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22 Ideas to Fix the World

22 Ideas to Fix the World: Conversations with the World's Foremost Thinkers

Piotr Dutkiewicz
Richard Sakwa
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 480
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  • Book Info
    22 Ideas to Fix the World
    Book Description:

    The aftershocks of the 2008 financial crisis still reverberate throughout the globe. Markets are down, unemployment is up, and nations from Greece to Ireland find their very infrastructure on the brink of collapse. There is also a crisis in the management of global affairs, with the institutions of global governance challenged as never before, accompanied by conflicts ranging from Syria, to Iran, to Mali. Domestically, the bases for democratic legitimacy, social sustainability, and environmental adaptability are also changing. In this unique volume from the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations and the Social Science Research Council, some of the world's greatest minds - from Nobel Prize winners to long-time activists - explore what the prolonged instability of the so-called Great Recession means for our traditional understanding of how governments can and should function. Through interviews that are sure to spark lively debate,22 Ideas to Fix the Worldpresents both analysis of past geopolitical events and possible solutions and predictions for the future.The book surveys issues relevant to the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Speaking from a variety of perspectives, including economic, social, developmental, and political, the discussions here increase our understanding of what's wrong with the world and how to get it right. Interviewees explore topics like the Arab Spring, the influence of international financial organizations, the possibilities for the growth of democracy, the acceleration of global warming, and how to develop enforceable standards for market and social regulation. These inspiring exchanges from some of our most sophisticated thinkers on world policy are honest, brief, and easily understood, presenting thought-provoking ideas in a clear and accessible manner that cuts through the academic jargon that too often obscures more than it reveals.22 Ideas to Fix the Worldis living history in the finest sense - a lasting chronicle of the state of the global community today.Interviews with: Zygmunt Bauman, Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan, Craig Calhoun, Ha-Joon Chang, Fred Dallmayr, Mike Davis, Bob Deacon, Kemal Dervis, Jiemian Yang, Peter J. Katzenstein, Ivan Krastev, Will Kymlicka, Manuel F. Montes, Jose Antonio Ocampo, Vladimir Popov, Jospeh Stiglitz, Olzhas Suleimenov, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Immanuel Wallerstein, Paul Watson, Vladimir Yakunin, Muhammad Yunus

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-9750-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Piotr Dutkiewicz

    It is trivial at this point to state that the world is in crisis. The aftereffects of the most recent global financial crisis continue to have major implications for the lives of tens of millions of people around the world, just as they continue to influence the fate of policymakers, political systems, and corporate behavior. Myriad other global crises—of democracy, governance, ecology, and inequality, among others—all contribute to a precarious present. Quite simply, we live in uncertain times—in a sort of ‘inter-regnum’ between old and new ruling paradigms.

    This book is about ideas on how to cope...


    • 1 “All human beings have unlimited potential, unlimited capacity, unlimited creative energy”
      (pp. 3-16)
      MUHAMMAD YUNUS and Piotr Dutkiewicz

      Muhammad Yunus is famous as an economist and a philanthropist, but he takes issue with both labels and with the way that mainstream economics and philanthropy are practiced.* He sees poverty, an issue he has sought to tackle in his writing and through his business endeavors, as a systemic problem that robs individuals of their capacity for self-realization. He argues that only in a system that values money above all else and sees humans as atomized, selfish actors can ills like poverty and unemployment be seen as natural or even desirable. He argues that most economics excludes the possibility of...

    • 2 “Minority rights are a part of human rights”
      (pp. 17-34)
      WILL KYMLICKA and Raffaele Marchetti

      A world-renowned expert on minority politics, Will Kymlicka delves into a number of aspects of his field in this revealing and ultimately hopeful conversation with Raffaele Marchetti. The political theorist sees inequality, both social and economic, as one of the main problems facing the modern world. He briefly traces the history of modern multiculturalism and argues that progress, albeit fragile, has been made globally through the proliferation of various iterations of the idea of human rights. Now, he argues, the challenge is to convince majority groups that social relations with minorities are not a zero-sum game and that society as...


    • 3 “We can have faster economic growth if we reduce inequality”
      (pp. 37-56)
      JOSEPH STIGLITZ and Shari Spiegel

      The Nobel laureate and renowned economist Joseph Stiglitz has long been a critic of many aspects of mainstream economic theory and policy. Here he delves into the history and failures of modern macroeconomics, which, most recently, failed to either foresee or address effectively the global economic crisis. He argues that other areas of economics have developed theories, such as behavioral economics and new paradigms of monetary economics, which can serve as building blocks for a new framework. Two areas that were not well-addressed in the standard paradigm and need to be addressed in new economic thinking are sustainability and inequality....

    • 4 “If you make consistent, gradual changes, they can add up to something enormous”
      (pp. 57-69)
      HA-JOON CHANG and Manuel F. Montes

      Always one to give frank opinions about all matters economic, Ha-Joon Chang offers a no-holds-barred assessment of the current state of economic practice and theory. The diagnosis: neither is in good shape. While the recession, contrary to popular belief, is over in many countries, the crisis is not. Chang argues that if any theory had failed as badly in practice as free market economics, it would have been discredited and even banned, and yet, even in the face of the crisis, this idea persists. Taking issue with the field of economics and the elites who benefit from free markets, he...

    • 5 “The new order is being born, but the old order is still strong”
      (pp. 70-92)
      JOSÉ ANTONIO OCAMPO and Vladimir Popov

      In a discussion that spans regions, economic systems, and modes of analysis, José Antonio Ocampo analyzes a changing global economic order. In clear terms, but without resorting to simplification, he outlines the primary challenges facing the global community in the wake of the current crisis and makes a number of suggestions for regulatory and systemic changes that might bring some degree of stability and predictability to an out-of-control system without taking the wind out of the sails of the market. Some of these, like increased oversight of cross-border finance and an increased social role for global institutions, may find many...


    • 6 “This is not Planet Earth; it’s Planet Ocean”
      (pp. 95-110)
      PAUL WATSON and Jan Dutkiewicz

      Veteran environmental activist Paul Watson offers a provocative, counterintuitive, and iconoclastic view of the state of an environment in crisis. Basing his analysis on a long-term conception of ecological history as well as recent examples of environmental crises, his central premise is that the environmental movement is not about saving the planet itself but saving the planet as it is for future human generations. From this perspective, the planet will survive environmental degradation and eventually evolve new life, but it is the human race that may not adapt fast enough. This view clashes with our dominant approaches to protecting the...

    • 7 “We need to become a planet of gardeners … to make our cities function as integral parts of nature”
      (pp. 111-135)
      MIKE DAVIS and Joe Day

      A stalwart of the American left, Mike Davis is not known for pulling punches, and he does not hold back in a wide-ranging discussion that covers population growth, urban decay, the end of U.S. hegemony, and the need for utopian thinking. In connecting the proverbial dots between many of the existential problems facing the world, he argues that they create synergies among themselves. Throughout, Davis’s contention is that many of the ideas, models, and even technologies needed to address our various crises already exist but have often been forgotten, marginalized, or co-opted in the interests of profit and power. Davis...

    • 8 “We are all interdependent on this earth”
      (pp. 136-149)
      OLZHAS SULEIMENOV and Rustem Zhangozha

      In this interview with one of Kazakhstan’s most renowned poets and public figures, Olzhas Suleimenov, Professor Rustem Zhangozha seeks insight from inside the Central Asian region into its recent social and political history. This conversation paints a dynamic picture of political and cultural contestation under Soviet rule and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Spanning a wide range of topics, including perestroika, the European Union, antinuclear activism, and the potential for Central Asian unification, this conversation not only provides insight into this dynamic region but provides us with ideas on how lessons learned from its politics might be applied...

    • 9 “Think communally”
      (pp. 150-166)
      VLADIMIR YAKUNIN and Vladimir Kulikov

      In a rare interview, the Russian businessman and philanthropist Vladimir Yakunin shares his unique worldview with Vladimir Kulikov. Yakunin argues that the current global paradigm of human relations (interpersonal, international, and relating to the world’s environment and resources) is a predatory one. Eschewing mainstream critiques of capitalism, he argues that such predation occurs in both the East and the West. He suggests that predominant ideologies based on rampant individual consumption and the satisfaction of self-interest not only undermines social stability but can be harmful to capitalism itself. In opposition to what he terms “wild capitalism,” Yakunin proposes a focus on...


