Unless you are an anarchist, you probably appreciate a little bit of state in your life – the collective force that upholds public order, guarantees your personal security and protects your private property. In the 17th century, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes asked what would happen if individuals were allowed to interact with each other in the absence of a powerful state apparatus, that is in the absence of a Leviathan. He asserted that competition, jealousy and selfishness would lead to a war of all against all, making, in his now famous words, the life of man “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. For generations that have never witnessed civil war, this seems exaggerated, but it serves to illustrate the dangers associated with leaderless political communities. In the future, the global order might be characterized exactly by this absence of leadership. (more…)
The teetering Eurozone and the unstable global economy are the biggest issues facing the world today, said business, academic and governmental leaders this week. Following close behind, however, was resource scarcity, which ranked No. 4 among the top 10 global trends leaders named in the Global Agenda Survey, run by the World Economic Forum Network of Global Agenda Councils, and released Tuesday. Although the list was mostly dominated by political and economic concerns, some key sustainability issues were at the top of leaders’ minds. Climate change also made it into the top 10, although the timing of the survey – which was taken before Hurricane Sandy hit New York City – may have kept climate issues from climbing higher on the list, which captures the opinions, insights and expertise of the 900 global experts here in Dubai for the Summit on the Global Agenda.
Forget the G-8, the G-20, the United Nations and all other initiatives of global cooperation – in the emerging global order every nation fights for itself. At the World Economic Forum in Dubai few were as outspoken in the exclusion of the possibility of truly global cooperation as Dr. Ian Bremmer, who argues that it is to the benefit of nobody to close one’s eyes to the volatility, insecurity and humanitarian casualties that arise as ever fewer nations have the capacity and none have the willingness to exercise global leadership. (more…)
Also known as the braintrust of the World Economic Forum, the Global Agenda Council participants here in Dubai are an assemblage of what some would call the world’s brightest, most accomplished, and most intelligent. We have taken the chance to meet and speak with Nobel Prize winners, CEO’s, NGO founders, professors and etc. As my first event coverage as an editor, it has been energizing to see our reporters develop their thoughts from these meetings the past three days, which will be published as podcasts and blogposts in the following weeks. Personally, maybe because I am an academic researcher, I also find valuable the stock of knowledge that the Forum has been collecting before and during the summit, with the Global Agenda Councils. For example, just yesterday, the Global Agenda Survey was released.
As I start to comb through the attendance list of the Summit, I find myself excited to see the shape of the conversations that will begin here tomorrow. Almost a thousand of the world’s smartest people have descended upon the Madinat Jumeirah Convention Centre – a modern kasbah. I recognize many of the names on the lists of the various councils – typically they are people who I have long admired for their personal and professional achievements. I am hopeful that this gathering of some of the world’s greatest minds, attempting to digest the current state of affairs, will yield tangible results that will increase the quality of life for the masses. The mood becomes more reverent as I walk around the Global Agenda Councils’ meeting space.
Economic paradigms come and go. The seemingly endless debate between neo-liberals and –Keynesians in the past century provides a fascinating account of this. It shows that there must be words in economic debate other than last words – that no matter how certain an insight might seem in a particular instance, it will likely be proved wrong in the myriad combinations of circumstances that history inevitably yields. The essence of capitalism evolves around the centrality of profit, which in many ways is the very reason it has outcompeted its economic alternatives. Few would disagree with the central claim of University of Chicago’s Milton Friedman’s controversial essay on social responsibility (New York Times Magazine) that the paramount social objective of any business is to achieve profits within its legal constraints.