Vadim Berman

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Embracing clanocracy

Pakistan. Afghanistan. Nearly every country in the Middle East and Africa. Kosovo. Burma. Falkland Islands. Even Belgium. Factions, cultures, clans are fighting among themselves, or with the central government.

Come to think of it, most of the modern (and possibly, not only modern) conflicts and frictions start when a group or several groups are unhappy with being ruled by a central power. The central government either is not interested to satisfy the needs of these groups (not always minorities, BTW), or (probably more often) is unable to understand or implement them.

Different approaches and attempts were made to handle the issue. Tweaking the state and the central power to everybody's satisfaction: a great idea but might be tricky to implement. As the events in the recent years show, in the absence of an iron fist, things degenerate into chaos. Shared or proportionate representation in the central power: sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Autonomy: difficult to implement, and only half-effective, especially when geography makes strict division impossible. Even when creation of a new state is possible and a compromise is figured out, it takes a few lost generations (at best) for things to stabilise: revolutionaries, people naturally inclined to fight and rebel, make poor managers.

On top of everything, in many places, due to historical reasons, loyalty to a clan or a faction is much higher than the willingness to obey the central power.

My idea is: why not build on the strengths of existing structures and loyalties. Instead of forcing people to commit to something they are unable or unwilling to comply with, how about creating a conglomerate of factions, a "federation" of factions, virtual "provinces" of sorts, with different budgets, possibly somewhat different laws, some minimal shared framework? (Due to post size limitations, I'll expand in the comment section.)

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    Feb 11 2012: More explanations:

    * in this kind of "clanocracy", there has to be a minimum headcount in a faction seeking self-determination to sustain mini-government, judicial system, taxation authority - but not the armed forces, these have to be left to the federation. Those that do not meet the requirements are back to the central authority, or join another "clan" or a group of clans.
    * the bulk of the taxation revenues has to be spent inside the "clan" (so there will be no grudge against "them spending our money")
    * moving between "clans" is possible with some limitations, like moving between provinces or cantons

    I wonder if there ever was a precedent when it worked like that. I'd imagine even a while ago that would be a logistical nightmare, but today the technology makes it possible.