Sunday, March 6, 2022

The fundamental objective should be good governance

Almost all reasonable futures studies scholars will agree to condemn the war and aggression and are peace loving people. However, we need to understand the deeper historical causes of war before negotiating perpetual peace.

In Washington DC the dominant narrative is that this ongoing horror is only a personal choice by Putin (assuming many Russians have nothing to do with it). The question is whether the Ukraine war is triggered by an individual or is it an outcome of some sort of underlying structural, social or collective consciousness struggle.

The alternative narrative to the Western one is that Russia has been humiliated over the past decade and in particular their national pride has been damaged. Although their leadership still had other choices to express their pain they have started the most trivial and the most destructive path.

People who study World War II history also point out that the rise of Hitler was an expected outcome of the humiliation of many Germans during World War I, in particular due to the terms of surrender, and it was not only a Hitler's war, at least in the beginning.

A responsible foresight expert should definitely call for peace and compromise as soon as possible but at the same time we need to consider a range of the narratives that are shaping the present and future.

Garry Kasparov's book; Winter is Coming; is growing in popularity; he is now the celebrated Cassandra. But he is also pushing a specific narrative that overlooks the alternatives.

His perspective is very useful, however, to better understand the ongoing wars in the Middle East. He suggests that the reason for Russia's military support of the Asad regime and the atrocious war in Syria is to block the access of Europe to a potential Qatar gas pipeline from the Persian Gulf region. So keeping Europe depending on the energy imported from Russia was the narrative here partly shaping the national interests.

We should note that both the national interests and even more important the national pride will continue to determine the future dynamics of the governance and in turn international peace and conflict.

This is also the case of Iran's ambition to become a nuclear power which might not be in its national interests any longer given the heavy price already paid so far through the crushing sanctions but still the national pride plays a big role here for more resistance against the world powers' pressure.

The growing Western sanctions against Russia might have similar effects in the long run. Unless the international community find a proper path for the fulfillment of national pride we cannot isolate Putin. The art of a good effective negotiation is to find the optimal, balanced sustainable points of tradeoffs. We need to be creative in particular about opening up spaces that different countries have some peaceful paths to achieve and to express some level of national pride.

On a more philosophical level, the master-slave dialectic of Hegel is also relevant to seek a peaceful path forward. Russia and Ukraine are two distinct self conscious beings now headed towards a struggle to death, exactly as described in the master-slave dialectic of Hegel! Following the Hegel' myth and narrative, in the future, people in Ukraine achieve self consciousness by creating sophisticated products and the Russians become wholly dependent on the Ukrainians and through this the struggle to death will end.

Yet another narrative which is relevant here is the clash of values and the issue of the good governance. 

We often say something about democracy and conclude something about freedom. This might be a sort of logical fallacy. Making the tacit assumption that they are almost or precisely the same.

Democracy and Freedom are not always tightly related. Sometimes they decouple. There were and currently exist indeed illiberal democracies all over the world.

The fundamental objective should be good governance and the means to achieve that end is primarily human development in combination with economic and political development. So from a triangle perspective there are three sides called human development, economic development, and political development, which in combination support the emergence of good effective governance serving in a reasonable, humane, and balanced way the national interests and the national pride of nations-states. Good governance also in a feedback loop contributes to human, economic, and political developments.

Without appropriate civic education, more democracy will not be effective for good governance. Without a strong watchful civil society that emerges from the synergy between human and political development, more economic growth or aid will only result in more financial corruption and later bad unstable governance as it happened in Afghanistan.

The absence of good governance, not democracy or even sustainable economic growth, has been the main cause of frequent state failure in many cases.

The problem is to make the mistake of equating liberalism with democracy. Instead of imposing or enforcing democracy, we should aim at a combination of effective, stable governance with defending, protecting, and safeguarding human rights and human dignity. This will eventually contribute to the long term economic stability and growth and more importantly to human development.

Even economic development alone will fail to bring up political development. This lesson was learned well when we saw the outcome of the 50-year-long experiment of the US with China’s economic growth, or even the experiment of Germany with Russia that was abruptly abandoned after the Ukraine War. Trade with China and Russia has only made them more resourceful to continue their repressive and oppressive model of governance without much if any political development.

In many countries that the free West picture as dictatorship their own governments actually claim that they are democracies but defintely not liberal democracies.

Russia ultimately needs to or should be integrated as a part of larger Europe, making the EU alliance even stronger, this was the original plan of the now failed trade approach by Germany perhaps, and it will be in the national interest and national pride of many European countries including Ukraine itself. But the huge challenge is that there is a clash of values here. The EU at large is enjoying a liberal identity whereas many in Russia are not yet ready for a liberal democracy.
If we consider this framework, among the actions that could emerge we might include: 

0/Considering big incentives and prizes such as loan forgiveness or low interest loans for countries with growing high scores on human development and freedom, in particular those with high women rights protection and participation in closed male dominated power circles.

1/Cutting off all the financial resources of oppressive and corrupt governments through united maximum pressure well before they begin their aggression and adventurous wars.

2/Monitoring the movements, safe havens, and capital/assets of the violators of human rights, prosecuting them all over the planet in international courts of law.

3/The final action might look like science fiction today but plausible anyway in the future:

Today most of the attention to the Artificial Intelligence (AI), Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), smart contract, blockchain technology, quantum computing, and similar cutting edge technologies, is because of their role in fueling the engine of the economic growth in an startup ecosystem and wealth generation.

We, however, can prepare ourselves for a day in the future in which good governance, or even governance at all, would only mean the governance by super intelligent machines, and deleting out the irrational, unreasonable, flawed human biases, desires, and motivations, entirely from the loop, from making and enforcing the rules of the governance.

Imagine that if a country or a head of state is downvoted by robots to be oppressive, for example by measuring the number of political prisoners and then automatically the rules or smart contracts say that their assets, like crypto, are blocked or they are denied any sort of international travel, banking service etc.

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