Decentralization: A Democratic Choice

Decentralization: A Democratic Choice
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 Aiming at Fair Distribution of Power, Wealth, and Power Resources


Jad Alkareem Aljibaie 


 People’s inclination towards gathering and meeting is the inclination of the social relations to be organized or mobilized in organizations or institutions based on rules set by the gatherers themselves. People are inclined to gather and can do this best when they determine the rules for themselves. This immediately evolves to become common values and known rules that emphasize the necessary relation between the scientific rules and ethical values. It’s certain that rules and values all stem from the vision of people and societies to the world in general, and their world in particular. It is specified by the way of thinking, recognition, representation, appreciation, and work, which means by norms, customs, traditions that are mental, cultural, social, political, styles of work, patterns of behaviour that are inherited or acquired, according to the given historical conditions. These norms, customs, traditions, styles of work, and patterns of behaviour are basic elements in the formation process or structuring process and in the process of “reproduction”. Institutions, from this point of view, are the picture of the social life or the clearest picture of the social and cultural capital that are based on a material foundation. The differences between the processes of the societies self-production and the processes of reproduction specify the criteria of the society’s advancement or backwardness, and whether it is: lively and dynamic or static and bogged down; unified in solidarity or fragile and fragmented. These differences are natural, social, economic, cultural, political, ethical, noticeable, and measureable.


This is the logic of the social, economic, and political formation based on the institutions, whether domestic society and civil society institutions or state institutions. It is not based on the formation process and reformation or reproduction or depending on the power relations of what happened to Syria in the past decades. The difference between the logic of formation and structuring processes is that the first relies on the free participation in general life because of the human nature as well as its communicative and reciprocal characteristics, while the other one depends on the logic of power and defeat-- considering the differences between individuals, groups, or classes. I have to acknowledge the controversial relations between the logic of formation and processes of structuring. People produce their history by themselves, but they don’t produce it according to their whims because the socio-political act clashes with frustrating actions and others resistant and hindering. The third one is unexpected and is subject to the principle of self-idleness. The contradiction between the subjective and the objective constant and permanent, and all changeable things are related.

Montskio noticed that when a new regime is born, leaders (or initiative takers) form institutions, and then the institutions later on form the leaders. Then the institutions are a framework for forming leaders and professional politicians (on the local level) and on the national level, in addition to changing their cultures as they tend step by step to avoid ideological polarization and following a realistic policies (pragmatic) in the public affairs. The thing which leads to moderation, mutual recognition, and mutual respect between the political stakeholders. The ideological current’s retreat from the arena is a precondition for its rationalism and connection with the public interests. This way pragmatism changes from an ideological characteristic into a way of work.


Institutions have always been the subject of interest of the political sciences, but the “new institutions” used the tools of “Game Theory” and the pattern of the rational choice considering that institutions are long-term games stakeholders’. Behavior is formed depending on the rules of the game. Founders of the theory of organizations stressed the roles and styles of work and the symbols and institutional duties, while followers of the historic school focused on the continuity of the rules and politics and emphasized the timing of the institutional development and its sequence. However, the followers of the institutional vision agree on two things:

1. Political institutions’ formation: the basic operational rules and its procedures which form the institutions leave their fingerprint on the political founding through forming a political behavior. We can’t simply reduce the results to being the interaction between individuals, which is similar to the interaction between billiard balls, or to the wide social force crisscrossing. The institutions affect the production because they form the identity of the representatives or stakeholders, their power, and strategy.

2. History forms institutions: regardless of the other factors, which may impact the form of the institutions, they embody the historic tracks and turning points. History is important because it depends on the track: what’s formed first (even if it was from a certain angle, horizontal) affects what comes after it. Individuals may choose their institutions but they don’t choose them within circumstances they created. Therefore, their choices will affect the rules their successors will choose in the same institutions. This stresses the necessity of viewing institutions once as an independent variable and another time as a dependent changeable because the social context within which they work affects their practical performance.


We claim that the fragmentation processes are happening in Syria because of extensive killing, destruction, kidnapping, detention, the killing detainees under torture, displacement, immigration and those seeking asylum. This is opposed to formation processes according to the principle of the free formation and free participation and the processes of formation based on the principle of power and defeat. So deep changes will result from all of these in the structure of the traditional local community. The signs of the modern civil society all appear in the multi-functional institutions with different goals where the principle of free formation overlaps with it as well as the principle of formation that results in a a body that masters the use of tools of control and hegemony on all fields. This is clear in the current power formations, civil or military, and the opposition formations, civil and military, the thing which makes the future image of Syria largely vague and leaves the people skeptical as well, as a result of the sever ideological polarization.


