Social Scientist. v 24, no. 280-81 (Sept-Oct 1996) p. 24.


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PRABHAT PATNAIK

The Antinomies of Trfinsnationalism^

In a recent interview John Kenneth Galbraith has said that the "internationalisation of econonfuc, social and political life has been one of the beneficent influences of the last 50 years". He laments that national sovereignty should ^protect internal disasters and internal conflicts" and argues the n^d on grounds of humaneness for an international force, a sort of international policeman, that would prevent internal slaughter.

I choose Galbraith because he is among the best in this genre of thinkers. The genuine humaneness behind his observations can scarcely be questioned. He is sufficiently sensitive to national aspirations to ask for a "compromise between! intelligent and historically-motivated internationalism and national pride and sovereignty" rather than an outright supersession of the letter. And he is sufficiently perceptive to dangers of domination to suggest that the role of the international policeman should be given tb the United Nations rather than to the United States.

While others in this genre may be less sensitive than Galbraith, there can be little doubt that t^ie genre itself is profoundly influential at the moment. I call this genrt, namely the advocacy of internationalism in a capitalist world, 'transnationalism' so as to distinguish it from 'internationalism' which revolutionary socialists have been talking about for long. Transnationalism as an ideology has at least four important components: first, a belief in the possibility of a humane capitalist order pervading the entire world, not only the northern segment but also the south; secondly, a belief in the possibility of

Centre of Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. **This is a slightly abridged version of the text of the third M.N. Kapoor memorial lecture delivered in Delhi on February 4, 1997. I wish to thank Jayati Ghosh, Geeta Kapoor, Utsa Patnaik, Rajendra Prasad andjRomila Thapar for reading a draft of the lecture before it was delivered.

Social Scientist, Vol. 24, Nos. 9-10, September-October, 1996



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