Networked Governance of Freedom and Tyranny (2012) draws all this together with the argument that networked struggles for justice, peace and freedom are the mainstay of progressive politics in the kind of world we inhabit today. For most tasks of modern governance, networks get things done better than hierarchies. Well-designed networks of power are not only mutually checking upon bad uses of power; they are also mutually enabling of good capacities for power.
Networks must be coordinated and sometimes—not always—the state is the best candidate to supply a key node of coordination. For most problems, strengthening state hierarchy to solve problems is not as effective as strengthening checks and balances on hierarchy as we also strengthen private–public partnerships, professions with technocratic expertise on that problem, civil society engagement and vigilance, and other networks of governance, while at the same time strengthening coordination of networked governance.
Networked Governance of Freedom and Tyranny is also about the idea that in politics, there is commonly a tipping point where a networked governance of freedom becomes a networked governance of tyranny. This happens when a networked revolutionary vanguard of any complexion actually takes over a state. According to our analysis, the crucial failure in building the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste after its war was that the rebuild was not republican enough. It was too focused on building a state controlled by the three greatest leaders of the resistance and the party of the resistance. The networks that made the triumph over realist forces possible were dispensed with when they were most needed to act as checks and balances on the new executive. Networked accountabilities must humble the power that enables regimes to change.
Domination can be continuously challenged by networks that renew themselves with novel ways of checking power that are not confined to enduring constitutional balances.
Here there is common ground with other theoretical traditions such as the notion of ‘destabilization rights’ introduced by Roberto Unger, Charles Sabel and William Simon. These are rights to unsettle and open up state institutions that persistently fail to fulfil their functions. Destabilisation rights are dynamic checks on failures of institutionalised checks to do their job. Rights to public law litigation can destabilise defunct structures, as can rights of oppressed minorities to appeal for redress to UN institutions. Destabilisation rights enable a politics of dis-entrenchment.
Networks can deliver experimental innovation in the invigoration of separation of powers whereas the state is often too paralysed for innovation and democratic experimentalism. Western doctrine on the separation of powers has stultified because it has not been open to learning from the democratic experimentalism in civil separations of powers revealed in non-Western histories such as that of Timor-Leste.
Chapter 13 of the book concludes that in future we might evaluate international peace operations according to:
- how well they fix problems
- how much of the responsibility of the fix they shifted to locals
- how they have contributed to separations of the power to fix.