Lindsay Newland Bowker


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If you could name a Counsel of 12 to govern the world, who would you name?

Here at TED we have had many many conversations about global values, and the possibility/desirability of of global governance. Of course we never reached a consensus. But assuming we had, what 12 people would you name to a global governing counsel and for each, why?

Who would you trust to govern us globally if you were in charge of naming a 12 person governing body?

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    Jul 12 2012: Why this obsession with Global Governance?
    We can't even get our Municipal politicians to balance the books, keep traffic moving or agree on a whole host of issues.
    What we all need is a more informed Electorate on the important issues of the day. Perhaps an unbiased media will go a long way in helping in that area.
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      Jul 12 2012: Brian,

      First, I have no obsessions of any kind about anything. Obsessions obstruct rather than facilitate.

      Yes, my question does ask fellow tedsters whether in looking up from all all that is chaotic and broken and hampered in our own lives in our own local neighborhoods to see how that is profoundly connected to the global and to the powers at play at the global level.

      We have little or no power to provide access to high quality affordable food, to provide habitable shelter to every member of our society, to create and preserve personal wealth, to wean our communities off petroleum, to make a shift to renewable energy, to educate our young people,

      Our reality is that we have a de facto global government now that already supersedes the sovereignty of every nation and the sanctity of every person on earth.

      Being obsessed with this reality accomplishes nothing. Being aware understanding how intimately connected that reality is to every aspect of our lives is a start towards creating a global power shift that serves, life, serves earth, serves future mankind and future earth.
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      Gail .

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      Jul 17 2012: I agree - an informed electorate. But how can we have that when we are being intentionally LIED to so much in our compulsory educations that we think that lies are truth, so we don't probe them for solutions to problems whose source we can no longer see.

      I find the very notion of a global GOVERNMENT repulsive. The origins of the word government = govern (rule) ment (the mind). It took me years to break free of the government inserted programming and to finally find freedom. It think that we need a better economic model that does not exist for the purpose of financing both sides of wars, illness & injury, crime & violence and other social ills.

      The scientific evidence that shows us how to solve our problems - from war and poverty to crime on the streets is massive. The problem is that those who own governments do not want you to know about this, so those governments who have added their own studies to the more than 600 already existing studies to not tell the people how to do that. Why? The solution is free, and free is not profitable.
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    Jun 21 2012: 1 average man from each let's say region of the world. With common sense and average education. No advisers allowed. A family man with his own code he holds himself and his family to. So in short no one you have heard of or would really pay mind to in the street but a good man.
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      Jun 21 2012: I like your aswer dean.

      I too trust in the common wisdom.

      Iceland just wrote a whole new consiution using ordinary folk.

      I asked the question because I started monitoring what my legsilative reps at the state and federal level were actually doing every day in the legislature. I deceided a much venertaed Senator was a hoax but then when I looked around at who would replace her there was no one..just a big leadership vacuum.

      When I ask myself the same question at the global level ..same issue..I coudn't possibly name 12 people I would trust to govern the wolrld.

      I agree with you.

      True Sortition. ( random selection by lottery)

      12 citizens from around the world

      thank you Dean.
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        Jun 23 2012: And thank you. Don't worry about the leadership vacum in your state its pretty much nation wide. I'm not picking on any 1 party I figure if you put all politians in a sack shook it up and throwed it on the ground it would still sound like a cow rlieving its self
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    Jul 20 2012: It’s hard for me to say who I would choose for a counsel, but I know the types of people I would pick to govern the world. I would choose 5 humanitarians, 5 scientists, and 2 comedians to govern the globe. The humanitarians and scientist would work well together to create and implement ideas, and the comedians would be there to keep people laughing to reduce the stress, and observe the other 10, to call them out if their behavior begins to turn senseless.
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      Jul 20 2012: This is great thinking Jason! Can I nominate two? 1 comedian would be Russel Peters from Canada but he is so jaded and so expeerienced in prejudice you would have to choose someone to balance him out and jolly him into the main stream and some political correctness so your adminstration did not get booted out of office so he would need a Bene Brown or a Sam Richards to keep him within bounds. On second thought, perhaps Richards because even though Peters is now married I worry that he would make a pass at Brown.
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      Jul 20 2012: Lovely Jason and again building consensus in a way around the idea that true leadership , the kind of leadership we see as necesssary globally, is not emerging from political processes and international organizations we have established.

