Sunday 8 November 2015

Who is 'the Most Powerful' Really?

Posted by Martin Cohen 

This 'thought experimenter' was powerful in a way too

The 'Rich list' was bad enough, but oh no, here comes the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People!

Forbes' list  (Reuters' picture version is here)  is really silly stuff – but more than that – its publication and repetition around the world’s media, show how little we respect AUTHORS and artists and doctors and scientists and philosophers and... well you can add your own kind of ‘powerful’ people. Here though, it is Putin is first, Obama second and the Pope is No. 4.

Forbes said it took four factors into consideration when it created the list: how many people they have power over (that looks like a tautology, if you ask me); the financial resources they control (in what sense? Obama can’t really spend the US Treasury on his projects); if they have influence in more than one sphere (wobbly criterion); and how actively they throw their weight around in the world. That last one is the real indicator of how crude the thinking is here. Is a politician more powerful if they wage a war or if they achieve their aims through behind-the-scenes diplomacy?

Curious perhaps, though, given these rules, is to take a second look at Facebook’s Zuckerberg. He’s rich – but does he really throw his weight around? Does he control us when we  click his 'like' buttons?

It’s a highly political list...

Obama had been on the top of the list every year he had been President except in 2010, when Hu Jintao, the former political and military leader of China, was Numero Uno. Steve Forbes is a Presidential hopeful, as well as magazine organ grinder. The crowd-pulling monkey in this case is Forbes writer, Caroline Howard, who explained some of the thinking:
“Putin has solidified his control over Russia, while Obama's lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president — latest example: the government shutdown mess.” 
... but I’d go further. It’s not just politics, it's crass, childish and perpetuates myths about what is really important in life and society. Bankers, financiers and increasingly politicians too, are people who circulate money - not people who change the world. Ideas, not individuals, truly change the world!


Thomas O. Scarborough said...

Karl Jaspers wrote something along the lines that (this is from memory) only he who has grown from the depth of his inner self can rise above the medium of his society, to be a real communicator. That would give a new twist to "the medium is the message": the culture is the message. But now, can one separate ideas and individuals: "ideas, not individuals"? Forbes, after all, put their list together on certain cultural ideas. Methinks we need yet to tease this apart somewhat.

docmartincohen said...

In the case of Forbes, the message is very simple, isn't it? I'm not sure he deserves to be considered a communicator, let alone a 'real' one.

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