that there can also be decentralised forms of control and that society is in need of compensatory institutions in order to survive. Matthias Beyerle (1994) argues that the human being is the central feature of society and that Luhmann ignores this importance. He argues that society can only be explained as autopoietic. Society would reproduce man as a social being and man would produce society by socially co-ordinating human actions (Beyerle 1994: 139-141). Luhmann and others would describe the state detached from the real conditions of its existence, the dethronement of the subject would be accompanied by a dethronement of the state. Luhmann’s theory would be one without relation to reality. Politics would be a system that secures self-protection of society and of its reproduction, guarantees the living conditions of the individuals and solves collective problems. The state would be a coordinating centre (ibid.: 240) of society, the state as centre of steering would be the result of the autopoiesis of society. The state would have the task of leadership and would make use of violence in order to exert its influence. Heteronomy as an organisation principle of the state would guarantee the self-organisation of society as a whole. Today there would be an increased demand for co-operation and consensus that could be organised by the state. The state would not simply be a hierarchy, rather a networked political community, the plurality of political actors should for Beyerle be steered and co-ordinated by the state which still monopolises the means of coercion and can make use of them in this task of co-ordination. Co-operation and bargaining could only exist in the shadow of the hierarchy exercised by the state, one shouldn’t overemphasise the decentralised character of the state. Willke’s notion of the co -ordinating state would be illusionary because the realisation of such a conception would have to result in “endless talks”, the possibility of authoritarian decisions would be the foundation for all political co ordination, also of decentralised ones. Beyerle suggest that the state should use its authority in order to promote and “ad vertise” solidarity and co -operation of all subsystems and individuals. I think that both kinds of arguments presented here are to a certain extent right as well as wrong. The subsystems of modern society are not closed systems that can realise their autopoiesis independently and autonomous from the human being and other subsystems. The economy is not fully autonomous because it is based on antagonisms that produce crises and ‘market failures’ cf. (Fuchs 2002a, 2003f). I tried to show in the first part of this work that economy and politics are mutually dependent, each can realise its autopoiesis only with the help of the other. The state depends on taxes that it derives from the production process and is related to economic conflicts and struggles, the economy depends on regulatory frameworks that the state guarantees with its monopoly of violence. It is simply wrong to claim as Hayek and others do that the economy can and should be an autonomous system and that state intervention caused the crisis of modern society. Such arguments are unrealistic constructions that serve certain ideological purposes, the modern economy has never and will never be autonomous from the nation state. If either the nation state or the system of capital accumulation would break down or loose its fundamental functions this would also mean the collapse of the other system. The assumption that the human being shall not politically intervene into the capitalistic economy implies that the possibilities of participation shall be minimised and that economic interests shall become all-determining. It is not feasible that a system like society works the best way when responsible, decision-oriented political action is missing. Such theses overlook that the human being is an active being that possesses the ability to change the reality in well-rounded and responsible manners and in such a way that all can benefit. The global problems of society are not due to the fact that there is not enough “free market”, they are due to the antagonistic an d conflicting character of modern society (cf. 32


