Diplomacy is Capability

Diplomacy is often referred to as “soft power”. That framing is more a measure of diplomatic prowess than a result of the simple fact of having diplomats. Bad diplomacy may, in fact, reduce the amount of overall influence a nation has. Soft power is not a given; it is a complex, high-stakes endeavor, and necessary…

Truth Matters

Frederick Douglass was born a slave, but eventually escaped to freedom. He then became a publisher, abolitionist, orator, and US Ambassador. In his autobiography—a true must-read for anyone who wants to understand American history—he describes how learning to read drove his process of personal liberation. He learned he was free in his mind long before…

Science is a National Security Imperative

Sound science and the free flow of facts are a national security imperative. Without genuine investigation, a willingness to discover evidence, and ways to ensure that reliable, useful, accurate information is moving freely, everyone is less able to know which choices will have which ramifications, and so everyone is less able to make informed choices…

Playing with Dragons

Why we choose the burden of outdated power structures The modern age opened with the advent of modern science and a deliberative effort to demonstrate truth with examination of evidence. Modern democratic processes emerged from this break with feudal history. Today, we are living in post-modern times—the period after modern breakthroughs became the general foundation…

The Emerging Empowerment Economy

All the building we have to do… For many years, the engineers of the United States have warned that infrastructure urgently needs trillions of dollars in routine maintenance, and trillions more in updates and upgrades. Infrastructure is the shared framework on which we build a thriving economy. Businesses of all sizes are able to compete…

The Politics of Exigency

Fierce Urgency & Democracy Rooted in Deep Principle Exigency is an immediate state of pervasive intense demand on our attention. “Exigent circumstances” are considered to be both emergent and critical enough to override one’s normal free will and moral decision-making. Under extreme pressures, the argument goes, one is less able to “live up to” the…

Constellation of Forces: Measuring Good in Lived Experience

A city is a constellation of forces, a map of relational dynamics tracing human need, aspiration, action, and invention, a wager against bleak limitation, and a beacon in the darkness that shows a network of souls have gathered to pool their imaginations. A city can be of any size; it is a polity—a civic space…

Beyond Feudalism: Shared Sovereignty, Human Dignity & Open Information

There is a tension between the feudal system and modernity, which is most usefully illustrated by the differences in how feudalism and democracy treat knowledge. In the feudal system, where powerful landlords control access to resources and consume the political space, general scientific, historical, and technical knowledge is jealously guarded and is shared with working…

Freedom from Tyranny: Redefined

A New Blueprint for Human Liberty We want a future characterized by freedom from tyranny and deprivation. We want a future characterized by open access to education and empowerment. These wants are also needs, if we are to build a human civilization capable of the flexibility and resilience required to outlast the risks that flow…

Macrocritical Value Generation: The Roots of Future Opportunity

Historically, when observers to the Bretton Woods institutions would raise issues of macrocritical value distortion, they were generally told “That’s not our business.” The common practice was to treat environmental damage, the degradation of basic rights, limited access to education, as “unquantifiables” or as “social issues”. IMF leadership would refer to the founding mission as dealing…

An Evolving Biochemical Technicolor Birdsnest

We need to think of economics as something much wider and more diverse than the 2-dimensional graphs we are so used to. Economists, investors and political leaders routinely push us to believe economic progress means expansion over time. When the total amount of goods, services and currency exchanged in a given place expands over a…

Intergenerational Equity: Time to Stop Adding Harm to the Future

In the Paris Agreement, 195 nations acknowledge “that climate change is a common concern of humankind,” and agree to “respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on … intergenerational equity.” Intergenerational equity refers to the ethical principle that we should not discount the cost of harm when it falls on future generations. A number of…