The Capacity To Govern
Yehezkel Dror

FUTURECASTS online magazine
Vol. 4, No. 3, 3/1/02.


Report to the Club of Rome on modern governance:

  This book is a Report to the Club of Rome designed to stimulate discussion on questions of modern governance. Prof. Yehezkel Dror of the Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem suggests "how government might be improved and enabled to cope with the [current] global transformations." Although containing appropriate footnotes and extensive references, the book avoids pedantry - but rather seeks to "stimulate wide public discussion" on the very real and rapidly shifting governance problems of the modern world.

    The book succeeds in this stated aim. It sets forth governance concepts and supporting arguments currently circulating amidst Club of Rome members - and it does this clearly and logically enough to provide a solid basis for evaluation and intellectual discourse about them.

  Reviewing the book in the spirit in which it is presented, it is appropriate to ask the following basic questions:

  • Do these suggestions set forth a form of government that is operable in practice?

  • Do these suggestions set forth a form of government that is politically practical?

  • Can particular elements prove advantageous and practical if implemented individually? 

  • What would the impact be if implementation involved substantial imperfections - as is inevitable in any complex human activity?

  • What improvements or additions might enhance the practicality or political acceptability of the system as a whole or of any of its useful constituent parts?

  The "misjudgments" of the first Report to the Club of Rome, "Limits to Growth," (1972) are candidly acknowledged. Here, Dror instead mainly keeps to generalities. Future problems demand "crucial choices [that] can be adequately made neither by civil societies, markets and the like, nor by governments lacking essential core capacities."
  He urges the "redesign of governance"
to upgrade "human future-shaping capacities." His redesign suggestions are a good deal more than the evolutionary governance improvements made spasmodically to deal with immediate problems.
  Commitment to efforts to "influence the future for the better" - use modern education and propaganda capabilities to build public support for agenda policies - and lengthen election and budgetary cycles and other institutional changes to increase autonomy and decisiveness for executive agencies - are stressed. It is recognized that, somehow, greater autonomy must be accompanied by improved oversight to prevent abuses.

  All of this raises two more basic questions:

  • Are Club of Rome members still ideologically too prone to pessimism about the capabilities of free markets and the civil societies of free peoples - and the capabilities of their current forms of limited government - with likely adaptations to changing conditions?
  • Are they still too hopeful of the benefits of activist and more autonomous governance?

The need for decisive governance:


Innovations in governance - some quite radical - will be needed to keep pace with change and the new problems those changes inevitably pose.

  Dror emphasizes the perceived need for radical worldwide reform. Innovations in governance - some quite radical - will be needed to keep pace with change and the new problems those changes inevitably pose. Without changes appropriate to the rapid changes in human and social existence, "stagnation, decline and even catastrophe" will inevitably follow.

  "Thus, humanity as a whole faces critical choices in respect to science and technology and their uses, including possibilities to enhance human capacities: global economic and demographic processes and their regulation; the future of the environment; global equity; control of weapons of mass killing; and the future of global governance. Moreover, states face vexing choices on employment, migration, infrastructure, and the integration of global processes and super-state polities."

Governments must fulfill their "crucial future-influencing tasks." This means recognition of "the need to radically upgrade the future-shaping capacities of centers of government."

  The book covers governance at all levels - global, multinational, national, and local. It recognizes that most everyday problems of governance are local and require local responsibility, but insists that this "subsidiarity" must be as the concept was originally intended - "subject to strict directives and supervision" from the higher levels of governance.
  Moreover, the book recognizes that markets should be left to do what markets do - handle "the service-delivery functions of governance, as well as decisions that can be decentralized." "Market failures" are preferable to "governance failures" in these matters. However, critical future-shaping choices are the realm of government - and markets themselves crucially depend on good governance.
  Thus, governments must do more than the ordinary management tasks pertaining to markets and public welfare and safety. It is no longer adequate to limit governments to mere oversight roles. Existing governance patterns are increasingly obsolete.
  Societies and governments are simply unprepared to deal with the radical changes coming in the 21st century. The familiar list of horribles is provided. High levels of population growth, culture conflicts, degradation of essential natural resources, modern warfare, apocalyptic technology, inequality, and energy insufficiency. (That Dror would include these last two in his list is very revealing.)
  The 21st century poses "unprecedented problems, dangers and opportunities." To deal with the negatives and take advantage of the positives, it will be critical for governments to be able to "shape the future" in positive ways. They must fulfill their "crucial future-influencing tasks." This means recognition of "the need to radically upgrade the future-shaping capacities of centers of government."

  The advocacy use of scenarios is familiar. (Scenario A will be bad, and scenario B will be worse, but if the advocated agenda is adopted, all may be well.) When considering Dror's pessimistic view of current developments, it is appropriate to ask whether his pessimism is realistic.

  • Is the current system and its likely adaptations truly doomed to "stagnation?" 
  • Is it doomed to "decline?"
  • Are stagnation and decline even likely?
  • Will efforts to impose world governance increase or decrease incidents of catastrophic conflict?

  FUTURECASTS has no trouble rejecting notions of inevitable stagnation or decline. Political and economic freedom are guarantees against stagnation and decline. They need only be facilitated and enhanced in practical ways wherever needed to deal with stagnation and decline. Any nation that cannot adopt the modest reforms needed for even this - as currently in Japan and Argentina - is hardly likely to adopt the radical changes suggested in this book.
  Whether more highly autonomous and intrusive governance would be more or less likely to generate catastrophic conflict is - of course - unknowable. Dror reasonably confines his suggestions to broad generalities without any detailed account of what the actual policies and practices would be - something nobody could claim to know in advance. Would foreign interventions quell indigenous passions - or generate new resentments and hatreds?

  Dror disparages talk of "ungovernability." The real problem is an "incapacity to govern"  because of the inherent limitations of current governance structures. He assumes an optimistic view that the needed governance improvements are possible.

  Indeed, as governance continuously evolves, we find that some of the reforms suggested are actually being implemented - and are having some beneficial impacts. However, implementation is not nearly as fast or extensive as Dror suggests.

The new political philosophy:

  A need for an appropriate new political philosophy is needed to counter "incorrect philosophies and doubtful values," and to provide an alternative to mere "pragmatic and 'real political'" approaches. Dror initiates the process that he hopes will lead to such a new political philosophy.

Government has to be redesigned to provide representation for future generations.

  Moral philosophy has been evolving rapidly, to include new views on "human rights, gender equality, social justice, ecology, animal rights and more." But this has not addressed such essential issues as:

  • Regulation of science and technology - "especially in regard to interventions with human evolution."
  • Conceptions of "just war," including "humanitarian interventions."
  • Egalitarian aspirations for "global justice."
  • Moral factors in the regulation of globalization.
  • Balancing freedom with security needs and needs to regulate new forms of private power.

  Especially important in the modern context is the need "to confront and disempower evil." The existence of "post-modern barbarism" is a realistic expectation that must be dealt with.
  The traditional difficulties of modern governance are quite familiar to Dror - including the need to balance majority and minority rights - recognition of problems of "strongly held" minority beliefs - pressure group influences - and the proper role of the judiciary. He reviews many of the familiar conundrums of current political philosophy, and adds to them a future dimension.
  He raises the question of "value judgments on time preferences"
- balancing present interests with those of the future. To accomplish this, government would have to be redesigned to provide representation for future generations. However, this would have to be based on "presently unavailable foundations in political philosophy."

The perfectibility of man:


The conflicting values of liberalism, fundamentalism and sectarianism must be overridden.

  At every turn, Dror bumps up against the need to achieve broad improvements in human understanding and attitudes - to achieve significant advances in "moral progress."
  Citizens must be "enlightened" and provided "moral education" to "fasten empathy with needs of others, altruism and a feeling of global human solidarity - with governance elites setting an example." Human rights should be balanced with the recognition of "human responsibilities and duties." "[H]uman solidarity and mutual responsibility" should "be viewed as a moral norm" to counter "self-centered individualism." Some of the conflicting values of liberalism, fundamentalism and sectarianism must be overridden.

Creating a political and economic system that depends on achieving very high levels of  virtue remains more than just dubious.

  Dčjá  vu (1): If all this sounds familiar, it's because it is. These are similar to the improvements in moral conduct recognized a century ago as needed for properly functioning socialist systems. Of course, these virtues are not in themselves controversial. However, creating a political and economic system that depends on achieving very high levels of such virtues remains more than just dubious.
  Dror poses his values alternatives in either-or terms. Reality is not so neat. Reality here involves complex and shifting shades of gray.

Values free or nonjudgmental education and governance leaves values shaping to other actors - some of whom will inevitably be destructive - and a few of whom will inevitably be evil.

