Will Capitalism Lead to the One-Country World?

In Why America Needs Socialism, I offered a long list of ways the brutalities and absurdities of capitalism necessitate a better system, one of greater democracy, worker ownership, and universal State services. The work also explored the importance of internationalism, moving away from nationalistic ideas (the simpleminded worship of one’s country) and toward an embrace of all peoples — a world with one large nation. Yet these ideas could have been more deeply connected. The need for internationalism was largely framed as a response to war, which, as shown, can be driven by capitalism but of course existed before it and thus independently of it. The necessity of a global nation was only briefly linked to global inequality, disastrous climate change, and other problems. In other words, one could predict that the brutalities and absurdities of international capitalism, such as the dreadful activities of transnational corporations, will push humanity toward increased global political integration.

As a recent example of a (small) step toward political integration, look at the 2021 agreement of 136 nations to set a minimum corporate tax rate of 15% and tax multinational companies where they operate, not just where they are headquartered. This historic moment was a response to corporations avoiding taxes via havens in low-tax countries, moving headquarters, and other schemes. Or look to the 2015 Paris climate accords that set a collective goal of limiting planetary warming to 1.5-2 degrees Celsius, a response to the environmental damage wrought by human industry since the Industrial Revolution. There is a recognition that a small number of enormous companies threaten the health of all people. Since the mid-twentieth century, many international treaties have focused on the environment and labor rights (for example, outlawing forced labor and child labor, which were always highly beneficial and profitable for capitalists). The alignment of nations’ laws is a remarkable step toward unity. Apart from war and nuclear weapons, apart from the global inequality stemming from geography (such as an unlucky lack of resources) or history (such as imperialism), the effects and nature of modern capitalism alone scream for the urgency of internationalism. Capital can move about the globe, businesses seeking places with weaker environmental regulations, minimum wages, and safety standards, spreading monopolies, avoiding taxes, poisoning the biosphere, with an interconnected global economy falling like a house of cards during economic crises. The movement of capital and the interconnectivity of the world necessitate further, deeper forms of international cooperation.

Perhaps, whether in one hundred years or a thousand, humanity will realize that the challenges of multi-country accords — goals missed or ignored, legislatures refusing to ratify treaties, and so on — would be mitigated by a unified political body. A single human nation could address tax avoidance, climate change, and so on far more effectively and efficiently.

On the other hand, global capitalism may lead to a one-nation world in a far more direct way. Rather than the interests of capitalists spurring nations to work together to confront said interests, it may be that nations integrate to serve certain interests of global capitalism, to achieve unprecedented economic growth. The increasing integration of Europe and other regions provides some insight. The formation of the European Union’s common market eliminated taxes and customs between countries, and established a free flow of capital, goods, services, and workers, generating around €1 trillion in economic benefit annually. The EU market is the most integrated in the world, alongside the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, both earning sixes out of seven on the scale of economic integration, one step from merging entirely. Other common markets exist as well, being fives on the scale, uniting national economies in Eurasia, Central America, the Arabian Gulf, and South America; many more have been proposed. There is much capitalists enjoy after single market creation: trade increases, production costs fall, investment spikes, profits rise. Total economic and political unification may be, again, more effective and efficient still. Moving away from nations and toward worldwide cohesion could be astronomically beneficial to capitalism. Will the push toward a one-nation world come from the need to reign in capital, to serve capital, or both?

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