We need alternative energy, a global Magna Carta and a base on Marsby Garry Kasparov / January 25, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in February 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
My first step as ruler of the world would be to announce a timetable to elect my replacement. Even in a thought experiment we should acknowledge realities, and no system of government can be effective for long when it is not responsive to the people. This is not merely about power corrupting, or that even a benevolent dictator will fail to fulfil the needs of his subjects. An authoritarian regime may competently fulfil its initial promise, or resolve an existing crisis, but without the feedback loop of democracy, moral and intellectual stagnation are inevitable.
Democracies are not immune to this societal hardening of the arteries either. The current global malaise and the financial crisis that precipitated it are the result of decades of rising complacency in the west. But the intervention of a powerful government is more likely to exacerbate such problems than to bring meaningful solutions. The free market is what works—and having the state help it is usually a contradiction in terms. Indeed, my last act as ruler would be to dissolve many of the institutions under my control, along with my office.
Of course, I would not have accepted this position without indulging a few of my whims, too.
In fairytales, the one wish that cannot be granted is usually true love, and my powers are similarly inadequate. This is a shame, as my dream is to rekindle the love of exploration and achievement that carried humanity from the Renaissance to the Moon landing. From the peak of their influence in the 1970s, the values of sacrifice, risk, investment and excellence have been steadily supplanted by the values of gratification, security, credit and equality. Instead of building the future, we are in a desperate struggle to preserve the status quo.
To kick-start the return to innovation, I would curtail the use of fossil fuels and launch a trillion-dollar initiative for alternative energies. This is not the defeatist, turn-back-the-clock vision of the Kyoto protocol and i…