CONVOCO! Lecture 05/22: Reversing Polarisation: How People Can Find Common Purpose

CONVOCO! Lecture 05/22: Reversing Polarisation:
How People can find Common Purpose

For the second Convoco lecture of the year 2022, Sir Paul Collier (University of Oxford) and Prof. Clemens Fuest (ifo Institute) discussed the topic “Reversing Polarisation: How People Can Find Common Purpose” on May 10 at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Munich.

Dr Corinne Michaela Flick started off the evening by introducing the audience to Convoco’s annual topic “Equality in an unequal world” and the lecture’s headline “Reversing Polarisation: How People Can Find Common Purpose”.

Prof. Clemens Fuest followed Dr Flick with a short talk on economic inequality. He started off by looking at the discrepancies between the perception and reality of economic inequality. Using Germany and the USA as examples, he showed that citizens often have a distorted picture of the actual distribution of income within their societies. Clemens Fuest continued by considering the role of income inequality for the rise of populism, concluding that polarisation cannot be explained by income inequality alone. The challenge is more complex than often presented.

Sir Paul Collier opened his keynote by discussing the importance of both community and polity for society, arguing that today’s challenge lies in combining the best features of both. People need to unite around a common purpose. To do so, it’s crucial for societies to embrace rapid learning, fuse generic and contextual learning, and to establish subsidiarity for more agency. Paul Collier closed his lecture with a discussion of Germany’s response to the war in Ukraine. He argued that Germany finds itself in a pivotal moment with difficult decisions to make, as it’s national interest of trade no longer aligns with its purpose of peace. The situation shows that pursuing a common purpose may at times require sacrificing one’s interests. 

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