      So to me the question is why do we in democratic nations not choose people with these qualities to lead us?

      Modern wisdom teacher, Tom Atlee uses the term "commodification of ego"to describe the alienation and disenfranchisement that is perhaps the fundamental ailment that leads us to choose leads us to choose representatives who do not serve life, do not serve humanity, do not serve planet earth

      Is it because the majority of us , we the people of planet earth, no longer govern our own lives . Is it because we ourselves in our own lives our daily choices in every moment are acting outside of these values that we don't seek them in our leaders?
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    Jul 20 2012: This is a rough and impromptu list of candidates that I have been impressed with through TED talks. ( I actually wish I could have had at least twenty). They have different areas of expertise but some appear to be generalists like Sam Richards who deals with empathy.

    1. Bjorn Lomberg
    2. Bene Brown
    3. Perter Eigen
    4. John Hockenberg
    5. John Hunter –wold peace game
    6. Katharine Schultz
    7. Beeban Kidron
    8. Sam Richards
    9. Martin Jacques
    10. Marcin Jakubowski
    11. Auret van Heerden:
    12. Tan Le
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      Jul 20 2012: Thanks Debra..hope you are well

      so what qualities are implicit in your list..? And I see there are no folk there one would conventionally think of as world leaders ( my list also would be absent any heads of state)..what are the qualities of leadership that matter globally ?
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        Jul 20 2012: Great follow up questions as usuaual Lindsay!
        I wanted people who would create a somewhat balanced group. There are a mixture of men and women, one person who has a 'disabilty" and all who have an integrated view that we are one planet. They come from a variety of countries too. Lomberg is an economist who has studied prioritization, Brown would lead the group to naked honesty and openness, Eigen would be vigilant against corruption,, Hockenberg has known the pain of loss and injury so he will bring a snes of possibilities, Hunter is an optimist who knows that kids deserve better than wwhat we have so far accomplished, Schultz knows that we all make mistakes and we can be wrong so she would lead the group to greater self reflection and self scrutiny, Kidron would see possiblities and the need for beauty and lead the group to wholeness of vision, Richards would lead the group to greater empathy for those who would live the decisions, Jacques would be my foreign affairs man, Jakubowski would be my go to guy on how things really work and would the decisions made by the group be feasible, Van Heerden would be my minister of labour, and Tan Le would be the person I would choose who understands humanity and all it could become. I hope I answered your question by deliniating why I would choose each individual. Now perhaps it is evident why I would need more people to fill all the needs I see.
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          Jul 20 2012: Thanks Debra..and most of the things yo list ..which all together point towards wisdom..are not present in the heads of state in power dominant nations..theses are the considerations of political caucus..these aren't the touchstones of negotiations and treaties and settlements.

          I think I was probing this same point in my conversation on modern constitutions(Is democracy synonymous with Capitalism) You and I visited that the night of the Canadian elections as Canadians followed the U.S. over the cliff choosing leaders as far from these qualities and values as anyone can imagine.. We explored it a bit in our search for consensus on core values within our Ted Conversations community.

          Of late I have been watching bios of "world leaders" and American Presidents. Jimmy Carter's candidacy and term of office sought a foundation on simple values and morality beyond political and party ideology and national supremacy..they chewed him up and spit him out.

