Global Issues TEDx

The global power shift: Paddy Ashdown on

Posted by: Ben Lillie

Paddy Ashdown claims that we are living in a moment in history where power is changing in ways it never has before. In a spellbinding talk at TEDxBrussels he outlines the three major global shifts that he sees coming. (Recorded at TEDxBrussels 2011, November 2011, in Brussels, Belgium. Duration: 18:30.)

Watch Paddy Ashdown’s talk on, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 1,000+ TEDTalks.

Comments (8)

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  • Brent Norris commented on Jan 26 2012

    I suppose it’s possible for me to disagree more but I would need to spend more time and unfortunately time is fleeting at the moment. Please forgive any abruptness. It’s not intentional.

    The Global vertical or horizontal shifting seems inaccurate. I see it more as an outward movement from each of us as we connect and create awareness and understanding of the people and places around us. Centralized power imho is expanding to the people. There will be contractions, yet “We” will always surround them. They can not surround us for would require everyone to first be on exactly the same level.

    Next, the “revelation of 911″ was not as Mr. Ashdown stated, “that even if you are the most powerful nation on Earth, never the less, those that inhabit that space can attack you even in your most iconic cities one bright September Morning.” That’s an outsiders view of what we know about our own vulnerabilities and choices we’ve made as a culture. It wasn’t the first attack on the towers. We simply chose to prosecute and apparently it had no consequence. Call it weakness or justice it was a choice we made as a democracy. We do not on the whole believe your next statement either, “where power goes, governance must follow.” Power doesn’t “go” anywhere. It lies within each of us regardless of so-called nationality or culture.

    Next I would say that “it” isn’t about “bringing governance to the global space.” It’s about self-actualization. It’s about self-reliance. The kind Emerson, Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King followed, preached and used so effectively. The kind they never would have needed with the openness and transparency afforded by the Internet today, which is not as Mr. Ashdown’s might have you believe is a second-class citizen. The Internet is way more powerful than any global this or that. The Internet is the global this or that.

    Treaty-based solutions? C’mon! The WTO, KYOTO, UN, G20? Really? We will gladly return to sowing our own fields in due time. Our success through what you call “turbulent times” is no more dependent on “bringing sensible governance to the global space” as you say, than bringing tear gas to Woodstock.

    I will for a brief moment conceded that exposure to information can cause “Turbulent times” but this is a failure of the individual to accurately parse the information which is relevant to themselves. I suppose ultimately it comes down to the weather for many. Today we need to understand data, over hypothesis, carefully choose our path and focus our attention on that which we seek.

    Settling around economies? Huh?
    In the US we certainly never would have settled the west if we waited for Mr. Ashdown’s economic power to come first. People create economies. We don’t follow them. Settlements follow freedom first and where freedom persists, economies develop.

    Mr. Ashdown, Washington has never been the center or our world. Freedom is and will always be the center. Where religious and other freedoms rule, you will find the strongest cultures. We just got lucky with a great set of founding fathers and great wives. As women begin to rule I hardly doubt they will accept economics, governance or global this or that over liberty. At least not the women in America.

    I must agree that our alliances are not fixed. However, “multi-polar” is like a skipping meme on Walden Pond.

    The Internet does not make us interdependent or inter-locked. We are choosing to be more connected and it’s driving the global power structure bananas. This Nation State you mention is and will remain obselete where freedom persists.

    It’s a gift to see a ripple in stillwater and an even greater gift to know a great lake from an ocean. But to know a fable today from a truth is something we each should consider.

    Could I encourage everyone to look at the oldest TED Talks and see for yourself just how wrong we all are, most of the time. I concede Mr. Ashdown could eventually be correct in his assumptions and observation as I myself am wrong 99% percent of the time.

  • wills home commented on Jan 10 2012

    There are some interesting things in this, but I’d be more impressed if Paddy checked his facts on the small things. There is no poem called “No Man Is An Island” – it’s a prose passage from a Donne sermon. And it was the rather less admirable Lord Palmerston, not Canning, who said that Britain had no PERMANENT allies, just PERMANENT interests (not “common”). OK, it’s easy to fluff these things but this is important stuff, you can’t afford to be sloppy. His points about the lack of governance in the global space is, of course, perfectly valid.

  • John Raso commented on Jan 8 2012

    What’s sad is this guy has made a fortune off of theories instead of facts which is all our generation has come to these days. Christ and facts are all I believe.

  • James Thomas commented on Jan 6 2012

    Just who is this man Paddy Ashdown who you seem to think has wonderful answers to our supposed need for globalization. What I have to say about dissparate countries and their indiginous peoples takes more room than I have have here. The Erupoean Union is a prime example of this stupidity where dissparate cultures were thrown into the mix in what was assumed to be a good idea. IT WAS NOT, as little forethought was given to how these cultures would be integrated, and now TED puts on a man who would advocate having the whole world in one basket goverened by an industrial oligarchy whos only interest is profit !
    I will no longer watch or give creedance to your site as being the leading edge of new ideas and informaiton especially when give a platform to a man who has an agenda to promote !!!