10 September 2010

Free Market Diplomacy? The Virtue of Heresy

Carne Ross: An independent diplomat Video on TED.com

Dear Reader!!

This is one of the best videos I've watched on TED so far. In fact, for me it connects two concepts that I've never previously connected:
1) the role of the state in negotiating international relationships, and;
2) free-market style innovation, competition, and creative destruction.

I can't recommend this video highly enough.

He even touches on the supra-national agents that are the power-holders for the 21st century--including NGOs, political groups connected by ideology instead of geography, and even multi-national corporations. In a way, it's a road map for how the world might look without nations.

Is that a funny thought? Does it make you nervous? It's both for me. And then I ask: Should it be so unthinkable or laughable?

Why are nations any more sacred than kingdoms, or ancient empires? And how are nations any different than, say, all the customers of AT&T versus all the customers of Sprint? (Except of course, that they have armies--but I'm talking just the concepts, not the expression of their power.) We're accustomed to customer populations (and, to hear these customers argue, systems of belief) overlapping, and interacting. Why not political power? In a world where we can connect technologically, why are we bound geographically instead of ideologically? How would that look when translated to a physical world? Who are the advocates under such a system, and who are the holders of power? And what does that power take?

This will certainly affect us 50 years from now, or even 10 years from now. Which means it affects the decisions we make now, for how to orient ourselves (or our investment portfolios) to be flexible and adaptable to such creative destruction.

I've been thinking lately about the concept of heresy. This came about as I began to explore the Sufi poets, particularly the 13th century poet Rumi, who's love poems extolling his male partner are the source of great controversy. In his poems, Rumi suggests that all progress comes from heretics, and--to grossly oversimply--that the "objective" of religious thought should be to become a heretic. I love this idea.

It seems no different to me than creative destruction and competition in the capitalist world. Why not apply such progress to religious thinking? Can you imagine where we'd be with religious thought if we adopted such a view? Might we have progressed much farther in the 5,000 years since the ancient Egyptians? Look how far such creative destruction, and innovation, has brought us with computers, or transportation, in the last 150. Imagine what wonders we might see, in such a spiritually rich, heretical, universe...

No comments: