Institutions: the rule of law and its enemies
The weakening of our institutions is what we must address to construct a future we want for ourselves and those who are to live after we have gone. What is it that we are (not) doing that might potentially compromise the ability of future generations to produce for their own needs? Institutions determine the success and failure of nations. It is institutional cultures that are to be changed, enhanced and inculcated into every citizen as a holistic approach to confront our problems.
Societies that are governed by abstract, impersonal rules will become richer and more democratic than those ruled by personal relationships. Institutions and the rule of law are indispensable for the creation of any stable political economy and citizenship. They are what actually matter. All others only secondarily. The explanations for why other countries remain poor and while others grow richer are embedded in institutional performance. When public institutions become more of a personal identity and less institutional, the situation is that they will be corrupt, less impartial and representative of the people they are suppose to serve.
The early adaption of institutional cultures that are democratic and progressive is the reason why Western nations grew so powerful in the modern age. Any nation that wishes to speed up its growth and empower its citizenry, prepare better for the future, must adopt not necessarily all Western styles of governance but those beats and pieces that march their own and improve their productive capacity.
That is to say, if other institutional cultures are worthy of appreciation and champion modern “civilisation”, civilisation in the sense of meeting one’s basic needs in substance and perception in a relatively free political economy, then, others must adjust for their own needs. Although not everything is well with the social fabric of Western democracies, their own paradoxes continue to popup from time to time, democracy has bad taste too, however, they have many characteristics that our society could apply such as the open access to the economy, better institutional organisations, formidable security, vibrant civil society, impersonal rules, property rights, fairness and equality.
The transitional situation in the Gambia will have to politically empower every citizen in other to transcend to a vibrant economy. It is the political power that gives citizens the opportunities to develop an economy that keeps them surviving; any deviance from this transcendence will makes institutions stagnant and disempowering. Understanding Western “success” can help us understand our own problems, and prepare for the future even better. It is a dual analysis; the internal and external examination.
Why are our institutions degenerating and what can be done about it? To understand our institutional malaise, it is important we ask questions that matter such as the huge financial debt generated by our parents and how we are still blindly dependant, the dying hungry souls, poor women and children who are just literally surviving, the diseased poor and urban dwellers, and whether there is a fatal flaw at the heart of our democracy, that we have understood violence against women just so narrowly.
Many Gambians today have to tolerate the brutal facts of poverty, inevitably some will live it -majority being women, and we can all either add to the problems or solutions. But for now, the shift is rather obscure and worrying. Is there a way we can restore the compact between these generations of “unequal” citizens? The youths of tomorrow will have to adjust to whatever we leave over.
If the Coalition Government lives as if they are here for a weekend, the impacts might be hard, that is why we must revaluate our models to know what we are doing -this is important for sustainability of any type. But democracy does not survive in a vacuum; it is supported by a strong economy that guarantees civil and political rights of all. Again, institutions are what matter for any cultural revolution -to transform the political institutions and thus economic. The case of Botswana is an empirical evidence to show that even a sub-Saharan African economy can perform if its institutions are not corrupt as in Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe or in war as in DR Congo.