Lateralizing of influence between states as a means of preserving power

The evening’s contemplation… the opening paragraph of Joergen Oerstroem Moeller’s article, “Economic Integration: the Future for Asia” in the Diplomatist’ special issue published on the occasion of the ASEAN-India mid-December 2012 meeting in New Delhi.

His article addresses what in my view is the need for a heterarchous organizational structure in state / regional governance, as a system to manage heterochronous developments within and between states. Where and how heterarchy can be effectively accomplished and operationalizable is a discussion point.

Throughout his numerous articles, Moeller’s perspective is consistent – lateralization of decision-making may on the outset seem a dissipation of power, but in reality, it could be the only way to preserve power. What is perhaps needed is a re-conceptualization of ‘power’ in the contextual understanding and recognition that the world shares one destiny.

“Over the last half century economic transactions have jumped out of the nation-state box and take place globally, while the political systems put in place to control economic activities are still mainly national and domestic. This schism between international economic transactions and national political systems exposes the impotence of policy-making and thereby undermines the legitimacy of the political system in the eyes of the citizens. This spills over into skepticism about the advantages of economic globalization. The choice for politicians is to share decision-making with other nation-states or to lose influence, which is difficult to explain as it looks as giving away powers while in fact it is the only way to preserve power.” ~ J.O. Moeller, 2012.

Joergen Oerstroem Moeller is Senior Fellow, Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diplomatic Academy. He was former Danish Ambassador to Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Australia and New Zealand. He is also author to one of my favourite reads, How Asia Can Shape the World -From the Era of Plenty to the Era of Scarcities (2011, ref. video panel discussion of the book at SMU Singapore, chaired by Kishore Mahbubani).