By Goran Sumkoski
I understand that many of you share my view that we had enough of simply explaining and complaining how bad the global neoliberal order is, since most of the people around the world already understand this very well and have felt its negative impact on their own skins. What we need is to move forward with developing the framework of this new, fair and just multipolar international world order that is currently taking shape, and within it produce and systematize the theoretical and practical content, tools and instruments in various concrete areas, for the sovereign nation-states to be able to use them in this process of reviving their sovereign mandates and powers, lost or diminished in the last decades by the global neoliberal agenda. Hence, here is an article excerpted from the full study on the same topic published in RUDN academic journal International Relations that provides such an approach.
The current and until recently near universal acceptance by academia, governments and experts, of the Washington Consensus “one-size-fits-all” policies that it prescribed to nation-states has now been challenged in both theory and practice. This process has been marked by removing the mandates and powers of the nation-state, that now, with the emergence of a new multipolar world, has been provided with another and sovereign alternative path to development. While the alternatives are sprouting everywhere, the “new normal” of the global development of sovereign nations has not still been agreed upon, though the key features are beginning to shape up. It becomes clear that the “old’ global development governance institutions will not be able to adjust to the new reality and become both more inclusive in decision making processes and in allowing more and varied content or paths to development of sovereign nations. Hence, there a number of separate and competing versions of regional and global approaches to development that will cater for needs and preferences of sovereign nations.
The ongoing fall of the neoliberal ideology worldview, predominant since 1990s in the area of international relations, global and states’ ideology, political and social institutions, economy, sciences, and universities and consequently enshrined almost universally in vast majority of countries’ national development strategies as state ideology, has created a vacuum not only in competing ideology, but in practical skills, visions, strategies and capabilities to implement sovereign economic doctrine. This is due that the neoliberal ideology that demoted the nation-states to regional purely executive administrations without policy-making and policy-implementing roles. This content-free governing was enabled by such purely executive roles being translated into states’ education systems from the 1st class to the universities and master and doctoral studies, leaving a deep void for a sovereign nation-state in terms of the vision, strategy, plans and capacities to perform their roles in what lies ahead in the new multipolar order.
The new emerging multipolar world based on international theories of realism does not need a prescriptive ideology at the nation-state level, beyond the fundamental one, the sovereign will of its people to establish and govern their affairs and way of life according to their preferred traditional, moral, social norms and values. Is there a need for a sovereign state doctrine or sovereign economic development in that case? Yes, because the neoliberal agenda stripped away through the process of de-statization, all levers and instruments for a state to be able to formulate and provide such a sovereign vision, strategy and practical implementation. The neoliberal void, where the states were reduced to local administrators and executives of the globalist agenda for the benefit of the trans-national corporations, has to be filled by the process of re-statization. That requires rediscovering the origins and the purpose of the nation-state since the times of Aristotle, through medieval states and the nation-state of 19th and early 20th century along the entire vertical chain, starting from adopting its own ideology, vision, strategy and plans as well as ability and capacity for providing political, economic and social development for its sovereign, the people.
Only one fundamental change drawn from the theory and practice of the statehood, now embedded in the sovereign state doctrine, will in turn affect all aspects of the sovereign-state such as its ideology, institutions, governing, administration work and practices in all of its economic, political and social spheres further down the line. That fundamental change away from the current globally-imposed neoliberal model is: that the state serves its sovereign, the people, and not any other higher international global interest groups. Such a sovereign state doctrine will provide foundations for developing equitable economic systems in each country that best reflects its potential, culture, tradition and reflects its natural and human potential. Hence, without being prescriptive in the ideological and political aspects that are unalienable rights for each sovereign nation-state to define according to its values, traditions, culture, similarly, the economic concept in such a sovereign state allows for any model from public, state-led to private, market-led and any mix-models variations in between.
Based on the analysis of the neoliberal areas of interventions where the state capacities have been weakened, the article develops analysis of the potential entry points for re-building the ability to formulate a sovereign state doctrine, vision and strategy. As importantly for the sovereign states in the multipolar world, is to develop the skills and capacities to design and implement operational plans for rebuilding their nation states, something that we are illustrating it on the example of the sovereign economic doctrine.
