- Written by: Kamran Mofid
- Hits: 3962
Dear friends of Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI)
A very warm greeting to you all during this season of Light and Celebration. May you and yours enjoy Companionship, Joy and Wonder, and may the Peace spoken of in all faiths fill your hearts with Hope and Love.
As we celebrate in our various special ways
the gift of Life, Love and Light,
May Joy and Blessings be with you and your families
and may all people in the New Year
join together in serving the common good
and creating a world of peace and justice
where they learn war no more
and everyone sits under their own vine and fig tree
and no one makes them afraid.
In this season of hope, I am much hopeful about the future of this remarkable Initiative that we, that is, all of us, together have built for the common good. For the past nearly ten years, our Initiative has been at the forefront of promoting thoughtful interpretation of it means to be good in all we do, personally and professionally. We have insisted that the abundance that comes from God and earth, and from human effort, must be shared. Concentrated in the hands of the few, it becomes a lethal clot in the circulatory system of our world.
We insisted that as long as economics, politics, business, education and more are based on just a partial understanding of humanity and human reality, they will not produce the results we need. They should all be about human well-being in society and this cannot be separated from moral and spiritual considerations.
With the support of our contributors and supporters we have achieved this through:
- Outreach – GCGI has brought together scholars, researchers, religious and spiritual leaders, academicians, universities, think tanks, the business community, the youths and civic leaders and others in a global network of cooperation in many countries and continents.
- Research – We have created important new knowledge through major research initiatives bridging economics, business, education, humanities, social sciences, globalisation, religions, cultures and civilisations.
- Publishing – GCGI publishes a major multi and inter-disciplinary online journal with many subscribers. Whilst many publications are for- profit, our journal is for-truth and for-real with no advertisements or commercialism. It is free-access, no credit cards, no passwords, no login, all there for the use by the public.
- Education – GCGI enriches public understanding and encourages public engagement through lectures, conferences, and other educational events.
GCGI has operated in ways big and small, but our goal has always been the same—to advance rigorous multi and interdisciplinary, intercultural, and interreligious debate and reflection about what "it" all means and what is to become of our global civilization, our species, and our planet. To some, ours may seem a lofty endeavour, but we have accomplished it through practical objectives. We have achieved it, because all of us together have worked for and in promoting the common good.
At GCGI we seek the “Whole Story of the Whole Cosmos for the Whole Person." We seek it because we do not have it, but we believe that the quest itself is at the centre of solving some of the great challenges of the twenty-first century - ecological dangers and economic threats; food and water shortages; war and terrorism; sustainability, business ethics and corporate social responsibility, health and wellbeing. There is plenty of brainpower being applied today, but humanity has lost sight of the big picture, of how it all hangs together.
This is why we have been at the forefront of seeking answers to the deeper questions that rarely find their way into political debate and public discourse. Questions that are deeply ethical and spiritual: What is the source of true happiness and well-being? What is the good life? What is the purpose of economic life? What does it mean to be a human being living on a spaceship with finite resources?
Seeking the big picture is a tall order for any single organization, which is why we strongly believe that the best solutions are the outcome of cooperation, dialogue and engagement for the common good. This is why from the very beginning in 2002 we have always worked in tandem with others, benefiting from their wisdom, experience, love, support and friendship.
In our work and research, since the early days of 2002, together with all those who have supported us, we have offered a vision that positions the quest for economic and social justice, peace and ecological sustainability, ethical and corporate social responsibility within the framework of a spiritual consciousness grounded in the practice of open-heartedness, generosity, and caring for others.
The GCGI concept is inclusive, mindful of environment and the human connection to nature. Our vision encourages us to believe that real, viable, sustainable, ethical, and profitable capitalism is possible. What is needed to realize our vision is a more inclusive holistic view of “the bottom line.” Success needs to be redefined in a manner that leads to dramatic transformation of people and societies spiritually, economically, socially, and environmentally, if we desire to pass on a better world to our children and grand-children.
This year California Lutheran University showcased our Ninth Annual international Conference (http://www.gcgi.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=94&Itemid=84 ). In June 2011, our Tenth Annual international Conference will be hosted at Bibliotheca Alexandria with the main theme of “Globalisation for the Common Good and the Dialogue of Civilisations: Building Peace, Justice, and Prosperity Together” (http://www.gcgalexandria2011.info/).
How well we succeed in changing our world for the better, so that we can build a world that is just, free and prosperous for all, will depend on our collective capacities to mobilise interest and master enthusiasm around our common vision and our collective action. This call to action should be heard loud and clear. So please share our message with all of your colleagues and friends: Alexandria, Egypt, 2011 will be the place where we will come together with a positive global focus, inviting all to march with us along the path of wisdom, dialogue, justice, peace and the common good for all.
