Development conference blog: Day 2 Lisa Jordan

December 1, 2009

Lisa Jordan with the provocative title How Paul Wolfowwitz lost his job. She used to be at the Ford Foundation, responsible for funding a range of projects. Her brief is to create a more international perspective. Wants up on situating networks and using old wine skins so there is a link! Making a difference between government and governance. Uses this definition (missed the attribution): Governance can be defined as the making and implementation of rules and the exercise of power, within a given domain of activity. Global governance refers to the rule making and power exercises at a global scale, but nor necessarily by entities authorized by general agreement to act.

She uses Anheier’s definition of civil society from his book of that name. Her questions is if we have reached a toippping point that global governance arrangements will become more democratic as they are set up. This is an interesting presentation, but its dense so difficult to blog (OK that is the pot calling the kettle black but its true). Now this is really interesting, looking at the consequences of transparency and social pressure. Protest movements, whistleblower policies and the like. Reference here to the title of the talk. My own feelings follow.

There seems to be an assumption here that democracy means mass voting. I’m less sure of this. A popular vote is not the be all and end all of democracy. There are cases for activism defining power, especially where commitment is needed for action. More generally I feel that you should vote for people you can at least know and allow them to appoint the level above (as per the original intent in the US constitution).

We need more attention here to the implications of demagogy and democracy, swiftboating and other negative aspects of a transparent interconnected world with few delays and little adherence to truth and fact checking. Secrecy of government, or rather the absence of secrecy is a two edged sword and its not a simple either/or. The mob was an instrument for change and for terror in 19th Century in Britain and elsewhere. Modern society is no different, it has the same promise and the same dangers. That aside, this presentation has raised some of the most important issues around at the moment and has done so in a structured way, with a good basis in research. Hopefully she will publish the material.

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