Thursday, 20 June 2013
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|Success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan|
|Saturday, 14 July 2012 22:10|
John Kennedy is the author of this remark, ‚Äúsuccess has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan,‚ÄĚ the title of this week‚Äôs Perspectives.
THIS week I want to make a few observations on the principle of collective responsibility in politics. You see we need to know who to blame when something goes wrong. That is, we have to know who is responsible.
In addition, Fiorina argued that the focus on participation by different political stakeholders shores up the view that there is government of the people and by the people; nevertheless, there is some exclusion of government for the people because of too much emphasis on participation and little on accountability, producing some decline in collective responsibility. Responsibility breeds accountability.
In some areas of the globe, there are considerable accolades poured on the advent of minority governments, perhaps with good reasons; as they create the opportunity for opposition parties to have more meaningful political participation in shaping the nation and as such there is some government of the people and by the people. But is there accountability and responsibility for goods and services produced for the people? In fact, there may be no government for the people if the answer to this question is in the negative.
For instance, Fiorina argued that with less collective responsibility and growing political irresponsibility in American politics, it is difficult to see how a minority¬† government there can achieve positive things.
In fact, since 2011 President Barack Obama has headed a minority government, and we can observe the perpetual difficulties he faces to do positive things for the American people. On June 16, 2012, Obama in his weekly radio and internet address, called for an end to political gridlock in Congress.
Obama pointed out that the Republican Congress "haven't lifted a finger" on numerous items he sent to Congress in 2011; not a flurry of legislative activities in Congress, essentially describing political gridlock, a unique characterisation that minority governments face over the long haul.
Let us look at what happens to collective responsibility under different political conditions. When any authentic democratic majority government‚Äôs project fails, apportioning blame for the failure resides in that government; and in which case, all members of that administration have to accept collective responsibility for that failure.
In a situation of a minority government, dishing out blame for a project‚Äôs failure does not only reside within that government; and in which case, all members of that administration do not have to accept total collective responsibility for that failure, since by definition in legislative determination, a minority government is juxtaposed against the majority elements in parliament which has greater legislative oversight responsibility. In this context, responsibility is shared between the minority government and these other stakeholders.
Under these circumstances, therefore, where there may be failure, blame has to be shared. And further, collective responsibility becomes impotent in this situation of blame sharing because we do not have a specific individual or body to assign blame ‚Äď the blame is shared. Politics, under these conditions, therefore, may degenerate into irresponsibility.
As said earlier, there is or should be collective responsibility in an authentic democratic¬† majority government, and where all share the burden of failure, there is for each person less pain to handle. Indeed, where all share in the niceties of success, there is for each person the trappings of greater political motivation to do better.
Chinua Achebe in, ‚ÄėThings fall apart‚Äô talked about the importance of collective responsibility, when he said in Chapter 3:
‚ÄúA proud heart can survive general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride. It is more difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone.‚ÄĚ
And a recent Nigerian undergraduate from the University of LLorin, in interpreting Achebe‚Äôs statement, said: ‚ÄúCollective responsibility guarantees a higher chance of success. And if a collective venture failed, the effect of the loss is less because the pain of loss is borne by many.‚ÄĚ
And so long as that level of collective responsibility prevails, those governments will bring greater successes to their people; and even where a project fails, there is collective sharing of the pain, which helps to maintain reasonable political motivation to do better next time.
Collective responsibility implies some level of participation by various stakeholders within the collective, as well as accountability, and responsibility by stakeholders to that collective.¬† In fact, Achebe seems to have roped in all three concepts ‚Äď participation, accountability, and responsibility ‚Äď in concocting some kind of governmental system of the stakeholders, by the stakeholders, and for the stakeholders.
In addition, there is greater participation of opposition political stakeholders under minority governments, primarily producing a government of the people and by the people. Nevertheless, a political system with a minority government also will have to create social infrastructures for greater accountability and collective responsibility, producing a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Authentic democratic majority governments function within the framework of participation, accountability, and collective responsibility. Minority governments functioning without such a framework over the long-term will see little success and a refusal by all stakeholders to accept blame for any project failure. This behaviour will not be surprising because success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan.
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