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Philip G. Cerny

The relationship between business and politics is fundamentally changing in the 21st century. Rather than being an “inter-national” system with hierarchically organized nation-states as the main component parts or nodes of an anarchical system, it involves a dialectic of globalization and fragmentation. This restructuring is characterized by an uneven heterarchy rooted in the 3rd and 4th Industrial Revolutions and dominated technologically by “intangibles” - “capitalism without capital” - and transnational finance - “financialization.” The core of this process is the triangulation of the “disaggregated state,” fragmented global governance or “regime complexes” and “forum shopping,” and “functional differentiation” among sectors, leading to the “privileged position of business” and “capture” and “reverse capture” at a range of levels from the local to the transnational. In this context, the state is not withering away, but becoming a “reactive state” rather than a “proactive state,” focused on what is called “firefighting,” with growing problems of management and control. The main driving force, we argue here, is the disembedding of opaque finance from the “real economy,” what is called “financial alchemy,” leading to increased inequality and the threat of crises.