New Age of Revolutions and Lord Howell - The Edge of Now - Leadership in the New Paradigm

London, UK - 28th January 2011, 23:30 GMT

Dear ATCA Open & Philanthropia Friends

[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and threats.]

New Age of Revolutions

Do the revolutions signal the beginning of a new age in the Middle East? Some key questions which have emerged out of the recent Socratic dialogue:

1. Financial markets appear not to have fully connected the dots despite spreading revolutions in the Middle East? Why?

2. Is this the beginning of a New Age in the Middle East? Tunisia. Algeria. Egypt. Yemen. Jordan? What about the petro-regimes?

3. Is it possible that protests at present will be tolerated to a point, but not allowed to result in any real change, certainly no New Age?

4. À la Tunisia, even if we see governments fall, will they be replaced largely by members of the same establishment and little of substance will have changed?

5. Will these revolutions unleash anarchy and chaos? It might be that different groups seize the opportunities presented by the power vacuum?

6. Egypt: Mobile networks down. Internet access stopped. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other social media no longer working. Protests go on. Resilience?

7. What are the real causes of digitally driven leaderless revolutions? 1. High unemployment; 2. Food and fuel prices; and 3. Corrupt Leadership?

8. If revolutions occur like falling dominoes in Middle-East how much of this contagion will have been caused by Wikileaks, Facebook & Twitter?

We look forward to your views in regard to these questions.

Egyptian military hosing down people on their knees, saying prayers, Cairo, Egypt

We are grateful to The Lord Howell of Guildford, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK Government, for his submission to ATCA, in response to our briefings on Digitally Driven Revolutions and Self-Assembling Dynamic Networks covering recent developments in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere. His submission is in a personal capacity and is based on his book, "The Edge of Now" published in 2000. He writes:

Edge of Now: Leadership in the New Paradigm

1. Science is sending us new messages about the way that complex structures operate and can be kept healthy, that what seems chaotic can work -- including one of the most chaotic and complex structures of all, human society itself.

2. The social sciences -- which aspire to guide policy and politicians, are in disarray, economics in particular, since they have been measuring the wrong things, absurdly over-simplifying the complexity of existence and offering, in consequence, the wrong prescriptions. The price of ignoring some of the founding influences on human behaviour, especially history, is now being paid.

3. Global instability and turmoil have thrown up new tasks and challenges for existing human institutions, including for nation-state governments, and have invalidated old ones. We have arrived at the edge of now. We are in a position to put together an outline -- sketchy in the extreme at this preliminary stage -- of the coming shift, the new conditioning exemplar, to address its dilemmas and to make some guesses as to which way this new paradigm will take us.

Swift Rise of e-Enabled Protest and Resistance

Instantaneous access for the individual to information and planet-wide connections and alliances turn the digital network into a more powerful tool, for more people, than ever before in history. The speed and scope of it all means that:

. huge 'markets' of a quite new character;
. borderless bodies of opinion;
. unfamiliar alliances of interests;
. new supply chains;
. new business-to-business connections;
. giant pressure groups;
. world-wide standards;
. lobbies, tastes, preferences, fashions and trends;

-- all can build up almost over-night on a world-wide scale long before traditional hierarchies and structures of authority even know what is happening.

Over the years, the rioters at the World Trade Organization’s Ministerial meetings, as well as those in the City of London, at the G-8 meetings, Davos and elsewhere, have all given a foretaste of what is directly ahead. Every kind of interest feeling itself threatened by the informational age, and by its progeny of globalized finance, unrestricted trade, Internet technology and eCommerce, is now ready to come together, driven by moods and states of mind not dissimilar from those of Ned Ludd's followers as they set about smashing the textile machinery of Nottingham.

New Roles, Tribes and Groups

In these circumstances the hierarchies which have hitherto governed our lives, institutions, public and private, and the social order generally, have to adjust with agility and foresight to fulfill entirely new roles.

Tribes and ethnic groups can link up at the speed of light. Dormant local identities can be resuscitated almost overnight. None of this can be ignored by democratic governments, either within their own boundaries or internationally. But it can be handled. That is the point. Governing authorities which spend more time understanding these potential dangers and disaggregating threats to the social and civic order, and less time proclaiming their economic prowess to a sceptical general public, do have a good chance of survival and success. How is this to be achieved, and by whom?