    • 10 “Recognize the structural crisis of the world-system”
      (pp. 169-185)
      IMMANUEL WALLERSTEIN and Kevan Harris

      In a conversation that revisits and expands upon ideas that he has worked on throughout his career, Immanuel Wallerstein reflects on a world-system in crisis. He explains the origins and current applications of his seminal notion of a world-systems analysis and applies it to the current geopolitical landscape. He argues that U.S. hegemony is indeed in decline, and much more visibly so today than in past decades, but that this decline should not be thought of as precipitous, nor should the United States be thought of as no longer a leading world power. On the other hand, the fate of...

    • 11 “Re-create the social state”
      (pp. 186-201)
      ZYGMUNT BAUMAN and Vincent Della Sala

      In this challenging discussion with Vincent Della Sala, the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman focuses on the state of flux—the interregnum—in which the world finds itself. He suggests that we are seeing an increasing separation between politics and power, between the means available to enact change and the vastness of the problems that need to be addressed. In this new world, we are living through what he terms aliquid modernity, where change is the only constant and uncertainty the only certainty. This is a world with no teleology but also one far from an end of history. In this...

    • 12 “Create global social policy”
      (pp. 202-218)
      BOB DEACON and Rianne Mahon

      In a frank conversation, Bob Deacon, a preeminent expert on global social policy, explains the history of the concept as theory, policy, and practice, focusing primarily on welfarist policies since the acceleration of globalization in the 1970s. He argues that some problems, like disease, migration, and trade, cannot be dealt with at the level of the state and require international cooperation between states, supranational organizations, and nongovernmental organizations, acting both locally and in the global arena. Calling on his own involvement in the development of such processes, he explains the difficulties of such initiatives and makes a number of concrete...

    • 13 “Understand that power is diffuse and change is constant”
      (pp. 219-244)
      PETER J. KATZENSTEIN and Raffaele Marchetti

      A preeminent expert on international political economy, Peter Katzenstein offers a nuanced analysis of the current state of world power. Shying away from both misplaced optimism and economic apocalypticism, he argues that the main trend facing the modern, crisis-riddled world is a diffusion of power around the globe and among a range of actors on the international stage. Starting from such an actor-based approach, he argues that many of the woes facing the world today were not caused by concepts like “the market” or “the crisis” but rather by a set of interactions among actors. Indeed he suggests that the...


    • 14 “People want and need solidarity and social reproduction”
      (pp. 247-265)
      CRAIG CALHOUN and Monika Krause

      In this unique take on the nature of modern political economy, Craig Calhoun argues that the ongoing crisis is not simply a crisis of capitalism but is instead a crisis of the modern “package” that linked politics, economics, and social relations in a specific way. Bringing a sociologist’s sensibility to the issue, he claims that the most worrisome aspect of the crisis is the fact that it poses a grave threat to what he termssocial reproduction, namely the institutions and systems that support education, health care, and other goods underpinning social welfare and solidarity. He points out that different...

    • 15 “It is increasingly difficult to anticipate the future of democracy by looking back at its past”
      (pp. 266-285)
      IVAN KRASTEV and Richard Sakwa

      In a conversation with Richard Sakwa, Ivan Krastev paints a picture of not only a shifting global social and political landscape but of a new iteration of modernity itself. He argues that the modern crisis is unique in that public trust in both the market and political elites has been shaken simultaneously, leaving us to contend with a politics without real alternatives and with weak democracies. He traces five “revolutions” that distinguish the current modernity and suggests that, after the fall of the Soviet Union, we have arrived not at Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” but rather at the “end...

    • 16 “Genuine dialogue requires not only talking but a great deal of listening”
      (pp. 286-302)
      FRED DALLMAYR and Ghoncheh Tazmini

      Fred Dallmayr has written and lectured extensively about the need to respect plurality and foster dialogue among cultures, civilizations, and religions. In a thought-provoking conversation with Ghoncheh Tazmini, he expands upon many of the major themes of his life’s work in the context of continuing political crises. Challenging the prevalent either/or approaches used in mainstream accounts of current political events, he offers a more nuanced approach to philosophy and politics that gets at the context and meaning of events. In light of the Arab Spring and persistent American antagonism with Iran, he argues that Islam and democracy are not inherently...


