Contribution to GTI Roundtable Global Government
An exchange on the essay Global Government Revisited

George Liodakis

Undoubtedly, there are many good reasons indicating the need for global coordination or global governance (climate change, ecological sustainability, international conflicts and wars, etc.).

However, most dominant approaches, as well as Luis Cabrera’s, reveal a number of impasses which are mainly due to the fact that these approaches focus on a somewhat superficial political (superstructural) level, while abstracting from the dominant (capitalist) mode of production. It is not surprising, as a deeply entrenched indoctrination in the Western world and beyond it prevents a consideration of the significance of the mode of production and social organization. Capitalism is simply considered an eternal condition. Thus, such an approach is trapped into a continuous tug-of-war between a fragmented and divisive multiplicity (a plethora) of nation-states and a world government, with greatly obscure issues concerning how we could move from the former to the latter condition. A great number and variety of political reforms have been attempted in the past in this direction, but with limited effects, and there is no doubt that even greater efforts towards a political and institutional reorganization in the future, involving perhaps even revolutionary shifts of power, may be equally frustrated. All these attempts may, at best, mitigate or postpone some of the pressing global problems, without offering any essential solution. This is, in a way, like examining the branches and leaves of a tree without considering the trunk and the roots.

But the significance of the capitalist mode of production can hardly be exaggerated as it has important implications both for the continued exacerbation of the problems that we are called upon to face (planetary ecological degradation, international conflicts, competition, wars, etc.) and for obstructing or retarding international cooperation and the process towards global governance. The concern about national competitiveness, which functions as a drawback and retarding factor against such a process, reveals one of these necessary implications of capitalism. What is required today is not just a radical (even revolutionary) political reorganization, but rather a deep-going social revolution transforming the very basis of social production and reproduction. This communist-oriented transformation, of course, will not be an easy task but rather a difficult and protracted historical process. The unevenness of capitalist development and the ecological and cultural diversity will pose serious problems for such a process of a global transformation, apart from issues regarding social agency, strategy, and tactics. This (real) communism, however, will have nothing to do with a soviet-type regime that passed as communism during the twentieth century.

To avoid a mechanistic (base-superstructure) mode of thinking, it needs to be stressed that a transformation of the productive basis of society, from below, may not be sufficient insofar as national and transnational state institutions may pose important barriers to such a process, but may also, under certain conditions, partly facilitate this process of social transformation and political reorganization on a global scale.

The principle of subsidiarity will be crucial for such a process, to avoid overconcentration and allow for cultural and ecological diversity across counties and different regions. But the essential part of this process, of course, remains to be done or undertaken by the active social forces involved, both today and in the future.

George Liodakis
George Liodakis is Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at the Technical University of Crete, Greece. He is the author of such books as Totalitarian Capitalism and Beyond.

Cite as George Liodakis, contribution to GTI Roundtable "Global Government," Great Transition Initiative (October 2017),

As an initiative for collectively understanding and shaping the global future, GTI welcomes diverse ideas. Thus, the opinions expressed in our publications do not necessarily reflect the views of GTI or the Tellus Institute.

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