          If free nations don't choose people of these qualities to lead them how will thee qulaities of leadership ever be present in the world ? And why are we not actively seeking these qualities in our elected officials?.
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        Jul 20 2012: Oh Lindsay, I see your points and I always learn great things from such a passionate and informed woman. I see it a bit differently perhaps. I think many, like Obama, wish things were doable as we try to do them but having seen what happened to Carter, they have no wish to be chewed up and spit out so they adjust their strategy to hope that if they comply initially, they will at least retain power and do some good. Many knuckle under to a system that is jaded and even corrupt in the belief that even so they are the lessor of two evils. The alternative is to lose every time to the wall of rejection that is now so entrendhed as to be insurmountable. We may just be seen as naive to them and to many of our colleagues here. Most people no longer believe that goodness is powerful or that it can surmount evil.We know differently. Goodness is the high and the hard road. I think it is the most maligned and neglefcted of human attributes and that it is the ONLY way to surmount evil or congeled bad practice. It takes far more courage and dedication than the knuckle under sort of accomodation because it take more self control and love for humanity than any other approach.
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          Jul 20 2012: In Maine we have a saying "You can't get theah from heah" ( you can't get there from here)

          The more earnestly and openly I try to understand where we are ..economically and in terms of survivability in the most fundamental meaning of that..the more I don't see exactly how we get there from here.

          Not just the U.S. and Canada but all the nations who have signed on to the style of democracy our constitutions embraced..constitutions lacking an affirmation and holding to to stewardship for life and the dignity of life, stewardship for the planet and future peoples.

          Many of the nations who have modernized their constitutions have moved in that direction of expressing fundamental essential shared values about thriveability and sustainability, inclusion ad human dignity.

          I do believe with all my heart in the common wisdom. I believe that any twelve of us on the face of this earth randomly chosen and commissioned to speak for all peoples on earth would express fundamental wisdoms of the kind our fellows here at TED Conversations are pointing to.

          I think I do believe..or at least hold out hope that we could "get theah from heah" if ordinary people outside of political ideologies, and institutions were charged with that duty as was done in Iceland in their crowd sourced constiution..

          I think it is in the Constitution of the Iroquois Cofederacy, a document I have come to love and admire so much , that they forbid mebers of the counsel from arguing or commenting on the speaking of other members in reaching a decision on national matter..matte s that affect the peace and viability of indiividual tribal members... It avoids the tyranny of consensus of consensus; the tyranny of the majority, the tryanny of rhetoric and rhetorical manipulation. It forces the deliberative process, the process of discernment to be for the good of all..the best decision for all. Maybe there is something there to look back to as process.
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        Jul 20 2012: I have goosebumps! I want us to work together to get there from here. We have the same expression but to our own ears -without the great accent!
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    Jul 12 2012: Frans Timmermans inspired me once through an after TEDxAmsterdam interview, the earth needs a government on each continent, and representatives should sit at one table. He understands how we should embrace 'fear', a very important aspect in (global) governance.

    Zoe Weil wondered for a long time why she loves the star trek enterprise series; it is the story that everything is in peace on this planet, making star trek the new challenge for humans. I guess we really need that dream to create balance on earth.

    So I would candidate these two, for various reasons what the stand for, to be understood and learned from on every world region.

    Than ofcourse,

    we will never sacrifice (global) human survival for (global) nature needs, so we have a long way to go to 'govern' at all. :)
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      Jul 13 2012: Hi Paul,

      Nice to see you..thanks for stopping by and thanks for your two picks which suggest as I believe that nations perhaps are too ideologically attached to their own sovereignty to ever provide the kind of leadership we desperately need to fix the parts of de facto global governance that has us all, even tiny little remote Maine communities , in its grip.
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        Jul 13 2012: My humble opinion;

        The nationstate is an idea which became a tool for prosperity, of the few, taking all on the bandwagon if beneficial. Which in the end always is the case.

        Any entrepreneur, small or humongous splits the world between 5-12 regions, depending on it's focus.

        As companies/collaborations always have dictated political discourse, naturally, the few are starting to see bigger benefits in small county level regions (between 20-200 miles, depending on population densities) and the 5-12 regions.

