Talk for Article "Global power & Influence, Part 5: non-state global actors"

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    To be honest, I felt this article didn’t help me understand the issues much. It listed a series of non-state actors that potentially wield global influence, but seemed to make little effort to analyse or assess the extent to which they *actually* affect the political or economic state of the world, or to address issues such as the potential or actual benefits and harm that could result from such influence.

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      Thank you Peter Clarke. Following on your comment, I’ve modified the section on NGOs so as to give some sense of the large role they play. The conclusion of that paragraph now reads “It is significant that several of these NGOs began operations in the 1960s and 1970s, when public opinion was becoming aware of large-scale humanitarian and ecological risks, which individual states were not able to address efficiently.” (Modification pending approval by WT editing staff).

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    Apologies if i am using this box wrongly.
    Just a few thoughts though:-

    The capital at disposal being highlighted this way may seem to give weightage to it being the weight behind their punches but methinks the real weight comes from the immense data they control and most importantly how we communicate and lead our lives; therefore by extension, how we even think. I recently read an article by George Soros where he commented on the fast disappearing freedom of mind a la John Stuart Mill and i think i agree that this is the truly “sinister” part of the growing powers of non state actors such as corporations. The soft power.

    In a world where borders are becoming increasingly meaningless, the rather stagnant functionings of largely border defined governments are becoming outcompeted by the amorphous corporations which can perhaps in itself soon be defined as a borderless governmental equivalent actor as well.

    Many sci-fi dystopians portrays a world ruled by corporations replacing governments, although i would not dare claim to predict the future – the growing soft powers and effective control of society unheard of until recent advances of technology seems to make this somewhat plausible.

    Actual ebbs and flows in modes of industries such as space sector tended to be governmental in the past but now we see individuals and corporations making strides with great publicity, albeit tied with governmental contracts. With environmental devastation and scarcity to push humanity outward bound towards space, along with constant introduction of entirely new industries – corporations may as well soon be the final determiners of what happens to humanity. Would governmental forces even be able to intervene continuously? For how long?
    The patterns of human behaviours, examining how people willingly give up all their personal data to permit usage of “cool” stuff seems to suggest billions not really caring or understand how power is leaking like Deepwater Horizon towards “drivers of innovations”, in this case unicorn corporations.

    The bit on LDS is interesting, it shows that even religious institutions understand how data is power.
    Unrestrained and unregulated data is then absolute power.

    On education, indeed it does feel like it is the crux of future economic prospects. This is a sore point for many developing nations, sore for the NGOs but not necessarily the same for those in power. A more subservient population tended to be one produced by a rote system that does not promote critical thinking. Whereas those fortunate few who enjoy great success, as named in the article in regards to Montessori does seem to have great concerns for social impacts when their window blinds are open to onlookers.
    There is also an entire debate on whether a corporation should follow the laws of a foreign nation when it is completely anathema to values that protects individual liberty, social well being and et cetera. Then again, the alternative would mean closing shop and letting the local clone dominate the market. Where in certain nations – the corporate sector and the government are effectively one and the same. Especially in the control of all data.

    This may seem odd but it appears that autocratic governments may yet outlive the alternatives when it comes to the growing powers of corporations and how the populace willingly surrender theirs to them. The autocrats becomes the corporations whereas elsewhere the corporations replaces the governments. Perhaps this is too dim a view or that i have watched way too many dystopian sci-fi lately. Blade Runner 2049 anyone?

    Point of this lengthy comment is that it may be corporations that are of the most significance for this entire series of articles. If not now, then very soon.

    P.s. : sorry for the typos or syntax in general, English is not my native language.

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      Thank you Fourth Wall. Unless I’m mistaken, your exegesis addresses news and journalism in general, not my article in particular.

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    As Alan already mentioned , countries versus global operation companies by their bare number is probably not a valuable comparison. Better use other companies e.g. equal number of Employees or an asset comparisson to show the discrepancies between investors expectations and the rational value one might expect

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      Thank you Robert Bloom. As indicated in my reply to Alan Flanagan (below), the article did not seek to establish an exact equivalence between a country and a corporation. The indicators were chosen because they can give, in condensed form, a quick global picture of a business (e.g. the market capitalisation of Facebook), while at the same time giving an order of magnitude relative to the GDP of a country. Further, the number of employees can be quite different among economic sectors, with low numbers say at AirBnB, but high numbers in the motor car industry or in retail commerce.

