Saskia Sassen

Ethics and Global Politics, 2008


The central argument developed in this essay is that today we are seeing a proliferation of normative orders where once state normativity ruled and the dominant logic was toward producing a unitary normative framing. One synthesizing image we might use to capture these dynamics is that of a movement from centripetal nation-state articulation to a centrifugal multiplication of specialized assemblages. This multiplication in turn can lead to a sort of simplification of normative structures insofar as these assemblages are partial and often highly specialized formations centered in particular utilities and purposes. The valence of these particular utilities and purposes can range from the search for justice (the ICC) to narrow self-interest (Lex constructionis). While this is still a minor process in the larger scale of our geopolity, it signals the beginning of a multi-sited, though partial, disruption of its existing formal architecture. This raises questions about the future of crucial frameworks through which modern societies, economies, and polities (under the rule of law) have operated: the social contract of liberal states, social democracy as we have come to understand it, modern citizenship, and the formal mechanisms that render certain claims legitimate and others illegitimate in liberal democracies. These frameworks have held together complex interdependencies between rights and obligations, power and the law, wealth and poverty, allegiance and exit.

View the article hereNeither Global nor National: Novel Assemblages of Territory, Authority and Rights