Have political leaders reached their competence threshold?

Published on 26/6/2012 // Political power, drowned in a globalised system and an era of interconnected issues, has difficulty finding the means to act and influence the course of events, while remaining convinced that it has the authority to do so.

In the absence of growth, the only known fuel for the system, we create more and more debt, a fictitious substitute fuel. In other words, the only future we should be in solidarity with is a future under permanent financial rescue, without any project, perspective or horizon. What about major development programmes? the European project (membership is built on rejection rather than on the project), labour law to avoid social dumping, the 50-year energy strategy? The Copenhagen summit in 2009 was considered a failure, the Rio 2012 summit was not even entitled to this qualification, it simply passed unnoticed, a non-summit as a non-event.

States are bankrupt, political power too, bankrupt of solutions, and therefore of credibility and legitimacy, not of democracy but of competence. There is sometimes talk of a concentration of "all powers", but which ones? Is it the power to order the wind of globalisation to blow less strongly by decree? Is it the power to wish for the slowing down of global warming by decree? No one has the power to create just by being appointed to the management committee. Today, powers are shared, they are multiple, hybrid, confluent, dispersed, dictated by the accuracy of the analysis or the exemplarity and no longer by the status of the issuer. Political power must be a facilitator of powers, make them converge, resonate, it must lead to indicate a direction, and not lead to direct. It must accept the other powers if it wishes to take over more of them.

Never before have our destinies been so linked and interdependent. And yet, how difficult it is to leave your own patch, the area defined by your national democratic perimeter. When it comes to influencing the public and budgetary management and policies of other States, you are quickly criticised for interference, when it is reasonable to resolve to follow common rules, you are accused of federalist subordination, calling into question the sacrosanct national sovereignty.

But when European taxpayers have to finance the budgetary errors of states that are not their own, when the armed intervention of a state or group of states leads to blind terrorist reprisals here or there, when we die here from what is polluted there, when jobs are lost at home because of social and fiscal dumping elsewhere, we understand that we cannot both claim national sovereignty and allow ourselves to be affected without reacting to the actions, behaviours or inactions of others. 

Our political representatives are national elected representatives, legitimate in their respective democratic territories. But they also have an international mandate, admittedly not democratically acquired, but implicit. We often speak of the stature of a "statesman" to describe the authority of a political figure. These statesmen must become world leaders. Their international mandate is their responsibility to participate in global governance for the benefit of all.

Today we suffer from political anarchy (absence of a project and of a leader), at the global level, and of course particularly at the European level. Anarchy is often considered socially, to evoke disorder, absence of rule, of recognised authority, giving way to communitarianism and rugged individualism. Anarchy is then often a form of antechamber to rebellion and civil war. We are living today, and suffering from it, a situation of political anarchy, a worldly and courteous anarchy hidden behind the windows of international summits. In the absence of this political governance, the anarchy of which we are aware is considered to be the sole responsibility of the markets, and in particular of these famous financial markets. But charity begins at home, political anarchy is the mother of all anarchies, and the lack of a collective project is the fertiliser for withdrawal. This lack of political vision is reflected in a policy of collection by catalogues of spontaneous and opportunistic measures, immediately qualified as small measures, rejected even before any analysis and labelling its rare followers as naïve, hypocrites or demagogues. A catalogue of measures does not make a project, it is the project that dictates a panoply of measures, confluent, coherent and mutually beneficial, to enter into strategic resonance. 

Our era is one of interrelated, interdependent issues and effects, be they climatic, energetic, social, military, media, or even artistic... as we are increasingly linked, so are our destinies. We depend on each other, and instead of continually seeing this as a constraint, a weakness or a wound of pride, it is in our interest to turn it into a strength, a lever, the synergies can be powerful, the symbiotic approaches life-saving. This interdependence is valid at all levels, starting with the local levels, at the level of a territory or a country. Between companies and public authorities, between education and the world of work, between the private sector and the public sector, we must stop the systematic and dogmatic opposition that makes each one consider itself the guarantor of the common good, the holder of the solution, the knower. Intelligence must be collective. We are linked, this is the new deal of the century, this is what will create our loss or our renewal. It is an economic new deal (it is obvious but we would like to abstain from it), an ecological new deal (we know it but we ignore it), but also a political new deal (we refuse it, and at the same time criticise its absence).

The world was built around territories, peoples and nations, and it must continue as humanity facing its destiny of survival. Needless to say, there is a long way to go, as long as this path is not that of an exodus fleeing burnt lands.

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