And while developing countries and practitioners in the field have been re-introducing (or have never stopped using) using a near-industrial policy reforms which allows for a greater state role – and more of an enabler this time round – and not in the role of picking the winners and with all qualifiers and caveats of not distorting the economy-wide or sectoral competition and impact of the market forces, the field is now open for an ascent of a comprehensive development theory that would connect all partial economic, social and institutional approaches towards reinstating the role of the institutions, both formal and informal, and nation-states as a predominant development paradigm of the 21st century.
There are already many and significant efforts in the last decades in this direction that assume and include the role of the state and institutions into the development and growth equations and drawing policy lessons on this basis. Some of them are the New Structural Economics (Lin 2006) or the concept of “binding constraints” and “growth diagnostics” (Rodrik 2005). However, they both attempt only to improve the western Bretton Woods institutions, something that was unsuccessfully tried – for example “there is a more than one path to development” failed World Bank reform attempt (Stiglitz, 2003,2011), and, something for which we don’t see support by the western political elites. A new sovereign economic doctrine is to be built, based on the sovereign nation-state doctrine establishing the general framework for sovereign nation-states finding its own ways to political, social and economic development in the multipolar world based on the realism in the international relations theory and practice.
What the doctrine of sovereign economic development will provide, is tools and instruments for designing and implementing the institutional, strategy, policy framework for a government of a sovereign state, provide comparative analysis of all these models in order for the states to devise the one that is most suitable to its nation and to enshrine it in its long-term economic development platforms and visions. Until now, all nations have similar National Development Plans, Visions, Strategies, and corresponding strategic documents in economic, social, education, health and other areas drawn from the key national documents. However, the current strategic national documents in most of the countries are stripped of any significant sovereign policy content are seldom agreed with the people and mostly produced by small technocratic elite that mostly take a guidance[i] from the similar national documents prepared for them by World Bank, IMF, ADB, EBRD, AfDB etc. Coupled with the fact that there is no reward or punishment or review of the outcomes and impact of these plans, correspondingly, and in line with stripped mandates and powers of the state, these documents do not require any grander work more than purely executive and administrative one, and contrary to the sovereign states’ interests, often not in the interest of the people of the given nation-state.
Hence, the paradigm change from the benefit for the globalist transnational corporations to the benefit for the people will put great strain on the state to be able to devise, plan and operationalize the more complex and demanding requirements that sovereign state doctrine and sovereign equitable economic development will put on them, starting with the governments, public administrations and all other political, economic and social institutions.
What will this entail. This study focuses on the sovereign economic development but similar profound changes from the ideology to implementation will take place in all other areas of the political, social development of the re-born nation state. Even more, the sovereign economic development and other fields will have to be deeply embedded and interwoven with the political and social development in the implementation of the sovereign state doctrine. The current partialization of these key areas, and even further partialization within each of these fields and creating silos where nobody has the entire picture, was the tool of the global neoliberal agenda to be able to implement its policies without larger opposition. The sovereign economic doctrine will require activating and utilizing all of the nations’ intellectual, human and institutional capacity and resources to be put in work on translating its sovereign state doctrine into a viable equitable sovereign economic doctrine:
First, the profound ideological change towards the sovereign – the people of the nation-state – will mean bringing changes into incentive structure between all economic, political and social factors – that should be enshrined in the foundation acts such as constitutions of nation-states. The current incentive structures in the neoliberal economies are unbalanced and biased towards the actors that are the local implementors of the global neoliberal agenda, that is harming domestic economy, its productivity, natural and human resources diverting them into non-productive activities that neither create value nor bring added value to domestic economy or to the welfare of its people.
Second, sovereign science and education and economic science and education in particular, has to be revised in line with the sovereign state doctrine and embedded both domestically and within the international network of academia of the sovereign nations, in different languages, journals, think-tanks, to provide an authentic knowledge base for providing skills for implementation of the doctrine, beyond and in competition to the current and English-only based hijacked science that has been fully captured by the neoliberal agenda. This means establishing own parallel system of accreditation of the educational platforms, creating a network of educational and training platforms such as training centres in addition to the existing schools, universities where lecturers now are squeezed out of the current academic and education system that in many countries is hijacked by the neoliberal global agenda.
