London has been named the most powerful city in the world by the Global Power City Index 2015. For the third year running. I’m not sure how I feel about this.
Most powerful sounds dodgy. In sci-fi films the most powerful technology is often unveiled, minutes before it proceeds to try to destroy humankind. Powerful handshakes crush your fingers. Powerful overlords crush countries.
As historian, writer and politician Lord Acton observed: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
His statement has been tested, and confirmed in subsequent psychological research, most notably in the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.
This had to be abandoned when volunteers, who’d been arbitrarily assigned prison guard roles over another group, began acting sadistically.
I can just imagine London’s Instagram feed – all photos of protein shakes, black and white shots of pumped bicep muscles, and pictures of London with Paris in a “friendly” head lock. #Powerful. Do we really want to be the most powerful?
The Global Power City Index ranks the top 40 cities in the world according to their “magnetism”. That’s not much better. That makes London sound like a pick up artist.
We’ve been judged on how we make best use of our assets for social and economic development.
Economic and social progress I can applaud, but powerful magnetism still sounds threatening.
Couldn’t we have a title that’s friendlier? London is named the cuddliest city in the world.
Or the most likely to buy you a beer when you’re feeling down. An award to be powerfully proud of.
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