The collapse of "actually existing socialism" has not just led to the creation of a new world order but, also, to an explosion of nationalism in the East, which was followed by a series of nationalist conflicts. At the same time, in the West, the rise of neoliberalism has contributed significantly to the present flourishing of neofascism and neoracism, both directly and indirectly. Directly, through the massive increase in unemployment and poverty, as well as the rising inequality that followed the abandonment of the state commitment to full employment and the neoliberal determination to undermine the welfare state. Indirectly, through the undermining of community values, following the neoliberal promotion of individualistic values. Society and Nature, in an effort to contribute to this discussion, from a radical ecological viewpoint, devotes the entire issue on the issues raised by the New World Order and the rise of nationalism.
In the first part, the social, political and economic dimensions of the nation-state and its ideology, nationalism, are examined, both from the historical point of view, as well as with respect to the present "New World Order". Noam Chomsky, in his first interview to Society and Nature, describes the New World Order as a "de facto world government", that is being advanced by the ruling elites, through international institutions -like the IMF, the World Bank, GATT , G-7- which primarily respond to the needs of TNCs, banks and investment firms. The supra-national institutions, which include the executive of the European Union, reflect the growing internationalization of the market economy. These developments have important implications at all levels. At the political level, they mean the even greater than before shifting of power beyond the general public's influence. At the economic level, they mean the internationalization of the Third World model of two-tiered societies. It is in this context that one, therefore, has to see both the return of Eastern Europe to the Third World service role that it played prior to the establishment of the "actually existing socialism" and the still going-on nationalist conflicts in the area.
Murray Bookchin's contribution consists of a full historical examination of the nature of nationalism and Left's position on the matter. Nationalism is placed within the broader historical context of humanity's social evolution (from the internal solidarity of the tribe to the emergence of nation-states) and is considered as a form of tribalism writ large which legitimizes the nation-state, by giving it "a basis of seemingly all-embracing biological and traditional commonalities among the people. He then contrasts the two main approaches of the Left on what has been called "the National Question". Marxists have always had an ambivalent position on the matter, as they tried to combine an ethical internationalism, either with scientific socialism, which considered the market economy (that required centralized nation-states) as "historically progressive" (Old Left), or with strategic considerations based on the assumption that the "national liberation" movements undermined capitalism (New Left). On the other hand, libertarian socialists consistently supported internationalism, as they did not have to compromise their ethical stand on the matter on the basis of "scientific" or "strategic" considerations.
Takis Fotopoulos's article aims to examine the historic relationship between the nation-state and the process of "marketization" of society. In the process, the author attempts to develop a socio-ecological approach in the interpretation of economic history. A central conclusion of his article is that the present neoliberal consensus, which has succeeded the now defunct socialdemocratic consensus, does not just represent a change of policy but a structural change, which expresses the present internationalised phase of the market economy. In this context, the recent proposals made by socialdemocrats and their fellow-travellers in the green movement for the enhancement of the civil society, or the promotion of protectionism, are shown to be both a-historical and utopian. In the same context, the real choice today is considered to be not the choice between nationalism and internationalism, (nationalism withers away in proportion to the development of the new economic blocks) but the choice of a form of social organisation that would tend to secure the political, economic and cultural autonomy of the peoples.
The second part examines the New World Order from the point of view of the new social movements that are flourishing within its confines. Cornelius Castoriadis, in a very comprehensive interview on the present world (dis)order, stresses the economic and social imbalance between the rich West and the rest of the world. Although one may disagree with the fact that the author does not explicitly link the "overpopulation" problem with this imbalance and, instead, refers to the controversial birth control, still, his criticism of environmentalism, as well as of what various green parties and green professional politicians attempt to pass today as "green politics", is devastating.
For Carl Boggs, the global crisis in the New World Order has already started to dictate a new "paradigm" of conflict and agenda of change. The failure of the "growth economy", which is manifested by the recent deterioration of the world's economy and ecosystems, combined with the intrinsic inability of the mainstream parties to deal with the structural causes of the crisis, have led to the development of a new politics. Local movements and networks flourish all over the world, creating a new kind of political practice, which, transcending professional politicians and parties, is based on democratic participation.
However, localism has its limitations and can not achieve the universal presence that is required for overthrowing the trans-national corporate hegemony and the hierarchical systems which perpetuate the elite control over the social and natural habitat. The absence of a cohesive political strategy, that characterises many of the local movements and networks is, as Boggs stresses, the main drawback of the present, basically apolitical, localism. But, the author concludes, such a strategy presupposes, in turn, the development of some kind of theory (which is, of course, the main aim of the present journal) and practice.
Finally, Janet Biehl, in a very comprehensive study, shows the links between the ideology of the old fascist movements and that of the eco-fascist currents presently flourishing, especially, but not exclusively, in Germany. A particularly disturbing conclusion that one may derive, after reading this important article, is that ecofascism could easily be the dominant form of fascism in the New World Order. As ecofascism can appeal not only to the victims of the neoliberal consensus worrying about growing unemployment and immigration, but also to the all-powerful mid classes, increasingly concerned with the worsening ecological problems, the rise of a "Green Adolf", that ex leftist Rudolf Bahro dreams of, may not be excluded in the future. However, such a development presupposes, as Janet Biehl stresses, that ecomystics and anti-rationalists have their way.
In the last part of this issue, D. Hyndman & L. Duhaylungsod 's article gives another dimension to the discussion of nationalism (and political ecology as well) by examining the ethno-nationalist struggle for self-determination of a Fourth World movement (i.e. a movement of indigenous peoples) in the Philippines. In contrast to nationalist movements that express the demand for their recognition as nation-states (which implies power conflict, expansionism etc), ethno-nationalist movements simply assert persistent cultural identity systems against capitalist domination and internal colonialism. In this sense, the nationalist movements of "civilised" Europe definitelty have some lessons to learn from the Fourth World movements of peoples, that Europeans used to call "primitive"...
Takis Fotopoulos, Editor