Publication Details

Martin, B. (2013). Effective crisis governance. State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible? (pp. 269-278 (biblio.416-417)). United States: Island Press.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9781610914499


When a crisis develops, what sort of governance—what sort of system for running society—is most resilient? Does centralized control give the best prospect of survival? Or is something more decentralized needed?

Possible political sources of crisis include military invasion, internal coups, political paralysis, major corruption, and revolutionary change. Wars in the past century triggered changes in governance in countries such as Germany, Japan, and Cambodia. Coups affected dozens of countries, from Chile to Greece. Revolutions transformed Russia, China, and Iran.

At least as significant are changes enabled by belief systems. The spread of neoliberalism—based on belief in unfettered markets—has transformed political systems, especially in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other English-speaking countries. Belief in political freedoms and fair elections has underpinned challenges to repressive regimes in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Belief in racial equality was behind the successful struggle against apartheid in South Africa.