Monday, February 08, 2010

Resilience and Realpolitik

Resilience is a fashionable meme - rightly so, since it offers an alternative to the "find the efficient optimum" approach to solving problems in political economy. (I would say so, of course; see e.g. my presentation at Silicon Flatirons recently, and my paper on forestry as a metaphor for internet governance.)

As reported by The Economist (A needier era: The politics of global disruption, and how they may change, Jan 28th 2010), a report for the Brookings Institution on international politics in an age of want suggests that Governments should think more in terms of reducing risk and increasing resilience to shocks than about boosting sovereign power.  This is analogous to advocating reducing risk and increasing resilience vs. boosting wealth creation in the economy. The reason given is that the new threats are networks (of states and non-state actors) and unintended consequences (of global flows of finance, technology and so on).

I've seen (and propagated) the same memes in the context technology policy: the determining factors are inter-locking networks of agents, and unintended consequences that shift more quickly than legislation.

It's ironic, given my claim that the resilience approach is a counter to neoclassical economics, that the article closes with a Milton Friedman quote...

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