Jedrek Stepien


This conversation is closed.

Who should rule the world? Central or local authorities?

Who should rule the world?

In today's globalized world the issue of centralization/decentralization seems to be of great importance. Centralisation brings the benefits of the economy of scale, introduces standards and so on, yet it is against the general order of the world which is rather decentralised, and where everything is in accordance with its nearest

I want to bring up the issue of governance and ask which process works better? Is any of the two universal, i.e. can it work in all three domains: economy, politics and culture?

If we decide on a common economic policy (common currency, tax law and so on) will it affect politics and culture so that everything becomes centralised?

Btw. do not mix up central governance for central planning. Those days are over, I hope :)

  • thumb
    Dec 6 2011: Hi Jedrek,

    Some time ago I learned about a concept that struck me with its simplicity, yet i have not seen it implemented nor promoted by politicians. The idea boils down to this:

    Decisions should be made as much as possible by the people directly affected by the decisions.

    For example: my vote should count zero when the decision is the fate of a natural resource in India. I should have some limited saying in a decision back in Mexico in a place where my relatives live, and I should have a lot of saying on whether or not to put a garbage incinerator next to my home.

    Imagining that concept, I think that local governance should be used in most cases, and central authorities should only intervene when the local decision process of close localities resulted in conflicting decisions.

  • Nov 23 2011: We are moving toward the importance of local rule- small, interrelated communities that cooperate with each other but live how they choose based on culture and the uniqueness of their popular make-ups. We are a post-modern world, though we are ruled as if we are some mythical global community. That idea is only relevant in the abstract. The system we have is unable to represent our divergent cultures, and breeds corruption at all levels. I urge you to read "Grassroots of Post-Modernism". I was written in the late 90's but accurately describes the harm caused by trying to make us believe we are all the same. We are losing culture, we are losing community and the responsibility of each of us to our neighbors. We want our representatives to solve all our problems for us, and look at the state of things now! It is a system that benefits the powerful and the rich and seeks to make us whole and content with material things and temporal platitudes that are as thin as paper and as empty as space. Unfortunately it has to crash and burn before it can change at this point.
  • Nov 21 2011: I don't think that either approach will work alone.

    A world government could not differentiate between (and probably would not even be aware of) local differences of the effects of their legislation: A world government policy that tries to limit the population growth in China, India and Africa would cause an undesired sharp population decline in Western Europe. A legislation to impose European level drinking water quality standards worldwide would probabily effectively prohibit the majority of the world population to drink water at all (because it is too polluted), requiring them to either brake the law or die of thirst.

    A ruling of local authorities alone on the other hand would lead to incompatible laws, regulation, currencies, etc. and would mean the end of a globalized world and therefore a sharp decline in global travel and cultural exchange. Image that for each country you travel to, you would need a different process to obtain a visa, different documents in different languages to prove you have the required vaccinations, different voltage levels and AC frequencies of power outlets, ...)

    Thus, it seems apparent to me that we need a hierarchy of governments:
    - A world government would establish a basic law with equal rights for all humans (e.g. human rights, freedom of expression, religious freedom, democratic elections at every level of government, ...)
    - Regional governments would set policies required for the interaction of neighboring countries (e.g. interconnected highway and power line systems, water management of shared rivers, pollution standards)
    - Local governments would be responsible for policies related to local peculiarities, such as environmental protection of locally endangered species, policies to attract new industries based on the composition of the local workforce and local availability of raw materials, ...)

    To me, the open question is rather how to determine what kind of policies should be made at what level.
  • thumb
    Nov 15 2011: Under its current capitalist format - privatisation and decentralisation hallmarked in the UK under Thatcher has formed 'the model' for which we have rolled out state regime governance in democratic world. Irrespective of liberal or labour (now just as liberal as liberal or 'neo labour liberal') such as Blair government - the 'model' has swept through our global unified system. It is doubtful centralisation will totally return in human governance society to central at state or nation level - at least not with liberal economics - there is no efficiency and huge asset outlay in centralised government.

    Public private proprietary partnerships are definitely the not so new vogue of asset stripping a government, selling it off and getting agencies to perform and deliver by contract. This all but makes governments facades for the capitalist private sector and multi-national or trans-territorial regime.