    • 17 “People who want to change things must keep pushing for change”
      (pp. 305-325)
      MANUEL F. MONTES and Adrian Pabst

      Manuel F. Montes brings a wealth of academic knowledge and a long list of credentials at various international and intergovernmental organizations to bear on the current economic crisis in this discussion with Adrian Pabst. He argues that the Asian crisis of 1997 was in many ways a “dress rehearsal” for the current global crisis and was barely confined to the developing world. In the case of both crises, he suggests, the problem was both a massive deferral on matters political and economic to the financial sector and the foisting of excessively large loans on creditors by rapacious financiers. The current...

    • 18 “Capitalism as a mode of power”
      (pp. 326-352)

      In a unique two-pronged dovetailing discussion, frequent collaborators and coauthors Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler discuss the nature of contemporary capitalism. Their central argument is that the dominant approaches to studying the market—liberalism and Marxism—are as flawed as the market itself. Offering a historically rich and analytically incisive critique of the recent history of capitalism and crisis, they suggest that instead of studying the relations of capital to power we must conceptualize capitalaspower if we are to understand the dynamics of the market system. This approach allows us to examine the seemingly paradoxical workings of the...


    • 19 “The best approach to economic development is pragmatism”
      (pp. 355-376)
      JOMO KWAME SUNDARAM and Vladimir Popov

      Few people understand as well as Jomo Kwame Sundaram the economics of development and the field of development economics and have his range of analytical experience in the field. In this historically rooted and policy-oriented interview, he delves into the characteristics of development and growth. He argues that in examining development we should look to difference, context, and history rather than to economic formulas or one-size-fits-all policies. He outlines the challenges and opportunities facing many developing countries, including their relationship to developed countries, existing power structures, and global financial and monetary mechanisms. Within this context, he suggests that commonly held...

    • 20 “Developing countries can bring in advanced technology and actively catch up with developed countries”
      (pp. 377-393)
      KEMAL DERVIŞ and Kemal Kirişci

      An expert on economic trends, poverty, and governance, Kemal Derviş focuses in his discussion with Kemal Kirişci on a number of such issues. One of his primary concerns is the paradoxical parallel reduction of the per capita income gap between developed and developing states and the increase in the income gap within states. The very same trends driving growth in general are, he argues, responsible for allowing developing countries to catch up and reduce global poverty, while allowing for a dangerous concentration of wealth among a small group of elites. While he champions the power of the market and sound...

    • 21 “Because the Chinese growth model became so successful in ensuring catch-up development it has become extremely appealing in the developing world”
      (pp. 394-413)
      VLADIMIR POPOV and Piotr Dutkiewicz

      Vladimir Popov brings decades of policymaking and analytical experience to bear on the current state of the global economy. He argues that while the global economy is highly unstable, capitalism itself is not in crisis. In fact he suggests that there have been periods in recent history when socioeconomic instability has been greater than today. On the other hand, he points to the dramatic decrease in the power of labor and growing social inequality in developed and developing world, as well as the continuing underregulation of finance, as worrisome aspects of the contemporary state of Western capitalism. Looking to the...

    • 22 “Developing countries are in an unprecedentedly strong position in the world economy”
      (pp. 414-424)
      YANG JIEMIAN and Xin Li

      The rise of China is, for the most part, either overhyped or downplayed, depending on the context and the economic and political opinions of the commentator. Yet fairly infrequently are Chinese experts actually consulted. In this detailed interview, Jiemian Yang delves into the importance of China and other emerging developing economies in the contemporary global context. This is an assessment of China as a major global player, inexorably linked to developed states yet one that needs to modify its existing policies to become a true global player. Professor Yang also makes the bold claim that the current global crisis, rather...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 425-434)
    Richard Sakwa

    If there is a single central feature of the Great Recession as outlined in these conversations, it is that the contemporary crisis is one of the reproduction of social forms and ideas, if not of the social and environmental bases for the sustainable development of humanity itself. This comes out explicitly in the conversation between Craig Calhoun and Ivan Krause but is evident throughout the others. This brief conclusion will draw out some of the key elements of this multiple crisis of reproduction.

    The first is a crisis of the reproduction of the future. As Ivan Krastev notes, time horizons...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 435-442)
  14. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 443-454)
  15. Index
    (pp. 455-466)