Communications technologies are bringing about a “truly global society”, Gordon Brown told the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford yesterday.
The Prime Minister made a surprise appearance at the conference, and took the opportunity to argue that the globalise nature of society demands the establishment of global institutions to meet the challenges of the day, such as global warming, development and the financial crisis.
“We now have the capacity to communicate instantaneously, across frontiers, right across the world,” he said. “We have the capacity to organise and take collective action together to deal with a problem or injustice that we want to deal with. We have the capacity find common ground with people who we will never meet, but we can meet of Internet.”
“This makes this a unique age in human history,” Brown explained. “This is the start of the creation of truly global society.”
He pointed to examples such as the 2001 coup in the Philippines, supposedly mobilised by text, the exposure of election fixing in Zimbabwe using mobile phone cameras, and the recent reaction to the elections in Iran on the web as examples of this technology-enable global society in action.
“Foreign policy cannot never be the same again, it cannot be run by elites, its got to be run by listening to the public opinions of people who are blogging and communicating all around the world,” said Brown.
The Prime Minister went on to argue that a global society demands global institutions that can address global issues. “Another challenge for our generation is to create global institutions that reflect our ideas of fairness and responsibility,” he said.
Brown has often suggested the establishment of international organisations as the solution to contemporary problems. At the G20 summit earlier this year, he proposed a world-wide institution that could monitor global financial trends and establishing international rules governing financial institutions. He has also made calls for similar institutions to tackle global warming and poverty.
Watch a video of Gordon Brown’s presentation below.