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Fuchs 2002a, 2003f, Fuchs/Schlemm 2003). The human being as active subject is relatively unimportant in the theories of Luhmann and his adherents. This results in an overemphasis on systemic logic and ignores that systems are shaped by human beings and that the selforganisation of a system is based on human agency. All societies are in need of mechanisms that enable the cohesion of social relationships. A mode of regulation describes the institutional framework of the important social processes. These institutions have public, semi-public and private character and are oriented on decision-based actions. Decisions are necessary elements of the development of all social systems, hence politics is an aspect of all social systems and societies. The self-organisation of a system such as the economy is in need of political regulation. Without political regulation, i.e. decision-oriented human action, there can be no society and no economy. Hence it is wrong to argue that economic systems can or should be self-sustained and that political intervention is harmful. As I have tried to show the complexity and global character of society has increased, Postfordism has resulted in remarkable changes of politics and the economy. TNCs are important political actors today, the globalisation of the economy has changed the character of the nation-state and the competitive state has emerged. It is insufficient to argue that the role of the state hasn’t changed and that he still can be considered as the top and centre of society, but it is also insufficient to argue that the state has almost disappeared and has become unimportant. The character of the nation state has changed, but it remains an integral feature of modern society. I believe that the state has never been the foundation of society because society is based on material production. The human being must first produce resources in order to decide what to do and how to shape and design society and its resources. Both politics and the economy (as well as culture) are integral subsystems of all types of society, nonetheless the economy is a dominant or primary system, although not a determining one. The subsystems of society are organised in a hierarchy, but they are structurally coupled and there are not only bottom-upinfluences, but also downward causations (see fig. 5, for a detailed description cf. Fuchs/Hofkirchner/Klauninger 2002, Fuchs 2002a, c, d). No single subsystem of society can determine the behaviour of others, but there are mutual dependencies and influences and the coupling in each direction can have different degrees ranging from low (loosely coupled) to high (strong, rigid coupling). Society is a complex system with multidimensional causality. Causes and effects can’t be mapped linearly: similar causes can have different effects and different causes similar effects; small changes of causes can have large effects whereas large changes can also only result in small effects (but nonetheless it can also be the case that small causes have small effects and large causes large effects). Modern society is based on the logic of accumulation and competition in all subsystems, this logic stems from the economy. This shows that there is a certain penetration between the subsystems of modern society and that the economy is a dominant, but not a determining system.

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Fig. 5.: The evolutionary hierarchy of societal self-organisation Bob Jessop (1990, 2002) argues in this context Jessop that there can’t be economic determination in the last instance because this would mean that the economy is a fully selfcontained system without external causes and that the economic and the extra-economic are necessary corresponding. “The economic lacks the self -closure necessary to determine the extra-economic without being reciprocally determined by the latter in turn” (Jessop 2002: 23). Jessop opposes economic determinism, but it seems appropriate in order to argue materialistically (and to avoid idealistic turns) to assume as he does that the economy is a dominant system. Economic and political regimes would be structurally coupled, they are both operationally autonomous and interdependent, but the economy would be dominating due to its ability for spontaneous self-reorganisation. Economic domination would mean hegemony of certain class fractions, usage of economic power in order to force the compliance of other systems, extension of commodity relations into spheres not currently subject to the logic of accumulation and imposition of the logic of profit-seeking on other systems. Also the state would be operational autonomous, it is not “a simple instrument or functional mechanism for reproducing capitalist relations of production”, there is “no guarantee that political outcomes will serve the needs of capital” (Jessop 2002: 41). Toni Negri and others have argued that due to the increased complexity and economic globalisation of the world system there can be no autonomy of the nation state. In Postfordism the structural coupling between the economy and the State is becoming more rigid in the direction where the economy influences the state system. Economic logic permeates the state system to a larger extent and political decisions are frequently governed by economic interests and by Standortlogik (logic that shall secure the conditions that stimulate economic investment). The autopoiesis of the state and the economy are not independent as Hayek and others claim, they are increasingly strictly structurally coupled. Privatisation of formerly public institutions means that these institutions shift from the political system to the economic system and that they are forced to work according to the principles of economic autopoiesis. There is a tendency for privatisation of the welfare system, i.e. parts of it are either shifted to the economic system or handled by and handed over to private or semi-public non-profit organisations. The latter organisations are frequently described as belonging to the “third sector”. These are not simply economic organisa tions, they have a political character in the sense that they solve collective problems that were formerly tackled by the state. They are 34