  The "limits of socialization" that underlay the collapse of the Soviet Union's efforts to shape such aspects of human nature are acknowledged by Dror. However, it is obvious that moral perceptions are greatly influenced by ideological propaganda, and he properly emphasizes that government must play a major role in this game. If progress today can only be made "with the will of citizens," then effort to inform and shape that will are essential parts of governance.
  Values free or nonjudgmental education and governance
leaves values shaping to other actors - some of whom will inevitably be destructive - and a few of whom will inevitably be evil. "An active role for governance in advancing moral notions of a 'good life' is thus an important possibility and, under some conditions, perhaps a necessity." However, this means that "governance itself [must be] more moral," and must operate under "strict limitations on governmental 'soul craft.'"
  Dror recommends that, "subject to strict safeguards, governance should engage in a limited amount of moral education, facilitating pluralistic ethical notions of a 'good life,' individually and collectively, within a pan-human context." Moral education involves, among other things, inhibition of "hate speech" in the mass media and internet, the setting of examples by the high moral behavior of senior politicians, and the inclusion of morality in school curricula.

  Of course, all of the more powerful ideological groups will want to play this game. If it is expanded beyond the core values (political and economic freedom, civil rights, rule of law, governance under the Constitution) that almost everybody believes in, there will be many groups demanding an influence in such education. If moral education is expanded to include controversial values - like left wing egalitarianism or right wing tax deductions designed to reduce dangerous financial distortions - efforts in the public schools will inevitably break down or become an ineffective jumble.

The limits of democracy:



  Reliance on concepts of innate human goodness - politically correct concepts of moral relativism and nihilism - and "libertarian misperceptions of the 'sovereignty' of given human desires" - are all rejected by Dror. A democratic political philosophy should "re-assert the primacy of politics and focus on the overall responsibility of governance for taking care of the future in an open-ended way (not presuming to 'plan' for it!), as far as is humanly possible."

Practical exceptions and limitations must be mixed in to democratic systems to provide some shelter from politics and public opinion for all governance functions.


Democratic governance needs smarter and better people. A better ruling "elite" should be developed.

  Although democracy may be essential - perfect or pervasive democratic systems are impossible. Practical exceptions and limitations must be mixed in to democratic systems to provide some shelter from politics and public opinion for all governance functions -- and a lot of autonomy is needed for such things as the central bank, an independent judiciary, the civil service, and elections fairness agencies.
  Dror realistically rejects notions of participatory democracy.
Once governments have been democratically chosen, they must have sufficient autonomy to govern and to make tough decisions - especially those that involve putting important future interests ahead of powerful current interests. Until some form of global governance becomes more feasible, increased autonomy with suitable oversight for existing national and global governance institutions is the most he sees as currently possible.
  Negative influences on modern politics include poll driven decision making - the increasing ethical and cognitive complexity of major policy issues - the influence of narrow influence groups - zealous movements and organizations - and the influence of economic power. To build "quality democracy" in these conditions, there must be an "upgrading" in the moral and cognitive facilities of politicians and governance staffs. Democratic governance needs smarter and better people. A better ruling "elite" should be developed.
  Legitimacy of autonomous elites would be assured by;

  1. transparency,
  2. subjection of "governance as a whole" to elections and broad manifestations of public preference;
  3. rotation of positions;
  4. assuring that the elites themselves are "open, representative, and pluralistic" (Does this mean political representation and agency staffing would be subject to explicit or implicit quotas?);
  5. strict "rigorously enforced" codes of conduct requiring virtue, quality and accountability of both elected politicians and administrative elites (Aside from criminality, who will judge the politicians in those instances where the public - as it sometimes does - prefers an attractive rogue?); and,
  6. entry into governing elites based on elections and merit. Election rules "should permit the public to reach informed views on candidates," and "merit" should be judged on "demanding criteria adapted to the needs of governance in a period of transformation" (the definition of which is certain to be an ideological battleground).

Dror accepts the need for great complexity in his suggested governance system. He outright rejects as inherently inadequate anything resembling the KISS principle.

  Dčjá  vu (2): If all this sounds familiar, it's again because it is. A century ago, communism also depended upon a "ruling elite" properly educated in appropriate doctrine. Of course, the communist elite was to be subject to pervasive party oversight but to have no democratic constraints, while Dror is advocating varying degrees of autonomy subject to complex systems of oversight within democratic systems.
  The first two of the above measures are already features of modern democracies, and the subject of periodic improvement efforts. The third is roughly provided by periodic defeat of incumbent administrations. The last three are one focus of Dror's suggested changes.
  A written constitution embodying these last three principles would inevitably provide many volumes of material for legal logic chopping. But Dror accepts the need for great complexity in his suggested governance system. And this is just a small part of the complexity of his suggestions. He outright rejects as inherently inadequate anything resembling the KISS principle.
  It should be noted that the most successful national Constitution in modern times - that of the U.S. - can easily be written out - along with over two centuries of amendments - in about a dozen pages.

  All of this depends on the appropriate education and indoctrination of the public to raise moral levels and popular understanding of complex issues.

  All educators - even at the college level - know that there are just a few students in any class that they can fully involve in complex lessons outside their core interests. Moreover, the public has been misled and lied to enough by advocacy elites to have a healthy skepticism of public and private indoctrination efforts.
  The vast majority of the public is fully occupied with their own personal and economic concerns. They would rather just depend on their elected representatives - and many would rather not be obligated even to vote. As much as possible, many people don't want to bother with government - and they don't want government to bother them.
  Even in wealthy countries, just taking care of yourself and your own is still a full time occupation for most people. This provides a degree of governance autonomy in democratic systems - but also facilitates abuse of autonomy. The rough democratic remedy in the latter case is the ability to periodically "kick the bastards out." So far, the U.S. has prospered mightily under this practical but admittedly far from "perfect" system of democratic governance.

  Dror accepts the legitimacy of undemocratic systems. He recognizes the problem of establishing a political philosophy for global governance that does not include universal democracy. That much of the world simply is not capable of functioning at present under democratic governance is not in question, but there is as yet no way to provide for this in the applicable political philosophy.
  Also recognized are "dirty hands" issues. For example, lying is a part of political life, and conflict often requires conduct that would be considered amoral or even immoral. In emergency situations, especially if a state is failing and falling apart, under what circumstances and terms would "constitutional dictatorship" be considered justified - or even full scale occupation of a failed state?
  Worldwide, an ethics of tolerance and pluralism dictates acceptance of systems based on such current alternatives as religious fundamentalism or autocratic capitalism - as long as they do not adopt such means of repression as apartheid, mass killing, systematic terror and torture, "and other forms of repression of basic human rights." Indeed, peaceful competition between cultures is good and should be facilitated.

Raison d'humanité:


Humanity as a whole has needs and aspirations that all forms of governance should promote.

  However "humanity as a whole has needs and aspirations that all forms of governance should promote." He calls the fulfillment of these needs, "raison d'humanité." They go beyond traditional "raison d'état" to require that, among other things:
  • "countries that pose a threat to the needs of humankind as a whole should be kept in check;
  • countries ruled by fanatics must be prevented from possessing weapons of mass killing;
  • the 'global commons' must be regulated, and in part preserved and improved;
  • crimes against humanity must be punished, including the individual leaders responsible."

Dror devotes considerable effort to the philosophical problem of controlling the meaning of raison d'humanité so that it is limited to meanings he feels comfortable with.

  However, such thorny issues as birth control and the gross inequality of material resources would also fall  under the heading raison d'humanité. To deal with such contentious issues, widespread indoctrination in the importance of "human  solidarity" is needed. "Empathy" with the suffering of others must be fortified against "compassion fatigue."

  Of course, such formulistic thinking solves nothing. All ideologies would quickly invoke raison d'humanité.  Both sides of the abortion dispute can with equal passion insist that raison d'humanité supports their view. Religious fundamentalists will insist that there can be nothing more important for humanity than living in accordance with the word of god - as each individual fundamentalist sect interprets that word.
  Of course, all government pork and subsidies would be justified as details in an overall program to assist humanity (as today it is being justified in the U.S. as needed for "national security" or as being in the "national interest").
  Of course, raison d'humanité would have been invoked on behalf of the disastrous 20th century experiments with communism and socialism that blighted the lives of vast multitudes for several generations. Such formulistic thinking is of no help in evaluating questions of feasibility.
  Such formulistic thinking does not eliminate the realities of egalitarian policies - the vast unintended consequences, and the noxious impacts of dependency. It does not answer the very practical question of whether trade is a far more effective method of reducing world poverty than aid. Nor does it assist in defining the parameters of a "good life" or who is "wealthy" and exactly what policies are justified in pursuit of egalitarian aims. It is in such details that the devil resides.

  Dror devotes considerable effort to the thorny problems involved in the recognition and correction of government policy errors (See, "Executive power" and "Selective radicalism," below.), and to the philosophical problem of controlling the meaning of raison d'humanité so that it is limited to meanings he feels comfortable with. (See, "Public indoctrination," below.) The raison d'humanité formula is at the core of his suggestions.