Third, each country’s adopted sovereign ideology, and the systematized indigenous scientific and practical knowledge, will have to be distilled into a profound sovereign economic development national vision and strategy documents that will be supported by the political, governing and administrative structures and by the people that аre to be involved through consultation, information dissipation and participation. These strategic vision and operational documents will be a base for developing operational and implementation plans accompanied with goals and corresponding indicators, monitoring and evaluation, early warning systems, rectification and adjustment. These documents will have impact on all sectors of the state and the society and will be supported by other sectoral development visions and strategies such as political and social development.
Fourth, based on its ideology, vision and strategy, and the operational plan for implementation, this will require both institutional changes as well as capacity and human resources development for the entire public administration, political and government structures, judiciary, central and commercial banking, education system from primary to universities programmes, government financial support, and incentive structures that will have to be adjusted to be able to support and implement this sovereign equitable economic development vision and strategy.
Fifth, implementation and support for the economic actors from individual entrepreneurs through MSME to large national corporations through providing access to finance, developing know-how for increased productivity in goods and services, hard and soft infrastructure development, innovation, technological advances, increase of quality, access to markets, trade and export development, fair investment promotion, branding of products, services and nation’s economy, etc.
Based on this vision and strategy, the implementation of the sovereign economic doctrine should include the following components of sovereign national development: institutional development, governance and administration of economic development; building, operationalization and implementation of a just economic system; public and private investment support; sectoral economic policy and sector-unique advantages focused support; international economic cooperation; sovereign financial flows for development; infrastructure development; skills, know-how and knowledge development and human development; efficient public administration; restructuring of the public companies and business process reengineering; increasing productive and service capacity through technology and innovation; micro-, small- and medium-enterprise development; local and regional economic development; natural and mineral resources development and protection; trade and export promotion, marketing, and branding of national economy; regulation and deregulation for economic development; digitalization, e-governance, blockchain, AI.
Thus, the doctrine of sovereign economic development, with the doctrine of the sovereign state at its core, fills the de-statization vacuum left by decades of neoliberal models. This is achieved by (i) providing a broad ideological and philosophical basis and understanding of the essence of the sovereign economy, enabling the formulation of one’s own sovereign economic doctrine, and (ii) developing practical skills, knowledge, platforms, levers and tools to implement the provisions of economic theory that will enable national economies to prosper in the common interest. A similar approach is needed in the development of appropriate sovereign doctrines of political and social development.
Given the failure of the neoliberal development model to bring sustainable development to the nation-states, and failure to devise alternative theoretical and practical sources of legitimacy processes and outcomes in dissipation of neoliberal models, there is a need for establishing a new model that is taking into consideration the need for a sovereign development of a nation-states in the multipolar world that is currently taking shape. Creating an efficient and responsive nation-state educational, scientific, analytical, think-tank, as well as implementation platforms and supporting international networks will help advance the sovereign state doctrine and help the nation-states share and exchange information, experience, knowledge in developing and implementing ideological, strategic and operational plans. These are the areas where a lot of work lies ahead in the new multipolar world. Attend free online masterclass on economic development for sovereign nations on Sovereign Statecraft Lyceum:
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Sumkoski, G, (2022). Global Dissipation of Neoliberal Models and the Sovereign State Doctrine. Vestnik RUDN. International Relations. – 2022. – Vol. 22. – N. 4. – P. 771-787. doi: 10.22363/2313-0660-2022-22-4-771-787.
Goran Sumkoski – Independent development expert, scholar, mentor, trainer and lecturer on economic, political and social development, author of the Sovereign Development Doctrine, founder of Sovereign Statecraft Lyceum, taught and conducted research at universities on three continents, having worked with governments, presidents, businesses and people in 30 countries across the world as a director, consultant, adviser, and as an independent expert with organizations such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, IMF, BBC, UN, OSCE, EU, etc. A postgraduate of University of Minnesota, USA; London School of Economics and Political Science, University of Manchester, University of East Anglia, UK; the University of St. Cyril and Methodius, Macedonia; Meiji University, Japan. Can be reached at email@example.com and through http://www.sumkoski.com