Monday, December 31, 2012

Ruminations 45: Re-Thinking Consumption, Shaping Consumer Reality; On the Triadic Relationship Between Consumer, Object and Enterprise

In two recent posts I have suggested (1) the importance of belief in the construction of governance (law, moral, ethical, religious, etc.) systems and the subversive power, the evil, of suspicion and disbelief to that order (Ruminations XLII: Conformity and Forbidden Knowledge--The First Rule of Fight Club, the Invisible Hand and the Semiotics of Obedience, Law at the End of the Day, Dec. 26, 2012) and (2) that the task of science and the function of law is to manage the premises and judgments about things that form the reality of the relation of people to the world (Ruminations XLIV: If Reality is not Fixed Can we Train People to Accept Anything?, Law at the End of the Day Dec. 28, 2012).  

But I am afraid my discussion has been perhaps necessarily abstract. For this post I want to try to weave the ideas considered in those two posts around a very precise and concrete occurrence that is helping to reshape the way in which individuals perceive and thus understand the reality around them and thus reinforce the connection between object, meaning, action and meaning framework. The object of a recent study: GlobeScan, SustainAbility, and BBMG. Regeneration Roadmap--Re-Thinking Consumption:  Consumers and The Future of Sustainability (Nov. 2012) (an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption among 6,224 respondents across six major international markets conducted in September and October 2012).

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Investigation Regulations for the Discipline Inspection Organs of the Communist Party of China -- An English Translation

I am considering the nature of intra-Party discipline within the Chinese Communist Party and its relationship to issues of law and state power. See, e.g., 
 The study is part of a larger project considering the legitimacy and structure of Chinese constitutionalism. See, Backer, Larry Catá, Party, People, Government, and State: On Constitutional Values and the Legitimacy of the Chinese State-Party Rule of Law System (January 12, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, 2012;Thoughts on Emerging Trends in Chinese Constitutional Thought on the Eve of the 18th Party Congress, Law at the End of the Day, Nov. 6, 2012.

What follows is an English translation of the "Investigation Regulations for the Discipline Inspection Organs of the Communist Party of China."  These are the critical regulations around which intra-Party discipline is organized. 
My hope is that this translation will help policy makers and Western academics in their study of the institutional structures and operations of the Chinese Communist Party -- a subject that deserves substantially more sustained study now in the aftermath of the 18th Party Congress. My thanks to my research assistant, Keren Wang (Penn State MIA expected 2013) for his usual excellent work.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ruminations 44: If Reality is not Fixed Can we Train People to Accept Anything?

Reality is supposed to be the state of things as they actually exist rather than as they might appear or be imagined.  It presupposes some sort of objective conditions again which behaviors can be judged, policy determined and people assessed and managed.
(From Polly Kahl, The 12 Steps of Reality TV Addiction Recovery, Technorati, Oct. 3, 2011)

But what if "what actually exists" exists in part only in your mind as a function of judgements and expectations that you internalized from the aggregates of premises that form the common knowledge and interpretive structures of a social order? It appears that science has provided clues about the way in which reality is not merely constructed from out of the relation between individual and sensory stimuli, bit also the extent to which the meaning of those stimuli and the valuation of their effects, are both managed and taught in an interactive process between the individual and object, the collective body of experience, judgments, conclusions, interdictions and directions  that serve as the referent for making sense of and determining the appropriate response to stimuli.   

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ruminations 42: Conformity and Forbidden Knowledge--The First Rule of Fight Club, the Invisible Hand and the Semiotics of Obedience

(From Adam Fisher, Skipping Stones, Genkaku-Again, May 25, 2009)

 The cultural importance of veiling the underlying presumptions and mechanics of actions and beliefs-- of seeing reality and of being satisfied to follow instructions that are bound up in a reality that must neither be seen nor questioned--is very strong. The triadic relationship between follower-obedience and rule-maker serves as the basis for systems and systems theory grounded in the core premise of stability of social and power relations through the control of the way in which  symbols are understood and action managed. I offer three categories to suggest both the scope and the ordering power of this semiotic arrangement, visible only when visibly invisible; there are more. These are tales of the perils of disbelief;  tales of punishment for acquiring forbidden knowledge (the perils fo knowing more than your station in a social-power hierarchy requires); and  tales of the vaue of silent acceptance and conformity.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jiang Shigong 强世功 on "Written and Unwritten Constitutions" and Its Relevance to Chinese Constitutionalism

Jiang Shigong (强世功), Professor and Deputy Director, Peking University Office of Educational Administration at Peking University.  He is well known in China for his work, Fazhi yu Zhili: Guojia Zhuanxingzhong de Falv (Legal System and Governance: Law in the Transformed State) (Beijing: Zhongguo zhengfadaxue chubanshe, 2003) and and Lifazhe de Falixue (Legislator's Jurisprudence) (Beijing: Sanlian shudian, 2007).

