What follows is a discussion of two of the many challenges that often bedevil efforts to bring out pro-poor social and political change and an approach that is a way of dealing with them. You know the deal: well-meaning technocrats try to introduce a bit of governance reform...by stealth. Then it runs into trouble- usually due to vigorous attacks by vested interests likely to lose out if the reform succeeds - yet the potential beneficiaries are not organized, do not even know that they might benefit from the reform.
Interesting news from China: Xinhua reports the State Council has set up a section on its website to invite public opinion on draft laws and regulations. So far, says Xinhua, the website has collected opinions on seven sets of draft regulations and received 16,888 opinions from more than 9,000 people.
For the past few weeks, the Philippine media have been intensely focused on a controversy regarding a foreign loan meant to fund the creation of the National Broadband Network (NBN), a project envisioned to seamlessly link all government offices across the archipelago via the Internet.
Many years ago, in a class on the English Epic as a literary genre, one of my professors asked: 'What is an anthem?' We all struggled to come up with definitions of an anthem, as in the national anthem of a country. We thought that an anthem was a song set to music commissioned by the leaders of the country and declared to be the national anthem. He said that was not the case.
I want to thank all those who commented on my blog 'Public Opinion and Authoritarian Regimes'. The replies raise fascinating issues that are important aspects of the subject. Here are my responses.
Is public opinion a force for good government or not? If recent events in Burma, Pakistan and Georgia show anything at all it is that public opinion is ultimately the basis of power and legitimacy. Which is something several political philosophers have told us for over 200 years, but it is fascinating to watch these struggles unfold.
And it explains why authoritarian regimes are always keen to control public opinion by: