Sabtu, 29 November 2008

People-Centered Regionalism ?

What is the meaning of Southeast Asia regionalism? Southeast Asian is slowly bounded ASEAN agreements, i.e. ASEAN Charter, Free trade agreements, or AFTA. NGOs and some mass media criticized ASEAN as an elite group; they only draw government-to-government relations, but don’t put people as the subject of regionalism.
By 2003, ASEAN has shifted its regionalism into ‘community’ model of regionalism. Community means that there are members of the community owning shared identity and shared responsibility (Ife&Tesoriero, 2002). Also, it means that ASEAN should develop its regionalism into ‘bottom-up’ process. Top-down process, to some extent, is still needed, but ‘bottom-up’ process is also important to build genuine regionalism. The idea of regionalism is not only unite the states, but also the society. If not, the benefit of regionalism would be difficult to be reached by precisely the society.
In my opinion, there are two different principles between state regionalism (old regionalism) and people-centered regionalism (new regionalism).
First, the old focuses on financial capital, which concentrates on the accumulation of financial capital that might be owned by big companies or the have. Whilst the poor lack of resources, social capital is the solution came from new regionalism. According to Robert Putnam 2006, social capital refers to the collective value of all social network and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other.
Second is the paradox between power and empowering. The old regionalism was perceived as drawing its power from units of government above and below it. The new regionalism gains power by empowering. In many places, part of this empowerment is directed toward neighborhoods and communities, with the objective of getting them constructively engaged in regional decision making. Empowerment also consists of engaging nonprofits and for-profits in governance decisions that were once treated as the domain of the public sector alone. Using the approach of empowerment is based on the assumption that new interests bring new energy, authority, and credibility; in short, it grows power or capacity in order to move a regional agenda. Obama also employed this approach when campaigning and speaking out on the election.
The solution would not be black or white, old or new. It could be mixed. The bottom-up approach might be called as idealist, whilst the top-down is more political realist. The bottom-up might be so naïve, but it depends on who would call the confusion of regionalism: you, as an agent itself, or you, as follower?

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