  The "development of an ethics of global equity" that would sustain egalitarian policies among democratic electorates in wealthy nations is of great importance to Dror. The political philosophy should thus also:

  • establish a duty of the rich to contribute their wealth to the public good and to public service by such means as public interest foundations;
  • define with precision such modern values as "sustainable development" and "global village;"
  • establish a willingness to attack current orthodoxies to make way for a restructured political philosophy that itself can withstand logical challenge;
  • reestablish the legitimacy of utopian philosophy as a source of ideals and long term guidance. (Utopianism can be dangerous. See, "Public indoctrination," below.)

  However, reassertion of "the moral centrality of politics" is the most important aspect of this effort. Markets, civil-society actors, public interest groups, etc., all have legitimate roles, but none are democratically elected or represent the public interest as a whole. "Politics should therefore be in charge of collective action." 

  Dčjá  vu (3): If all this sounds familiar, it's again because it is. This, too, is a reprise of a socialist theme from a century ago, but with egalitarian policies substituted for socialist control.

  The demeaning and downgrading of politics and governance is unacceptable.

  "This leads to the reduction of the tasks of governments, the hypertrophy of control and accountability, and the increasing reliance on other processes and institutions, such as free markets and civil society. Up to a point this is a correct strategy, on grounds of both principle and practice. But it cannot be applied to crucial future-influencing tasks which only governments can handle. And worst of all, it constitutes a self-fulfilling prophecy [about the degradation of political capabilities]."

21st century governance:

 Governments vary widely - as they must - over space and time, Dror points out. There is no single correct model or optimum model that can remain optimum without changing to reflect changing conditions. However, all governments have certain core functions - such as assuring security, collecting and allocating resources, regulating the commons, and planning for the future ("future-building").

  Now, rapid, non-linear change must be dealt with - despite the human tendencies towards inertia and the uncertainty that rapid change engenders. The unexpected must be expected.
  The capacity for continuous and flexible responses and periodic crisis decision making requires access to timely knowledge and high levels of professional expertise by intellectually competent and curious decision makers. Government must sharpen its ability to make real-time decisions on the basis of imperfect knowledge.
  Now, governments must engage in the processes of international governance,
adjust to its impacts and deal with its consequences. Nevertheless, humane indigenous social and cultural systems must find broad tolerance and scope for development. High levels of negotiating and leadership skills are required. Autonomy must be preserved even while accepting the need for and executing adjustments that are appropriate responses to globalizing trends.

  Now, complexity and the likelihood - sometimes drastic - of unintended consequences from governance interventions are vastly increased by globalization and modern networking. This dictates reliance on the "self-managing processes" of market mechanisms and civil society, subject to appropriate oversight and regulation. This inevitably leads to correspondingly complex government structures, and the risks of bureaucratic obfuscation and rigidity.

  The regulatory process - always imperfect at best - is nevertheless broadly essential in facilitating commerce and - to a much lesser degree - social intercourse. Efforts at control and repression should be limited to harmful features and obstructive behavior. Among legitimate actors, governance must avoid favoritism or the choosing of winners and losers - activities that politicians find almost impossible to resist.

  Now, the proliferation and increasing influence of private actors - both legitimate and criminal - "requires increased cooperation between governments, the strengthening of global governance and invention of new forms of regulation, taxation and legal oversight."

  Now, widespread problems of prosperity pose new problems. That the quality of life is improving for all humanity - outside immediate zones of conflict or anarchy or absolute despotism - is not in doubt. However, increasing inequality, ecological problems, and fundamentalist reactions pose serious problems.

  "Thus, it is not easy to imagine most of humanity using energy and consuming water at the rate of the U.S.A. today. New technologies will help, but redistribution and quotas may be necessary, and those are probably impossible to bring about without radical changes in global governance following serious crisis and conflicts."

  Perhaps no statement in this book so epitomizes the shear stupidity of much - but not all - "limits to growth" thinking attributed to the Club of Rome. As soon as he leaves the shelter of economic generalities and sets forth a specific economic task, Dror falls on his face.
  The universe is literally bathed in energy. There are no inherent shortages of energy - including clean energy - on earth. With adequate energy, there are no inherent shortages of clean water on earth, either.
  There is, of course, much that markets do not do. They certainly do not achieve utopian results, and often perversely collapse under the burdens of utopian or politicized or other administered efforts. However, balancing supply and demand is something they do very well. Indeed, they easily do this far better than administered efforts run by even the most skilled professional elites.
  If governments work WITH markets - instead of against them - markets will provide all the clean energy and water needed during the 21st century. Only those that do not participate in functioning market systems will be short of such essentials.




Governance will exert profound influences on the torrent of changes - "by default, by mistake or by considered interventions into historic processes."

  Now, various psychological traumas are likely to afflict most of the world as a result of very rapid change. Disorientation, frustration, and despondency may become pervasive concurrently with increasing but unequal prosperity. This world will not be a peaceful place. Governance must improve its ability to confront such "frustration, trauma, despondency and unrest."

  The world has never been a peaceful place, and the 21st century is unlikely to be an exception. However, huge bloodlettings such as those of the great 20th century conflicts should at least be avoidable.

  Now, the world remains a very dangerous place, where people of evil intent seek - often successfully - to take control of nations. "Ongoing processes have the potential both for very desirable [and] for very undesirable possibilities, with actual futures being very likely to include both good and bad elements." Stated simply, good governance must reduce the bad and facilitate the good.
  Early and effective action against dangerous evil is both "a moral and realpolitical must." Coping with problems of inequality and transformation shocks, Dror asserts, can reduce negative social developments. Unfortunately, there is a probability that "weapons of mass killing" will be used during the 21st century.
  Inevitably, governance will exert profound influences on the torrent of changes - "by default, by mistake or by considered interventions into historic processes." Improving the capacity of governments to deal with change and uncertainty - and to influence and guide future developments - is essential.

Evolution of political culture:






  The social and political environment in which governments operate currently varies widely from the anarchic and dysfunctional states of sub Saharan Africa, to the instability and shallowness of civic resources of many Latin American states, to the kleptocratic tendencies in some Asian and African nations, to the autocracies of the Middle East, to the various modern democratic systems - many of which suffer from "spin" politics and political pressures to distribute benefits at the expense of concern for the future. Varying degrees of corruption are found everywhere, including in modern democracies.
  Because of these variances, Dror states that "Western expectations that there is sure to emerge a global culture in which Western-type democratic liberal culture and institutions will dominate, and that such a global culture will last, are doubtful."

If economic freedom is established - at least in large nations like China - it is hard to envision political stability without eventual development of some form of political freedom.

  This ignores the economic and political forces driving the spread of liberal institutions. The 20th century spread of economic and political freedom (capitalism and democracy) in the face of powerful fascist and communist and other totalitarian opposition and significant intellectual skepticism has neither been haphazard nor merely fortuitous.
  Modern economic prosperity and power are impossible without some degree of economic freedom (capitalism), enforceable property and commercial rights, and governance that facilitates commerce. If these are lacking, political entities will keep on failing or will remain weak (as in Latin America) either indefinitely or until these economic, political and legal virtues are established. If established - at least in large nations such as China - it is hard to envision political stability without eventual development of some form of political freedom.

  In the democracies, Dror fears the substitution of image and narrow interest politics for content and "weaving the future." This is creating what he calls a "Pressure-Dominated Multi-Media Populist Democracy." This trend must be reversed by either changes in political culture or the greater insulation of "important parts of governments from the dominant political culture."

  Centralization of authority greatly increases these problems. By destroying concepts of states rights and enlarging the powers of the federal government, the U.S. has lost significant safeguards in this battle. Instead of being confined to individual states, today the federal government is the center of populist programs, and its mistakes are immediately spread from sea to shining sea.
  The autonomy of individual states brilliantly assured by the Founding Fathers of the U.S. Constitution would have provided practical protections if not overridden by the U.S. Supreme Court.

  Dror provides a long list of problems facing modern democracies. These include pressure and interest groups - loss of respect for government and officials - empowerment of private actors - rising electoral costs - shortened time horizons for even major decisions - loss of party and ideological influence - increase in personality politics - increasing reliance on referenda - increasing intolerance for migrants and ethnic minorities and religious minorities - growth of secular and religious fundamentalism - stubborn double digit levels of unemployment in many European democracies - and increasing influence of business and investment interests.

  Someone should remind Dror of how much worse many of these problems were when he was a child. When democracy is supported by widespread civic commitment - as in the Anglo Saxon democracies - it easily persists despite the many weaknesses inherent in human governance.
  Loss of party influence has been due to political reforms zealously promoted by liberal political elites, and loss of ideological influence is due to the catastrophic failures of various elite ideologies during the 20th century.
  The people of California and other referenda states will not be amused by efforts by Dror  or anyone else to take away the referenda rights with which they periodically impose their will on recalcitrant politicians.
  The U.S. Constitution was shaped by men who - more than two centuries ago - were brilliantly aware of the inherent weaknesses of democracy and the practical need for limitations on central power to deal with those weaknesses.

  The conflicts between national priorities and "global needs" are deplored by Dror. He cites immigration restrictions, reluctance to redistribute wealth to poor nations, and rejection of international commitments. (Why doesn't he include in this list the unconscionable restraints imposed by wealthy nations against poor nation exports?)
  Aid is essential, Dror insists, because the political culture of many poor countries makes it impossible for them to establish governance that facilitates modern commerce.

