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Gruesome but Necessary: Global governance in the 21st Century? (Part #10)

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Like it or not, there are some really angry people "out there". They may be starving or perceive themselves to be the victims of injustice. Is it it the failure of due process in politics that encourages those endeavouring "to be heard" to "make a point" by other means?

Efforts to declare them insane or to criminalize them -- in order to safeguard the increasingly cocoon-like comfort zone of a nanny society -- can only be successful in the short term. And, like it or not, they are likely to muster good reasons to be angry: unemployment, inequality, social security, misgovernance, perks and impunity of government agents, miscarriage of justice, etc.. As remarked by Abraham Lincoln:

You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

However, as previously argued, it would appear that the capacity of governance to respond proactively and coherently to the angry -- as a silent minority (?) -- would seem to be very limited (Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy? 2011). Successful application of "just in time" business models to the unpredictable challenges of global goverance should not be considered an indication of competence -- as many disasters now demonstrate. As noted by The Economist (The absence of leadership in the West is frightening -- and also rather familiar, 30 July 2011):

A government's credibility is founded on its commitment to honour its debts. As a result of the dramas of the past few weeks, that crucial commodity is eroding in the West. The struggles in Europe to keep Greece in the euro zone and the brinkmanship in America over the debt ceiling have presented investors with an unattractive choice: should you buy the currency that may default, or the one that could disintegrate?

In the early days of the economic crisis the West's leaders did a reasonable job of clearing up a mess that was only partly of their making. Now the politicians have become the problem. In both America and Europe, they are exhibiting the sort of behaviour that could turn a downturn into stagnation. The West's leaders are not willing to make tough choices; and everybody-the markets, the leaders of the emerging world, the banks, even the voters -- knows it. It is a mark of how low expectations have sunk that the euro zone's half-rescue of Greece on July 21st was greeted with relief. As The Economist went to press, it still was not clear on what terms America's debt limit would be raised, and for how long. Even if the current crises abate or are averted, the real danger persists: that the West's political system cannot take the difficult decisions needed to recover from a crisis and prosper in the years ahead.

It might be said that the creative skills in designing processes to facilitate "point-making" in a democratic society have been displaced onto the physical process of delivery of bullets and other missiles -- rather than explore their psychosocial analogues of which there is every metaphorical trace (Missiles, Missives, Missions and Memetic Warfare: navigation of strategic interfaces in multidimensional knowledge space, 2001). As exemplified by the Norwegian massacre, even more relevant is the constrained capacity to "take a point" -- again displaced defensively onto physical protective mechanisms -- unless the "point" is accompanied by sufficient (sacrificial) bodies, as argued above.

There is an irony to the manner in which the younger generation worldwide, as with Breivik, have focused so enthusiastically on interactive wargames through which they "make" and "take" virtual points -- however "gruesome" it is considered "necessary" for the visual simulations to be to offer a degree of authenticity. As many have remarked, they may well be developing the skills and mindsets necessary for the "gruesome" reality of the future -- the operation of drones being but one example.

There remains a possibility for transforming such gaming applications (Playfully Changing the Prevailing Climate of Opinion: climate change as focal metaphor of effective global governance, 2005). Given the associated enthusiasm for music, it is appropriate to recall the argument of Jacques Attali that governance in any one period tends to reflect the style of music of the period that preceded it (Noise: the political economy of music, 1977/1985). It is then worth exploring whether musically-enhanced gaming offers neglected implications for governance in the emerging turbulent society (A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006).

The challenge would seem to be to recognize the "geometry" of a "space" in which the variety of "points" is expressed. Assumptions that that "space" can be framed such as to include only those held to be "normal" are dangerously naive in the current context. On the other hand it could be argued that the art of governance is to act with blithe naivety on the assumption that events, especially disasters of every kind, will "decide" those matters beyond the scope of current strategic reflection and decision-making. The consequences may well be "gruesome" -- but "necessary", given the current governance capacity.  In the face of such neglect by humanity, the corrective measures elicited from Gaia -- as governor of last resort -- will indeed merit recognition as both "necessary" and "gruesome" (James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia: why the Earth is fighting back - and how we can still save humanity, 2006; The Vanishing Face of Gaia: a final warning: enjoy it while you can, 2009).

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