And now as the year winds to a close, I want, once again, to thank you for your ongoing commitment to the common good. We have shown the world that the best will become possible when we work and cooperate together.
My wife, Annie, joins me and we together wish all our friends at the GCGI our warmest regards and best wishes for a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.
Kamran and Annie
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
- Hits: 4247
Will we ever learn just to be content? Asks John Lanchester in a very interesting article in today’s(10 December 2010) Independent
No. Says Kamran Mofid: As long as the foundations of our socio-economic and political systems and philosophy is built upon greed, envy, fear, competition and inequality, and as long as the measurement of “happiness” and “success” is based mainly on how much money one makes, how much one consumes and owns. And what a false philosophy this is: all is shattered when one discovers that their friends, neighbours, fellow-workers...are earning more, spending more, having more,...
Perhaps the answer is to debate this issue at our universities, the business schools and departments of economics and more. Maybe we should have courses on “What is Happiness?”: What is it that gives us a more lasting happiness, rather than the transient ones, which we mostly teach our students: money, power, position and possession? As it stands we are obsessed with unbridled growth, “more and more is better” philosophy. Can we not engage with our students and start thinking “about when we have sufficient – sufficient money, sufficient stuff – and whether we really need the things we think we do, beyond what we already have?”. Can we not tell them “that we should look less at what our next-door neighbours have, and more at what the rest of the planet dreams of having. Then, we should try to learn to be content where we are. In a world running out of resources, the most important ethical and political and ecological idea can be summed up in one simple word: "enough".
...”Living happily is “the desire of us all, but our minds is blinded to a clear vision of just what it is that makes life happy”. The root of happiness is ethical behaviour, and thus the ancient idea of moral education and cultivation, is essential to ideal of joyfulness”...
- Written by: Kamran Mofid, PhD
- Hits: 14746
In October 2010, an international student movement to free the economics curriculum from its neoclassical straightjacket was launched at the University of California at Berkeley)...
The Sorbonne, Oxford and Cambridge and now the Berkeley
In 2005, in my co-authored book, Promoting the Common Good, I highlighted the fact that students are rebelling against the way economics is being taught. Please see the following passage from the book.
…”The obviously contrived nature of neo-classical economics has begun to attract many calls for change. One of the most vocal has come from university students. This is music to my ears. It is something I would very much like to share with you.
In the spring of 2000 an interesting dichotomy between theory and reality in economics teaching appeared in France when economics students from some of the most prestigious universities, including the Sorbonne, published a petition on the internet urging fellow students to protest against the way economics was being taught. They were against the domination of rationalist theories, the marginalisation of critical and reflective thought and the use of increasingly complex mathematical models. Some argued that the drive to make economics more like physics was flawed, and that it should be wrenched back in line with its more social aspects. They called the economics they were being taught ‘autistic’– divorced from reality – and called for a post-autistic economics that would ‘rescue economics from its autistic and socially irresponsible state’. Autisme-economie, the Post- Autistic Economics (PAE) movement, was born”…
Read the whole chapter 4:
(Pages 34-39 deals with the Sorbonne as well as the campaign by group of PhD candidates at Oxford and Cambridge universities who issued their own manifestos “Opening Up Economics”)
Today the students of economics at Berkeley have started their own revolution against the dismal science of mambo jumbo. This is very significant, as now many around the world have discovered the role that neo-classical economics and economists have played in the current financial and economic meltdown. Given your own interest in this subject, I have provided you with the link to the Berkeley Students’ Manifesto for New Economics below.
The next obvious step for all those who love economics as it was, a subject of wisdom, beauty and elegance, is to come together and see how we may be able to rescue it from the “Guilty” ones and take it back to the fertile field on which it was born- moral philosophy amid the broader questions of human existence and meaning.
Below you can see further on the urgency of our task:
Put your trust in Socrates, not economists
Editorial, The Observer, 16 August 2009
"THE WISDOM OF Socrates was famously summarised as his ability to know that he knew nothing. So in modern times he would probably be an economist. Few saw the credit crunch coming. Since it arrived, opinions as to the severity of its consequences, its effects on different nations and the prescriptions to remedy them have varied wildly"...
- Read the Editorial: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/aug/16/socrates-credit-crunch-global-economy/print
Economists are the forgotten guilty men
Academics - and their mad theories - are to blame for the financial crisis. They too deserve to be hauled into the dock
From The Times
February 5, 2009
…” The answer was beautifully expressed two generations ago by John Maynard Keynes: “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”
What the “madmen in authority” were hearing this time was the echo of a debate that consumed academic economists in the 1960s and 1970s - a debate won by the side whose theories turned out to be wrong. This debate was about the “efficiency” of markets and the “rationality” of the investors, consumers and businesses who inhabit them.
On those two dubious adjectives “rational” and “efficient” an enormous theoretical superstructure of models, regulatory prescriptions and computer simulations was built. And without this intellectual framework, the bankers and politicians would never have built the towers of bad debt and bad policy that have come crashing down”...
…“ Equally pernicious has been the stifling of intellectual debate among academic economists, who have spent the past 20 years arguing about the properties of their imaginary mathematical models rather than the behaviour of the real economy these models were supposed to describe.
The question, not only for professional economists but for all those in politics and business who have relied on these ideas, is what will happen to economics now that its fundamental assumptions and mathematical models have been totally discredited by events.
There seem to be only two options. Either the subject has to be abandoned as an academic discipline and becomes a mere appendage of the collection and analysis of statistics. Or it must undergo an intellectual revolution.
The prevailing academic orthodoxy has to be recognised as a blind alley. Economics will have to revert to a genuine competition between diverse intellectual approaches - such as behavioural psychology, sociology, control engineering and the mathematics of chaos theory.
So economics is on the brink of a paradigm shift. We are where astronomy was when Copernicus realised that the Earth revolves around the Sun. The academic economics of the past 20 years is comparable to pre-Copernican astronomy, with its mysterious heavenly cogs, epicycles and wheels within wheels or maybe even astrology, with its faith in star signs.
The academic Establishment will resist such a shift, as it always does. But luckily economists understand incentives. They should now be given a clear choice: embrace new ideas or return their public funding and Nobel prizes, alongside the bankers' bonuses they justified and inspired”.
Now is the time for a revolution in economic thought
Anatole Kaletsky: Economic View
From The Times
February 9, 2009
…”While some economists had warned for years about global trade imbalances, escalating house prices, of excessive consumer borrowing, none of them remotely foresaw the truly unprecedented feature of the present crisis: the total breakdown of financial markets caused by the unforced blunders by investors and banks. Modern economists were inherently incapable of understanding such a problem because they assumed that investors were “rational” and markets “efficient”…
“…George Soros is no mathematician like Mandelbrot, but he has repeatedly demonstrated far better understanding of how market economies work than any professional economist by using psychological and philosophical ideas”…
“…One reason why such fruitful insights have been ignored is the convention adopted by academic economists some 30 years ago that all serious ideas must be expressed in equations, not words. By this weird standard, the intellectual giants of the subject — Adam Smith, Ricardo, Keynes, Hayek — would not now be recognised as serious economists at all”…
Who taught them greed is good?
To what extent are business schools' MBA courses responsible for the global financial crash?
Peter Walker, The Observer, Sunday 8 March 2009
…” Harvard MBAs are usually worn as a badge of pride, especially when, as with Hornby, you graduate as the top student in your year. But as the debris settles from the worldwide collapse in credit and banking confidence and the reckoning begins on who exactly led the financial system into chaos, an increasing number of fingers are being pointed at leading business schools”...
“Similar arguments have been made before, most recently when US energy giant Enron imploded amid a mountain of concealed debt, a scandal stewarded by another Harvard alumnus, Jeffrey Skilling. Too many MBA programmes, the simplified version goes, draw in young, greedy types with little business experience and indoctrinate them with half-baked management and finance theories, along with an unshakeable belief in their own talents, before sending them out to earn ill-deserved fortunes in investment banking and consulting”...
…” Unusually for a business school professor, Rao expresses serious misgivings about the fundamental ethos of such institutions: "Our top business schools are really not education institutions, they are indoctrination institutions. There are certain things which are so much dogma that you don't even want to encourage any challenge to them - the primacy and efficiency of markets, maximising shareholder value. These things are not in question."
He believes that notions developed in business schools such as agency theory, which argues that the managers' interests and those of their shareholders need to be aligned through devices such as stock options, have created a world of short-term profits in which executives gorge on bonuses”...
A Note on what Economics should be:
”The focus of economics should be on the benefit and the bounty that the economy produces, on how to let this bounty increase, and how to share the benefits justly among the people for the common good, removing the evils that hinder this process. Moreover, economic investigation should be accompanied by research into subjects such as anthropology, philosophy, politics and most importantly, theology, to give insight into our own mystery, as no economic theory or no economist can say who we are, where have we come from or where we are going to. Humankind must be respected as the centre of creation and not relegated by more short term economic interests"...
- See: http://www.globalisationforthecommongood.info/globalisation-for-the-common-good-initiative/how-it-all-began/
Kamran Mofid PhD (ECON)