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part of civil society and hence of the state system. The nation state is permeated by economic logic in the sense that it must save expenses in the public sector in order to facilitate competitiveness and remain attractive for capital investment. A means of cutting public expenses is the shift of certain collective political functions from the system of rule to the system of civil society. NPOs (non-profit organisations) and NGOs (non-government organisations) play an important role in the reorganisation of the nation state. The state’s collective welfare function is today continuously eroded due to the economisation of politics, hence the individual is frequently left alone and on itself in a world where he faces increased risks and competition. Material and social survival is increasingly a private affair, the regulation of individual life by the state shifts from collective welfare to the encouragement of self-help. Each individual must increasingly consider himself as an entrepreneur who must compete with all others in a more risky world in order to survive. An example that illustrates this paradox is that due to the development of the productive forces the socially necessary labour decreases and hence not all individual can occupy full time jobs. Nonetheless the individualisation put forward by the state forces them to compete for jobs in a world where unemployment and the “end of work” (Rifkin 1995) are phenomena of major importance. Postfordism is shaped by an increase dominance of economic autopoiesis over political, cultural and life-world autopoiesis. But this does not imply that the state is a “weak state” and looses all of its importance. The state transforms its role, but still is a necessary condition for the autopoiesis of modern society. He maintains and to some extent expands its role in the areas of guarding the autopoiesis of society by monopolising the means of coercion, selfobservation (surveillance), self-description, self-containment of the bounded territoriality. The state frequently answers the complexity of the new situation that he can’t tackle by increasing its constraining power. The strict limitation or prevention of migration is an answer of the state to the globalisation of the economy. It increases self-containment because it considers this policy as an adequate response to globalisation and technological, computerised rationalisation. An increase of self-description of societies can be observed in the increasing rise of nationalism, individual and structural racism and xenophobia: the actors can’t cope with the increased fragility in and risks of the modern world and try to defend their position in it by describing themselves as part of a collective that is conceived and described in opposition to others. They overlook that the central problems of modernity do not stem from other identities or self-descriptions, but from the antagonistic character of social structures. One answer of the nation state to increased complexity and globalisation is the increase of the self-observation capacities of society. This results e.g. in law&order-politics, increased repression towards the unemployed, tight immigration policies, militarisation of border defence, upgrade and extension of internal and external defence and promotion of new measures of surveillance. Especially after September 11 th many nation states have answered to the increased complexity of the modern world with an increase of self-observation. It seems questionable to me that increased closure of society can be the adequate answer to increased globalisation and complexity. The nation state is not a “weak state”, it transforms its functions and answers with measures of re-organisation to the increased globalisation and complexity of the world. Welfare functions are increasingly shifted to civil society, public institutions are increasingly tossed into economic autopoiesis, self-observation, self-containment and self-description are altered in such a way that the closure of society increases although the openness of the world economy grows. Economic and political autopoiesis are not autonomously organised, it rather seems like the logic of economic autopoeisis permeates society to an increasing extent. “In 35


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Empire and its regime of biopower, economic production and political constitution tend increasingly to coincide” (Negri/Hardt 2002: 55). New forms of regulating the world society seem to be necessary. The existing form of economic globalisation destroys the dominant modes of regulation, the latter are increasingly substituted by market-based regulation. For the solution of the global problems new, solidary, global forms of regulation are necessary, economic globalisation must be shaped humanistic, a political and cultural globalisation of realised human rights, cooperation, participation and solidarity is necessary. A solidary world society could be an alternative form of globalisation, but is in need of alternative, democratic modes of political regulation. The technological and economic networking and globalisation gives us an impression of the possibilities that we already have today. However, human reason still lags behind the material possibilities and is shaped by economic reason. The technological networking of the world pits forward a new principle: all-embracing, participative, networked co-operation (cf. Fuchs 2003d). The emergence of numerous NPOs and NGOs are not only simply the “vica rious agents of neoliberalism”, their modes of decentralised, networked self-organisation show that political globalisation can be based on global co-operation and they stress dialogueous communication and co-operation and hence facilitate new progressive principles. Many of the political NGOs that engage in critique in the new protest movements have an international character, international practices and address international issues. They constitute a political form of globalisation. Based on these principles the sociosphere could develop into a noosphere, a global sphere of reason, co-operation, solidarity and responsibility (Teilhard de Chardin 1964, 1965, 1966, Vernadskij 1997). The technological and economic globalisation of the world anticipates and is a shining forth of a well-rounded solidary interrelation of individuals in an association of humanity. “ In a real community the individuals obtain their freedom in and through their association“ (Marx/Engels 1846: 74). I doubt that the reaching of a noo sphere can be achieved by strengthening the dominance of economic autopoiesis and by increasing the selfcontainment, self-description and self-observation of the nation state. New forms of globalisation and governance are needed. Globalisation is in need of global wisdom and global solidary forms of governance. “ Our hope will only be operative if it is expressed in greater cohesion and human solidarity“ (Teilhard de Chardin 1965). Helmut Willke (1989, 1995) points out the conception of decentralised context steering as an adequate mode of governance in a complex world. The central features of this notion are: • self-organisation of autonomous actors and co-ordination between actors in a network • a heterarchic network of connected, partially autonomous units, heterarchy means that there is no pre-determined hierarchical top, but that in certain situations it might be necessary that single subsystems steer the whole because they have optimal knowledge of the situation • no direct invention from one system into the other • contextual intervention: setting of conditions in the environment of one system by other systems so that the system can choose its options in a way that is compatible with its environment • reflexive, decentralised steering of the control conditions of each subsystem of society and self-referential self-steering of each subsystem • transferentiality: the system sees itself with the eyes of its environment, observes and tries to put itself into the position of the environmental systems in order to understand their position 36


