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The Financial Express

The apocalypse is here


-Representational image -Representational image

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been one of the, if not first person to publicly state a truism profound in its implications. The Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was unemotional in eschewing that a New Order is needed by the world. In doing so she said what is normally expected of political leaders of the world but who haven't delivered. They are fearful of the challenges of treading a careful balance between big-business and geo-political interests. On paper their qualifications, education and experience are frankly unsuited for the thinking that will be required for the New Normal. The phrase brought to the fore by a pandemic that is out of control, has befuddled scientists and flummoxed economists, has consequences that are beyond them.

It's not that Ms Iweala has the answers. As a trained economist with a list of illustrious achievements to boot, the Nigerian obviously has the credentials to speak the way she does. Her comment is diametrically opposite Boris Johnson's view of restoring 'order' that he chimed prior to the G7 Summit. If anything, the takeout from the summit, apart from suggesting trillions of finances into economies, is that the G-7, G-20, the United Nations and its branches have to an extent no clues about what to do. Iweala has the right idea; Johnson and the present world leaders are barking up the wrong tree.

The current order was dreamt up shortly before World War II ended. Ensconced in the idyllic surrounds of Breton Woods in the United States, a host of some 140 plus countries took stock of what the world should be like. Given that wars, religions and crucially natural resources were the root causes, the meeting essentially divided the world and distributed portfolios for countries and regions, The leaders were left to decide their way forward, placate their electorates and settle their own internal internecine conflicts. The formation of the League of Nations, later to become the United Nations was always to be dominated by a few through that dastardly veto powers that made critical decisions a bargaining chip for the few. A cardinal mistake was not listening to the voice of those that deride democracy, espoused communism, socialism and religions beyond Christianity. Technological possibilities beyond nuclear power and to an extent computing, the major off-shoot of mathematics, were approached from a blinkered view. The religion card was never openly proclaimed. The glittering beckoning of business was. It wasn't by chance that the dollar became the currency of choice and still is.

Areas and countries where populations later exploded, the Mavericks and dictators that emerged as a result of the limited view of where fossil fuel extraction would head to weren't taken into serious consideration. Above all the broader texture of science was not threaded in. Bit by bit. Chip by chip the inadequacies were exposed and still ignored. Bandages were applied such as regime, covert operations and force. 'People's mandates' were achieved through cover of meeting basic demands. These have met with some success. With every process, there are slippages that ultimately undermine process itself.

The learning from history about evolution and human adaptability was under-estimated. As the world stutters and almost grinds to a halt, the pathetic efforts to return to the old order fails one after another. Every sector of life, driven exclusively by economic considerations be it Travel, sport, apparel, food, water, forests and more continue to be confounded by nature. It isn't technology, medicine, trade or armaments where the solution lies. The new order must be dictated by the existentialist theory of making the planet habitable, liveable and sustainable. It provides for what we have, do and enjoy. We can and have destroyed its ability to regenerate as we know it. What we don't know is how it can and will evolve without humanity. Our education systems moved from learning to stifling free thought. Incremental thinking has driven all the changes. That's why a new order tinkering with the old is destined for failure. Climate Change, unless addressed will redraw the world map and re-describe the resources over which wars have been waged. The future conflicts won't be solved militarily because balance has been achieved and irritating new Maverick states have found their way to becoming of danger, even to the few.

Jo Biden's wish to re-establish the United States as the Global leader is under challenge. What he must realise is that global leadership is under challenge. With platforms for voices there will be more peaceful and violent opposition. Ms Iweala has seen it all as politician, World Bank, third world experience and vaccination that saved thirteen million lives. Process engineering works when it is known. The world must redefine the process anew before engineering the changes it needs. The input must come from the next generation.

As Sir David King reckons, Reduce, Repair, and Restoring (from) the evils of Climate Change in the next five years must be the priority. Any changes to the World Order come second in the priority list. That has to be the thought process for inner-forces that decide World leadership. The people's' views aren't the deciding factor whether in democracy or any other ism in choosing true leaders. Leaders are needed that can reflect on really meeting those views, conflicting goals of business and governments and sustainability of the planet. 

 

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