Peccei Aurelio

1908-1984

PECCEI, Aurelio (b. July 4, 1908, Turin, Italy; d. March 14, 1984, Rome, Italy) – Italian economist, prominent social activist, founder and first President of the Club of Rome, bright, outstanding personality and the greatest humanist of the twentieth century. Peccei was one of the first to see that mankind is entering a global era, and undertook a Herculean effort to bring this to worldwide attention. His name is associated primarily with the origin and formation of globalistics as a new interdisciplinary field of scientific knowledge, as well as the area of social practices and political activities that were aimed at addressing global issues of our time. Peccei studied economics at the Sorbonne, receiving his Ph.D. in 1930. During World War ii he was a member of the Italian Resistance, and passed through the Nazi torture chambers. After the war he became a recognized expert in the field of industrial management and a successful businessman, holding key positions in major Italian companies Fiat, Italoconsult, and Olivetti. He traveled the world extensively, and with his own eyes saw increasing problems and difficult situations caused by poor organization and deepening because of the technological revolution gap between developed and developing countries. As he wrote in his remarkable work devoted to the analysis of social relations and the essence of man as he entered an era of global interdependence (Human Qualities (Moscow, 1980, pp. 88, 121, in Russian)): “Having visited and worked in many countries around the world, I had the opportunity to see how amazingly badly human administration was established everywhere – there were many things I would like to organize more smartly and more efficiently. The clearer I imagined a danger threatening humanity, the more convinced I became of the need to take drastic measures before it was too late.” The concern about “global issues” and the desire to make his own contribution to overcoming the “difficulties of mankind,” which by the mid-1960s were demonstrating their long-term and deepening nature, became decisive in Peccei’s life. In 1965 he published a brochure entitled “The Challenge of the Seventies to the Modern World,” and sent it to his friends, representatives of international organizations, and business circles. At the end of 1966, lecturing in the United States, he set out his views on the prospects for global development and proved the necessity of joint efforts in the face of imminent danger. He also spoke in favor of the widespread use of system analysis and other modern scientific methods, in the development of which the us led the world by that time. These ideas, as well as his support of and active participation in solving practical problems, played an important role in the creation of a number of influential research institutions, such as the International Institute for Applied System Analysis, whose main task was to study the relevant scientific, technical, economic, social, and other issues surrounding international cooperation. Peccei was also involved in the International Federation of Institutes for Advanced Study and the Vienna Council. Describing his life, Peccei explained the shift from business to scientific, organizational, and social activities: “Wandering on the planet, I’ve seen people around the world fighting – and by no means always successfully – to address many of the challenges that, I became more and more convinced, were going to be in the future even more difficult and dangerous for mankind. I felt that I could not be honest with myself if I didn’t try one way or another to warn people that their current efforts are not enough and that they need to do something else, something radically different from the actions that are currently being taken” (“Ordinance,” p. 284). Having set himself a goal to “appeal to the people of the world,” Peccei played a crucial role in bringing together leading scientists, prominent public and political figures, and representatives of industry and the financial public in order to develop theoretical and practical solutions to address global issues and to identify ways in which further scientific, technical, and economic development of the world community could be undertaken. His efforts, supported by well-known scientists Alexander King, E. Young, H. Timann, and others, as well as public and political figures, who were primarily united by similar views on global development trends and by serious concern for the fate of mankind, led to the creation in 1968 of one of the most authoritative international nongovernmental organizations of the twentieth century – the Club of Rome. This made a name for itself through research projects called the “Reports to the Club of Rome.” The first of these, “Limits to Growth,” published in 1972, made a sensation, showing in an easily understandable form that the finite size of the planet necessarily presupposes limits to human expansion; it can be concluded from this that population growth cannot continue endlessly. Although the first reports focused on objective matters of global development and their technical study, for Peccei it was already obvious that the major difficulties were directly connected with man. “I wanted to focus the attention of the Club on a few basic ideas, the main one being that in human systems all elements  are interconnected and that currently the greatest importance should be given to those that are directly dependent on man” (“Ordinance,” p. 114). Peccei’s exceptional talent as an organizer and his solid management experience allowed him ultimately not just to promote the emergence of new and innovative structures, but to achieve significant results in the realization of their development. There is no doubt that the activities both of himself and the organizations created with his participation had a significant impact on scientific thinking and world public consciousness, which became more receptive to global changes and the resultant danger to mankind. And if today almost no state, no political party, and no public figures and politicians can expect to succeed by ignoring contemporary processes of globalization and the problems they cause, then much of the credit for this belongs to Peccei, who did so much to understand the modern world and provide for its security, leaving us challenging thoughts and original arguments about the interaction between society and nature, social development, freedom, violence, equality, and social justice.

Works: The Human Quality (New York, 1977); The Chasm Ahead (New York, 1979); One Hundred Pages for the Future. Reflections of the President of the Club of Rome (New York, 1981); Human Qualities (Moscow, 1980 and 1985). Lit.: The Club of Rome. History of Creation, Selected Reports and Speeches, Official Materials (Moscow, 1997); A. King, “The Club of Rome – Reaffirmation of a Mission,” Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 11/1 (1986)