    The justification is accountability and increased efficiency of the human capital of public sector. All well and good to clean up organisations notorious for forming shelters and havens for fugitives of 'work' for pay concept. Agency can be a really effective model - as long as monitoring and accountability is visible and easily validated - transferred in deliverables. But those actors or stakeholder relationships must be closely managed to ensure all comes together at the finale.

    Also the global and corporate governance framework now in place (including OECD European Union) is pretty much a global governance accountability model that has been adopted worldwide (third world countries in the throes of this now).
  • thumb
    Nov 13 2011: PEOPLE!

    I need to react here. The conversation is heading in a wrong direction. Please, read carefuly my explanation and do not give in to the highly marketised question.

    Let's talk about governance!

    Where should power be localised? Should it belong to the central authorities or should it be executed locally?

    What benefits are there in centralisation and what in decentralisation?

    And only at the end, maybe, a quick answer to "who should rule the world?" :)
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Nov 13 2011: Debra, thanks! Still, I need to draw people's attention somehow so I am not letting up on that question of "who should rule the world" :)

        Btw. maybe we need a conversation on why people only read the first line? :)
  • Nov 12 2011: Perhaps neither is the answer. i often wonder whether or not the world is stuck in a paradigm and that the society we have built around ourselves is preventing us from further innovation. How are we so sure that the systems of governance that we have established are correct? Democracy itself is clearly flawed and thus our governance is also flawed simply because of our method of selecting leaders. But thats another discussion. As far as governance is concerned i believe that a new method has to be assessed. If the focus is too much on local then we isolate ourselves too much, certainly in countries where government already has trouble with its states and provinces further isolation would more or less ultimately result in the reoccurrence of ancient greece. By that i mean locals groups with conflicting religions, or difference in ideology would result in mass disputes. there are enough conflicts in the world as it is if we become more local then we are it would just increase as you cannot prevent differentiation and resulting conflict amongst local groups. However if we look to the other side of the spectrum certainly mass centralization is seemingly unavoidable if extraterrestrial life is ever discovered. How is earth supposed to represent themselves towards other planets? Science fiction aside, central governance would lead to dispute over power, and the selection for leadership as brought up before is also a problem. i realize many of my ideas are off topic and i apologize but what I'm trying to get down to is the fact that we as a society need to re invent the way in which we govern ourselves. change is necessary for human survival and we as a society have been living in the same paradigm for too long. we as a society are always leaning towards one of two sides and we cannot seem to find any sort of middle ground instead of assuming "the world is flat" and only looking at things the same as everyone else has in the past; we need to move forward evolve our mindset
  • thumb
    Nov 12 2011: My general rule is things should be as local as they can be. A local airline, cell phone company is obviously senseless therefore they must be centralized. That said local control allows for quicker adaptation to change in the environment, a better understanding of what consumers want, and better ability to meet those desires. Also it is safer in that a handful of decentralized business fail they do not bring down an entire industry, which may provide a crucial need in society.
  • Nov 9 2011: Centralization aggregates power more often than not out of the reach of citizens as most governments are currently conformed and as as many of you recognize / are at least mildly supportive of / possibly thoroughly frustrated by (the lack of common sense shown by elected leaders and the bureaucracy). This conformation, seen everywhere, has diluted the core values within the Constitution. The issue is what should be the responsibilities of national governance versus local and what constitutes local. My argument for local control and minimizing federal government involvement is simple....local you can hang him or her, possibly without a lawyer and they understand local issues. What does that translate to in more practical terms (not that hanging might not be practical) is simple. Limit the ability of the Federal Government to tax people for the greater good and allow local governments to tax it's citizens for those things it's citizens need. That does not mean that certain functions, SSI, (reasonable) defense and some form of health care should not exist but cutting military spending by half and discretionary in total eliminates almost 30% and that does not include eliminating or redefining the "evolved" charters of many cabinet example only are farm subsidies or on average a ten percent bonus to large farmers and corporations when the original farm bill was intended to help small farmers (and the list goes on). It could also minimize the size of Congress.....maybe just a house of representatives (Hooray)...who currently authorize cost of living adjustments in excess of what SSI recipients get and retirement benefits that are not found anywhere in industry. So if you share my sentiments do a cut and paste the meantime my break is over......back to the future website that addresses this and allows you to pledge your vote for change......but only if you agree to common sense solutions.
    • thumb
      Nov 21 2011: It sounds very attractive - being able to hang someone locally without a lawyer. Yet it remains a cultural phenomena that a high level of government corruption tends to be at the bottom - or local level. So unless you look for a mulhudeen model complete with stoning pits for those who dare to do something that they may or may not have done (as well as annoy or become a threat to someone who wants to get them out of the way) - without a legal judicial process for accountability and its enforcement - you're going to be in hot water within a short period of time.