We notice that all the authority’s formations as well as the anti-authority formations (the civil, traditional, and armed opposition) are central formations based on the vertical relations, personal connections and nepotism, and ideological extremism. Our bet is on forming new modern civil society institutions and cooperation networks based on horizontal equal relations among free male and female individuals that are equal.  We believe in the values of trust, mutual recognition of human capability, equality in civil and political rights, and on the equality in values and free sharing. Their social functions complete each other in the real sense of the word and their political goals meet with the national democratic cause and the values of equality, freedom and justice. What justifies this bet is the possibility of the contribution of the modern community institutions in changing their member’s culture and making them gradually tend to ideological polarization meeting and following realistic policies in public affairs that focus on the common interests which are the texture of national interests.


In the current Syrian circumstances, as the political map is fragmented and confused, and the demographic map is unstable and changing, the free formation processes which are horizontal may clash with the intentional formation processes which have vertical characteristics. This may lead to more fragmentation, separation, and reproduce marginalization and exclusion because the emerging institutions are taking the ideologies of the environments within which they are emerging. Their functions may not work as expected. They are expected to be meeting the needs of the targeted people and their goals and visions. The national goals that they always talk about in their rhetoric and speeches are in line with people’s goals. If those emerging institutions are not able to organize themselves in a realistic horizontal network that can cover all Syria and strengthens the relations between communities and environments, they will not be on the right track.


We look forward to the possibility of creating politics and designing its powers and forming the ruling system with the state institutions from the bottom to top, from the public base, as it is in reality not as the elite wants it to be, until it reaches the level of self-specification and ethical life. We are looking forward to the national state in the real sense we showed in our previous article, we mean a state of rights, law, and justice that is equal for all male and female citizens.

The process of the social formation, which opposes the process of fragmentation, is exactly a process of producing politics socially and communally and rebuilding the basics of power and setting out the basics upon which the governance system will be based. The democratic demand is a possibility that other options may overrule, but in that case this will be a kind of dictatorship. Since we believe that politics is formed from the womb of the society organizations and its institutions, whether they are local community institutions or civil society institutions or political society institutions (the state), the controversial opposition between the principle of free formation and intentional formation, in order not to say the forceful, will or may be conducive to new social political vehicle which is decentralized which is based on not the just distribution of wealth and production factors, but also for power and resources of power as well. Federalism is the political shape for this system or at least one of its shapes. 


We are not talking about a federal type that is copied from one country or another, rather about the possibility of innovating a Syrian system of rule, which would make the return to dictatorship, authoritarianism, impoverishment, or marginalization difficult and costly, and ideally, impossible. Syrians don’t have a final homeland other than Syria. Everything that has been said about the division, aims at exaggerating, intimidating, and antagonizing Syrians again Syrians, like antagonizing the Arabs against the Kurds, Muslims against Christians, and Sunnis against non-Sunnis.

The Syrian paradox among the elites of educated people and politicians has always been for the purpose of reluctance towards the state which was really in existence (the Syrian Republic) as an artificial country, in the mind of the nationalists, and an atheist secular country in the mind of the Islamists, and bourgeois country in the mind of the socialists. This is clear in the comprehensive structure of the authority and the doctrinal structures of the parties which adopt the ideology of “central democracy”, as it is clear in the structure of the “public organizations” that are parallel to the structure of the authority and similar to it.

This paradox is due to the interpretation of the political Arab Islamic history in a way that is full of nostalgia to the golden imperial age which extinguishes the burning feeling of humiliation and helplessness among the advanced world. The other fantasy is to return to the modern national state, which was founded in the European West after the destruction of the feudalism, and it is most likely a central state. Then centralism, in consciousness, is a synonym to unity, power, and a precondition for progressiveness. People who are fanatics for centralism argue that the federal systems is an exception that assures the (central) rule, although the exception refutes the rule partly or completely, and the so called “rule” is nothing but an empty pattern that is not realistic.  This is not meant to be a praise for the federal systems like the United States, federal Russia, Federal Germany … etc., but it’s a call to think about centralism, starting from its legendary roots until its political contemporary shape. If we forget about the legendary root of centralism temporarily, we will notice that it has been an inevitable result of defeat and excellency framed by “Survival for the fittest”; the defeat of one people by another, or one ethnic group against another who are fewer than them and less powerful, and the defeat of one culture against cultures, a language against languages, fanaticism against fanaticisms, defeat of men against women, white against black… etc. 


Therefore, it is antithetical to democracy, justice, equality, and it is a generator of racism, especially when politics is merely an ideology and the world is divided according to ideology, into two opposite worlds; the world of the good and evil. Therefore, we think that decentralization may be a way to restore the unity of Syria, its land and people, and make differences and diversity an asset, a form of national and human wealth, and a way to a stable democratic transition which would be difficult from which to withdraw. Decentralization, for all of these reasons and others, is a national democratic choice, contrary to what sophists are thinking and speaking of, especially those who love authoritarianism and dictatorship.
...... to be continued


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