  Ultimately, it is such "political culture" that will have to change. No wealthy nation is going to routinely support kleptocratic political systems or provide massive amounts of aid to nations that refuse to help themselves. No amount of egalitarian propaganda is going to change this.
  Indeed, poor nations can readily provide trillions of dollars in purchasing power for themselves just by providing legally enforceable property rights. And that is just the beginning of the massive benefits of property rights. The need for governance that facilitates commerce leaves considerable room for local variables - but the need itself is as immutable as the need for air or water.

  Some nations and societies simply do not as yet provide the necessary bases for successful democracies. Democracies differ radically due not only to institutional differences, but to social differences as well. Dror suggests that certain societies, such as in China and in the Muslim nations, may not be suitable for democracy. In Africa, he notes, "the very notion of 'nation state' has proved counter productive."

  Dror is absolutely right. The prospects of efforts to "transplant" democracy and other virtues of Western governance are always dubious - as are all "nation building" efforts by outside forces. Democracy isn't easy or automatic. Democracy offers perhaps more examples of failure than of success.
  However - over the course of time and changing generations - the attractiveness of political and economic freedom - the economic imperatives for enforceable property and commercial rights and governance that facilitates commerce - will continue to spread these "Western" virtues widely. They were the real "waves of the future" during the 20th century, and they remain such for the 21st century.
  With increasing experience, more peoples in more nations will learn how to make their democracies work. By the end of the century, forms of democracy will be established even in China and many of the Muslim nations - because there are no other attractive or even feasible alternatives.

  The absence of any "global civil society" must be remedied if Dror's suggestions for global governance are to become viable. Certain elements of global political culture must be broadly established.

  • Religious and political leaders must educate their people to increase "feelings of human solidarity." Symbols expressing human solidarity must be devised and made a part of "a new iconography."
  • Suitable terms, such as raison d'humanité, should be devised and introduced into all languages. Global activities and organizations encouraging widespread popular participation should be organized.
  • Government must join in this effort at "political culture architecture," including suitable moral education. However, Dror recognizes that governments do not as yet have the capacity to succeed in this difficult social indoctrination task.

  However, education and propaganda efforts towards reducing selfish and violent tendencies and increasing empathy "and a greater sense of human solidarity - - - are essential not only as compelling moral commands but also as practical prerequisites if humanity is to survive and thrive." Eventually, science may provide more powerful - more direct - and more dangerous tools for transforming human nature - and governments must have the capacity - and be subject to sufficient safeguards - to handle these powers.

  Caution is indeed required in this matter, since governments are never more dangerous than when they try to control the thoughts of their people.

Radical global political change:

  Radical changes are therefore required. Present global governance "is not equipped for weaving the future for the better."
  It is essential to attain and sustain reasonable levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and delivery of "value for money" in the ordinary administration of government. To direct the river of change into favorable channels, radical change is needed.

  1. A "will" to use government to affirmatively channel future developments must be established in governance and its supporting structure. However, actions must be "judicious" - based on "best deliberation" of groups and institutions. Dror recognizes that - on a global scale - "consensus of the willing" is too impractical, and undirected evolutionary development is too unreliable. (This stark "either-or" scenario alternative is, of course, false.)
  2. There must be a political willingness to recognize errors and to make changes to meet changing conditions. A perseverance that is flexible will be required. The difficulty of achieving this within democratic systems is acknowledged.
  3. Dror uses the term "selective radicalism" to signify a flexible and discriminatory approach to deciding what should be done and how it should be done. He refers to "tragic choice" abilities when discussing decisions to favor or save some interests that necessarily burden or destroy other interests. He notes the absence of a value system adequate to guide such controversial decisions and then effectively execute those decisions against determined resistance. He believes that policies concerning abortion, allocation of peacemaking burdens, genetic engineering, economic inequality, and ecological concerns are typical of the policies that must be pursued even against determined opposition.
  4. A critical mass of resources and effort must be established. Much can be accomplished by minor initiatives, but some necessary tasks of global governance require massive interventions, including such tasks as arms control, preservation of rain forests, disaster prevention and relief.
  5. Indigenous cultures must be empowered to protect themselves from unwanted outside influences and to sustain themselves amidst a rapidly changing environment, even while their governments join other national governments in enhancing their ability to understand change, their willingness to properly react to change, and ability to beneficially channel change.
  6. Of course, some problems simply have no apparent solutions. Dror recognizes that "societal rigidities" and vested interests create a "tyranny of the status quo" that governance must be able to combat. He calls for a welcoming attitude towards creative and innovative policy options to find solutions to intractable  problems. He rejects simplistic notions that corruption, stupidity and commitment to narrow vested interests are all that prevent governments from solving their problems. He mentions illicit drugs, the negative consequences of new technology, persistent unemployment, African anarchy.

  Revealingly, Dror seems unaware that persistent unemployment is easy to cure - if market mechanisms are permitted to operate flexibly. It becomes an intractable problem only if governments act in opposition to market mechanisms and instead prefer rigidities protecting narrow vested interests.
  There will always be some problems that are simply intractable. In the absence of solutions - or until solutions are devised - the task is to fashion the best policy approaches for handling such intractable problems.

A call to action:


Suspicion of concentrated political power must be set aside.

  Outside actors must encourage, demand, and support needed changes, since government itself is incapable of appropriately "redesigning" itself. Suspicion of concentrated political power must be set aside so that governments at the national, multi-state and global levels can be given the ability to mobilize popular support, and retain and deploy sufficient power to overcome opposition from committed but minority interests and groups.

  Today's conservative governance models may have performed well in stable times, but they will fail to meet the threats and take advantage of the opportunities of rapid change. (The 20th century was hardly a time of stability - nor does rapid change necessarily mean instability - at least for systems free enough to flexibly respond to change.) But for the future, Dror asserts that:

  "Governments should be moral, knowledge intense, future-committed, consent-based, high-energy but selective, deep-thinking, holistic, learning, pluralistic, and decisive."

  Morality includes an active effort to solve problems and raise social standards - but without fanaticism. Government institutions and processes must be designed to "improve the prospects for value-intense governance."

  The risks of "high energy" governance must be faced because "zero governance" institutions - like laissez faire policies - will fail.

  Again, the fallacy of the stark either-or choice. Here, Dror invokes an obvious and well known straw man - the easier to knock it down. No capitalist state has ever had a "laissez faire" policy even with respect to its market economics. The real choice in economic policy has always been between efforts to facilitate commerce and burdens imposed on commerce for other reasons - both of which include examples of successful and failed policies.

  As Dror himself points out, today (as in the past) capitalist systems need a wide variety of governance policies and institutions that facilitate commerce. To protect against overactive, intrusive governance, he cautions that high energy initiatives should selectively be directed only on "main tasks that cannot be adequately fulfilled by other social processes and institutions." Command economy policies must be avoided.

  Pluralism means adding new layers of government at regional and continental and global levels, all with new types of agencies for moral deliberation and policy development. Democratic influences must be accommodated but limited by "non-democratic enclaves and layers." All of this should operate according to rules that encourage mutual reinforcement and correction in process, but that prevent "paralyzing stalemates" by requiring decisive clear choices without "counterproductive over-compromises," even in the face of strong opposition.

  Dčjá  vu (4): If all this sounds familiar, its because we have here yet another similarity - this time from both extreme wings of ideological thinking during the last century. You have to be tough minded to achieve the vision of the greater good. You must be able to push aside people who get in the way of your good deeds. You have to crack some eggs to make an omelet.
  This begins to look somewhat like the Iranian model - where democracy is fine - as long as it doesn't interfere with results desired by a ruling clerisy - and is guided by elites indoctrinated and approved by the ruling clerisy.

  Holistic thinking, choice and action must use a "systems perspective," but must avoid rigid "comprehensive planning."

    Dror dismisses the objections of Hayek in a single footnote - but then proceeds to confirm Hayek's fears. Hayek pointed out that anything - including any evil - can be justified if it purports to be for some vision of the "greater good." Dror proceeds to do just that - insisting that Hayek must be disregarded because he "does not take into account the requirements posed by global transformations." Government must be empowered for "future building - given the emerging opportunities and dangers that cannot be handled by other processes and institutions."
  Of course, Dror emphasizes that all of these powers must not be used for evil. (Of course!)

Public indoctrination:

  Raising the moral caliber of governance is recognized as the most essential - and difficult - task. Service to humanity - "raison d'humanité" - "with special attention to values concerning the future," must be made "the main moral driving force and decision criterion."

  All public and private opinion leaders must be marshaled to widely indoctrinate the public in this higher morality. Nevertheless, incremental progress may be the best that can be achieved until the stress of serious calamities "brings about deep changes in values." Then, the state will decline "as the dominant form of polity," and global governance will be strengthened.

