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Monday, January 29, 2007


Peter Gallagher

Probably, we need institutions that work better. But NGO networks? Bloggers? Oh come on... can anyone seriously believe that these will shape a new global governance framework?

Blogs like the New Economist enrich the understanding of some fraction of a percent of the elites that contribute to this global dialog. That's wonderful. But where sovereigns are concerned, knowledge is NOT power enough: nor is insight nor civility. Never was, never will be. Sovereigns cooperate with each other, or not, and coerce everyone else -- including bloggers -- or they're not soverign. They're not about to disappear.

Nor should they. The failures of government must be corrected, not by-passed. The governance of Zimbabwe, Solomon Islands (or Fiji), Sudan, Iraq, Sierra Leone cannot be ameliorated by consumer choice and information technology.

Spend a few days in Dacca surrounded by networks of beggars, networks of police, networks of business and government cronyists and you'll be quickly disabused of the idea that order emerges from reciprocity and cooperation among individuals.

The eccentricity of Malaysia's former Prime Minister proves nothing -- the Malaysian economy prospered despite him. But not every economy is so lucky. To be effective, the successors to the IMF or WTO must be something very like the IMF or WTO: that is, intergovernmental.


PG: "But where sovereigns are concerned, knowledge is NOT power enough: nor is insight nor civility. "

"Sovereigns" (if you mean nations) are subject to public opinion and to the extent that public opinion is formed by exchanges on forums, then politicians will become more sensitive to the phenomenon.

Yes, forums are just another way to exchange ideas, like at the local pub, but they have a fuller range of opinions and of greater variety. That's goodness.

They enrich the debate, but they are not likely to determine, for instance, political policy any time soon. One day, however, they just might influence it however.

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