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    Why would you try to compare capitalization of a company to the GDP of a country? Shouldn’t you use revenue or cash flow as an illustration of commerce. The capitalization of a country includes all of its assets (including potential natural resources).

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      Thank you Alan Flanagan. The article is about power and influence on a global scale, and does not purport to study countries and corporations in purely economic or financial terms. In international studies, some elements are significant (demographics, rate of literacy, average level of education, GDP, debt, distribution of wealth, etc.), while the appraisal of companies is conducted on different lines, where capitalisation is one among many (mainly financial, economic, management) criteria.

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    I hope that Wikitribune will develop in the way that is unbiased toward or against religion. I am not seeing that in this series. I admit it is subtle before this article, with Part 4 saying implying religion and education are opposites (“the prevalence of religion over education”).

    This article is more biased with its caricature definition of religion (“As the prophets or messengers of their respective gods, these figures were elevated above any possible human challenge or scientific inquiry, and as a result religious doctrines retain a huge influence among their “faithful” for whom their “faith” or belief is placed above all else”). While it would be possible to provide evidence for this claim by citing religious authorities that agree with this statement (none of are cited), one would be hard pressed to find a survey that shows a majority of the followers of the listed religions agree.

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      Thank you William Johnston. “Toward or against religion” is not a neutral expression, and is in line with inter-religious tolerance and inter-faith studies. But that is not the only possible approach. From an anthropological vantage point, beliefs, ideologies and religions are part of the history of human development over many millenia. The expression “of their respective gods” underlines the fact that religions do not necessarily share the same supreme reference. As for the expression “their faith or belief is placed above all else”, it is based not on a narrow study of a given religion over a short period of time, but of various beliefs over centuries, as is evidenced by the great number of wars waged in the name of religion. Against this background, seeking approval from religious authorities, or conducting a survey among them, would not be neutral, as it would exclude those of a different opinion, e.g. those who do not believe in a god or gods. As you probably know, these matters have been studied in depth by, say, Richard Dawkins in “The Blind Watchmaker” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blind_Watchmaker ), André Comte-Sponville in “The Book of Atheist Spirituality” ( https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1081587/the-book-of-atheist-spirituality/ ), Michel Onfray in “Décadence”, Yuval Noah Harari in “Homo sapiens” ( https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/11120947/Sapiens-a-Brief-History-of-Humankind-by-Yuval-Noah-Harari-review-urgent-questions.html ) followed by “Homo deus” ( https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/sep/11/homo-deus-brief-history-tomorrow-yuval-noah-harari-review ). In our time, history, archeology, religious studies all deserve to be examined with the same cognitive methods.

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        I’m curious as to why you think “toward or against religion” is not a neutral expression. I intended it to include both sides equally.

        I agree with your statements: ‘From an anthropological vantage point, beliefs, ideologies and religions are part of the history of human development over many millenia. The expression “of their respective gods” underlines the fact that religions do not necessarily share the same supreme reference.’

        I think if you mean to make an argument that “the great number of wars waged in the name of religion” implies “their faith or belief is placed above all else”, you would have to start by showing a great number of wars waged in the name of religion, and then show how it implies the second. Neither claim is obvious to me.

        As to why it is not necessary to survey those who do not believe in God or gods to validate the claim “their faith or belief is placed above all else”, we need only note that the claim is about what religious people believe, not about what non-religious people believe. One would have demonstrate that religious people actually do believe “their faith or belief is placed above all else”. The beliefs of non-religious people have no bearing on whether the claim is true.

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          Thank you William Johnston. My article is a simple reminder that sovereign states had a monopoly in various areas (public aid, pandemia, climate change, space exploration…) in which a variety of non-state actors are now engaged. If we were attending a seminar in comparative theology, I would gladly discuss hermeneutics.

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    I see that the story is tagged as an “Essay”. As a 30+ year journalist, I have never seen an opinion piece tagged as such. Unless I am much mistaken, this is not an academic site, and I think it would be seriously mistaken to adopt the tone of an academic outlet – there are already plenty of those. Suggestion: that WikiTribune follows normal media practice and tag opinion pieces as “Opinion” or (shorter pieces) “comment”.

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      We don’t do commentary or opinion though this is close to what is commonly thought of as commentary. To be clear also: you were commenting on the DRAFT and unedited version. Please check the published version to see if you still feel the same way. I created Essay deliberately to cover this issue where you have someone with great experience and a strong approach to writing. Jean Jacques has also been remarkably responsive to making changes to the story to remove areas that are assertions that are our sound like opinions.

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