Saturday, December 14, 2013

The chains of being useful

Opinion article by: David Ricardo Murcia Sánchez*
Political Sciences student at Universidad EAFIT, Colombia

It is common to think in international organizations such as UN or the WTO as mighty institutions that are powerful and wise to know the way out of the multiple problems that the society face on a daily basis. But, as they often fail to present satisfactory results for everyone, criticism grows, and it questions their usefulness. Yet, before any judgment, there is the need to evaluate if it is not an extra-limitation of the cult to technicians that Western Society has spread around the world.

Indeed, such was Max Weber’s deep worry, back in the 19th century (Weber, 2000). More recently, Carl Schmitt (Schmitt, 1998) has showed the clear perils of taking social issues as a matter of technical intervention. That fear, especially from the former, arose from the possible loss of equilibrium in the human (political) relations that are constantly changing. That is why, the fact that even if the technical system is perfected, its answers will always be late; the social changes never stop.

The previous expresses an internal contradiction of such institutions between the desires of the peoples who trust them and their capabilities to fulfill them. The problem may be in what is expected of institutions, because technical methods are been developed incessantly. Desires should be taken as follows: not hoping an everlasting correct answer or a heavenly mechanism to solve every problem. Institutions, and their technical mechanisms, in this course of ideas, are constrained by the need of being useful. Therefore, there could be a solution to break those chains: not to hope for an easy and immediate answer, but to hope for a slowly constructed suggestion that provides with the social actors an idea of how to confront the problems they have. In sum, the use of technique should be calming companions of the society’s natural struggles.

All these reasoning could be vain if it is not applied to calm down the frustration felt towards WTO Doha Round. The delay in a new agreement cannot be blamed on technical mistakes, because international institutions are constructed to help different parties to keep the discussions no matter if the level of the disagreement on the process, the expected answer, or even any answer, are actually reached. Guaranteeing the continuity a stable struggle when actors are not ready for a conclusion must be considered, as it is, an achievement.


Schmitt, Carl. (1998). La era de las neutralizaciones y despolitizaciones. En C. Schmitt, El concepto de lo político. Madrid: Alianza. pp. 107-122.

Weber, M. (2000). ¿Qué es la burocracia?. Ediciones el Disponible en la URL: [consultado el 12 de diciembre de 2013]

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