      The village or local model is essential - but it has to incorporate values culture reinforcement. However a federal government is about managing a nation - i.e. a state claiming sovereignty, a population, territory and a government.

      The reality is that the traditional 'realist' state regime has morphed into international community that is unified in many ways - the issue is that federal in many cases needs to be international now - and more than a duty to ratify UN conventions. This is ideally balanced with the 'small' - i.e. individual rights and local communities and international body of protection and enforcement - because most of the issues experienced in living as humans this world today in peace and prosperous harmony is connected to the state model.
      • Nov 21 2011: You are covering a very broad spectrum. Dealing with one issue at a time the first question is, is there an alternative to an ever expanding Federal bureaucracy? What is posed....more state responsibility and a reduction in Federal Taxes / power / vote buying / overt corruption / etc. seems logical. Whether a state manages well or not it's increased responsibilities would be a state issue. A very significant advantage would be participation....most voters (do the poll) feel helpless when dealing with Washington and the reality is lobbyists can, John 'Q. Public can't. Occupy Wall Street in part at least reflecting this. The second issue is a plan to improve the situation.. Curiously only the USA does not have one...many other western countries do.

        As for international participation, while it's an admirable goal, the reality is that all countries have vested interests and represent them. China and Russia's involvement (or lack of) in the Arab Spring and the position they take on Syria and Iran currently. These conflicts exist (meaning Russia and China)....without a solution. Unification of ideas, a consensus of "right" is not possible. That will not go away until we, the people, who already share the same values act. Of importance to note here is "state" values are not necessarily the values we as individuals and families hold.

        I agree that most of the issues of not living in peace and prosperity are connected to state models Changing a state model requires limiting it's power. Case rested.
  • thumb
    Nov 21 2011: Subsidiarity principle when it concerns governments
    We do need a world government though
  • thumb
    Nov 15 2011: No Vivienne, He was the main character in MAD magazine a throw back from the 1960's. Perhaps to obtuse for those who didn't live in the US of A. Certainly not one of my better posts. Oh well.
    • thumb
      Nov 15 2011: "you could do worse - you always have!" - the presidential candidate

      I did come across a representation of him as Prince Charles who is reported to have written a letter refuting any likeness (as a young boy).

      I knew if I went totally left field - you would explain and I wouldn't need to google.
  • thumb
    Nov 15 2011: I am coming to a place where i think we need far more direct democracy so that people take more individual responsibilty for the decisions that are made. For me that means that if we can vote for a singing idol we should be able to vote on societal issues with the same ease. In this way responsibity would be reduced to the lowest common denominator - me, and all the others me's in my world.

    Decisions should be made as locally as possible but the issues which affect widely diverse populations should be administered by oversight bodies which might eventually work world wide. I wish bodies like the United Nations were not so crippled by rules that make the decisions deeply partisan and unfair. I can envision a United Nations where the big dogs cannot veto the combined will of all the little dogs. I can still envision a world where the cynics who have given up on humanity's goodness do not get to run the show with only narrow self interest in mind and enforce that self interest with weapons of war.
    • thumb
      Nov 15 2011: I'm in that place also Debra - namely voting on issues, and not a generic party or platform - enables a framework of accountable governance. How to balance against 'micro management' is a major issue. We could categorise into democratic governance taxonomies and list 'groups of issues' - such as education, health, economy etc. Also strengthening the village model (or community hub) of governance and concurrently the centralised authority of justice through international law that is autonomous to G8 or UN control - as politicians are not above the law in domestic jurisdiction - and this acts as some deterrent of corruption or self interest (depending on how much the culture lets get away with).

      One of the reasons I prefer international 'law' to have authority over a state hegemony of power when politicians are voted for - is that although not immune to corruption - the justice system is a very mature authority of rules, codes and their enforcement. Most founded in common law, has strengthened as independent to government and with the people or common man (hence the US bill of rights) - so it takes justice back to the rights of individuals rather than a state blind law that gives a set ruling and does not review individual cases. Judges do not enter into their priesthood without undertaking certain integrity and path in life - are trained extensively and prepared for their work.

      Often politicians are people who crave power and attention and lack intelligence (ouch - but you should see some videos of our parliamentary sessions - they are like kindergarten kids) or who mean well but get sucked along by a party policy or political club (think how they tried to destroy and did defame Clinton). When decent individuals come along - pressure and muck raking from other factions often destroys or deters effectiveness.

      Politicians should have the same level and duration of accountability, training and ethics competencies as expected from Judges - and international.
  • thumb
    Nov 15 2011: My reigning ideal is Osmosis
    • thumb
      Nov 15 2011: QUOTE: "My reigning ideal is Osmosis"

      My vote is with trial and error, natural selection, and evolution.

      It seems to work well for nature.
      • Nov 21 2011: I disagree. Evolution through natural selection works well for an ecosystem as a whole, but often wipes out entire species in the process. That's not a principle that we would want mankind to be governed by.
        • thumb
          Nov 21 2011: QUOTE: "That's not a principle that we would want mankind to be governed by."

          Why not?

          And whether we like it or not, that is how we are governed. Our cerebrum does not exclude us from natural laws.

          However, that is not my point. My point is: If we are to develop SYSTEMS that work, it will likely be through a process of trial, error, and adaptation. We might like to think we can design complex systems, in toto, and then implement them universally but we cannot. At least not so far. I doubt we will ever be able to.

          Assuming a predetermined system will work under any circumstance is a somewhat simplistic approach ... which is probably why it's so popular. We champion capitalism, socialism, religion, rationalism, democracy, etc and we think that the one we like would work IF ONLY everyone "just did it right."

          That's the challenge though, isn't it? - Getting everyone to do anything, let alone, doing it right.

          Well, besides breathing.
  • thumb
    Nov 14 2011: The question is problematic for (at least) two reasons:

    One is the concept "rule."

    The other is "who SHOULD."

    The assumptions are huge and any attempt to answer the question, as articulated, will be a type of cognitive entrapment. We will be locked into a paradigm that, in itself, might not be viable at all.

    Do you think it possible to rule the world?

    Nothing in our history suggests we have a single, feasible idea of how we might do so.

    That is not to say we do not have lots of ideas, there is no shortage of them. But if we employed our rational faculties, do we really think one (or any) of them will provide a template for "ruling the world?"

    I don't.

    You might disagree.


    If we "rule" (manage) ourselves, the world will take care of itself.


    Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing the self is enlightenment. Mastering others requires force. Mastering the self requires strength. – Lao Tzu

    Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. – Lao Tzu


    To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right. – Kong Zi (Confucius)
    • thumb
      Nov 14 2011: Thomas, I am sorry for putting the question in the form I did, but your answer is first class and to the point.

      Of course it is impossible to "rule the world" - it is too big. Still, the tendencies around the world today are at least suggesting that certain organisations want to give it a go.

      Being in a difficult economic situation as we are it could however be a blessing if we spoke one language in the economic matters. Perhaps a common fiscal policy in Europe is the answer to the crisis right now, but I am wondering how could a common steering in economy affect politics in each and every country.

      I am also concerned about the effects of centralisation on culture. Culture is by itself something decentralised and local. I think centralisation of power stand in opposition to culture - makes it weaker. Culture at the same time is the last line of defence against centralisation and to some extent - dehumanisation. Central authorities don't care about individuals, they only care about numbers and statistics.
      • thumb
        Nov 15 2011: I do not agree with you that Great Mother is 'too big' to rule herself. She's ruled herself and the beginnings of you as one of her sub species since the time of Mu - Panachaea some 260 million years or so. Why do people often subvert 'feminine' through referring to size and girth - as if to bring on a chocolate guilt rush?

