The End of Power

The author, Moises Naim discussed his book “The End of Power at Chatham House”. He argues that we all know about the power shift across the globe; from West to East, from palace to streets, from giant corporations to small startups, from men to women and from the old to the young in politics. But he draws our attention to the phenomenon of power not just shifting, but decaying. Power is now easier to get, harder to use and easier to lose. We see all these happening in Egypt and India. While those on top still hold power, it is much less than what their predecessors had because today’s leaders face more challenges of competition, technology, citizen activism, volatility of global markets and the 24/7 media scrutiny. Kodak lost to digital photography and Syria flouted the Obama’s red line, an institution such as the Washington Post founded in 1877 has been bought over by Amazon barely 20 years old. Somewhat counter intuitive – a study that measured victory and defeat in battles, showed that 55% of the time the weaker side won. War has become asymmetric with DIY weapons like drones and IEDs (improvised explosive devices). For each dollar that the Al-Qaeda spends, the US needs to spend $7 mn. The reason for this decaying power is threefold; i) more – there is abundance, prosperity and confidence, ii) mobility – geography is not destiny, people, ideas and money are not captive and are flowing across the globe making it that much more difficult to govern by domestic powers, iii) mentality – people have hopes, aspirations and much greater awareness and therefore low tolerance. Attitudes and values are changing the world over. The relationship between power and money is no more linear because there are many more wealthy people across the world and there is less concentration in the hands of a few. Further, due to decline in trust, there are several checks and balances resulting in less power.

It looks like no one person or several people together are running the world.

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