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Possible Future Worlds | Part 2

This is an online course for Carnegie Council Ethics Fellows for the Future on www.globalethicsnetwork.org. It is based on the e-book, Of All Possible Future Worlds: Global Trends, Values, and Ethics, available at www.possiblefutureworlds.com.

Thong Nguyen

on 28 September 2014

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Transcript of Possible Future Worlds | Part 2

Of All
Possible Future


What will our world be like
in the next fifteen to twenty years?

Well, there are many

How would you decide which one is the best?
in each world.

Worlds may be
some could be less

others, more
and others might be more
We need a

to make sense of this variance.
We'll start by looking at . . .
Let's look at the US predictions.
In this pragmatic spirit, let's return to a particular individual.
"How would I measure a good future?"
Let's look at four in particular
Now let's return to our question.
You might look toward . . .
Ask rself
Notice the direct positive relationship between economic growth and urbanization
Each organization focused on different trends and predicted different future worlds.
"My country's are the best!"
"The one that's most realistic."
"The one with no poverty."
"Well, it depends on what you want to measure."
Why these values?
"In 1948, the Declaration was adopted with 48 countries in favor without dissent. They are values to which all peoples agreed."
The General Assembly
Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as
a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations
, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction."
"So what? These are just words. Laws are violated all the time. What makes this special?"
These four values are all necessary conditions for human dignity.
Read the first sentence of the Preamble of
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
"Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of
all members of the human family
is the foundation of
in the world . . ."
The Preamble concludes that these values are the measures of future progress.
"Well, technically, there were abstentions from a number of countries. So not everyone agreed to them."
"Well, at the very least, all countries agreed not to disagree with it, knowing that dissent could have precluded the document from becoming law."
"Yeah, I guess. It's pretty hard to get all peoples to agree on one thing. So maybe it's good enough that these values aren't terrible."
"Even if you might not want them for others, you would certainly want them for yourself."
"These values are enshrined in binding international law. They must be the right metrics!"
Ask rself
"Are there better metrics to compare worlds?"
"What values are not considered but should have been? "
The Priority of Definition
Let's look at our values
a bit more in depth.
First, take a minute to define each of these values yourself.
We all have an intuitive idea of their meanings.
You might be surprised by how essentially contestable these concepts can be.
But do you think your definition would be the same as the person next to you?
What is
What is
What is
What is
One might look at how philosophers and theorists have defined these ideas.
"My fists are justice."
But for now let's assume to work with these simple definitions even if they are imperfect
Distributive justice refers to what we should owe to other people.
Liberty refers to an individual’s positive and negative freedoms to pursue his or her desires without harming themselves or others and without external intrusion.
Peace is simply the absence of war.
Pluralism refers to cultural diversity and group identity.
So far we've just looked at few.
But this is just the beginning.


Why would some worlds enjoy more or less of our four values?
What world order do you think would best promote our values?
Michael Walzer
"Governing the Globe: What is the Best We Can Do?"
"Worlds that triumph the individual."
"Worlds that eliminate poverty."
"Worlds with states at the center."
"Worlds that are the most democratic."
"Worlds where civil societies lead."
"Worlds with the best welfare systems."
"Imagine the possible political arrangements of international society as if they were laid out along a continuum marked off according to the degree of centralization. Obviously, there are alternative markings; the recognition and enforcement of human rights could also be measured along a continuum, as could democratization, welfare provision, pluralism, and so on. But focusing on centralization is the quickest way to reach the key political and moral questions, above all the classical question:
what is the best or the best possible regime?"
"Well, it all depends on the centralization of
global political order."
Think about what major writers, theorists, and philosophers have written.
List as many different global political orders you can think of.
Get a pencil and piece of paper.
It's hard, isn't it?
Well, here's a suggestion.
Here are some works that have described some possible orders.
Can you summarize each by filling in the blank with a few words?
"Author X argues for a ________ global political order."
Finally, arrange these orders on a spectrum, as Walzer suggested, from the least to the most centralized degree of unity.
Degree of Unity
Weak States
Civil Society
Degree of Unity
Can you think of other works?
Okay. Let's compare your answers with Walzer's.
Let's look at each archetype and how our values fare.

International Anarchy
Radically decentralized
A greater sovereign or law does not bind sovereign states
No organizations or long-lasting alliances around transnational issues
Cooperation happens only if there are coincident interests between states
Sovereignty is the best at protecting individual liberty and at preserving distinct historical cultures–national, ethnic, and religious
A situation of war or specter thereof
There are no international mechanisms to guard against inequality.
Weak States and Institutions
This is the least ideal world in the sense that it is the most similar to the actual world that we live in today.
There is some modification of state sovereignty, and there are more global organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank, and NATO, but they are still weak in the sense that they draw their powers from states.
Pluralism faces challenges here since weak states cannot protect their peoples.
There are weak protections for individual rights, and inequality has the potential to be high.
The frequency of conflict is less in this arrangement due to better organization and cooperation, but the threat of war remains.
International Civil Society Network
Role of states is limited; international associations proliferate across borders
International civil society associations tend to react to crises, rather than prevent them, lacking ability to plan, anticipate, and prevent
Understanding among peoples mitigates much conflict
Pluralism beyond borders thrives
Civil networks cannot always broker peace in countries torn by civil war.
Individuals are freer to communicate, associate, and bond with foreigners
Some actors’ liberties will be more pronounced than others, e.g., multinational corporations
Federation of Nation-States
Multiple power sources and international organizations, but order is oligarchic, and the greatest powers act as the central mediators
States must chose to give up sovereignty in return for a contract with a constitutional division of power
Oligarchy offers more material equality
Since states agree to an order, they will be less likely to go to war
Constitution also ensures signatory states some security over their cultures
Order is likely forced rather than chosen
Liberty suffers greatly.
Global Hegemonic Empire
One dominant power rules over all
Autonomy for other states would be granted, rather than achieved
Some room for cultural independence, but only according to the hegemon
Empire: one of the most stable regimes
Hegemon only guarantees peace for some cultural groups, who would be subjects rather than citizens
Individuals and groups within states would receive no guarantees
No necessary aim at distributive justice, and empire would display the most extreme form of inequality.
United Global State
Sovereign states do not exist
Governance: completely centralized
All people are equal citizens
Maximization of absolute peace and egalitarian distributive justice
But no cultural divergence and individual differences are ignored
Notions of individual liberty and cultural diversity will be challenged, since no individuals as we understand them today will exist because convergence eliminates all personal and cultural differences.
Alternative centers of power such as international civil society, international organizations, and regional unions
International organizations are strengthened on top of the institutional structures that exist today.
Regional organizations play a large role
Presents the least risk of tyranny from other individuals, states, and organizations.
Greatest political possibility in contrast to the guaranteed political success of a unified global state (defined later) or the uncertainty of international anarchy
Liberty will be variegated: individuals in different settings will have different protections and entitlements
Questionable prospects of peace for the worst off
Difficult to determine who is responsible to ensure basic human rights for those people in power centers indifferent to liberty, justice, peace, and pluralism
Disadvantages: no perpetual peace and no single identity.
Weak States
Civil Society
Can you categorize them under each archetype?
Whew, that was a lot to absorb!
Let's see how well you understand the archetypes.
Remember these writings?
Here's one way they might fall.
Were your pairings the same or different?
For more on global orders, read or watch:
International Anarchy
Kenneth Waltz,
Man, the State and War: A Theoretical Analysis
(New York: Columbia University Press, 2001).
Robert Nozick,
Anarchy, State, and Utopia
(Basic Books, 1974).

Weak States and Institutions
John Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2003).
Robert Jervis, "Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma,"
World Politics
30, No. 2 (1978): 167-214.
Stewart Patrick, “Global Governance Monitor,” Council on Foreign Relations, available at www.cfr.org/global-governance/global-governance-monitor/p18985#!/.
Bruce Jones et. al., “The State of the International Order,” Policy Paper No. 33, Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution, February 2014, available at www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2014/02/state-of-the-international-order.

International Civil Society Network
Samuel P. Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?”
Foreign Affairs
72, No. 3 (Summer 1993): 22–49, available at http://online.sfsu.edu/mroozbeh/CLASS/h-607-pdfs/S.Huntington-Clash.pdf.
Anne-Marie Slaughter,
A New World Order
(New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2005) and “America’s Edge: Power in the Networked Century,”
Foreign Affairs
88, No. 1 (January/February 2009): 94–113. See a video presentation on similar themes “Lego World” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kv0z7tIsO8U.
Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu,
Who Controls the Internet: Illusions of a Borderless World
(New York: Oxford University Press 2006).
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,
Humanitarianism in the Network Age
, OCHA Policy and Studies Series (New York: UN, 2013), available at www.unocha.org/hina.
Global Orders
Decentered World
Ian Bremmer,
Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World
(New York: Portfolio, 2012). A video presentation of the book held at Carnegie Council on June 5, 2012 is available at www.ustream.tv/recorded/23098456. See also, www.carnegiecouncil.org/studio/thought-leaders/leaders/bremmer- ian/index.html.
Charles Kupchan,
No One’s World: The West, The Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). A video presentation of the book held at Carnegie Council on April 4, 2012 is available at   www.ustream.tv/recorded/21596646.
Fareed Zakaria,
The Post-American World and the Rise of the Rest
(New York: Penguin Books, 2009).
Andrew Hurrell, “One World? Many Worlds? The Place of Regions in the Study of International Society,”
International Affairs
83, No. 1 (January 2007): 127–146, available at www.mwmt.co.uk/documents/MWML2006_Hurrell.pdf.

Global Hegemonic Empire
Charles Krauthammer, “The Unipolar Moment,” Foreign Affairs 70, No. 1 (1990/1991): 23–33, available at www.metu.edu.tr/~utuba/Krauthammer.pdf.
Robert Keohane, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984).

