Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The challenge of fruitfully distributed authority

The challenge in existing democracy never goes away, but it’s most prominent in constitutional processes: When does authority that is granted to intra-national regions undermine the potential effectiveness of governing trans-regional interests? This is a problem that Ukraine is presently grappling with.

Heuristically speaking, it’s a problem of conceiving appropriately-flexible bonds in the rationality of "vertical" relations. Good government isn’t primarily a structure of integration; it’s a dynamic served by flexible relations across modes and levels of jurisdiction.

Who can say how effective the Ukraine Decentralization Initiatve has been, but today the Kyiv government is proposing constitutional reforms that would decentralize government. Kyiv seeks to make a referendum on decentralization part of the May 25 vote. But implementation of decentralization would need time. Putin’s gang doesn’t want to make that possible.

Yet, the basic problem is not managerial; it’s vitally constitutional. It’s conceptual. The L.A. Times reports today that “Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko... warned fellow lawmakers against ceding too much authority to the regions and putting unity at risk. ‘While we are giving authority to local administrative bodies, we are obliged—under any circumstances—not to lose authority over the country,’ Tymoshenko was quoted as telling the parliamentary session.”

So, how is a good balance of authority best conceived? It’s a problem for EU political unity (i.e., for the plurality of regions). It’s a problem expressed in U.S. Republican “states’ rights” rhetoric. But challenges that are omni-regional—infrastructural, educational, economic, environmental, geopolitical, etc.—imply need for effective trans-regional governance.

Habermas’s primary domain of concern is, of course, EU political unity relative to Our global condition. During his May 1 lecture, one might look for appreciation of the “devil in the details” that makes transnational conceptions a response to specific needs in specifiable ways, relative to existing levels and arrays of jurisdiction. [March 2017: That didn't happen. Habermas was concerned with conceptual issues of law and political structure.]

The Europe2020 model is the exemplary context for addressing a question such as: Why does Europe need greater political unity than it presently has?

Why is the challenge of EU government not basically one of making its present multi-level, inter-regional governmentality work more fruitfully?

Bluntly put: Who needs trans-regional democracy any differently than we all need a given inter-regional horizon to have effective, flexible (and fair!) “vertical” relationships that ensure a healthy cycle of progressive change?

What's insufficient about making the given inter-regional system highly fruitful?

I want to see practicality and realism in progressive inter-regional thinking.