Wednesday, April 30, 2014

sustainable global growth as international focus

In his February, 2014, lecture to the SPD, Habermas said “...the fact that the European Commission abstained from setting guidelines for national climate protection objectives is one of the many fatal signs of a regression into the stronghold of the national state.”

But the Europe2020 platform, shaped in 2011, is full of guidelines, including specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, among other goals, “as part of a comprehensive global agreement.” The EU Commission has a detailed policy platform for a “Resource-efficient Europe” and “An industrial policy for the globalisation era.”

The “fatal sign” may be theory abstracted from real engagements. A progressive model of enabling local change through knowledge-intensive facilitations (the EU Commission approach, evidently) does not imply overbearing technocracy, requiring a more-regulative state (though there is plenty of need for better regulation of specific situations; yet greater need for insightful innovation, programmatic efficacy, and good leadership, i.e., leadership that’s genuinely progressive).

Highlighting risks of technocratic overbearingness is always a healthy part of sustaining sensitive policy complexes. But Critical Theory, which once-rightly evolved a broad brush in the face of 20th century domination, may be increasingly antedated by the social evolution that critique helped facilitate. Is Critical Theory more or less still living in the 20th century? (After Habermas speaks at Princeton, he’s going to Northwestern University to speak at a conference on Critical Theory as such, May 2.)

It’s easy to see that “the stronghold of the national state” is a historically territorial economy whose market conditions are enmeshed with the already-international global economy apart from possible initiatives at a centralized, continental point. Nations aren’t simply waiting for central powers to listen to them better; nor waiting for insight to come from the heights. Nations want both, of course; but not primarily.

Consider the difference between (1) a wheel with spokes and axis; and (2) a latticework with multiple centers. Nations are already intricately engaged in-and-with the global latticework. Does Habermas want to institute a stronger wheel? (Is it a wheel for the sake of populism that the public doesn’t especially need? No wonder, then, that the theorist sees inadequate solidarity for the sake of a better wheel, inasmuch as people are engaged elsewhere: in The Lattice, speaking satisfactorily for themselves, not needing a stronger axis to speak for them? Perhaps.)

The European Commission is in the latticework (in great detail). It’s part of evolving an enabling state, I think, beyond the regulative state (i.e., an enabling state constellation that orients the regulativity of the state; not the converse, which risks statism).

Any prospect of success for the UN Climate Summit in September is a function of better enabling the latticework for that singular purpose.

The self-efficacy of a good global economy, thus of good geopolitics, belongs to better enabling of the latticework.

The locus of the “experiment” is already global, and the experiment has been running for decades; e.g., as the constellation of evolving bilateral and multilateral engagements; the evolving World Trade Organization; the evolution of interlocked financial systems; UNESCO and the tens of evolving UN initiatives that are decades old; and so on.

For good theory, the locus of the experiment should be our global evolution, in which continental engagements are participants with the transcontinental array of nations engaged with each other.

Europe is in the evolving global experiment, which is altogether in an unprecedented evolution, because evolution is, by nature, always experimenting with what’s unprecedented.