Policy Of Cooperation And Its Utility

ByM Ali Siddiqi

writer who contributes to leading periodicals


February 26, 2023

policy of cooperation and its utility

M Ali Siddiqi describes an apt Policy Of Cooperation And Its Utility

Human existence contains two essential components: conflict and cooperation. Both these strands run together and humanity revolves predominantly around them. While the human race has remained more concerned about conflict, cooperation eventually matters. Cooperation should be considered the essential element of the socio-political policy of cooperation and its utility cosmos even if it is not always achieved at the degree that would produce optimum results.

And cooperation is an action for the common benefit and significantly only human beings are able to cooperate and abide by collective rules for their common interests, including making exchanges for their mutual benefit, forming coalitions and stable organizations, making enforceable decisions on collective affairs, and living in large communities under shared norms. Cooperation in essence emphasizes the consensual nature of coexistence and it is considered an activity worth striving for.

Since times immemorial all fundamental issues of human existence face critical and crucial questions about the nature, motivation, and extent of cooperation for serving the common interest. It is widely acknowledged that cooperation is at the core of the issues of conviviality, democracy, peaceful coexistence between different communities, and the preservation of human life.

These attributes are required to be consistently appreciated renewed and sustained so that a cooperative global environment is achieved. This necessity has taken place owing to the other dimension of human existence It is generally assumed that conflict is pervasive and endemic in the socio-political structure in which the human race exists.

If human interactions are unconstrained, anyone, with the advantage of surprise, can try to impose their will on others. The main difficulty in this respect is that if this situation is allowed to continue then nothing comes out except perpetual chaos and its ruinous consequences.

Cooperative Actions And Mandating Rules

It is precisely to preclude such a possibility, it becomes imperative to try hard to achieve unilateral and group cooperation. Human beings, therefore, have devised ways and means to create an environment where cooperation is more conducive than coercion. They realize that people have agreed to create an all-pervasive structure with tools of coercion to enforce rules mandating cooperative actions that produce beneficial results for society as a whole.

It has been realized over time that people can rationally accept conditional consent through an agreed social contract aimed at arriving at an efficient outcome of civilization in which each can live in peace and security and this condition is sustainable. It is quite obvious that choosing confrontation, with an uncertain outcome, also entails the risk of becoming an absolute loser, as well as the costs of significant destruction on both sides.

In contrast, by anticipating the foreseeable consequences of their choices, the ruling dispensations are in a suitable position to offer conditional, retractable cooperation. Negotiations can lead to a provisional compromise, including the calling of a wide consensus that may not unduly favor any group or groups and may open further developments in favor of all the stakeholders.

The consistent human endeavor to keep up cooperation as its primary priority is certainly outstanding keeping in view that geographical states have mostly opted to prefer cooperation instead of conflict. This situation also is evident in international affairs as happened in the case of the Cold War but the spirit of cooperation prevailed as it successfully prevented a major clash by underlying cooperation. The balance of terror that emerged during the Cold War with nuclear weapons and the possibility of total destruction was really palpable and the stakes were so high.

Conflict Policy Of Cooperation And Its Utility

The recent example of cooperation being the dominant policy of cooperation and its utility for human existence came to the fore during the controversy about climate change that became a broad concern, leading many people to call to stop the planet from overheating. Yet some skepticism persisted regarding human agency in climate change and few governments were willing to deal with the problem by themselves.

Though the Kyoto Protocol was signed by many countries yet the most powerful countries initially refused to sign as their interests collided and it was difficult for them to cooperate in this very vital activity. However, with the passage of time, all stakeholders realized the abject need to cooperate for the larger interests of human beings.

It has become evident that conditions in which cooperation among different stakeholders for their common interest can emerge and hold up as has happened in many instances are best illustrated by competitive, non–zero-sum games that involve different combinations of cooperation and conflict. When mutual cooperation can produce gains for all stakeholders it is mentioned that the sum of the benefits is positive.

However, people may fail to cooperate with others even if cooperation would produce a better collective outcome for all the stakeholders. The lessons from efforts and attempts at cooperation are experienced by any group or community facing a cooperation problem among its members.

The state of civilization, democracy, peaceful coexistence, and conservation of the atmosphere can correspond to alternative, efficient, although somewhat vulnerable, outcomes of this type of activity produced by mutual cooperation. It is pointed out that the greater the uncertainty over the future relationship and the higher the number of interactions between the parties, the more conflict can diminish and mutual cooperation emerge and be sustained.

Difference Between Different Groups

If people are going to engage in repeated interactions it may make sense to try to cooperate in order to receive others’ cooperation in the future. A community or institutional setting in which everybody can expect to keep interacting with the same people regularly for some time in the future may include a city, the state or the world one is aware of living in and where one intends to stay.

In the long term, cooperation may spread and become the prevailing way of conduct and become sustainable. Cooperation can be substantiated in the form of collective action or a joint organization. It is indeed more intense and sustained among certain groups of people interacting for long periods of indefinite length.

If people reciprocate cooperation with cooperation in repeated interactions, they can build a good reputation for themselves that may move others to cooperate with them. Feelings of trust may emerge among people having information about others’ past actions and among new participants obtaining regular positive retribution for their conduct.

In the middle or long term, increasing and sustained cooperation among members of a community may induce them to construct institutional environments that limit individual competition and tend to homogenize the population. In this context, it is mentioned that the development of cooperation among members of a community requires some mutual commitment to stay within its contours.

If conversely, people living within the same institutional setting consider themselves as belonging to different groups with opposite goals, asymmetric relations of cooperation and conflict within the community can develop. The difference between groups can be based on language, race, ethnicity, religion, family or tribal traditions, contrary economic interests, or adversarial preferences for the location of public goods.  The Weekender


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