He recently published an article on Chinese constitutionalism that deserves careful study.  Jiang Shigong, "Written and Unwritten Constitutions: A New Approach to the Study of Constitutional Government in China," Modern China 36(1):12-46 (2010). Here is the abstract:
 Criticizing the formalism in China’s constitutional studies over the past 30 years and following an empirical-historical perspective to deal with the dilemma of representation and practice, the author argues that both a written constitution and an unwritten constitution are basic features of any constitutional system, and China’s constitutional order can only be understood if China’s unwritten constitution is taken into account. Selecting four important constitutional issues (the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and the National People’s Congress; the position of state chairman and the trinity system of rule; the relationship between the center and localities; and the constitutional structure of “one country two systems”), the author explores four sources of China’s unwritten constitution—the party’s constitution, constitutional conventions, constitutional doctrine, and constitutional statutes—and calls for taking into account China’s unique political tradition and reality to enrich current constitutional scholarship.
This post reviews and considers the insights developed in that article.  My thanks to my research assistant Yuanyuan Li for her excellent work.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Michael Komesaroff on China's Long Term Demand for Steel and Its Implications

Michael Komesaroff, principal of Urandaline Investments, a consultancy specializing in China’s capital intensive industries, and a former executive in residence at the School of International Affairs, Pennsylvania State University, has produced an excellent analysis of China's long term demand for steel. 
 (Pix from Patti Waldmeir, "China Steel Takes 96% Hit," Financial Times, July 2012 ("Chinese steelmakers saw their profits plunge by 96 per cent in the first half compared to a year ago, a Chinese official said on Tuesday, as the economic slowdown turned the industry into a “disaster zone”."))
Komesaroff notes that recent declines in world metal prices raise the question of whether Chinese demand has peaked. This is especially so with the precipitous declines in the price for iron ore and steel. In Michael Komesaroff, "Still time to peak," China Economic Quarterly 6-8 (Sept. 2012) he argues that China’s demand for steel should peak at about 1.2 billion tonne and that this is still a decade away. "Still time to peak" can be found here.  Of particular interest in the presentation is the conclusion that China's steel demand has not peaked--that has significant geo-political implications.  It also challenges, in significant ways, an argument popular int he West that China's political system would face sever stress in the wake of economic slowdown. This post presents a summary of Mr. Komesaroff's presentation.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tomonori Teraoka on "Transnational Networks of Poly-Centralized Governance in Nuclear Arms Control"

I have been considering the manifestations of the rise of polycentric global governance systems, ones that have challenged the once unquestioned monopoly of the state as the sole legitimate global governance actor. E.g., Larry Catá Backer,  On the Tension between Public and Private Governance in the Emerging Transnational Legal Order: State Ideology and Corporation in Polycentric Asymmetric Global Orders.I have posited global governance orders as increasingly grounded in fracture, Larry Catá Backer, "The Structural Characteristics of Global Law for the 21st Century: Fracture, Fluidity, Permeability, and Polycentricity," 17(2) Tilburg Law Review 177 (2012). 

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

My student and research assistant, Tomonori Teraoka (Penn State SIA '2013 expected), has been considering the implications of fractured and polycentric global orders in the context of nuclear power.  He has written a paper Transnational Networks of Poly-Centralized Governance in Nuclear Arms Control: Shift from State-Centered to Transnational Discourse and Gaze in which he develops his views on the profound changes that fractured power is having on the conventional state based architecture for the regulation of nuclear power and arms.  .  The abstract and a short excerpt follows. The paper may be accessed HERE.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Announcing New Book: "Lawyers Making Meaning: The Semiotics of Law and Legal Education II"

I am very pleased to announce the publication of a new book:  Jan M. Broekman and Larry Catá Backer,  Lawyers Making Meaning:  The Semiotics of Law and Legal Education II ((Dordrecht, Netherlands, Springer 2012) (ISBN 978-94-007-5458-4) (available as hard cover or e-book). Dedicated homepage; unique electronic identifier.

Book overview: This book present a structure for understanding and exploring the semiotic character of law and law systems. Cultivating a deep understanding for the ways in which lawyers make meaning—the way in which they help make the world and are made, in turn by the world they create —can provide a basis for consciously engaging in the work of the law and in the production of meaning. The book first introduces the reader to the idea of semiotics in general and legal semiotics in particular, as well as to the major actors and shapers of the field, and to the heart of the matter: signs. The second part studies the development of the strains of thinking that together now define semiotics, with attention being paid to the pragmatics, psychology and language of legal semiotics. A third part examines the link between legal theory and semiotics, the practice of law, the critical legal studies movement in the USA, the semiotics of politics and structuralism. The last part of the book ties the different strands of legal semiotics together, and closely looks at semiotics in the lawyer’s toolkit—such as: text, name and meaning. 

I have posted the Preface and a brief explanation of the larger law and semiotics project of within which this book fits. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Katherine Pearson on Resident Rights and Responsibilities in Virginia's Continuing Care Retirement Communities

My colleague, Katherine Pearson has been doing great work on issues involving the treatment of the aged. Especially interesting for me has been recent work on the institutional regulation of enterprises that provide nursing and related services to the aged.  More specifically, the issue of stakeholder versus shareholder rights in the management and operation of these facilities provides an additional and important wrinkle on current debates within corporate an international law on the nature of corporate enterprises and their relationship to stakeholders.  In this case, Professor Pearson considers the value of resident representation on the governing boards of nursing homes. She argues that "Voting membership on boards can promote trust among current and future residents, while also encouraging decisions-makers to listen directly to the residents’ perspectives on financial stability." (Testimony p. 4).

Sunday, December 02, 2012

International Conference on the Realisation of Socio-Economic Rights in Emerging Free Markets: Perspectives from China and India

The Centre for Chinese and Comparative Law (RCCL) of the School of Law of City University of Hong Kong organised an marvelous International Conference on “Realisation of Socio-Economic Rights in Emerging Free Markets: Perspectives from China and India”. The Conference will took place in Hong Kong on 29-30 November 2012.My great thanks to the conference organizer, Surya Deva, Associate Professor, School of Law, City University of Hong Kong for a thought provoking program that sought to push the envelop both respecting the institutionalization of social and economic rights norms and the important work of comparative study of China and India. 

The conference brought together a group of scholars from China, India and the West, all of whom sought to consider the role of socioeconomic rights developments in China and India.  This post includes the Conference Concept Note,  Conference Objectives, Program, and a short Biography and abstract of the presentations of the conference participants.