  Dčjá  vu (5): If all this sounds familiar, it's because it could have come straight out of a Communist tactical handbook - with global governance substituted for world communism. All ideologies - radical and mainstream - share this same tactic - awaiting and preparing like vultures for one of the periodic human crises to provide an opportunity to triumph. The Great Depression served as the springboard for ideological experiments ranging from the fascism and militarism of the Axis powers to a variety of disastrous socialist and command economy programs in democratic states.
  Of course, there were also a host of practical reforms that materially strengthened economic and financial markets. Today - besides (hopefully) some much needed accounting reforms - the Enron collapse provides a springboard for campaign finance reform - the practical results of which will be of some interest.

  Clarifying just what is encompassed by the term "raison d'humanité" is an essential task for modern moral and political philosophy. The concept will not be fixed, but should be constantly subject to revision and adapted in light of new problems, opportunities and dangers. It will evolve over time, starting with various applicable international treaties and conventions. The welfare of humanity as a whole should be emphasized.

  "This leads, for example, to an emphasis on individual responsibilities and duties as against individual rights, within an overall devaluation of egocentric values as contrasted with human solidarity."
  Dčjá  vu (6): If all this sounds familiar, just change "individual rights" to "bourgeois values," and it could have been written by Marx. Everyone must serve the state - for the good of humanity - of course. Like communist orthodoxy, it is mutable, and can mean whatever the ruling clerisy wants it to mean at any given time.

  However, a standard of "realistic vision" must be applied to keep the concept within practical limits. When judging morality and practicality, the consequences of actions must be stressed more than their intentions. However, wealth transfers and borders open to major immigration flows are assumed to be clearly justified by raison d'humanité.

  There are a wide range of vexing problems that must be addressed in terms of raison d'humanité. Subordinating individual and national values to global values - protecting "cultural rights" from globalization - balancing the risks and opportunities of science and technology - favoring "the future fate and civilization of humanity as a species over individual and group interests" - facilitating "dynamic development" that does not threaten environmental catastrophe - the possible need for a "Global Leviathan" that "may take the form of authoritarian rule by coalition of superpowers" to disarm lesser states and eliminate war - and questions of "global equity" - which may also raise "the possible need for global authoritarian regimes if consensual processes prove inadequate."

  Dčjá  vu (7): If all this sounds familiar, its because the need for authoritarian rule - to force people to conform to a political view of morality and to share their wealth and comply with other state demands - for "the good of humanity" - could also have been written by Marx.

  Contemporary trends "ranging from consumerism everywhere to growing xenophobia in Europe" are deplored. Dror advocates formation of "global networks of avant-gardes elites" committed to raison d'humanité and the propaganda effort needed to suitably alter political culture.

  Dčjá  vu (8): If all this sounds familiar, its because of echoes from past socialist thought - from reliance on elites to denigration of desires for prosperity and beliefs in patriotism. Today, nationalism and middle class life styles stand in the way of world governance and egalitarianism as once they stood in the way of world communism.
  A century ago, middle class values were denigrated as "bourgeois" by those who found that they got in the way of their efforts to save the world. Today, middle class prosperity is denigrated as "consumerism" by those whose world saving schemes clearly cannot provide such levels of prosperity. Yogi Berra was right. It's "dčjá vu all over again."

  There are possible alternatives, such as broad adoption of "crucial parts of raison d'humanité," and/or coalitions of superpowers to achieve certain norms of raison d'humanité "out of self interest." 

  Of course, this is already happening - but on a far less grandiose scale - and without surrender of the  limitations on government autonomy that provide practical protections..

"Without improving the virtues of the senior governance elites, other proposals for upgrading capacities to govern may be counterproductive, by providing instruments for doing more efficiently what is wrong."

  Self interest and corruption of senior politicians "makes achievement of high-quality moral capacities to govern impossible." This has been a primary concern for political philosophy since ancient times, but has recently received far less attention than lower level corruption. Dror deplores this trend, and emphasizes the need to reverse it. "Indeed, shame, frank admission of guilt, and repentance are scarce commodities in contemporary public life."

  The imperfectability of man is broadly accepted - and is currently dealt with by limitations on the scope and powers of government, and the ultimate democratic power of the people to "kick the bastards out." However, when you contemplate broad authoritarian or autonomous powers, anything less than perfectly moral and highly capable leadership becomes intolerable. As stated in "The perfectibility of man," above, insistence on the perfectibility of man was also a necessary feature of some socialist concepts.

  Dror sees a "vicious downward spiral" of moral values everywhere.

  Yes, morals have been going to hell in a hand basket - throughout the 2,500 years of written philosophy. Were the political and economic morals of a century ago - or two centuries ago - any better? FUTURECASTS doesn't find that to be the case.

  The impressive achievements of current governance systems are recognized, but Dror insists that much more might have been achieved but for the limited virtues of prior leaders.

  As always, it is easy to denigrate inherently imperfect reality by comparing it with more perfect or utopian imagined alternatives. Indeed, despite the plethora of obvious weaknesses within these systems, the only way democracy and capitalism can be broadly attacked is by comparing them with impossible utopian alternatives.

  But Dror is absolutely right in pointing out that widespread sacrifice of immediate personal interests and the appropriate changing of political culture to accept such sacrifice is not possible without leadership with "outstanding virtues."

  "Indeed, without improving the virtues of the senior governance elites other proposals for upgrading capacities to govern may be counterproductive, by providing instruments for doing more efficiently what is wrong."

  And what paragons of virtue we must find throughout the ranks of the senior politicians and governance elites to make Dror's concepts work.  He provides a dense paragraph - which nevertheless is concededly incomplete.

  "In psychological terms, virtues such as fortitude, forbearance, persistence, seriousness, commitment, resoluteness, self-restraint, and toughness are needed to deal with difficulties and opportunities. For creating and analyzing policies, detachment, open-mindedness, creativity and a capacity for deep thinking are required. Crucially, the value judgments involved in critical choices, together with the need to advance raison d'humanité, require moral virtues. These include a strong sense of personal responsibility, and intense feeling of duty to humankind, compassion, a sense of obligation to the long term future, an ability to resist temptations and disruptive passions, and total dedication to the res publica even including a readiness to sacrifice oneself if necessary."

   Dror realistically outlines some of the governance related strengths and weaknesses of societies in the advanced democracies, and candidly concedes that this is inadequate - indeed, substantially inadequate - for purposes of his suggested governance system.

  The occasional arrival of a Washington or Lincoln or Roosevelt or Truman or Reagan is not enough to do the people's business under the suggested system. Without a constant supply of scores of such people, the system is concededly dangerous. And even each of these paragons of virtue lack some of the qualities deemed essential by Dror.

Enforcement of morality:

  An array of enforcement measures are included by Dror to deal with this age old problem. Government officials must be subjected to "strictly enforced rules and laws directed against quasi-criminal behavior, gross conflict of interest and similar transgressions of minimum standards - - - [and strictly enforced] norms against misuse of power on the personal level, such as demands for sexual favors."

"Strict regulations, vigorously enforced, are therefore clearly essential, with criminal sanctions against senior politicians who transgress them." 


"Evil rulers must be removed from power, by international action if necessary." This would be determined by an "independent quasi-judicial body," and executed without delay.

  Dror advocates "international sanctions against clearly corrupt rulers" - global action against international crime - and imposition of international ethical guides for senior politicians and officials. "Strict regulations, vigorously enforced, are therefore clearly essential, with criminal sanctions against senior politicians who transgress them." (Of course. Appropriate regulations can cure all problems.)

  These ruling elites will have to be provided with a battery of personal lawyers - and assistants to do the actual work of government while they are dealing with investigations into their conduct. Anyone uncomfortable with this level of scrutiny need not apply for leadership positions.

  "Evil rulers must be removed from power, by international action if necessary." This would be determined by an "independent quasi-judicial body," and executed without delay. Evil rulers include "those who engage in atrocities, genocide and 'ethnic cleansing,' support international atrocities, develop weapons of mass killing despite having undertaken not to do so, and start clearly aggressive wars."
  Senior politicians must be "personally responsible for the action and inaction of their governments." Robert S. McNamara is the example used by Dror of a culpable senior official. (FUTURECASTS has no argument with this example.)

Political leaders must be free from all but "very serious criminal charges," and must be fearlessly decisive.

  However, after all this red meat enforcement, Dror concedes that the need to be free from legal problems dictates that political leaders be free from all but "very serious criminal charges." They must also be fearlessly decisive. He does not resolve this inconsistency.

  "The importance of the tasks of a ruler require the freeing of his mind as much as possible from personal worries, even at the cost of other values such as the legal rights of claimants and equality before the law. Also, the necessity to encourage frank consultation and debate with his advisers requires that discourse between a ruler and his main advisors be made immune to legal inquiries and the demands of freedom of information."

Public affairs education:

  Courses in "public affairs" should be required for all university students. Government should support "multiple bodies engaging in public affairs enlightenment, in ways ensuring pluralism."

  Leading candidates should be forced to reveal their true qualities by means of a formal judicial style inquisition.

