While globalization generally has an impact on the role and nature of the State, there are specific components of globalization – including communications technology and the impact on community, frequency and immediacy of travel and the impact on territorial integrity – that should each be dealt with independently. One of those is the development of supranational institutions, and the extent to which they may have an impact on state legitimacy, and/or legitimacy. This can be a very legalistic argument, as it concerns itself with Public International Law, but it is a necessary foundational consideration for this part of the State Legitimacy Economy.
Sebastian Faulks in the Guardian helps pull together a global visualisation (well, Global to the extent that the Globe is represented by Twitter) of sentiment. Call me an old cynic, but I suspect someone in his publisher’s publicity team was probably more responsible than the grand old man himself. Nevertheless, it stirs some interesting dirt from the bottom of our social media puddle.
I attended the inaugural meeting of The Constitution Project last night, a new academic research unit at UCC, whose meetings are open to the public. Groups and projects on The Irish Constitution and Irish Constitutional Law seem to be springing up in many places, some by the lunatic fringe, some deep in sheltered academia, and others – like this, it seems – trying to find a balance between the two. It was a well organised, well chaired event, with a good range of subjects within a reasonably tight framework. Kicking things off was the subject of the Referendum Process, with Mr Justice Gerard Hogan speaking on the history of referendums, or more accurately the amendment structure under the 1922 constitution and why it was bad. He was followed by Mr Justice Bryan McMahon (who taught me Tort in Galway 22 years ago) who had been chairman of the Referendum Commission in the two most recent referendums, speaking of how the commission works – a rare and insightful discussion. Dr Theresa Reidy then outlined some opinion poll based research into why people voted as they did in the Oireachtas Inquiries referendum, which was very interesting, particularly in the context of Mr Justice McMahon’s comments. And finally Dr Maria Cahill revisited the Crotty decision, one that began to get at why we have so many referendums (not just in EU cases).
Ecuador is tonight alleging that the UK authorities have threatened to arrest Julian Assange inside its embassy in London. Mr Assange, Wikileaks founder and darling of the far left (and some moderates too) has essentially skipped bail following the rejection of his appeal against extradition to Sweden to stand trial for sexual assault. It is of course part of a bizarre super-story that has been running for two years now, starting with the publication of diplomatic cables between and about governments, the imprisonment and alleged torture of US Marine Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking the cables in the first place. There is no small irony in the threat from British authorities to cast aside one pillar of diplomacy – the sanctity and sovereignty of the embassy – in order to prosecute the casting aside of another – the leaking of diplomatic cables.
The tension between the collective and the indididual is probably one of the most important themes of modern political thought. The isolationism that seems to inevitably follow from giving the individual, as it were, enough rope, is clearly something that society should seek to avoid. But should society tell the individual what to do? Kurt Anderson doesn’t take a view in today’s New York Times, though selfishness is a pejorative term, right?