        How this will unfold, time will tell, and will benefit the (rich) few, taking all on the bandwagon again.

        One thing is important for this to happen; vision by a few. A bright light at the other side of the tunnel we are currently globally are going through. Vision has nothing to do with money, left-right politics, democracy, dictatorship, those are all technical tools.

        And I guess, hope, those are the 12 you are looking for. Looking forward to the endlist :)
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    Jul 12 2012: I think that change is inevitable, even as we work to keep some progress in check that may be driven more by greed and short term thinking than creating a sustainable society and environment. Todays visionary may become toworrows plutocrat, so should we stop inovation and the fuel that drives it. I don't think so, our environment, society involves us all and we must find ways to work together in creating the types of societies that we want to leave for our children and grandchildren.
    Sorry I don't see any global conspiracy, just people protecting and advancing their own self interests, interests that we must play our part in shaping for all our sakes.
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      Jul 12 2012: Brian ..we are on the same page that our work begins at home in our own communities.. But part of work is also to be well informed on global realities and de facto global policy that shapes and limits our possibilities every day even in the smallest and most remote community. To be deaf and dumb to that is to allow that to continue.
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    Jul 12 2012: Good advice..on local initiatives and local involvement and exactly what I do every every possible way.

    It is through that engagement , that very deep and daily engagement, that I see the the plutonomy..the global power affecting all of our lives at work.

    Brian, today we need to be good local citizens and also aware and tuned in global citizens, I think.

    I live on a remote island in Maine, way northeast in the U.S. Conoco Phillips is trying to make itself very present here on our pristine bay supporting the lives and households of fisherman on all our islands here. Selectmen in a tiny coastal village are powerless to deal with Connoco's determination to locate a 22 million gallon propane terminal on our shores. The people all through the marcellus, are helpless to protect and defend their ground water against the permanent damage of gas fracking. ; Nestle corporation is relentlessly present here in our vast water shed wilderness looking to suck all our water out for sale. A tiny thriveable community living a life in community every day exactly as you urge us to is fighting off the prospect of a 4 lane toll rd through Maine's wilderness that will also carry the tar sands pipeline.

    Any one who takes the time to make a commitment to local self determination and a thriveable local economy will, run into a the same ever present predatory domination of the plutonomy. Of the existing global government of the plutonomy.
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    Jul 12 2012: Perhaps not a personal obsession, but many look for answers to our pressing issues in lofty places in hopes of some grand (global) solution. I believe that the answers lie locally within each and everyone of us, to change and transform our communities in ways that we see fitting and appropriate. Our only intrusion into other communities should be our examples of how we've managed to get it right. Surely we can have no other influence that this? Let's fix our homes, our schools, our local communities before we attempt to fix the world.
  • Jul 12 2012: Why twelve? It would take a year of talk to decide who will sit where.

    Pick one good man. Give him one year, then pick another.
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      Jul 12 2012: Barry,

      Hello Barry & Thanks for stopping by.

      I think my question was formed from a deep heart ache, a lament, that we clearly need visionary global leadership that transcends sovereignty and politics and that at a time of crisis we have not evolved these systems. Indeed thinking in term of global leadership I could not even think of 4 let alone 12 capable of the wisdom and collaboration that it would take to lead us us out pf this terrible place we have allowed ourselves to become ensnared in.

      Why twelve..just a number that has many historical uses and symbols as deliberative counsel or as wisdom or as representing all. Perhaps inwardly I was assuming it would not be one nation one vote..that it is impossible to get beyond the politics of sovereignty and domination on that basis.

      But not one..

      I believe in the common wisdom.

      I believe in the wisdom of ordinary people.

      I believe that emerges through collaboration that fosters co-intelligence, evolves and emanates co-intelligence.

      We become one voice, the voice of wisdom, through collaboration.

      My question is really a lament. Not a proposal.

      My questions really asks whether others also feel this global leadership void deep within the ground of their own being.