  "Leading election candidates should therefore be required to supply information on their life history, wealth, military service, health, and so on. An independent body of 'candidate examiners' should be entitled to demand further information. Any substantive disinformation should be treated as a serious criminal offense. Also, leading candidates should be subjected to a number of public hearings on television, each lasting one to two hours, during which their knowledge, opinions, proposed policies, and so on should be explained through questioning by teams selected by the candidate examiners."

  This "Candidate Court" would be comprised of five to fifteen high public officials - judges, academics, spiritual leaders, "widely accepted senior statesmen," and some "representatives of the public" chosen by lottery but with "challenge procedures."

  With hundreds of candidates for scores of top offices throughout Dror's massively complex suggested system, this show could go on full time - if anyone other than monkish academics and clerics would even care to serve under these circumstances - or watch the interminable TV shows.

  Dror candidly acknowledges no historic record of success on which to base this trust in either elites or in the wider public. However, he rejects the adequacy of limited forms of government that leave the future to myriad private actors and unguided evolution. Thus, his impressive list of political culture improvements are viewed as essential to "weave the future" for the better.

    Again, the fallacy of the scenario of stark choices. The leaders of the European Union nations currently grappling with enlargement and definition of the E.U., and the national leaders led by the U.S. currently striving to bring peace to the Balkans and Afghanistan - to mention just two current major international initiatives - may not be doing enough to satisfy the Club of Rome, but they can hardly be viewed as doing nothing or leaving events to private actors or unguided evolution. Dror is well aware of all this - and that this stark choice is false.

  The difficulties of finding qualified young people, properly educating them, encouraging them to enter politics, and advancing them through appropriate learning experiences through existing selection, promotion and election processes, is recognized by Dror. So, he falls back on a second best alternative of "upgrading the cognitive capacities of politicians."
  To achieve the desired substantial improvements in the wide ranging moral, knowledge and reasoning capabilities, all politicians at all levels "should be provided with opportunities and incentives to acquire and develop appropriate knowledge and skills, with the help of new types of courses and workshops, sabbaticals, policy colleges, text-books and experience ladders."

  In fact, this is one of the suggested reforms that is happening - both formally and informally.

  • New judges and freshmen legislators are now routinely offered university courses to help acquaint them with the arcane aspects of their new positions.
  • A disgruntled electorate periodically provides politicians and their top advisers with multi year "sabbaticals" to refresh their viewpoints when they are the "bastards" that were kicked out.
  • Of course, the President and the various Governors receive personal seminars from their expert advisers whenever they are briefed on specific subjects.
  • Top level bureaucrats and their professional staff members are constantly being invited to pertinent seminars by the professionals concerned with the activities of their agencies, and routinely subscribe to the pertinent professional journals.

  However, this is not nearly enough for purposes of governance under the suggested system. The specialized training offered political elites in France leaves much to be desired. The various public policy graduate university programs are also not enough.

  For this system, training should be comparable to that of a brain surgeon. Doctorates in governance - including two year internships - should be established. Like other professionals and business managers, continuing education opportunities should be on constant offer. This should be considerably more structured than current efforts of this type. Journals in statecraft should be established.

  With such requirements, it would be impossible for a successful businessman or attorney or doctor - or actor or union leader - to bring his life's experience into politics by running for high office. 

  But moral qualities and life experience remain the primary qualifications needed for senior positions in Dror's suggested system of governance. Indeed, it is more essential for senior civil servants, since political leaders can and often do rely on expertise from the civil service. (Actually, top level expertise is most often obtained by the civil service as well as the politicians from private specialists in relevant fields. The civil service notoriously lacks top level expertise.) Radical civil service reform emphasizing the requisite qualities - rather than just minimal qualities plus longevity - is needed. Significantly higher pay scales are obviously needed to attract those with requisite commitment and skills and character.

  The costs of this governance scheme are beginning to look quite formidable. But of course, when it comes to saving the world, who can quibble over cost?
  Jimmy Carter - despite some major accomplishments - was nevertheless a failed President in both economic and international policy - but would have passed Dror's tests. Ronald Reagan - despite some major failures - was nevertheless a very successful President in both economic and international policy - but would have failed these tests.
  Indeed, the 20th century record of intellectual elites - both moral and substantive - leaves much to be desired. During a century when the battle lines between the forces of good and evil were never more clearly drawn, highly educated elites - with incredible stupidity - have brought forth "moral relativism" and "nihilism." Repeatedly, from their ranks, came earnest councils of retreat before the 20th century's forces of evil. In many academic venues, there has been a downgrading of Western political and economic history - thereby stripping students of any ability to understand their world or to evaluate future trends and possibilities.
  It is from the highly educated elites that the world has gotten such disastrous governance and policy systems as communism, socialism, command economics, and Keynesian macroeconomics. Professional and intellectual elites have given us those marvelous tax statutes.
  Such elites easily become impatient with the problems of operating in environments of political and economic freedom. Like Dror, there are always some who readily find additional excuses for authoritarian rule. Some never tire in their attacks on political and economic freedoms and the middle class values that support them.

Executive power:


The U.N. Secretary General should be able to "initiate and implement policies" - even when opposed by "some of the major powers."

 Greater executive power must be provided to the Chief Executive Officer - the "ruler" - of any democratic government in order to get things done - in order to achieve the great purposes of raison d'humanité. At the global level, the U.N. Secretary General should be able to "initiate and implement policies" - even when opposed by "some of the major powers."
  Dror suggests a variety of safeguards against political deadlock or abuse of the extraordinary executive power. For the U.S., he suggests Constitutional Amendments establishing legislative oversight and special elections similar to parliamentary votes of confidence and electoral procedures. This would permit removal of the current executive without investigations or hearings, but on the basis of some supermajority vote. He also suggests independent pluralistic advisory panels. (See, "Selective radicalism," below.)

  A variety of practical suggestions are offered for improving executive officer decision making. These include professional staffs, better time budgeting, institutionalized retreats and other information and learning arrangements, and improved monitoring of the actual implementation of decisions.

  Improvements in all these factors have in fact been progressing in an evolutionary manner pervasively at all levels in all modern political entities.

  The establishment of "symbolic heads of state" is also suggested to conduct vital symbolic duties without impinging on the time of the chief executive officer. Constitutional monarchs and symbolic presidencies are possibilities. Dror accepts the view that:

  "[T]hinking within governance tends to be poor. It is often shallow and prone to inertia, with misplaced reliance on 'common sense' for coping with 'uncommon' problems. It frequently rushes forward with its eyes fixed on rear-view mirrors, reading new situations as more of what has gone before, and relying on the ideas of yesterday for treating radically different issues of tomorrow. A pronounced weakness is to concentrate on surface symptoms instead of fundamental issues, and to prefer piecemeal and short-term views to comprehensive and long-term perspectives. Increasingly malignant, - - -, is the preoccupation with image and pseudo-realities, and so on."
  This is very well said. However, much of the problem is inherent in democratic politics rather than in the intellectual limitations of chief executive officers and their staffs. As Winston Churchill so accurately pointed out, democracy has great weaknesses - but all other realistic alternatives are much worse.
  The question is whether Dror's efforts to relieve governmental decision making and program implementation from political restraints and checks and balances safeguards will not loose far greater evils than they will avoid? For this, he relies on somehow achieving consistently superior levels of wisdom and morality in government - and broad public acceptance of demands for sacrifice for government objectives.
  Indeed, piecemeal reform approaches have their charms. Considering the vast suffering caused by the great socialist, command economy, and Keynesian policy schemes of the 20th century - perhaps skepticism of great reformist schemes is justifiable - and perhaps measures that can first be implemented on a piecemeal basis and tried on a small scale in individual political jurisdictions should be preferred.

  Because of the magnitude of future problems, however, Dror insists that government decision making - "government choice processes" - must be improved. He calls his suggested improvements - of which he provides 17 - "deep policy reflection."
  These suggestions encourage innovation, experimentation, and the setting of attractive - even utopian - goals to encourage the public to accept current difficulties.

  Dčjá  vu (9): If all this sounds familiar,  it may be because of a definite similarity with those much beloved "Five Year Plans." It's easy for intellectuals working through government to be bold in their advocating of innovative and experimental schemes. After all, it's only the "people" who must ultimately pay the bill. The intellectuals risk nothing, while some gain high government office with substantial salaries during the effort.
  Here, Robert S. McNamara - whom Dror correctly deplores - is an archetype. The true believers generally lack both humility and doubts even in the midst of implementing policies of colossal stupidity and destructiveness - like McNamara with respect to his administration of the Department of Defense, the Vietnam War, and the World Bank. Yet, McNamara would clearly have qualified for high administrative office under Dror's suggested system - and his administrative efforts were all plausibly justified in intellectual circles.

  Being able to admit mistakes and change course becomes essential for such high risk policy making, Dror acknowledges. Guidance from established and expressly formulated core values is also essential.

