The #1 Lesson From Ukraine
We must de-concentrate power
There are lots of messages our great big human society can take away from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. About propaganda, energy dependence, our neighbors, nuclear weapons, and more.
To me, there is, however, a single overarching lesson:
Humanity must de-concentrate power.
If Vladimir Putin did not wield concentrated power in Russia, this invasion would not have happened.
If humans had not so concentrated our lives around the extraction of hydrocarbons, Russia would have a less monolithic economy.
If the United States had not concentrated military power for the last 76 years (or even the last 30, since the fall of the Soviet Union) the NATO/EU countries would have been more prepared to deter the invasion of their neighbor.
It sounds quixotic.
The call for a de-concentration of power seems ridiculous.
In a world that started deposing kings and queens three hundred years ago, we humans have not ended our love affair with concentrated power.
After we beheaded our kings, we feted new emperors.
After we threw off foreign rule, we asked our Presidents to remain for life.
After we celebrated consumer choice, we enacted protections for leading companies.
The real problem might be that so many of us find it liberating to declare, “What can anyone do? The Putins rule the world.”
It’s just not our fault.
It is true that we cannot transform the ways we humans organize overnight. But we can do little things and big things.
We can teach our kids through better examples.
We can build families that thrive on discussion, group effort, and shared decision-making.
We can encourage local schools and teachers to become transparent and less hierarchical.
We can choose coaches who engage rather then dictate.
We can retire the philosophy that “if you aren’t cheating you aren’t trying.”
We can shape our department at work to be team-managed.
We can leave companies that are excessively-autocratic.
We can make our homes more energy-efficient.
We can encourage diverse housing development.
We can choose renewables, nuclear, and clean hydrocarbons.
We can vote for politicians that are less autocratic, self-serving, and dynastic.
We can encourage new voting rules that weaken the oligarchy of America’s political parties.
We can recognize that the propaganda of “us vs. them” is as dangerous in America as it is in Russia.
Of course, this list is just a start.
People can and should debate the details.
By de-concentrating power of all types — energy, organizational, economic, political — we have the best chance of making the world safer and better in our lives, and in those of our children.
My hopes and prayers go out to the people of Ukraine. And also to the people of America and the world.
We can do things that make the world a better place.
Please follow and subscribe to be notified when the next article is published.