Thinking global = personal commitment

In the past few weeks I have heard from two friends who are relocating to Rwanda and Kazakhstan respectively. After the initial surprise, I wondered why and what the reasons were for making these big changes for both of these friends and their families. I also wondered:

a) Was it something I/we said?
b) I have interesting friends?
c) What can I/we do to help out if they need help in their new countries?

I have long had personal interest in development aid along the lines of self help projects and “teach a man how to fish” lines. I have very mixed feelings about the impact of globalisation and for more than 10 years now have been reading up on the topic.

Some of my key reading has been books like

  • “The Future of Capitalism” by Lester Thurow, 1996;
  • Peter Druckers “Post Capitalist Society” 1993, & “Management Challenges for the 21st Century” from 1999
  • “The Case Against the Global Economy” essays edited by Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith, 1996;
  • “Building a Win-Win World – Life Beyond Global Economic Warfare” by Hazel Henderson, 1996;
  • “Banker to the Poor” by Muhammad Yunus, 1998;
  • “One World Ready or Not” – The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism by William Greider, 1997;
  • and various others by Peter Drucker, Kevin Kelly and others including
  • Paul Omerod’s “Butterfly Economics” from 1998.

These have all contributed to a general sense of unease with the way that we as privileged consumers in the Western developed world act and the wider implications of this all. (Check the form to see where you rate on a global rich scale.)

In August ’05 I had the joy of hearing John Ralston Saul speak about his analysis of the global situation at the launch of his book “The Collapse of Globalism” and the Reinvention of the World. John Ralston Saul is articulate, persuasive and optimistic.

Collapse of Globalism His speech was one of the most eloquent and useful summaries of what works, what doesn’t and more importantly why and what we can start to do about it. Naturally I had to have the book and quickly found out that it is not an easy read at all.

By that, I mean that each idea or argument requires careful thought and ultimately a commitment to personal change that we resist for all types of well intended reasons. (Full list of non fiction by Saul.)

Towards the end of the book, Saul quotes Barack Obama whom he caught early in his career at a speech in 2003..

“instead of having a set of policies that are equipping people for the globalisation of the economy, we have policies that are accelerating the most destructive trends of the global economy”

Saul points out the similarities to ideas from Adam Smith and continues his thesis

“that the globalist crisis has been caused by a mixture of of idealogy, which should only be taken half seriously and bad management, which ought not to be have been taken seriously at all.”

Anyway, my perception is that the debate on balanced development, and what that means globally and locally is a debate worth having and so starting this week we have a new category on development.

I will continue to write about other topic areas but sometimes you just have to go where your heart is.

So to Peter in Rwanda and Tim in Kazakhstan – thanks for your example and we wish you all the best in your new adventures. Here’s to the reinvention of the world on a personally meaningful and global basis.