  In democracies, the public performs this function when it "kicks the bastards out" and gives the political entity an opportunity to reverse course under leadership not committed to failed policies. In just the last few decades of the 20th century, that's how disastrous experiments with socialism, entitlement welfare programs, command economics, Keynesian macroeconomic management efforts, and revolving door penology, as well as military over commitment in Vietnam, were all reversed.
  It should be noted that most of these policy failures caused massive harm and were actually based on clearly illogical reasoning -  but were accepted by significant intellectual elites that were determined to push these policies for well meaning ideological purposes.

"A much improved capacity to budget is therefore an essential component of such deep policy reflections: but it should be a long term one, beyond short-term monetary considerations, a myopic obsession with macroeconomics, bureaucratic politics and the purchasing of political support."

  Resource allocation must be explicit,  as a check on unrealistic utopian or image-oriented programs. "A much improved capacity to budget is therefore an essential component of such deep policy reflections: but it should be a long term one, beyond short-term monetary considerations, a myopic obsession with macroeconomics, bureaucratic politics and the purchasing of political support."

  Congress and other legislatures are going to surrender their powers of the purse? FUTURECASTS has doubts.
  There is also here an apparent reliance on the capacities of accounting that that nebulous practical art cannot come close to justifying. Long term budgeting horror stories are common - like the original estimate that Medicare would cost only $9 billion per year after 25 years. Even after taking inflation into account, this constituted a not untypical fivefold error.

  Many of these suggestions are already  - at least partially - in place, Dror acknowledges. There is a plethora of think tanks - interest groups - specialized NGOs - academic analytical works - relevant academic departments and schools of government - and individual thinkers, prophets, social dreamers, and entrepreneurs, all providing analytical inputs for government policymaking.

"Fuzzy gambles:"




  Critical choices are often "fuzzy gambles," in that there may be no way of calculating the likelihood of success. (Government, like so much else, often involves real time decisions based on incomplete knowledge.) Dror recommends that the public be clearly informed of inherent policy risks. The public should be made more "uncertainty-sophisticated." Indeed, here again, competent governance will be dependent on professional policy elites that have successfully become uncertainty-sophisticated and are willing to take the necessary risks.

  Policy advocates become identified with their programs - inevitably overemphasize the benefits and understate the costs in the battle to gain acceptance - and are the last to admit failure even in the face of widespread damage and suffering. They frequently insist that success needs only the commitment of more resources and more time.
  Democracies have a major advantage, here, since the opposition has an incentive to find and point out policy weaknesses and failures. It frequently is not tied to the failed policies, and reversal of such policies can thus be made a highlight of its administration when it comes to power. This rough mechanism is clearly much more  practical than dependence on the objectivity of inevitably deeply committed policy elites. In despotisms such as the old Soviet Union, and in democracies like Japan without robust opposition parties, obvious policy weaknesses remain and fester.
  The vast sums - in the hundreds of billions of 1970s dollars in direct damages, and in the trillions of dollars in indirect damages - wasted by the "energy warriors" of the 1970s on a phony "crisis" caused and maintained solely by government stupidity is an example of the risks involved in fuzzy gambling policies directed at perceived future problems. Only the eventual advent of the Reagan administration brought this determined stupidity to an end. Indeed, many intellectuals - like Dror himself - remain committed to the energy warrior stupidity.

Selective radicalism:

 The redesign of government should make government smarter.

  Dror proposes:

  • The creation of high level intellectual and expert units dedicated to thinking in terms of raison d'humanité.
  • Legislatures should have similar units.
  • The legislative staffs of controlling and opposition parties should be strengthened to improve "policy reflection." 
  • All major policies should be accompanied by "global impact statements."
  • NGOs at all levels should voluntarily - as a matter of good practice and expectation - prepare such statements about their major proposals.
  • The U.N. Secretary General should also have such a unit to provide such statements for U.N. agency proposals.
  • Intelligence agencies like those dedicated to security matters should be established for "humankind craft."

  "Dynamic global estimations covering major policy domains within an integrated systems perspective are required, based on careful data collection and processing. Also required are mappings of evolutionary potentials, explorations of alternative futures, and preparations of scenarios - all taking full account of uncertainty and inconceivability. These staff documents should serve as a basis for deep global reflections, as well as 'alerts' for crisis prevention and management."

"It is striking that, despite having more such organizations than any other country, policy making is not obviously superior in the U.S.A."

  There is already an immense amount of this work being done by a wide variety of agencies and people. However, Dror asserts that it needs focus, professionalism, and direct connection to decision making. He suggests a "Global Estimation and Outlook Institute" to suggest subjects and agenda items for U.N. agencies. Similarly, a "national estimation advisor" should be included in national administrations to focus such work.
  Think tanks - like RAND Corp.and Brookings Inst. - are proliferating, and some do excellent work. However, even they need to broaden their focus to include "long range and trajectory-setting broad policy issues, historical perspectives and mathematical models," and moral dimensions. Frequently, they suffer the biases of advocacy agencies.

   In practice, there will inevitably be sharp divisions - about the existence of future problems and possibilities - and about the effectiveness and unintended consequences of suggested actions and programs. Mathematical modeling of complex social developments can easily be twisted to demonstrate anything desired. Any resemblance to reality is frequently purely coincidental.
  This elaborate and vastly expensive intellectual bureaucracy will be a vast make-work project for academics - and will inevitably involve the public financing of the most favored ideologies of the day. Inevitably - especially after a few spectacular policy failures - they could wind up totally disgusting the public with a welter of meaningless and contradictory analyses.
  The "energy warriors" of the 1970s provide a cautionary tale. The Keynesian economists that dominated the profession and guided disastrous economic policies during the 1960s and 1970s provide another. The ability of such intellectual clerisies to silence or ignore opposition - especially when they gain political favor and begin guiding policy - should not be underestimated.

  Indeed, as Dror himself concedes:

  "A certain, though unknown and probably unknowable, number of policy errors is unavoidable because of the inherent fragility of policy reflection and policy making and their 'fuzzy gambling' nature. Nevertheless, it is striking that, despite having more such organizations than any other country, policy making is not obviously superior in the U.S.A." (That's not surprising to FUTURECASTS - or anyone else who really understands the inherent limitations of government.)

  The high status of political priorities - gridlock on contentious issues - the need for compromise and accommodation in policy enactment and administration - and the loss of cumulative learning in U.S. administrations due to total staff replacement - are all viewed as deplorable.

  But, compromise and accommodation is the only way for free peoples to resolve their differences. Gridlock is what happens while the public is making up its collective mind on a contentious issue. Political priorities are vital since a party is useless if it cannot govern. Opposition party experts have plenty of opportunities to learn from the governing party's experiences, and a professional civil service is available to maintain historic memory.

  An independent global think tank with an assured multi-year budget is suggested. Such an organization could remedy the widespread lack of think tank organizations outside the U.S.

  Again, that intellectual desire to be freed from legislative oversight about the value of their work. Dror is simply going to have to resign himself to the fact that no legislature will willingly surrender its power of the purse. It remains as true for today and the future as in the past: "He who accepts the King's shilling, is subject to the King's whims."
  Just what is he hoping will be produced by these autonomous administrative and intellectual agencies that he fears that legislatures and the people they represent would not approve of?

  Independent "policy evaluation institutes" and encouragement of interested NGOs and other mechanisms to objectively evaluate ongoing programs are needed because governments frequently not only fail to learn from the mistakes of other governments, they persist in ignoring or denying their own mistakes.

  In the U.S., Congress has its General Accounting Office that does excellent work evaluating administrative effectiveness of ongoing programs. However, evaluating, publicizing and recommending correction or elimination of programs is what the "loyal opposition" has the most incentive to do.
  This practical arrangement has had many successes (See "Executive power," above.), but it is hardly perfect. Sometimes, both parties are implicated in failed policies - as in the S&L fiasco of the 1980s - which was ultimately swept off budget and out of mind at a cost in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Some policies are so politically sensitive that no intellectual assault will be accepted.
  Vast agricultural subsidies and protectionist trade restraints played a major role in the Great Depression and all the ills flowing from it. Today, they threaten the vital expansion of the European Union, absorb vast resources for the benefit mostly of wealthy landholders, and depress the earnings of struggling emerging economies. Noxious tax policies - like high marginal income tax rates and the double taxation of dividends - drive massive financial and economic distortions that must inevitably cause a significant economic reversal and widespread misery. It would be useful if Dror could explain how his suggested system would tackle such sacred political cows.

  Consultative councils comprised of "outstanding individuals" are needed for "policy deliberation on long-term critical issues," to generate "evaluations, analysis, options and recommendations." These should be set up within nations and by the U.N. Secretary General.
  "Ethical Deliberation Forums" are also needed
nationally and globally to evaluate the moral dimensions of such issues as genetic engineering and the definition of raison d'humanité. "Ethical reasoning and moral advice are urgently needed on a global level."
  But institutes are no substitute for good people.
Dror recommends training and career patterns for "a new breed of policy professionals" to staff the institutions. Evil and incompetence will undermine any institutional fix.

  Again, does this establish a professional clerisy that shuts out people from other fields who wish to apply their talents and real world experience to governance problems? Is it possible to assure the levels of competence and morality absolutely essential for Dror's governance arrangements?

Governance architecture:

 Current kaleidoscopic developments in governance are summarized by Dror. He assumes from current evidence that nation states will remain "the dominant type of governance actor," but with considerable shifting of roles up to international and global agencies, and down to subnational governments and various private actors. Global leadership remains with the U.S., with the U.N. playing an increasing but not controlling role.

Until and unless the professional capabilities are available, government interventions remain more likely to do harm than good.

  He advocates E.U. type systems for appropriate purposes for other continental regions. He approves subsidiarity within nations, assisted by higher levels of government that ultimately retain authority over the lower levels. He recommends the use of professional "City Manager" types of administration under political supervision and policy making. He recognizes the difficulties of national and subnational governance and the absence of practical remedies. Local and regional governments must not be given the power to block needed national initiatives.
  Governance that properly facilitates market commerce while directing commerce where needed involves difficult balances. Policy objectives in such fields as environmental impacts and disclosure standards must be achieved without creating impediments to the efficient functioning of markets.
  Dror asserts that increased powers and professional abilities are needed at national and international levels. Until and unless the professional capabilities are available, government interventions remain more likely to do harm than good.

  The economic management capabilities of government are ALWAYS limited - no matter how expert the professionals in government may be.

  There should be minimal interference with the media. Such interference should be limited to prohibition of clearly harmful activities like facilitating hate crime and encouraging hate. He relies on support for public media and on public education to raise standards of the viewing public.
  Any global mass media monopolies should be prevented or broken up. There should be ownership disclosure requirements and "minimum standards of fairness and protected autonomy of professionals from owners dictates." Global presentation of "humankind influence" should be facilitated.

  "Fairness" in the media can be a very slippery concept - and protections akin to tenure for journalists would strip authority from the owners who nevertheless are left with the monetary risks and responsibilities. Would this mean that political parties and other advocacy groups could not control the content of their own media outlets?

  Governing and restraining aspects of technology "is very difficult and entails high costs in terms of values and lost benefits." Controlling access to and use of dangerous technologies, and avoiding catastrophes are as much as can be currently expected.

Possibilities for global governance:

 Dror presents four scenarios of global governance possibilities.

  The first is the current situation, with its not inconsiderable achievements since the end of the Cold War, especially in various peacekeeping efforts and the establishment of a variety of international conventions and treaties  and U.N. initiatives - and leadership by the U.S. and other democracies.
  However, this has been far from perfect. There has been no meaningful intervention in civil war and genocide in Africa, and only belated intervention in Yugoslavia - nuclear proliferation continues as does the "small arms" trade - environmental deterioration continues and inequality increases.
  Dror especially cites coming energy shortages as a typical problem needing a global response.

  Yet again, this damning revelation! Is this the level of  "expertise" to be expected from Dror's "elites?" Would elite governance impose vastly wasteful and disastrous interventions to deal with such nonexistent problems?

  The second alternative of a constitutional  sovereign global government is politically unrealistic.
  The third alternative involves global hegemony of most peaceful nations working within a strengthened U.N. system. This system would be informed by global networks and elites. It would - over time - develop "a global civil society" which doesn't as yet exist.
  Veto powers would disappear and the U.N. would gain its own source of revenue in addition to national dues. It would thus be able to develop its own military and an ability to override sovereign interests of member nations "for the good of humanity." However, the major powers would realistically retain predominant influence. Various U.N. taxes are proposed as essential.
  As a fourth alternative, if nothing else proves sufficient, catastrophe may induce the rise of some sort of global Leviathan -  hopefully of a benign nature.


  Dror struggles with the conundrum of providing executive power sufficient for decisive action but subject to safeguards against abuse of power.

  Professional independent oversight bodies - like the U.S. General Accounting Office - are needed at all levels. Elimination of obsolete departments and activities should be included as a separate oversight function. (Good Luck!)
and similar structures should handle citizen complaints.
  Judicial review of governance issues
is needed - but must be balanced and restrained enough "to prevent too much 'legalism.'" The U.S. Supreme Court decisions in favor of free speech rights that hinder campaign finance reform are cited as examples of too much "legalism."

  FUTURECASTS begs to differ. The system certainly has its problems, but in reality, campaign finance reform is ALWAYS an exercise in political warfare. There has never been a campaign finance reform that was not twisted to favor incumbent politicians, and anything that could mute or silence outside voices can't be good.
  The U.S. Supreme Court and the hallowed Freedom of Speech rights in the U.S. Constitution are the last line of defense against the entrenchment of incumbency.

  A Constitutional Court for global governance to provide legal oversight of the strengthened U.N. Secretary General and other international bodies is needed. A variety of other oversight bodies and courts are discussed, and the need for global "inspectorates and intelligence collection agencies" is set forth.

  Dror totally omits partisanship - speaking only of "pluralism" as a means of assuring the consideration of diverse opinions and interests. This is hardly strange, since the Founding Fathers of the U.S. Constitution also failed to foresee the outbreak of the partisan party competition that in retrospect was clearly inevitable. Yet, effective partisan party competition constitutes the most successful protection against abuse of executive power.
  Partisan party competition will not only be inevitable for control of executive offices and agencies, it will also be inevitable in any influential government advisory bodies. Controversial issues like abortion, genetic engineering, campaign financing, taxation policies, agricultural subsidies and tariffs and protectionist measures for other economic vested interests, environmental recommendations - and immigration and egalitarian policies, too - will be bitterly fought over in any governance system based on political freedom.


  Large scale disasters and institutional breakdowns are to be expected from time to time.

  Professional crisis management staffs and agencies should be developed within national governments, and preparations made for any crisis. Global crisis management requires similar staffing at the U.N. Criteria and norms for U.N. intervention should be established. Senior politicians must take part in crisis handling exercises. Crises should be routinely viewed as opportunities to push pertinent political and ideological agenda items. (See, "Public indoctrination," above.)
  Support for transient emergency authoritarian regimes may be required to deal with chaotic conditions in dysfunctional states. Plebiscites to ratify use of such regimes can provide legitimacy. Temporary trusteeship regimes may be needed.

  U.N. military forces capable of intervening with overwhelming force are essential to deal with chaotic or aggressor nation situations. Sanctions should be used to penalize misuse of authoritarian powers.

  Actual combat under U.N. command will always be a prescription for disaster. Internal U.N. politics will always limit U.N. military effectiveness to its very useful role as peacekeeper after some semblance of peace has been achieved. Nor is the U.N. ever going to be accorded sufficient taxing powers and financial strength to maintain significant modern military units. Sanctions, of course, work only in very limited circumstances - and always hurt people more than their governments.

  Indeed, Dror emphasizes that, without "global resoluteness, - - - it is better not to start global interventions that become adventures sure to fail. Such "radical" international interventions should be based on explicit criteria, subject to "rapid" judicial review.

  "Rapid" judicial review is an oxymoron. Without briefings and affidavits and evidence and due deliberation, judges are less able to make good decisions than political leaders and administrators. They will almost always defer to executive discretion in crisis situations. The recent litigation in the Florida and U.S. Supreme Courts over Florida's electoral votes is a good example of "rapid" judicial review.

  Dror is reasonably concerned with "alleviating extreme suffering, avoiding serious dangers and advocating  raison d'humanité." However, this requires "strong support by major powers and careful oversight." These interventions are "risky, costly and endanger important values." Without U.N. forces, the current system of U.S. and E.U. forces - and sometimes regional forces - acting with U.N. sanction where possible - is "better than doing nothing" (and continues in fact to achieve major successes).

  Where the major powers all provide strong political support or at least acquiescence, a U.N. force is unnecessary and will always be less effective than a U.N. sanctioned intervention by one or more major powers. Where one or more major powers opposes intervention, major problems are likely in any case. While the U.N. is always stymied by such opposition, there will be some instances where a predominant power can still intervene in the face of such opposition.
  Dror is right about the consequences of failure. A major failure for U.N. forces would be inherently more damaging than a failure that forces withdrawal of national forces, as it might also justify withdrawal of support for further U.N. interventions even where practical.




These suggestions may appear more desirable and feasible over time and during periods of catastrophe and crisis.

  These suggestions are set forth fully in this book, in the belief that they point the way to useful incremental improvements even as only parts are adopted. Dror recognizes that governance improvements are in fact being implemented as an ongoing process, but considers them inadequate and too slow of pace. He realistically is not very optimistic about the prospects for his suggestions, but notes that they may appear more desirable and feasible over time and during periods of catastrophe and crisis. He rejects promises of utopian achievements and seeks only sufficient improvements "to make a significant difference to the future of humanity."

  However,  with all these complex governance suggestions - with complex bureaucracies and procedures, vast global entitlements, and a massive U.N. arms buildup - we are now easily talking about increases in worldwide governance costs in the trillions of dollars.

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Copyright © 2002 Dan Blatt