New Power is Here to Stay: A conversation with Henry Timms

November 14, 2018


Our conversation with Henry Timms this past Wednesday, November 14 at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University demonstrates that the Hauser Leaders Program at the Center for Public Leadership of the Harvard Kennedy School is certainly doing things right by bringing leaders from the Non-Profit sector to the Harvard Campus that, through their direct experience and deep knowledge of social, economic, technological and political realities across the five continents, help us gain a better understanding of the direction, speed and mechanics of this changing world.

Academia needs to humbly recognize that it has not been capable to foresee how deep and intense changes have been with the rise of new political movements and leadership beyond the Trump case but including it.

Henry Timms offers a deep understanding of reality and a fresh take on the analysis that makes the understating of the complex dynamics at play particularly attractive and accessible for our students. His conceptualization of New Power is especially interesting for many reasons, but we should highlight how he is able to put aside the viscerality of analyzing things in black or white terms. There is indeed a gamut of greys and Henry Timms explains how the Trump and other political and social phenomena have managed to leverage digital technologies to empower his followers by activating them around their values and feeding off their feedback to enthrall them further. As Timms describes Trump, he is more that old wine in a new bottle, he is “a Platform Strongman mastering new power techniques to achieve authoritarian ends.”

Henry Timms describes New Power and it´s counterpoint old power neutrally, staying away from any normative evaluation in order to describe how and why New Power exercised through new technology is here to stay. Without a doubt, Henry Timms' vision is also here to stay.