      Do you, Barry?
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        Jul 13 2012: Hi Lindsay, only read this one now :)

        So not 12. Would be nice though, even if they wont lead, at least they can lead youths imagination that these are 12 people to google themselves into.
      • Jul 15 2012: Hi Lindsay,

        It took a while, but I figured out why I do not share in your lament. You seem to be saying that we need leaders in government to solve our problems. I do not agree. I am a big believer in using the right tool for the job, and I believe that the tools we need now have little to do with governance and everything to do with economics and ecology.

        This "terrible place" is an ecological and economical mess which was heading toward disaster. We do indeed need visionaries to find solutions. You will find these visionaary leaders giving TED talks. The leaders we need do not want to govern, they want to solve problems.

        Before I found TED I had despaired for the future of this planet. Then the TED talks showed leader after leader with solutions for many of our problems. An excellent example is Amory Lovins.

        In the same way that necessity leads to invention, the human race seems to produce leaders to meet our crises. Our current crisis cannot be solved by any government, but I think it will be solved by designers, inventors, project managers, entrepeneurs, scientists, economists, philosophers, and maybe even physicians. We do not need new governance; we need new ideas.
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          Jul 15 2012: Barry

          I love your post..and surely without us doing all you say there is nothing to lead..we must indeed do our part as well..
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    Jun 22 2012: i appoint 12 anarcho-capitalist libertarians. does not matter which. they are interchangeable, they will not rule anyone.
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      Jun 22 2012: Krisztian,

      Hi..thanks for stopping by especially as you have particpated in almost all the discussions we have had here in this venue on governance.

      "Ruling" implies control,,regulating what others may and may not do at levels beyond what is absolutely essential . But does governance necessarily involve that?

      Doesn't the world its and events presnt many things that require collaboration and deliberation across geo-political boundaries, beyond possibly the unstanble nuclear reactor in Japan which has mutli nation implications, or the tsunami in indonesia on Christams eve many years agoa , or the gyro of plastics conttributed by many mnay nations now choking both the atlantic and pacific oceans.

      And I am not advocating the creation of 12 member wolrd counsel to deliberate these kinds of things and find equitable and resaonble solutions.

      I really asked the question because even at my own local level here in the Northeastern U.S. Sate of Maine, I see a leadership gap..I see an absence of effective mechnaisms and strageies for problems solving.

      We don't seem to have the right processes or systems of governance and response for our modern wolrd and no one is leading the way in new directions. They are all based on control and competition and dominance when nations more and more are becoming equal economically and are not alowing themselves to be exploited by others. Jockeying for control and domination doesn't seem to be the most workable approach to our new global realities.

      Cheers & Best Regards
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        Jun 22 2012: i don't agree with your definition of ruling. ruling is when one person tells the other what to do. not only when it happens "above a level". it reminds me of an old saying: antisemitism is when somebody hates jews more than warranted.

        no, i think governments do rule. no matter how democratic they are, or how liberal they are, it is only a degree to which they rule. granted, the less the better. but there is no optimal amount. there is no optimal amount of malaria. the optimum is zero.

        collaboration across borders ... why do we have borders in the first place? borders of what? all borders are borders of jurisdiction of governments. people don't know borders, they just know neighbors to trade with.
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          Jun 22 2012: I was asking whether in your view governance has to involve control & rules.

          And isn't there more to be being global than who we trade with as individuals? Aren't there issues that arise in the world like the unraveling of the nuclear reactor in Japan that have multi national implications? Should these just be dealth with ad hoc problem by problem..negotiated as they arise?
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        Jun 22 2012: governance has to involve control? i can't imagine it anyhow else. what kind of governance can be without control?
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    Jun 22 2012: Lindsay, This question made me do a lot of thinking. I cannot name 12 individuals. Perhaps it should be regional such as desert, mountianous, island, coastal, etc ... so that the needs of diversity can be addressed. Each country would be assigned to a region and a lottery for a representive from each region would occur. Dean infered that it would be a male. The lottery opens it to both men and woman. There would have to be some qualifiers. I also see a chairperson as RH stated to be a non-member but would act as a tie breaker and be a corporate memory. Term should be for a year only. Each region should devise a list of priorities and at the council negotiate for the best in the interest of the total population.