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• •

a certain degree of common orientations of the subsystems is necessary heterogenous, rational discourse between the autonomous actors in order to achieve a consensus concerning their shared contextual conditions • reflexion: each system tries to anticipate what influences its actions might have on the environment and tries to act in such a way that negative influences can be avoided, the system observes its own effects on its environment Modern society is characterised by the tendency of increasing influence of economic autopoiesis. A mode of regulation that is based on decentralisation, co-operation, selforganisation and co-operation is not compatible with such a strict dominance of the functional logic of one societal subsystem. Actors like TNCs today have a centralising influence on society and the latter’s logic of autopoiesis. The logic of accumulation and competition that shapes modern society contradicts forms of decentralised steering that would be necessary for sustainably designing the self-organisation of the globalising society. Both hierarchic and market-based forms of regulation have proved to increase the social problems. The mode of governance of Postfordism to a certain degree advances regulation by market forces as well as new heterarchic, networked forms of governance where NGOs and NPOs from civil society play an important role. Bob Jessop (2002) suggests that so-called metagovernance mechanisms co-ordinate the interactions of various forms of governance, they organise the conditions for governance and self-organisation. All forms of governance and metagovernance12 of modern society operate within large structural antagonisms and hence are prone to failure. Hence it doesn’t seem to be sufficient to argue that new forms of po litical governance are needed that are based on participation, networking, co-operation and decentralisation, similar operational modes of self-organisation are also needed for the economy. The latter is today still dominated by centralisation that makes use of decentralising means and methods of organisation and functions as a subsystem that increases its centralistic dominance over society and imposes its logic upon it. The autopoiesis of the world economy is in its internal operation is increasingly based on decentralisation, co-operation and network structures, but concerning its relationship to other societal systems and concerning the distribution of its results and means there is a widening lack of these principles. References: Beyerle, Matthias (1994) Staatstheorie und Autopoiesis. Über die Auflösung der modernen Staatsidee im nachmodernen Denken durch die Theorie autopoietischer Systeme und der Entwurf eines nachmodernen Staatskonzepts. Frankfurt/Main. Peter Lang. Bourdieu, Pierre (1986) Distinction. A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. London. Routledge Althusser, Louis (1971) Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. In: Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. New York. Monthly Review Press. pp. 127-186. Boyer, Robert (1988) Technical Change and the Theory of ‘Régulation’. In: Dosi, Giovanni et al. (1988) Technial Change and Economic Theory. London. Pinter. pp 67-94

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Andrew Dunsire (1996) has developed a similar concept that he terms ‘collibration’. He considers governance as an autopoietic system, this would imply that “the successful mode of state action is bargaining and negotiating, not controlling; government has to be reinvented as ebaling, not coercing; providing for, not producing; steering, not rowing” (Dunsire 1996: 300). Subsidisation, neocorporatism and reflexive laws would be possibilities for such a mode of governance. Collibration means making use “of the built -in checks and balances of a particular kind of social subsystem or action arena wherein the determining binary distinction or coding (government/opposition, employer/employee, buyer/seller, prosecution/defense, and so on) is institutionalised in separate organisations, which are then self-referential in meaning only as a pair” (ibid.: 321).

