The BBC World Service has been engaged in a “Who Runs the World” season. As a little game to accompany the programs, it encourages listeners to pick their own team to run the world.
It’s harmless fun, and a bit silly. It’s also highly eccentric. Amartya Sen, Nobel prizewinner in economics, is listed under Thinkers. Under Economists, you get such great economic thinkers as Rupert Murdoch, Sergey Brin, Richard Branson and Bill Gates (and Steve Levitt and Joe Stiglitz). I think someone was confused between economic actors and economists.
For what it’s worth, here’s my world ruling XI, chosen according to the BBC rules: Desmond Tutu, Amartya Sen, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Lee Kuan Yew, George Soros, Barack Obama, Balthasar Garzon, Carlos Ghosn, Joe Stiglitz, Shirin Ebadi.
Very little time or thought went into my choice, but I tried to pick people who I thought had their heart in the right place (very rare, in my experience) and had shown great competence at what they do. I’m not sure Lee Kuan Yew’s heart is in the right place, but he’s frighteningly brilliant and vastly competent, and in the company of people like Clinton and Blair – with Desmond Tutu making sure they didn’t stray morally – I think he’d do well. There’s only one woman on my list, but the BBC didn’t offer much choice.