Globalizing Nodes of Restorative Justice

John Braithwaite, Australian National University

Global civil society works through micro processes of dialogue as described in Presser's paper. These micro processes rarely take over national criminal justice politics though they colonise them in limited ways. The dialogue normatively valued in Presser's paper mostly occur in the kinds of nodes described in Shearing's paper. There is in addition a global social movement for restorative justice. Its research nodes, which are among the things that glue it together, gather at places like meetings of the American Society of Criminology. Global social movement politics in the contemporary world is about networking nodal governance. The global social movement for restorative justice assists denizens with "knowing how to node". It networks nodes through conferences, the internet and distinctively by hospitality to travellers who sit in on restorative justice conferences and circles that share micro experiences. This develops a global vocabulary of shared emotions. And a culturally differentiated vocabulary that is to varying degrees mutually understood as well - mana, ubuntu. Instead of seeking to take over national justice systems, the global social movement for restorative justice in some senses seeks to colonise it with difference infiltrated through the ideal of dialogue.

Networked nodality perhaps poses lower risks of beautiful theories turning into ugly practices compared to projects that aspire to conquest over state institutions. Nevertheless, restorative justice advocates need to think more clearly about what forms of state support and partnership they must cultivate to be effective. This involves strategic collaborations with fragments of the crumbling Westphalian state. The micro-macro method advanced has some potential for understanding how transformative social movements can be influential. In addition, it is worth considering that it is not only true that some of the more promising interventions for organizing security are developed nodally; it is also true that some of the most damaging ways of organizing insecurity are managed nodally - terrorism, gangs, protection rackets, warlordism, drug markets, gun running, international tax avoidance/evasion strategies, people smuggling, corruption of banking systems. If the latter know how to node transnationally, while the US and British states believe they can solve these problems by behaving like Westphalian powers, what prospects security? The US spending more on its national defence and security than all 180 other states in the world system combined will not even make sense according to a Westphalian logic. Security from all kinds of violence for all in the world system requires not looking to the hyper-punitive Westphalian states as the solutions, but seeing them as the problem. Mary Kaldor puts us on the promising path in her New and Old Wars. This is the trajectory of nodal networking by seeking out islands of civility for global social movement (and IMF) support in the midst of a sea of violence. This was the strategy that toppled Milosovitch in Serbia; American bombs actually set back the cause of democracy in Serbia. Similarly in Palestine, a social movement for peace that seeks to expand islands of civility is the hopeful way forward; donating US tanks to the forces of incivility makes things worse. Finally, in the face of the hard national cases of the extraordinarily punitive histories of criminal justice in the high crime societies of the US (Presser) and South Africa (Shearing) networking nodes of transformative justice in schools, communities and workplaces is the slower but surer way forward than mounting assaults against the cracking but still formidable castle walls of the Westphalian state.

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Updated 05/20/2006