International economic law and disintegration: Beware the schmittean moment
Journal of International Economic Law , Volume 23 - Issue 2 p. 323- 345
In his influential book, Straight Talk on Trade, Dani Rodrik provides a cogent critique of the existing international economic order and concludes as follows: 'So, I accept that nation-states are a source of disintegration for the global economy.' This article critically engages with the idea that the nation-state is a legitimate force of disintegration of the international economic order, with particular attention to trade and investment agreements. In times of raising authoritarianism, it is crucial to reflect on someof the limits of the nation-state and on the necessity to develop alternative paradigms for integrating economies and societies. Against this background, this article posits that we should beware of the risk of a 'Schmittean moment'. This term is used to refer to a major shift toward an ideal of unfettered national sovereignty as the chief paradigm to re-orient the international (economic) order. Under such ideal, any international normative benchmark is brushed away by an allegedly more intellectually honest 'political' dimension, which can find its realization only in the decisionist state. To understand the risk of a 'Schmitteanmoment' it is important to recognize that themove towardmore nation-state is partly animated by some legitimate concerns over the existing international legal order, such as those underpinning the analysis by Dani Rodrik. This article articulates a twofold critique of the idea that an expansion of national sovereignty is going to achieve a better socio-economic world order per se. The first critique is internal, showing that the nation-state does not possess intrinsic characteristics to facilitate democracy, equality, and sustainability. The second is external and focuses on the necessity to look reflexively at the goals of the system of international economic law, to re-imagine it as capable to address questions of inequality and environmental degradation.