Sunday, December 31, 2006

Man of the Year

Since 1927, TIME Magazine has chosen a man, woman, or idea that "for better or worse, has most influenced events in the preceding year." You can see the list here. I particularly like back to back 1938 and 1939 winners Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

This year's winner is YOU:

The "Great Man" theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men." He believed that it is the few, the powerful and the famous who shape our collective destiny as a species. That theory took a serious beating this year.

To be sure, there are individuals we could blame for the many painful and disturbing things that happened in 2006. The conflict in Iraq only got bloodier and more entrenched. A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the Bomb, and the President of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn't make enough PlayStation3s.

But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace.

It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

The piece is worth reading and it would be nice to think so, but I've got my doubts.

My nomination is Jack Dromey, the Labour Party Treasurer who - to all intents and purposes - blew the whistle on the cash for peerages scandal. I'm sure the powers that be will try and smear him as an ingrate as Scotland Yard tighten the noose in the new year, but it seems to me that his call for the Electoral Commission to investigate the issue was an act of great moral courage. Events may prove me wrong, but that's my take on it at the moment; without his intervention the whole thing might have blown itself out.

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