New Leadership: Survival and Success

Here are some starting principles:

1. Deeper recognition by society's leaders -- in thought, word and deed -- of the changed nature of authority in all its forms. Deeper understanding that heavy centralism, uniformity and hierarchy are no longer the key requirements of order, that in an age of interactivity and networks, when people can talk back, Authority has to earn respect and loyalty in new ways , to concentrate on new tasks and learn new techniques of governing. The whole approach to the organization of society has to become far more modest and circuitous.

2. More humility and caution on the part of national governments and their leaders -- and their advisors -- when it comes to trying to 'manage' something called 'the national economy', or 'create growth and jobs,' along with a greater recognition of the amorphous nature of the whole concept and of the severe limits of central government power in shaping both business activity and society generally (with pronouncements modified and re-worded accordingly).

3. More focus on the real and underlying engines of prosperity and social harmony and on the conditions, as far as they can be shaped by public policy, which promote risk-taking, innovation, diversity and healthy markets, and the other basic ingredients of the capitalist process in a world of networks (freedom under the law, a stable political system and stable institutions being the pre-conditions for successful capitalist progress).

4. Wholesale revision of views about the processes of economic and social development, how they are triggered and how they are helped or hindered by public policy (again, with policy language totally altered). Four decades of theorizing about economic growth, at a level of abstraction and generality which defeats all useful purposes, have to be pushed overboard at this point.

5. Less faith in bigness, especially in the organization of international relations. Less belief in forming, or trying to form, big geographic blocs and more understanding of the need for flexibility, suppleness, subtlety and innovation in alliances and relationships between nations.

Above all, stronger moral leadership -- by which one means less leadership by opinion polls, and the constant testing of alleged public opinion by subjective and unreliable methods.


Leaders in the new paradigm will be expected to illuminate, to see a little further beyond the edge of now, to have confidence in their own assessments and to be bold enough to respect the virtues, qualities, truths and values which it is their duty to maintain. That will be the end of defeatism and may well lead to some surprisingly different conclusions about the status and capacities of countries including the United Kingdom.


The Right Honourable Lord (David) Howell of Guildford is Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK Government, and President of the British Institute of Energy Economics. He is also a former Secretary of State for Energy and for Transport in the UK Government and an economist and journalist. Lord Howell is Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords and Conservative Spokesman on Foreign Affairs. The Lord Howell of Guildford also Chairs the Windsor Energy Group. Until 2002 he was Chairman of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group, (the high level bilateral forum between leading UK and Japanese politicians, industrialists and academics), which was first set up by Margaret Thatcher and Yasuhiro Nakasone in 1984. In addition he writes a fortnightly column for The JAPAN TIMES in Tokyo, and has done so since 1985. He also writes regularly for the International Herald Tribune. David Howell was the Chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, 1987-97. He was Chairman of the House of Lords European Sub-Committee on Common Foreign and Security Policy from 1999-2000. In 2001 he was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure (Japan).

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Best wishes

ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001 to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic dialogue and joint executive action to build a wisdom based global economy. Adhering to the doctrine of non-violence, ATCA addresses asymmetric threats and social opportunities arising from climate chaos and the environment; radical poverty and microfinance; geo-politics and energy; organised crime & extremism; advanced technologies -- bio, info, nano, robo & AI; demographic skews and resource shortages; pandemics; financial systems and systemic risk; as well as transhumanism and ethics. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation only and has over 5,000 distinguished members from over 120 countries: including 1,000 Parliamentarians; 1,500 Chairmen and CEOs of corporations; 1,000 Heads of NGOs; 750 Directors at Academic Centres of Excellence; 500 Inventors and Original thinkers; as well as 250 Editors-in-Chief of major media.

The Philanthropia, founded in 2005, brings together over 1,000 leading individual and private philanthropists, family offices, foundations, private banks, non-governmental organisations and specialist advisors to address complex global challenges such as countering climate chaos, reducing radical poverty and developing global leadership for the younger generation through the appliance of science and technology, leveraging acumen and finance, as well as encouraging collaboration with a strong commitment to ethics. Philanthropia emphasises multi-faith spiritual values: introspection, healthy living and ecology. Philanthropia Targets: Countering climate chaos and carbon neutrality; Eliminating radical poverty -- through micro-credit schemes, empowerment of women and more responsible capitalism; Leadership for the Younger Generation; and Corporate and social responsibility.

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