The End of Power November 4th 2013 United Nations New York


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  • The fragility of Emperor Constantius’s power had forewarned of the free fall of a great civilization to its last destiny of overwhelming decay.
  • If we define Aristotle as thefounding father of our civilization, we should remember that his philosophy is focused on the strong concept of a closed individual human being (substantia prima); for him relationship is a mere accidental category.
  • The End of Power November 4th 2013 United Nations New York

    1. 1. The End of Power Dr. Riccardo Colasanti Director, Rielo Institute for Integral Development (RIID) November 4, 2013
    2. 2. Introduction In his last book The End of Power (2013), Moises Naim shows us that power, from a global point of view, is decaying. Naim argues that we are living in a world where the economic, political and religious historical powers are less free to operate and are conditioned by mass-media and social media as never before.
    3. 3. There is a central question if we focus on western democracies: Does less power mean a positive evolution of liberal democracy, or is this a symptom of a terminal decay?
    4. 4. Positive Effects: 1. The End of Power may mean more “checks and balances” fundamental to democracy 2. Less representation,
    5. 5. Beppe Grillo (right), leader of the MoViemento Cinque Stelle (M5S) An example: M5S In the 2013 elections (Chamber of Deputies), M5S (Five Star Movement) reached 25.55% of the vote in Italy and 9.67% of overseas voters, for a total of
    6. 6. M5S Denies Representative Democracy: Elected Political Expert Citizen Citizen Citizen Citizen Citizen Citizen Citizen
    7. 7. … and fosters Direct Democracy: Nobody speaks for others One is worth One Direct Democracy = E-Democracy
    8. 8. Negative Effects: But what about the second possibility? What if this decay of power is the expression of a sickness of liberal societies? The moment of a transition to a new, different social structure? The first sign of the fall of a civilization?
    9. 9. Power becomes fragile in pre-revolution times … revolutions start up, a new strong power is created, and a new order Thereafter, substitutes the previous one.
    10. 10. Example: The Fall of the Roman Empire
    11. 11. The Roman Emperor Constantius II is the typical example of a big power, with no limits: Nevertheless, the 4th century Roman historian, Ammianus tells us that before Constantius, the emperor and supreme leader, could propose an advantageous peace agreement to the Alamanni (354 a.d.), he had to beg permission from all of his army, using the rhetoric of humility and flattery and not the usual words that we should expect from an emperor.
    12. 12. Emperor Constantius II remarks to his troops: “and I believe that there are many reason why, if I have your approval, it [peace treaty] should be granted.”
    13. 13. Fifty years later: Alaric, King of Goths, sacked Rome with his army
    14. 14. France, 1787 … King Louis XVI, still the expression of the absolute power of the monarchy in France, summoned a representation of notables to assure support for the new tax reform.
    15. 15. The assembly that was created to support a reform, where the members were selected by Calonne (his Finance Minister), floundered. Calonne was dismissed and exiled. The absolute king’s power was only formal. Even the elite close to him, denied the
    16. 16. Five years later the King’s head felt down into the basket and was shown to thousands of people gathered to see the execution at Place de la Concorde.
    17. 17. By the way …
    18. 18. Revolutions are not anticipated Twenty five years ago … Tmur Kuran, at the University of Southern California, published a paper showing that: “A feature shared by certain major revolutions is that they were not anticipated” not only to the political power but even to the leaders of revolutions
    19. 19. 1917 Russian Revolution Indeed, in the early days of 1917, Lenin told an audience in Switzerland that older men like himself would not live to see Russia's great explosion.
    20. 20. February Revolution 1917 October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution
    21. 21. Just three days before the Romanov dynasty was over- thrown … the British Ambassador cabled his Foreign Minister: “Some disorders occurred today, but nothing serious.”
    22. 22. Adbuster October 10, 2013
    23. 23. End of Power or End of Consent to Power?
    24. 24. Power needs consent Power does not exist without consent and trust. Consent is coessential with power.
    25. 25. Even the Mafia’s Godfather, without the trust of his fellow, is just a puppet.
    26. 26. Decay of Power? Nobody can deny that the trust of the electors is vanishing everywhere: fewer people vote, in fewer people trust their government. Decay of power or decay of consent to actual power?
    27. 27. People understand that: something is wrong … something is not working … something has to be changed …
    28. 28. Sickness of Democracy Is the acute crisis of Democracy the outcome of some bad events: (financial, political, hegemonical)? or Is it a genetic disease of our civilization?
    29. 29. Two “genetic” problems in Democracy: 1. People think that freedom and equality will solve every social problem. 2. We have limited civil human relations to the realm of the free market.
    30. 30. Will freedom and equality solve every social problem? While freedom and equality are necessary conditions for a wonderful society, at the same time, they are not sufficient to achieve the goal of a society rich in meaning and worthy to be lived; in order to “pursue happiness”… something is missing.
    31. 31. Limiting civil human relations to the realm of the free market: While the society of freedom puts forth a strong definition of the “individual human being”… at the same time, the concept of relationship is blurry: civil relationships among humans … cannot be limited to swap
    32. 32. Indeed, in many cases, the model of society as a “Free Market” is a herd of Selfish Egoist Beings, with: no present, no past, no future.
    33. 33. yet, at the same time: in the “Society of Equality”, like Marxist societies, the group is more important than the individual: equality constrains liberty.
    34. 34. Grounding the best society on the closedness of the individual (free society) or of the group (equal society) does not work: it is a nightmare. Everywhere prevails fears and rage
    35. 35. We need a new paradigm
    36. 36. Not of Violence, Guns or Sticks To prevent a revolution, or the fall of the empire, we have to fix the contradictions deeply rooted in our modern civilization.
    37. 37. Fixing Identity with Relationship: Fixing the Principle of Identity with the Principle of Complementarity
    38. 38. Maybe the “End of Power” is the twilight of the old empire, or maybe it is a forewarning of the dawn of a new society: not the or the the where the central dogma is the radical exaltation of individual human being totalitarian exaltation of group.