We think therefore we are
Nov 2010 03

“We-Think reports on an unparalleled wave of collaborative creativity as people from California to China devise ways to work together that are more democratic, productive and creative. This guide to the new culture of mass participation and innovation is a book like no other: it started first online through a unique experiment in collaborative creativity involving hundreds of people across the globe.

Today’s generation are not content to remain spectators, they are tomorrow’s players. Their slogan: we think therefore we are.”

wethinkthebook.net – has the first three chapters and more information on Charles Leadbeater it’s author.


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On corporate social responsibility
Oct 2010 27

A blog post entitled Companies are not charities for The Economist magazine’s Schumpeter Blog endorses the opinion of one South African academic who believes that less developed countries cannot afford to hold multinational corporations to as high a standard of social responsibility as they would be subject to in the their richer home countries.

“Ann Bernstein, the head of a South African think-tank called the Centre for Development and Enterprise, thinks that advocates of corporate social responsibility (CSR) tend to miss this point. In her new book, “The Case for Business in Developing Economies”, she stresses the ways companies benefit society simply by going about their normal business. In a free and competitive market, firms profit by selling goods or services to willing customers. To stay in business, they must offer lower prices or higher quality than their competitors. Those that fail disappear. Those that succeed spread prosperity. Shareholders receive dividends. Employees earn wages. Suppliers win contracts. Ordinary people gain access to luxuries that would have made Cecil Rhodes gasp, such as television, air-conditioning and antibiotics. (emphasis added)

These are not new arguments, but Ms Bernstein makes them fresh by writing from an African perspective. Citizens of rich countries often fret about the occasional harm that corporations do, yet take for granted the prosperity they create. People in developing countries do not have that luxury...” (emphasis added)

She is effectively saying that people in poorer countries cannot afford to hold the large multinational corporations who go there primarily for their cheaper wage labour and raw material endowment, to the same standards of social responsibility that they are subject to at home because they are poor. There are a number of things that are wrong with this position in my view. [read more..]

Liu Xiaobo wins Nobel Peace Prize
Oct 2010 17

A year on after Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize continues to hit the headlines with the recipient this year being the Chinese human rights activist and political prisoner Liu Xiaobo. In what appears to be a recurring theme, Liu Xiaobo is indeed an extremely deserving winner, embodying the attributes that represent the Committee’s designated goals, but is also someone who guaranteed international headlines and controversy. However, what the award has done is to perhaps commence the dialogue of what are truly universal human rights as rightly identified by the historian Timothy Garton Ash in an excellent article in the Guardian this past week. The problem is (as Garton Ash points out) that to many outside of the ‘western’ world universal are often equated as ‘western’ values. So what are universal human rights?

Well by in large most of us would agree with the fundamental human rights laid down by the UN’s universal declaration, many issues would need to be resolved before we see truly universal human rights. This is especially true where cultural and religious rights and freedoms conflict with political or individual ones; something which happens on a daily basis across the world. How many people are aware of the human rights abuses in the Seychelles for example where human rights are protected in law but not adhered to in practice? These are certainly not well publicised.

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Wanlov – African Gipsy – Global Citizen
Oct 2010 16

wanlov_2010 -BBC interview mp3 (418KB)

The link above is to an interview Wanlov gave with the BBC on his upcoming project; The African Gypsy. He is recording in it Paris and has described it as rapping and singing over a mix of traditional Ghanaian and Romanian Gypsy instrumentation. We’re looking forward to it.

In the meantime, check out this live performance of Human Being (with M3nsa) which we regard as a leading theme song for the Global Citizen Campaign.

Previous Aspecks coverage of Wanlov here.

Pan Jazz to the world
Jul 2010 12

You can’t help being enthused and inspired by our affiliate Pan Jazz International which is a truly global music community that brings young people of all backgrounds together from across the globe with music.

Not just any music, they play funky jazz with orchestras built around the Carribean-style steel pan drum. They are a collective of music enthusiasts who starting with only six youngsters in the 1980s have managed to grow into a global family that spans three continents and boasts a wealth of diversity.  Their community comprises the founding UK-based Porchester Panyard; the South Africa Pan Jazz Project and Pan Jazz Project India.  These three groups are funded in part by the proceeds from their own performances and other fundraising efforts.  In the spirit of cultural exchange and global community a contingency of 45 members of the Porchester Pan Yard has recently returned from a tour in South Africa.

There they had the appropriate honour of playing concerts as part of (and in the spirit of) the just ended football World Cup festivities alongside members of the South Africa Pan Jazz Project. Through interaction and cultural exchange based around the medium of music; the two groups have developed lasting bonds in a web which will continue to perpetuate as the Pan Jazz fervor continues to grow with more and more exchange programmes. Their work is especially poignant in a place like South Africa; where social divisions from the past have left inevitable scars.

Pictures and a testimonial from one of instructors on the recent trip are available after the ‘read more’ jump.
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