Monday, March 01, 2010

Ethics, culture and the new world order

I've written a few times about Philip Bobbit and Terror and Consent. He has a really detailed set of theses about the progression of history, the interplay between strategy (as in miltary or external strategy), technology and the constitutional order.

The latest phase he identifies is the "market state". It is a state that follows on from the "nation state" and the change is a consequence of the technologies that won the "long war" for parliamentary democracy (in 1990). Those technologies were nuclear weapons, and high speed communications and information processing.

This phase he maintains creates the need to think differently about strategy and constitutional order and whether a boundary ca be maintained between them. A related theme is the reaction of certain nations to the imposition of other values.

Three stories today highlight these issues.

The first is an item calling on Israel's friends to condemn it for state sponsored terrorism. This addresses ultimately the question of the vexed problem of non-nation international terrorist groups and how nations respond. The former are engaging in a "war" yet the latter are expected to respond within the confines of accepted "constitutional order".

The US to this day regrets that they didn't act like Istrael and "took out" Osama bin Laden when they had the chance before 2001. Perhaps the missing part is creating an appropriate framework for determining when the state action can be invoked, not if.

The second example is a really simple one of the international scope of Gogle, and the report that Google execs have been convicted in Italy over the actions of someone posting a video - subsequently taken down - of a disabled teenager being bulied. This reflects the inability of existing order to address the technology.

We've had our own recent issues with something similar with the approach taken to Facebook, with comments from Qld Premiere Bligh and the five questions posed to Facebook by the Punch.

Meanwhile we have perfctly reasonable "moralising" about the treatment of women in Malaysia. This particular case opens up the absurdity of culturally relative enforceable moral codes, the application of Sharia law to women in Malaysia is as unacceptable as the application of tribal law to Australian indigenies.

The project for a modern secular ethics is becoming more urgent. It has to be secular because it has to apply to all geographies and all religions. It has to accept that individuals have the freedom to hld their own beliefs.

Only with a modern secular ethics can we build a global political philosophy within which a new definition of the role of the individual state can be developed.

No comments: