50th St. Gallen Symposium "Freedom Revisited": 7–8 May 2020


Where Should the Big Money Go?

Writing on "Capital for Purpose" without proposing a novel idea or saying something innovative is a challenging task. It is also daunting to write about "Capital for Purpose" without straying into recounting the basics of economics. Governments have enormous and priceless resources available to them that make it possible for them to sustain themselves, keep the wheels of national economies running and fulfil their roadmap for the future of their nations. However, the difference between world countries in terms of economic power, military prowess, diplomatic influence, scientific progress and social development starts from the priorities: where the governments want to invest their resources.

Every year, several international organizations release indices and tables showing where each world country is ranked in terms of press freedom, human development, civil liberties, purchasing power, good governance and other metrics and measures of happy living. These rankings most of the time reflect the priorities of the nations and the investments they have made. There are countries which decide their money should go to empower militancy, military or armed forces and there are countries which invest their capital on academia, universities, entrepreneurship and start-ups. This means we continue to live in a highly-polarized and divided world where values and norms are strikingly discrepant.

We continue to live in a highly-polarized and divided world

Success in leadership and as a result, prosperity for nations emerges from prudent and realistic decision-makings about the capital. Why are there so many armed conflicts and wars across the world and is it so difficult to put an end to them? The answer is very simple: because there are governments who invest in wars and make profit out of them.

Imagine a world in which peace was not a fancy idea that democratic and authoritarian leaders or politicians similarly used to tout their vision for a better world in places such as the UN General Assembly. The UN General Assembly's annual gathering gives all the world leaders an equal opportunity to address the entire world and say whatever they want about literally every topic. Many of these leaders run authoritarian regimes which don't pay the slightest attention to their peoples' demands. However, upon taking podium at the UN, all of them talk about nice and elegant concepts such as global peace, justice, prosperity and equality in their speeches in search of a better public image and some legitimacy. These speeches don't make the world a better place to live. What makes the world a better place to live is the institutionalization of peace and harmony between nations as a concrete objective. And the way to realize this long-sought ambition of humanity is a communal decision by the world leaders to invest their capital on what brings their people and other people good and fortune, not war, mayhem and misfortune.

These speeches don't make the world a better place

The Good Country Index illustrates how different world countries are contributing to science and technology, culture, international peace and security, world order, planet and climate, prosperity and equality and health and wellbeing. The figures and stats in the survey are remarkably thought-provoking. They tell us that many countries are not contributing to the greater good of humanity and are not serving their people well. This means there is a crisis of leadership in many countries that engender many other crises.

Many countries are not contributing to the greater good

Different countries have different priorities, and different priorities mean that capital and investment sometimes go to corrupt and crooked purposes. It's difficult and challenging to convince the entire world nations to dedicate their resources and capital to sublime goals and peaceful ends; therefore, the world remains divided and disturbed by wars, conflicts, armed race between nations and regional and supranational rivalries. However, it's reasonable to expect the international bodies and multinational organizations and institutions to work harder and push for an inclusive partnership between as many countries and national actors as possible to promote what brings humanity good, welfare, wellbeing and prosperity.

The resources of the world should be used for cultural, scientific, educational and academic purposes and helping people across the world become better citizens for their societies. There should be a global campaign against the funding of wars and conflicts and suppression of freedoms, which are routine practices in parts of our world. A campaign of similar magnitude should be launched for civic education and teaching people how to live dignified lives. This takes capital and a great deal of determination, commitment and hard work, but it is possible.

It is possible