Unified Global State
Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?,” The National Interest 16, (Summer 1989): 3–18.
Global Governance and Values
Michael Walzer, “Governing the Globe: What is the Best We Can Do?,”
(Fall 2000).
Wow. That was
a lot of theory
You understand how Walzer's worlds show why values may vary.
Congrats on making it this far.
You deserve some stickers!
You can identify values that can be used as standards for the future.
Great job!
Way to go!
Weak States
Civil Society
Hey, do you want to earn another sticker?
Let's return to Earth and to the predicted worlds.
Well grounded!
This world will be more stable and prosperous since it will be more socially cohesive and cooperative.
At the national, regional, and global levels, the rich will get richer, and the poor will get poorer.
Innovations will alleviate stresses on the food, water, and energy nexus.
The EU will use today’s eurozone crisis as a catalyst for political restructuring.
Technological innovation will skyrocket as all growth in all economies—developing, emerging, and OECD—accelerates.
Trust among civilizations will increase. Multilateral institutions will become more inclusive.
China will undergo political reform.
Both countries will coordinate to avoid conflict in the South China Sea, and they will look for other opportunities to cooperate.
This forward-thinking inclination sets a norm of cooperation over competition that other countries will internalize.
US and China realizing a shared interest in a growing global economy without conflict.
Nuclear fusion
is a reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei . . .
2030 World
and join to form a new type of atomic nucleus.
collide at a very high speed . . .
because some of the matter is converted to energy.
During this process, matter is not conserved . . .
E = Δmc
A global black swan
shock such as a pandemic will expose the weakness of multilateral governance as rich countries shield their own citizens from the poor countries where diseases might originate.
Fundamental economic and political reforms in China and India will not be made.
The US and EU no longer lead.
Globalization slows.
Emerging economies will continue to grow, but beneath their potential.
Technological innovation will consequently slow, although connectivity will continue
to grow.
The European Union will unravel as countries leave the eurozone.
The risk of interstate conflict increases in Asia and the Middle East.
An engine
This can happen due to 3 systematic failures.
stalls because it is not igniting gas in the cylinders.
A Fuel System Failure
Electrical System Failure
A Mechanical System Failure
Global Exhaustion
These failures could lead to . . .
Nongovernmental Organizations
Wealthy Individuals
The initiative on global challenges will be taken by . . .
With new technologies, individuals and small groups will no longer need governments to provide their services.
Social media, mobile communications, and big data will increasingly connect and inform individuals.
Governments will play the role of facilitators rather than directors.
International governance institutions will have to accommodate nonstate actors at the same table as states.
Dangers may also persist. Terrorists and criminal networks will be able to wield lethal and disruptive technologies and slip through the cracks of a patchwork of competing security authorities.
Private capital and philanthropy will outstrip official development assistance.
The global values of elites and the middle-class will have converged on poverty, the environment, anti-corruption, rule of law, and peace.
Line of equality
Cumulative share of people from lowest to highest incomes
Cumulative share of income earned
Inequality within and between countries characterizes this world.
Chinese political institutions will become unstable while its coastal cities thrive and middle-class dreams will be snuffed out by corruption and governance gaps.

These political and economic inequalities will also increase the risk of intra- and interstate conflict.
With America disengaged and Europe looking after itself, African countries at most risk of state failure will suffer from sectarian tribal and ethnic conflicts without the sympathy of international aid and peacekeeping forces.
Uncompetitive Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal will be thrown out of the eurozone.
The US’s hydraulic fracturing investments and technological innovations will maintain its status the preeminent power.
Although global GDP growth will be greater than in the Stalled Engines world, the least well off in this world are worse off than in any other alternative.
Activate your inter-dimensional devices.
Up and atom!
Alright, we're done with this world.
Activate your inter-dimensional devices.
Next, we'll visit a world less well off.
Alright, we're done with this world.
What were the most prominent trends in each world?
Weak States
Civil Society
How do you think our values will fare in each world?
How would you categorize each world?
Well, that's the last of the US worlds.
But there's no time! Wipe the grease off your hands, and activate your inter-dimensional devices.
On to the next world!
Alright, we're done with this world.
Ok, so you can now split atoms, fix an engine, make new friends, and see the dangers of inequality.
Maybe you're now considering a career in auto repair.
Take off that lab coat. There are many more worlds to explore—on to the next!
Maybe we can visit our new friends another day. But there are other important considerations.
But what does it all mean?
Interdimensional travel can be disorienting, especially for first-time voyagers . . .
Let's think about these worlds more systematically.
If you're feeling a bit lost, don't worry.
Take some time to think about the following questions.
Congrats! You have just systematically evaluated these worlds.
We'll go back the theories we discussed earlier to help us get our bearings.
Whom did they focus on?
What did they focus on?
How comprehensive were the trends in each world?
Would you have predicted the same worlds?
Was there more or less governance than today?
What was the role of international institutions?
Do individuals need states?
Was there one center or more in each world?
Were groups of states colluding?
Was one state directing all others?
Was there only one government?
Fill in the blank with one of the worlds.
had the least
had the most
had the most
had the least
Hopefully, they make more sense now. This is a big deal.
This type of analysis will help you plan for the future.
"Will I be the same in each world?"
"Will I be different in each world?"
"Who will I be?!?!"
"Where will I be?!?!"
"Too . . .
worlds . . .
many . . .

Why These Values?
Full transcript