Thomas Pogge is professor of philosophy and international affairs at Yale University.
Thomas Pogge on
The inequality between rich and poor has gotten much greater. In terms of how much of the remaining poverty and suffering is unavoidable, one would have to say that today pretty much all of it is avoidable.
It's our ecology, climate change and resource depletion in particular, it's the poverty problem, which drives overpopulation, and then it is various security problems that have to do with advanced technology. We have to bring these under control and try to create governance institutions that will banish these problems.
There are many questions that we don't need to have agreement on internationally. We can run our education systems differently, we can deal with religion differently, and so on. But we have to agree on the basic parameters of the institutional order of the world, the supranational institutional order, that in this era of globalization, has become so very dense and very influential. If we could bring the shaping, the design of that supranational institutional order within the purview of a morally based, value-based discourse that includes people from different countries, we would have made a very great step forward.
There's a very fundamental paradox about the achievement of world peace, and this goes as follows: three sources of political power are differentially important in different times. In a period of war, it's basically military power that counts, and economic power counts indirectly, because, of course, it's a major source of military power again. In other periods, it can be that moral power counts a great deal and military power is almost useless. That's in periods of peace.
I think moral leadership is precisely a reflection on the system as it now is, with an eye to potentially reforming it. You have to look at the system, how it works. You have to see what its advantages and disadvantages are and what are the harms that it produces, the benefits. What are the possible points at which it could be changed?
I would say that the most important thing is the transformation of how this world is governed, that we go from governance through negotiations based on bargaining power and parochial interests to a governing of the world that is driven by shared values that are transparently discussed in international discourse in which also ordinary citizens and intellectuals participate.