        Well yes Thomas I was very much 'playing' with Jedrick's word's - I'm very sorry and I will do it again at some stage - especially if he keeps that icon with the bulging bungee jumper eyes. But back to the world of GA micro dialogue and your explanation of the question - my comment had no derogation form 'dominion' - I fully accept that Mother Earth governs - not self regulates. It's just that 'down here' individuals cannot perceive that as they pursue the image of 'self' and identity - not that they are one small finger or 'part' of the great. If people realized that that was what the scriptures they brought forth from the great flood were really teaching them before they fell into darkness and blind patriarch, they'd stop refusing to accept anything beyond of that they can 'prove' in a basic fashion. It's just that people lacked the maturity to understand what the real spiritual teachings were - so they told it in a manner limited to their intellectual experience and knowledge. Earth is really an organism. Its not a romantic myth.
        • thumb
          Nov 15 2011: Vivienne, I think you might be playing a bit of a word game here: The question implies dominion; not self-regulation.

          [And I saw no subversion but that which you imposed.]
  • thumb
    Nov 13 2011: I should.
  • thumb
    Nov 12 2011: Seriously though, i think that "centralization or decentralization" is not an answer.
    Those would be just two extremes and often the right road to take is the middle one.

    Besides, what we really need is workable, immediate and quite specific suggestions and solutions.

    Ive put my mouth where my mouth is in this conversation :
    Feel free to contribute. Its an open source thingy.
  • thumb
    Nov 12 2011: Alfred E. Newman?
    • thumb
      Nov 13 2011: Thanks for your vote.
      • thumb
        Nov 13 2011: Michael,
        It's a difficult job, but someone has to do it.
        And I wonder how many know who Alfred E. Newman is? And what the implication is?
        I won't hold my breathe.
        • thumb
          Nov 14 2011: What, me worry?
        • thumb
          Nov 15 2011: Let me guess - did he invent the concept behind the light bulb i.e. an idea? Or is he that old man with a grey beard on a stone chair looking down from a cloud.
  • thumb
    Nov 12 2011: Me, of course.

    I have one very simple rule : "who disagrees gets a nuke for a present!"
  • Nov 12 2011: Positive people. Equal quantities of positive males and positive females.
  • thumb
    Nov 12 2011: QUOTE: "Who should rule the world?"

    I'm pretty sure there are one or two TEDsters who think they should.
    • thumb
      Nov 12 2011: I was just coming in to post, "Clearly me. A more benevolent dictator you have never met!"

      EDIT: Of course, I also think I should be allowed to send electric shocks to people's keyboards when they annoy me, so I am sure some people won't go for it.
      • thumb
        Nov 12 2011: Nukes. Nuke them from orbit. Its the only way to be sure.
    • thumb
      Nov 12 2011: Guys, I wanted to talk about centralisation/decentralisation problem and you have kind of taken it somewhere else :)
      • thumb
        Nov 12 2011: Well, if Gisela gets her way, things will be very centralized. I'm not so sure about siniša.
        • thumb
          Nov 12 2011: yeah, i would spread things around a bit. Mostly as particles in the upper layers of atmosphere.

          Me and William Hurt need a bit of quiet while we chuckle and sip champagne in our secret orbital playboy mansion.
      • thumb
        Nov 12 2011: Jedrek - I think it's because your question says 'who.' My guess is you meant to say Which or What. Is that right? Actually, I think you meant, "Which or What should govern...or is the best form of governance?" Language can be so tricky sometimes!

        Your explanation is thorough and clear, asking a very valid question. The title question takes the reader in a completely different direction. Perhaps you can change it to correlate with your statement. :)

        I speak Norwegian fluently - most of the time. I also put my family on the floor laughing because I mix up words occasionally and say something completely different. ;D
        • thumb
          Nov 13 2011: Linda, you are very clever having noted this polarisarion between the topic and the explanation. Mind you, however, that originally the topic was "centralisation or decentralisation" but then almost nobody wanted to contribute so I added a bit of marketing to the topic and... look what happened :) people are visiting my thread, the side effect is however that they do not answer precisely what I wanted... but here we are again - it is maybe more important to batter around the question, not really answer it. There are some people here who really took the (serious after all) question seriuosly :)

          So, Linda, thank you for your vigilance, still, what do you think on the issue of governance? Do you think power could be given to the local authorities? (however we define them)