Humanity’s Principal Challenge

(This paper was written for a seminar in Santiago, Chile with Ela Gandhi, a granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi who continues his work. Each participant was asked to write three pages on the topic, “What is the principal challenge facing humanity today?”)

In these few pages, it is unlikely that I will be able to convince anyone who is not inclined to agree with me already. I will try to start a discussion by outlining a point of view. Seen from my viewpoint, humanity’s principal challenge at this point in history is to transform the basic cultural structure (BCS for short) of the global economy. The BCS is, roughly, the ethical and legal principles, chief among them freedom and respect for property rights, that organize market exchange. The BCS provides the principles that the global economy operates under today; it is, together with physical reality, the main cause of its successes and of its failures.