What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

State Failure Classics #1

That's a new feature here. Instead of writing classics myself, I'm thinking that from now on (well, sometimes) I'll just take the work of others and put it in between quotation marks for the sake of decency.
First victim: Christopher Clapham.
He is a political scientist and an expert of Africa at Cambridge University, at the Centre of African Studies. He is the editor of the Journal of Modern African Studies and the author of a great number of excellent books and journal articles.
I'd like to include a photo of his here, but I couldn't find one, so instead I'll insert here the photo of a Chimera - a terrible monster from Greek mythology (pic source).
That's not to harm professor Clapham's reputation. To the contrary, it's just to arouse interest in the quote coming up:
"Although the export of essentially European models of statehood to the rest of the world has gained considerable success, it has not proved to be universally achievable. While some states may fail for specific and remediable reasons, there are also cases where the essential conditions for viable statehood cannot plausibly be met. The analysis of international relations therefore now needs to come to terms with the reemergence of a once familiar kind of global order, in which zones of statehood have to coexist with zones of less settled governance. We need to work out the ways in which this coexistence is likely to operate best. The alternative project of attempting to restore universal statehood is chimerical." (Christopher Clapham: The Global-Local Politics of State Decay. In: Robert I. Rotberg, ed.: When States Fail - Causes and Consequences, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, 2004, p. 78.)
Chimerical indeed!
In places like Afghanistan, Leviathans need even Anthropologists nowadays in their never-ending struggle against the Chimera of state failure. That's a high concentration of monsters right there. I won't include here the picture of a Leviathan. You all saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and so you can imagine it, à l'Hollywood, and a person like Thomas Hobbes would be perfectly content with that sort of visualisation. And neither would I want to place here the picture of an Anthropologist, for the sake of the young in the audience. The really terrifying thing is that Anthropologists will very often re-shape themselves to resemble You and chances are you won't even notice them being there as such...! I'm not paranoid, trust me!
(You're right if you guessed on the basis of my attitudes: when I was a little child, Anthropologists came to our hut one day and stole all my favourite toys. They didn't even need to ask - they just knew where to find what they were looking for. They took the Precious!)
Explanation added: before somebody misunderstands my actual attitudes towards anthropologists, let me note that I'm a reader of Marcus Griffin's blog for example.

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