Book Review: Towards a Bioregional State

From http://biostate.blogspot.com/2011/05/quotes-from-toward-bioregional-state.html

A case for bioregional Democracy

In his 2005 book Toward a Bioregional State: A Series of Letters About Political Theory and Formal Institutional Design in the Era of Sustainability, academic and scholar Mark D. Whitaker argues for a rethinking of the current geo-political, social and environmental implications of the way our societies are structured, and calls for an envisioning process towards a new type of government built around bioregional principles, much like those espoused by CascadiaNow!

Environmental sociologist Mark D. Whitaker is a comparative historical researcher on the politics of environmental degradation and sustainability. Toward A Bioregional State is his novel approach to development and to sustainability. He proposes that instead of sustainability being an issue of population scale, managerial economics, or technocratic planning, an overhaul of formal democratic institutions is required. This is because environmental degradation has more to do with the biased interactions of formal institutions and informal corruption. Because of this corruption, we have societal and civic degradation. Current formal democratic institutions of states are forms of informal gatekeeping, and as such, intentionally maintain democracy as ecologically out of sync.

Bioregional democracy (or the Bioregional State) is a set of electoral reforms and commodity reforms designed to force the political process in a democracy to better represent concerns about the economy, the body, and environmental concerns (e.g. water quality), toward developmental paths that are locally prioritized and tailored to different areas for their own specific interests of sustainability and durability.

This movement is variously called bioregional democracy, watershed cooperation, or bioregional representation, or one of various other similar names—all of which denote democratic control of a natural commons and local jurisdictional dominance in any economic developmental path decisions—while not removing more generalized civil rights protections of a larger national state.

Toward a Bioregional State offers many strategic ways to move from unsustainability to sustainability by adjusting the wider political dynamics of state institutions, other institutions, and commodity choices as a means toward sustainability. Thus, the model for both unsustainability and sustainability are based on the same dynamics between formal politics, informal politics, and the environmental context, though a sustainable society has a more representative form of dynamics in its material choices, and an unsustainable society has a more unrepresentative dynamics in its material choices. A fully representative society is sustainable and uses sustainable materials. An unsustainable society is corrupt, and corruption creates unsustainability that locks in unsustainable materials from any removal or critique.

This is the formal level of politics that requires greater numbers of checks and balances to avoid an unsustainable, unrepresentative state developmental policy; to keep from becoming an unrepresentative, unsustainable society in which the state becomes formally structured to serve as gatekeeper, instead letting individuals and community serve this important role and function.

Therefore, bioregional democracy (or the Bioregional State) is a set of electoral reforms*, designed to force the political process in a democracy to better represent majority concerns about the economy, the body, and environmental concerns (e.g., water quality), toward developmental paths that are locally prioritized and tailored to different areas for their own specific interests of sustainability and durability. This movement is variously called bioregional democracy, watershed cooperation, or bioregional representation, or one of various other similar names–all of which denote democratic control of a natural commons [2] and local jurisdictional dominance in any economic developmental path decisions–while not removing more generalized civil rights protections and other conflict resolutions of a larger national state.

More information can be found about the book, as well as further information about Bioregional democracy and the argument for Biostate on the blog:

http://biostate.blogspot.com/

 

New Book: The Right to Self-determination Under International Law “Selfistans,” Secession, and the Rule of the Great Powers

This book proposes a novel theory of self-determination; the Rule of the Great Powers. This book argues that traditional legal norms on self-determination have failed to explain and account for recent results of secessionist self-determination struggles. While secessionist groups like the East Timorese, the Kosovar Albanians and the South Sudanese have been successful in their quests for independent statehood, other similarly situated groups have been relegated to an at times violent existence within their mother states. Thus, Chechens still live without significant autonomy within Russia, and the South Ossetians and the Abkhaz have seen their conflicts frozen because of the peculiar geo-political equilibrium of power within the Caucuses region.

The Rule of the Great Powers, which asserts that only those self-determination seeking entities which enjoy the support of the majority of the most powerful states (the Great Powers) will ultimately have their rights to self-determination fulfilled. The Great Powers, potent military, economic and political powerhouses such as the United States, China, Russia, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy, often dictate self-determination outcomes through their influence in global affairs. Issues of self-determination in the modern world can no longer be effectively resolved through the application of traditional legal rules; rather, resort must be had to novel theories, such as the Rule of the Great Powers.

This book will be of particular interest to academics and students of law, political science and international relations.

Review from: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415668187/