Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 July 2022
It is not too difficult to claim, in a cocktail party type of way, that global governance should be more virtuous, and that those who run our lives and our institutions should be decent human beings. That is the easy part, if only because it makes intuitive sense that what could possibly be useful in some settings (professional sports, for example) is not so appropriate in other settings. We accept ruthlessness in our professional athletes – indeed, to the point that it might be difficult for them to become truly exceptional without a ruthless streak. But we do not think that quite the same applies to judges, or high-ranking civil servants, let alone religious leaders. Not even our statespersons, even if we would want them to serve the national interest (whatever that may be), are expected to display quite the same amount or sort of ruthlessness. Michael Jordan and Cristiano Ronaldo may be single-minded and ruthless; the Dalai Lama or the Pope may not, and neither may Germany’s long-serving prime minister Angela Merkel.