A world of possibility
Written by Sabina Kadić Mackenzie, founding partner
24 April 2021
It takes a lot for rival football fans to agree unanimously on anything; but as the now-doomed European Super League can attest, when they do, you know you’re in trouble.
In a week when fans came together to show their power, and to show that football belongs to them, other institutions and leaders could learn lessons of how not to unite the masses behind a common cause.
You can’t compare President Joe Biden’s task to save the world from a climate disaster to challenges faced and decisions made in the beautiful game. But there are parallels to the president’s Earth Day summit, which took place this week. Both show the power of alliances and of working with adversaries towards a common goal.
Only time will tell if the bold ambitions of Biden’s climate action, and those set out by other nations, will materialise. But with China and America at odds over human rights, security and economic competition, working together is unlikely to be straightforward.
This week, we have compiled a great selection of reads that consider some of these themes. I hope you enjoy the team’s choices.
Have a lovely weekend.
1. Borders can be digital, too
I know many people who have tried to wean themselves off social media, myself included. I’ve even gone as far as removing the apps from my mobile phone, but I’ve never permanently deleted my accounts. Too many of my friends and, in particular, family living in all corners of the world are on Facebook, Instagram, and, to a lesser extent, Twitter. What if I lose contact with them for good? Here, Cory Doctorow talks about social media monopolies and why it’s easier to move across the globe than to switch social media.
Read in Wired.
2. Promising the earth
This week, President Biden hosted a virtual summit with world leaders to urge bolder action on climate change. Does this mark a new era for American leadership on climate? Only time will tell.
This podcast is available via the The Economist.
3. The Net Zero trap
What does 80 collective years of expertise get you? The conclusion that the concept of net zero is a dangerous trap. At least that’s the view of these climate scientists.
Read in The Conversation.
4. The new “never resign” school of politics
In 2011, Republican congressman Christopher Lee resigned after exchanging suggestive messages online. He was replaced by Kathy Hochul. Hochul is now one step away from the governorship of New York and would be governor if only her superior, Andrew Cuomo, would resign over far graver charges. Yet since 2011, things have changed: the Trump presidency has set new, lower standards for what counts as grounds for resignation. For a male, US politicians who face allegations of misconduct, waiting it out now seems like a viable strategy.
Read in The New Yorker.
5. Let’s leave stigma where it belongs
Psychosomatic diseases originate from both the mind and the body, an aspect which often puts them in the category of “imaginary” illnesses with very real – and painful – symptoms. In this article, James Marriott delves into the cultural and social perceptions of psychosomatic illnesses to argue that “not only are the causes social but so are cures”.
Read in The Times.
6. A playbook for negotiators in the social media age
From Arab springs, the Black Lives Movement protests, Hong Kong and Myanmar, we have seen how social media has changed the face of civil rights protests around the world. Social media can be used to influence key stakeholders, mobilise supporters and neutralise opposition tactics. It holds a certain power that is not to be underestimated. This begs the question: why do 21st century negotiation strategies rarely take the likes of Twitter, Facebook and even TikTok into account?
Read in Harvard Business Review.
And finally… This flawed European Super League deserved to fail
Daniel Finkelstein writes an excellent analysis of the flawed thinking and assumptions behind the not-so-super “super league”. His main reflection is that it was less a money-grabbing exercise and more a value-destroying one. Fixated with building a new fan base, the clubs involved under-estimated the passion and power of those already loyal.
Read in The Times.