Inside This Issue
In moments of crisis, all thoughts are preoccupied with immediate remedies to meet urgent needs, rather than reflection on root causes and ultimate solutions. Yet history suggests that it is only when we are under supreme duress that we are willing to put all the cards on the table and consider the comprehensive and fundamental changes needed to effect permanent solutions. Thus, it required the dire circumstances of the Great Crash and the Great Depression to give birth to the New Deal reforms in America 75 years ago, which ushered in decades of financial stability, full employment and unprecedented prosperity. It required the destruction wrought by nationalist ambitions in two world wars to give birth to the UN system – faulty, no doubt, but sufficient to prevent a repetition of global war since 1945.
The current international crises in finance, employment, ecology, and nuclear weapons proliferation are clear indications that existing structures and policies for global governance are no longer sufficient. Old bargains have to be renegotiated on a more sound and equitable basis. The organs of international governance need to be democratized. “World in 2052” and “The Turn Towards Unity” examine the process of converting these global crises into unprecedented opportunities. Economic policy must tame the Wild West of financial speculation and compel market mechanisms to generate full employment and promote human welfare. The yawning gap between the real world and the discipline of economics has never been wider. “Rethinking Economics” and “Real Economies” point to fundamental changes in conception and values on which new economic theory needs to be founded.
While governments occupy themselves with short term bailouts, this is the time when original thinking is needed on long term solutions. Those solutions are most likely to be found in the evolutionary trends that have led to our highest present accomplishments. This issue of Cadmus begins with several short Seed Ideas highlighting new perspectives and untapped opportunities, a feature of the journal which we hope will become increasingly prominent in future issues. Society constitutes an invisible web of relationships. Its organized part is always complemented by an unorganized vastness which is largely unperceived but seething with potential. The organized portion is creative of structured social forces, wealth, knowledge and power. The crises we face today are the result of the failure of our global political and economic organizations to evolve with the needs of our times. “Organization Abolishes Scarcity”, “International Food Security” and “Brief History of ADR in the US” illustrate some of the many ways in which that organization can be extended and elevated to promote human welfare. Beyond the organized society lies an unorganized expanse from which unrealized potential continuously emerges. The perception of limits is always confined to the organized society. “Boundless Frontiers of Untold Wealth” explores the unimagined opportunity that lies beyond the veil.
These are times of greatest uncertainty about the future and uncertainty has always been regarded as the bane of human security. “Evolution of Wealth and Human Security: The Paradox of Uncertainty and Values” discloses the flip side of uncertainty, which is the source of untold creativity and wealth. Realizing this potential requires a change in perspective, a shift in values from the quest for immutable, natural economic laws governing the blind pursuit of money and monetarized growth to a focus on the intrinsic value and creative potential of human beings in quest for ever-expanding security, welfare and well-being – the real wealth of nations – that all humanity aspires for. It requires, too, the development of appropriate measures consistent with this shift in values and perspective. When growth focuses on people rather than things, the limits to growth give way to limitless growth. Values are not merely utopian ideals or ethical principles. They represent the quintessence of humanity’s past experience, the collective wisdom gathered through the ages.
Values are the principles on which all lasting human accomplishment is founded. The achievements of the last two centuries are consequences of the growing realization of freedom in human affairs. But freedom has resulted in rising levels of inequality and deprivation for others, which now threatens the stability and security of the social fabric. “The Moral Arc of History” traces the evolution of values and suggests we are on the cusp of revolutionary transition.
Rising expectations are the principal driving force for social development. However, the faster and higher aspirations rise, the greater the gap between expectations and reality. That gap promotes a sense of frustration, depravation and aggression leading to social unrest and violence. The opposite is also true: rising economic opportunity can mitigate or eliminate social unrest. “Rising Expectations, Social Unrest and Development” examines the potential of economic strategies to reduce social tensions and enhance social cohesion. “Mediation of Conflicts by Civil Society” explores the factors responsible for the remarkable decline in armed conflicts since the end of the Cold War and the role of civil society in peace-building activities. The relationship between the individual and the collective is crucial to social development. “In Search of Failure’s Silver Lining” explores ways in which prevailing social values and attitudes limit innovation and creativity.
This issue also introduces a new Books section containing a review of recent books on Global Governance as well as several reviews of recent publications on Green Growth.
We invite you to post your own Seed Ideas at www.seed-ideas.org.
Ivo Šlaus, Chairman Garry Jacobs, Managing Editor Orio Giarini, Editor-in-Chief