For decades, Henry Mintzberg has taught enlightened business management at McGill. Yesterday, in the Globe and Mail, he turned his attention to the management of the world. The major office holders, he wrote, are not enlightened. The problem we all face is how to survive these bullies:
We are in an era of bullies – Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte and the rest – unless people concerned about this planet and our progeny do something. What can we do? Since the usual is not working, how about the impossible – at least seemingly so? After all, if Donald Trump can be elected President of the United States, surely anything is possible.
So Mintzberg makes a modest proposal:
Imagine a Peace Council, made up of democratic nations with no nuclear weapons and no recent history of belligerence. Of course, this idea is impossible – so long as our thinking remains stuck in the existing world order. But if such a grouping was called together by a respected authority (Pope Francis, perhaps?) and vested with legitimacy by concerned people around the world, the whole thrust of international relations could change.
Bear in mind one clear message of the Trump, Brexit, Bernie Sanders and other votes: that a great many regular people are now prepared to act on the resentment they feel. The trouble is that, not knowing where to turn, many have vented their anger ineffectually. Mr. Trump may prove to be an awful choice for the people who elected him.What if, to replace the deceptive rhetoric of populist politicians, a coalition of prominent NGOs – including, for example, Amnesty International, Greenpeace and Doctors Without Borders – issued a compelling vision, around which concerned people everywhere could coalesce: a vision for balance across economic, political and social interests.After all, the particular concerns of these NGOs – human rights, degradation of the environment and health services in disaster zones – have common cause, namely a world out of balance in favour of narrow, economic interests. With such a vision, concerned people could organize in their communities, and use the social media to connect around the world.
Impossible, you say? Perhaps. But extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary solutions. And Mintzberg's proposal makes solutions possible:
This could create a global groundswell for the restoration of decency and democracy. They could constrain globalization where it challenges legitimate national sovereignties, while targeting countries for their atrocities and boycotting organizations for their wrongdoings. And who better to get behind initiatives for global decency and democracy than Canadians, with our history of peacekeeping and of so many renowned figures who stood up for a better world?
Something to think about.