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Bühl, Walter L. (1991) Politische Grenzen der Autopoiese sozialer Systeme. In: Fischer, Hans Rudi (Ed.) (1993) Autopoiesis. Eine Theorie im Brennpunkt der Kritik. Heidelberg. Carl-Auer-Systeme. pp. 201-226 Castells, Manuel (1996ff) The Rise of the Network Society. 3 Vol. Cambridge, Mass./Oxford. Blackwell Cerny, Philip G. (1997) Paradoxes of the Competition State: the Dynamic of Political Globalization. In: Government and Opposition, 32 (2), pp. 251-274. Checkland, Peter (1981) Systems Thinking. Systems Practice. Chicester. John Wiley Corning, Peter A. (2002) The Emergence of “Emergence”: Now What? Paper prepared for th e symposium on “The Role of Synergy in the Evolution of Complexity”, Annual Meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolution th th Society, London, June 14 -17 , 2001. In: Emergence, Vol. 4 (3). diZerega, Gus (1989) Democracy as a Spontaneous Order. In: Critical Review, Vol. 3 (1989), No. 2., pp. 206240. diZerega, Gus (1994) Federalism, Self-Organization, and the Dissolution of the State. In: Telos, No. 100. Downs, Anthony (1968) Ökonomische Theorie der Politik. Tübingen. Mohr. Dunsire, Andrew (1996) Tipping the Balance. Autopoiesis and Governance. In: Administration and Society, 28 (3), pp. 299-334. Fenzl, Norbert/Hofkirchner, Wolfgang/Stockinger, Gottfried (Ed.) (1998) Information und Selbstorganisation. Innsbruck/Vienna. Studienverlag. Fleissner, Peter/Hofkirchner, Wolfgang (1996) Emergent Information. In: Biosystems, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 243248. Foucault, Michel (1976a) Mikrophysik der Macht. Berlin. Merve. Foucault, Michel (1976b) Überwachen und Strafen. Frankfurt/Main. Suhrkamp. Foucault, Michel (1978) Dispositive der Macht. Berlin. Merve. Foucault, Michel (1979) Power, Truth, Strategy. Sydney. Feral Publications. Foucault, Michel (1982) The Subject and Power. Afterword. In: Dreyfus, Hubert/Rabinow, Paul (Eds.) (1982) Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Brighton. Harvester Press. Fuchs, Christian (2001) Soziale Selbstorganisation im informationsgesellschaftlichen Kapitalismus. Wien/Norderstedt. Libri BOD. Fuchs, Christian (2002a) Krise und Kritik in der Informationsgesellschaft. Wien/Norderstedt. Libri BOD Fuchs, Christian (2002b) Die Bedeutung der Fortschrittsbegriffe von Marcuse und Bloch im informationsgesellschaftlichen Kapitalismus. In: Utopie Kreativ, No. 141/142, pp. 724-736. Fuchs, Christian (2002c) Concepts of Social Self-Organisation. Research Report, INTAS-Project “Human Strategies in Complexity” Fuchs, Christian (2002d) Social Information and Self-Organisation. In: Robert Trappl (Ed.) (2002) Cybernetics and Systems 2002. Proceedings of the 16th European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research. Vienna. Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies. Vol. 1. pp 225-230 Fuchs, Christian (2002e) Some Implications of Anthony Giddens’ Works for a Theory of Social SelfOrganisation. INTAS Project “Human Strategies in Comple xity” -Research Paper. In: Emergence, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 7-35.

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The Self-Organisation of Politics, Power and the Nation State  

Society is self-organising or re-creative in the sense that new emergent structures result from interactions of actors, these structures ena...

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