Friday, May 29, 2015

Designing Governance for the 21st Century

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Shahar Hameiri, Murdoch University; Joanne Wallis, ANU; Sarah Phillips, University of Sydney are speaking on "Sovereignty and hybrid state-building or state formation?". The issue is how to set up a functioning government in places where there has been a failed state, such as in Somaliland

The term "hybrid" or "hybridity" seems to be used to indicate a blend of traditional local customs, combined with some form of a European nation state (although none of the speakers have explained the term so far). What I find curious is that the speakers seem to assume that European nation states are the normal and natural state of affairs and the customary forms of running a community are unnatural and unusual.

It would be interesting to carry out a quantitative study to see how much the nation state in a western country influences the lives of its citizens and how much local customs do. I suspect that national government in Australia has relaitvely little effect on the day to day lives of citizens.

It is the customs of the family, school, workplace, companies, body corporate and local government which have more effect on what I do day to day. I live in an apartment which is governed by a "body corporate" with its own rules as to what I can do (the body corporate owns a private park). The local shopping centre is protected by a private security guard, who has more influence on law-and-order than the official police. My work behaviour is governed by a code of ethics of my profession and the rules from academia. All these are endorsed by Australian law, but that law rarely comes into play.

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