Coping Capacity of Governance as Dangerously Questionable


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens – TRANSCEND Media Service

Recognizing Assumptions and Unasked Questions when Facing Crisis


5 Aug 2019 – Few have difficulty in recognizing that governance at the global, regional, national and local levels is variously stretched — if not in a state of semi-permanent crisis. This can be reframed by some as an opportunity, whether for the advancement of particular interests — or as presaging a necessary reformation, transformation, or revolution, as variously understood. The situation for many individuals in this context is especially problematic — most obviously the young — given the levels of insecurity and uncertainty, and the predictions of collapse.

The question here is whether the institutions of governance, and those attaching credibility to them, are capable of recognizing that there is every possibility that they are unable to cope. It could be argued that this has long been the case. Or it could be argued that this would only be the case in the event of a major crisis of crises in the future. The concern here is rather whether this is now the case and how this condition might be recognized.

Clearly those with a commitment to existing processes of governance have the strongest reasons to believe that they are “fit for purpose” and have every reason to make that claim — even to the point of censuring those who argue the contrary, or marginalizing them in more radical ways. Such responses are characteristic of defensive responses by which other factors and factions can be framed as blameworthy. What are the hidden assumptions, and the questions that are kept “off the table” or under it, as considered previously (Global Strategic Implications of the “Unsaid”, 2003)?

However, whether or not governance capacity is questionable, how can the possibility be addressed in a fruitful manner — and with what expectation of outcome? Simply adopting a posture of determining inadequacy is itself inadequate to the challenge. It is difficult to claim that there are proven alternatives, despite many efforts to do so. Experiments to that end do not invite high orders of confidence.

The title has an appropriate degree of ambiguity in that the incapacity of governance to cope can now be considered ever more dangerous — but raising any such question is also increasingly dangerous given the defensive reactions it evokes. Succinctly expressed: Can governments cope at this time — and are they simply in denial with regard o their incapacity? More provocatively in that regard, and ironically so, is govenance being “put to the question” by rising sea levels — a “water cure” of global proportions?

A vital distinction can be made between “being unable to cope” and the “collapse” on which many commentators now focus. More attention is required to the intermediate condition, namely to the reality in which so many are obliged to live — however surreal it is experienced to be. It may that be the case that its challenge to rationality offers insights of a necessarily unexpected and paradoxical nature, but susceptible to appreciation by intuition rather than deprecated as purely irrational.

In distinguishing the rational, on which so many socio-economic processes of production are based, from the irrationality associated with their problematic consequences, the concern is how such contradictions are embodied in the simplest forms of negligence which call for recognition in new ways.

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One Response to “Coping Capacity of Governance as Dangerously Questionable”

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