    This is could never occur because no country would ever release powers to be governed by unknowns. The super egos would never allow it. It would kill George Serios to even discuss this. LOL

    All the best. Bob.
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      Jun 22 2012: Bob,

      The regional model with sortition ( random representation) by ordinary citizens is very similar to Solon's model for the first Greek democracy. That noble experiment was born out of income inequality to quell the rioting and revolt of the disadvantaged majority who were slaves to the ruling elite..the plutonomy. It was based on equal voice but not necessarily economic equality. In the end it brought about the fall of Greece as the state representative became more and more greedy for the spoils of war taking on a war too far from home with a powerful enemy and losing all.

      A better model for a republic is the Iroquois Nation Confederacy which was not so much about equal voice as about commitment to a common sustainable, thriveable wise system of governance for the common good and for future generations. (See the oath of office/commissioning for the tribal representatives below)
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      Jun 22 2012: Bob, Dean,RH & Tedsters Who May join us

      Here is the "oath of office" of the Iroquois Confederacy:

      You shall now become a mentor of the people of the Five Nations. The thickness of your skin shall be seven spans -- which is to say that you shall be proof against anger, offensive actions and criticism. Your heart shall be filled with peace and good will and your mind filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the Confederacy. With endless patience you shall carry out your duty and your firmness shall be tempered with tenderness for your people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgement in your mind and all your words and actions shall be marked with calm deliberation. In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation."

      It requires more than equal voice, " one man one vote", it fosters collaboration and deliberation above argument and debate; it is about a process of discernment with a view towards peace, the well being of present and future peoples. Each member is commissioned to these principles of stewardship for all peoples living and unborn.

      Maybe to work at the global level the commissioning of the individual representatives has to be an oath of stewardship, an oath as peace makers.

      To regional representation by sortition we must add this commitment to stewardship and peace and, as the Iroquois, emphasize a deliberative process rather than a process of argument and debate.
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    R H

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    Jun 21 2012: I think I would have an 'odd' number so they could get things done with a majority vote. I don't know enough living people well enough for such a task, but I would probably include Paul Hawkin as a candidate. Then I would include whoever is a well respected NGO/NFP medical organizor, then someone like Nassim Taleb, the Dalai Lama, Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., some well-respected socio-anthropologist, someone in the applied sciences, a head of education, and Robin Williams. I know that's only 9, but that's all I can think of right now. Notice the absence of professional politicians...
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      Jun 21 2012: RH..I wholly aprove your avoidance of political leaders from any consideration ( me too..I am with you on that)

      I also like your choices of the Dalai Lama and Robin Wiliams..I myself couldn't name one person after the Dalai Lama.

      I considred Tom Atlee..head of the co-intellifgnce Institute.

      And i like your idea that it should be representative not so much by nation as by areas of concern to humanity.

      I fear the tyranny of the majority, though, so I would stick to 12.

      What do you think of Dean's idea of total sortition..just ordinary people?

      Also why do you think there is such a ledaership vacuum in the world? I am very troubled that I can't think up 12 people I admire and trsut enough to rule the world.
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        R H

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        Jun 22 2012: I think Dean is on to something. By having at least one member who is not necessarily a 'highly accomplished' and/or educated member who merely lives with the results of the decisions of the 'highly competent', the group would have immediate input from someone who actually lives with their decsions. It's like when the engineering dept comes up with a 'fix' for the production line without a member of production involved in the decision. Production can usually take the idea and do it faster and cheaper with a lesser learning curve, or just outright demonstrate that it won't work. Regarding the leadership vacuum (since you asked!): my opinion is politics kill leadership. Machivellian machinations destroy competency for dominence and power. Those who refuse to participate are discounted, those who do participate and seek for change are destroyed.