There may be some sense or hope, despite evidence to the contrary, that the turbulent events of the twentieth century have settled into a broadly liberal order for the twenty-first century, and afford the prospect of a quiet life of dealing with known problems in an orderly and progressive fashion. The approach suggested by the ideas of coping and conformity only admits that there is some prospect of conformity being employed to support coping with what can only ever be a fundamentally indeterminate political order. The notion of a finally settled order, even when an order can be discerned, is undermined by the mutuality of governance and resistance. The idea of environmental imperialism tests the uncertain location of politics and hence the role of states, and raises questions about how universalizing dynamics of global governance can align with particular political contexts. Processes of governance and resistance may define themselves in relations to authoritative structures of government, but the notion of government is put off-balance by processes which it does not directly capture or on which it is ultimately dependent, and even less structured notions of governance are dependent on agent-centred processes. If governance is to be effective it must acknowledge the sources of resistance to it, and in this sense ecological governance in particular is peopleoriented (Ramos 1997). If resistance is to be effective it is likely to be rooted in everyday experiences and practices, rather than in a framework of government (Scott 1985). If uncertainties about governance and resistance create insecurity arising from the absence of stable political foundations, it is an insecurity we’ll have to learn to live with. The risks arise when particular solutions are substituted for political exchange, and in this sense the urge to conformity may not support coping if the coping agents are stripped from the governance structures of conformity. The necessary balance of agency and structure in governance relations is precisely what determines the mutuality of governance and resistance, occasionally illustrated by counter-intuitive signs of a shift in political relations, such as in the Bali negotiations on global climate policy when the United States was embarrassed into joining the consensus by the Papua New Guinea delegate (Newsvine 2008) – an indication of how structural opportunities in discourse may allow agents to generate a reversal of power dynamics. Conformity will not do away with the need to cope, though it may be deployed to enable coping if there is sufficient participation. Nor can an imposed conformity satisfy political demands: ‘liberalism was to be an

instrument for the active socialization of states, by holding out to them the costs in lost sovereignty of their failure to conform’ (Clark 2001: 237). Clark notes the ‘paradoxes that emerged in the effort to sustain a liberal order by means of its own inherent appeal’ (2001: 239) in terms of the inability to demonstrate liberal ideals in other than rhetorical terms, and yet contradicting those ideals with every effort to impose them – which nicely reflects the underlying paradox of liberalism: anything goes, as long as it’s liberal. Global governance seems an admirable goal on the face of it, so it would have to be explained why it is often viewed as just another neoimperialist intrigue. If global governance is presented as an element of conformity to support coping, in particular with global problems, it may survive the challenge. The patterns of resistance may suggest that the global space of politics is uncertain, that traditional state actors are thus dislocated, and that our understandings of world politics may need re-framing accordingly. This less-than-stable political situation may reflect contradictions in the process of globalization, and a consequent blend of political motivations.