Government of Peace

Friday, July 5, 2013

In the liberal science of government the phenomenon of resistance becomes an occasion for reforms and the continuity of the liberal way to rule, which means ultimately combining security with freedom and coercion with normal ways of administration and governance. In this way liberal way to rule becomes the original form of politics. This becomes the original form because it appears to rise above and subsume the physicalities of partition, colonialism, war, borders and boundaries; conflicts, and struggles, and suggests the liberal combining of freedom, order, and security, as the permanent way to conduct governance and rule. By definition then, such rule shows awareness of an original dilemma of governance, namely, how much to govern and how much to leave to society; likewise, how much to coerce and how much to produce consent of the subjects and rely on that consent in order to rule. The problem of ratio is thus at the core of the liberal problematic of governance. The liberal science of government is therefore also necessarily plural, inherently trans-boundary in its practice, appearing to be seamless in approach and reach, efficacy and life.

Social governance has turned out to be one of the crucial features of the government of peace. What can we learn from the post-colonial phenomenon of the government of peace? At least the following observations can be made:

First, the colonial foundations of governance structures for peace building are still intact, though these foundations have been reinforced and reshaped by the post-colonial experiences of democracy. Conflicts and insurgencies do not continue in the same way over time; the study of the phases is important. The mutation of the form of conflict depends on governmental measures and the responses to these measures. The mutation also depends on the condition of the middle spaces in conflict. The governmental logic of peace building at times bears the imprint of the popular demands for peace and justice, also the imprint of collective violence. The discourse of security can be seen as the link between the two types of ideas of peace: one emanating from the architecture of macro-security and other embedded in the phenomena of micro-insecurity. For this reason the governmental logic of peace building often runs counter to the ideas and practices of plural dialogues. Therefore the question: If overall security reinforces “molecular insecurity”, how to build a model of “molecular security”? At this point liberal way to peace can think of only one solution, namely increasing marketisation of relations so that the unruly subject can become the rational actor of choices and engage in meaningful rational activity helped and guided by a set of rules and laws.

Second, it is assumed that the subjects are unruly, because they are not sufficiently globalized. They are products of a phenomenon called enclave. If they are to made modern rational subjects, then they have to be pulled by their bootstraps to the level of the global. Market becomes the key to such exercise. But this course becomes a contradictory exercise, because if the post-conflict subject is to be rational, and for that only market based norms can exist be allowed to exist, then all other norms have to be destroyed. This also implies rational decision (at all levels) to deploy violence to establish control. How can the government in that case do away with the original violence and become legitimate as a government of peace? And what will be its stand on the tussle existing in the post-conflict scenario between a push towards sharing of sovereignty and the immense desire of the dominant powers to retain it in old form of indivisibility?

Third, conflict becomes in the eyes of the state a matter of deciding the ratio, and the government of peace becomes a government of constant ratio determination in order to control the conduct of subject population, and reorienting the conduct through the apparatus of policies, economy, and peace. This apparatus though appearing new in many ways in a fundamental sense repeats the old combination of the military and the civil. Social governance is the name of this apparatus – in part old, in part new.

Fourth, and finally, all these mean that we are thus suggesting through that “conflict” can be analysed as a historically singular mode of experience, whereby the “objects” of conflict governance are transformed into “subjects” through certain specific procedures, such as the procedure of establishing peace, or the attempts at peace at micro-levels, and through the contradictory process of securitisation. We are posing here the issue of a certain kind of public ethics of self-government growing out of the dynamics of subject-formation through conflict governance. Yet we must not forget that this subject formation is not a one sided process. For instance, an earlier phase of conflict may end with reproducing another phase to succeed it, precisely because the governmental policies of suppression not only produced fear, revulsion, and anger, but a revised subjectivity that took into account the strengths and weaknesses of the adversary. Thus new movements arise. These new movements allow us a faint and an admittedly weak picture of that new kind of subjectivity. The problem of government of peace, like any other form of good governance, is that it will have to deal with different subjects. This is a situation whose principle is that of heterogeneity. The question for government of peace will be: How can it turn the different unruly subjects with immediate memories of insubordination, dissent, and revolt, into the economic actor of a particular, homogenous, type? We can describe that condition in one word, peace.


Dr. Ranabir Samaddar is the Director of the Calcutta Research Group and belongs to the school of critical thinking. He has pioneered along with other peace studies programmes in South Asia. He has worked extensively on issues of justice and rights in the context of conflicts in South Asia. The much- acclaimed The Politics of Dialogue (Ashgate, 2004) was the culmination of his work on justice, rights and peace. His particular researches have been on migration and refugee studies, the theory and practices of dialogue, nationalism and post-colonial statehood in South Asia and new regimes of technological restructuring and labour control. His political writings published in the form of a 2 volume account, The Materiality of Politics (Anthem Press, 2007), and The Emergence of the Political Subject (Sage, 2009) have challenged some of the prevailing accounts of the birth of nationalism and the nation state, and have signaled a new turn in critical post-colonial thinking.

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