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A Political Theory for Our Time


Edited By Lucio Levi, Giampiero Bordino and Antonio Mosconi

This volume is a collection of essays published between 1999 and 2015 in the review The Federalist Debate. The book highlights the issue of federalism intended as a theoretical paradigm to interpret the major problems of our age, and in particular the issues of peace and war in a world characterized by an uncontrolled globalization.

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Old and New Shapes of Federalism


Lucio LEVI

The concept of “crisis of the nation-state”, illustrated in the introduction, enables to formulate a comprehensive historical judgment on our time and, more specifically, to point out the relationship between the crisis of the European states system and German imperialism, world wars, international economic disorder and the authoritarian degeneration of the structure of nation-states. Furthermore, that concept shows that the nation-states are powerless to cope with the basic trends of contemporary history (internationalization of the production process, formation of a world system of states, primacy of states with macro-regional dimension).

Federalism presents itself as the political project which enables to control and give impulse to a double process of reorganization of the nation-states through a transfer of powers toward higher and lower levels of government, i.e. the international organizations, established at the macro-regional and global levels, and the territorial communities smaller than the nation-states. Federal institutions promote the overcoming of the closed and centralized structures of the nation-state with the formation, downstream, of genuine regional and local autonomies, and the realization, upstream, of effective forms of political and social solidarity between nation-states and regional groupings of states.

Federalism is a form of political organization which aims to tame and domesticate the violent and authoritarian nature of the nation-state, by raising internal and external limits to it. Federal institutions are the most developed shape of limited government, as citizens are subject to at least two – but potentially several – independent governments and...

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