Open-ended politics in the wake of new “freedom” has often resulted in anarchy trading place with erstwhile tyrant. Especially, if the change has been brought about on the radical agenda of rapid transformation, the radicalism itself, heaped high on the expansive coalition of expensive bargains; quickly degenerates into the very tyrannical tendency it had so vigorously opposed earlier. Megalomania of delusions is only the natural follow up.When the power grab becomes increasingly unsustainable both because of and despite the rapid
liquefaction of political
capital into criminal commodity; the resultant legitimacy deficit maligns sovereignty –very premise of the power structure. Importing sustainable development parallel, regarding tending to the maligned environment; proffers a unique insight into tending to the
maligned sovereignty as
the political equivalent of environment. After all, the mere temporal human
abstraction of political sovereignty is but a microcosm of the grander sovereign space of all, the world and its environs.
The oft-cited canon on salvaging world’s damaged environment, the 1987 Brundtland Report, defines sustainable development as; “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The ecological science then would entail striving to mitigate and alter the unsustainable open-ended assault on environment for contemporary development needs. The political science parallel would be to similarly check the open-ended assault on sovereignty for current personal enrichment needs of the power-holders and the power-hungry. And just as environmental damage upends and destroys the ecology, so does damage to sovereignty perverts and demolishes democracy.
So, just as the Sustainable Development strives to seek balance between varied needs of contemporary society, the social, economic and political with that of enduring ecological preservation: so must political development seek out balance between the compulsions of current power equations, with that of enduring democratic sustenance. However, the very idea of “balance” between present rapacious alignments with the better future is utterly absurd — as posited by sustainable development experts themselves, for the ecology. The altered ecology may never return to its unaltered state. The political analogy could not be any untrue — albeit much more violently devastating for societies in general and for democracy in particular. This acute absurdity has been assiduously dwelt upon by the informed and learned minds in the global environmental movement well since the 1972 Limits to Growth report by Club of Rome for the first time sought to establish environmental degradation as central to what is being increasingly warned as fast approaching global crisis. Varied “pre-cautionary measures” agreed over the years on not allowing environmental degradation as trade off for development led eventually to the first Rio declaration (1992): “in order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities.”
Various states have aggressively pursued check on environmental degradation by opting for innovative and inventive policies, transforming their very polity over the years, especially in developed economies. Although some pre-historic ecology have been irreversibly altered, a few of these states have been successful in restoring a degree of environmental balance in general. For developing and especially the fractured and fragile societies the trade in balance is particularly expensive — for many of the ethnic animosities, often opportunistically re-invented, cross-cut with resource conflicts. Shouldn’t these delicate states then opt for a far more vigorously attentive polity that puts limits to the open-ended politics of sovereignty degradation? After all, just as degraded clime of environment jeopardizes ecology; degraded clime of sovereignty jeopardizes democracy.
However, just like differing and varied interpretation of ecology offsets consensus on prospects of environment; deliberately instigated ethno-populist identity politics neutralizes accords of sovereignty. Re-forging consensus is very drawn out process as is witnessed from ever extending and generational negotiations that shape global politics of environment at glacial pace. While increasingly calamitous climatic consequences have started becoming frequent phenomenon. Similarly drawn out and generational transition only re-calcifies strident posturing of opportunist bargain hunters, especially the ethno-populists; disallowing any progress towards settlement — effectively re-inviting active conflict.
Lack of leadership in global environmental politics is often decried for its inability to implement already much advanced science of sustainable development despite umpteen rhetorical promises made on every summitry. Political analogy could not be any different — despite the best of the intentions of the invisible, yet dedicated citizenry: the depravity of power-holders and power-hungry stunts the national consolidation, delegitimizes state and challenges democratic sustainability.