I am a truly independent British-Swedish political/trend analyst, economist and author who has had the opportunity to work internationally with corporations and think tanks as well as research institutes. I am moreover a regular contributor to the current affairs debate in both the UK and Sweden (link to regular speech topics here and link to my Chartwell Speakers profile here). Well-known employers include the Swedish Foreign Ministry, OMX (Nasdaq) and Cantor Fitzgerald. I was employed by Cantor during the September 11 disaster (Cantor Fitzgerald was the company most severely affected; 650 colleagues passed). This disaster proved a career turning point for me. Analytically I started to focus on the threats to a vital society. I have found that groupthink, when idealistic and marketed by the political camp in vogue, has always been much more destabilising to society, long term, than even terrorist attacks. How so? Because external enemies are easy to unite against while easy to spot. Political camps with institutionalised powers, on the other hand, will typically move into excess terrain through the accumulated effect of many small steps. In a sense stealthily even to themselves while often strongly convinced they are the only moderates in town. So, the overshoot will follow through unintended mission creep dressed up as prudent balance. Intellectual confusion will inevitably follow. We are experiencing precisely such a phase right now.
In what way do I stand out as a political/trend analyst, economist and author? By systematically applying a public choice perspective when analysing key trends. This means, in practice, I pay heed to the motives incentivising people not only in the private sector but also in the public sector – motives sometimes self-interested and sometimes not. Only such an approach makes it easy to distinguish between groupthink based on substance and groupthink based on the latest bundle of political and economic hype. As it happens history proves overwhelmingly that groupthink based on massive amounts of hype will always, given time, turn into a hallmark of every political camp. Certainly, newly empowered political camps tend to add plenty of value at start but they stop adding value when having dominated the political scene for a stretch of time. Meaning when having built the institutionalised clout required to move into, yes, overstretch territory. Without pushback all camps do it sooner or later. So not only right-wingers and left-wingers but also – as experienced during recent years – Centrists.
I dislike witch hunts of all sorts not least while I have found that most people everywhere tend to act in good faith. The politicians we might enjoy thrashing are typically products of their (our) times. After all, many of us have, at least at some point, voted for them. Politicians dismissing disillusioned voters as uneducated throwbacks also need to learn a thing or two about looking beyond their personal comfort zone. It is clear that we frail human beings all have a tendency to convince ourselves – even when patently wrong – that the world view that benefits us personally also happen to benefit society. The latter helps to explain why self-righteousness has always been the key enemy of a truly bridge-building – respectful – political debate.
Professionally I relish digging into complex analytical problems, pulling out the truly relevant points and leaving the noise behind. Before working out the key conclusions as objectively as possible. Next to family and sports there is little that lifts my spirit as much as intellectual honesty.
I am politically non-partisan per definition while I believe in counterbalance rather than in the superiority of any individual political ideology. However, in relation to individual issues I am unafraid to take sides if I conclude that the evidence points clearly in a certain direction. Especially when society is in desperate need of pushback against political overshoot. We are in such a situation now. Alarm bells should always sound when politicians start talking about taking drastic action in order to prevent the other side from taking drastic action. That is precisely how democracy dies. With moralistic leaders smiling benevolently while presenting yet more reasons for yet more power concentration. Politicians doing so are, even if unknowingly, echoing paternalists across the ages. Luckily there is a quick fix alternative that has been unfashionable for far too long: listen at last to what concerned voters have been saying all along. Most of these voters are far from seeking radical change – but instead backtracking from overshoot.
For a while now I have been busy working on a major international multidisciplinary Master Mind project, “Healing Broken Democracies: All you need to know about Populism”. The purpose of this project is twofold. The first purpose is to consolidate the thoughts of many of today’s real Thought-Leaders. Those who are not particularly interested in tribal point scoring of any variety; but are instead primarily driven by identifying key truths. The second purpose is to build on the consolidated findings to arrive at a constructive – and healing – way forward for society. Ambitious? Sure. But I lean on some of the greatest social science brains on the planet. Soon, as the saying goes, all will be revealed.
INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION, YES PLEASE, BUT NOT AT THE COST OF DEMOCRACY
I was born and raised in Sweden and studied at the Stockholm School of Economics (M.Sc Economics). During most of the 21st century I have lived in the United Kingdom. This means I am privileged to have experienced, first-hand, not only the political debate and professional culture of two extraordinary countries; but also the way of life in general. I have simultaneously experienced how the political culture has changed quite dramatically over recent decades. The perhaps most influential general change? In both countries mentioned the connection between politicians and the people was, not long ago, uniquely strong. Rooted in the fact that numerous leaders had spent their formative years on the field of practical reality. Leading to a grassroots understanding of real problems. Slowly but steadily numerous politicians in both countries have slided into the type of top-down territory that typically emanates from too much armchair thinking – and distinguishes just about every unsuccessful society.
Then again, if acknowledging that the weaker connection to realities on the ground is a root cause of today’s troubles there is also a natural way back towards yet again more democratic societies. Including a variety of international co-operation that does not look the other way when democracy is eroded. Meaning showing respect for those previously discriminated as well as those who have not turned out winners during the globalist transformation. Only thereafter are truly inclusive as well as politically stable societies possible. Most people know this. Much of today’s problems are linked to career politicians joining forces with vested interests, often unknowingly, to try to make us believe that international co-operation is not possible without transferring considerable amounts of money and power – surprise, surprise – their way. As soon as a critical mass of people has stopped sanctioning such neopaternalism it is perfectly possible for society to move forward constructively.