January 29, 2011


Bremmer, Ian, The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations? (New York: Portfolio, 2010) ("[The] inability to agree on the proper role for the state in the performance of markets will change the way we live. The most obvious example comes from the transition from an international bargaining table dominated by the heads of state of the G7 group of industrialized nations--all of them champions of free-market capitalism--toward a G20 model that acknowledges the need to allow relative free-market skeptics like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, and others to join the conversation. By fall 2008, the G7 had become an irrelevant institution. The financial crisis made clear that no international body that includes Canada and Italy but excludes China and India can offer credible solutions to today's most pressing transnational problems." Id. at 2. "State capitalism is not the reemergence of socialist central planning in a twenty-first-century package. It is a form of bureaucratically engineered capitalism particular to each government that practices it. It's a system in which the state dominates markets primarily for political gain. As this trend develops, it will generate friction in international politics and distortions in global economic performance. . . . [W]hen officials in several of the world's most dynamic emerging markets embrace this system as a long-term means of protecting their political survival, they undermine the power of the global economic system to generate sustainable growth." Id. at 23. Also see "Re-enter the Dragon," Books and Arts," The Economist, June 5th 2010, at 89.).

Boon, Marcus, In Praise of Copying (Cambridge, Massachusetts, & London, England: Harvard U. Press, 2010) ("I shall argue here that certain non-Western philosophical models of copying, in particular those emerging out of Mahayana Buddhism in its various historical forms, offer us more accurate ways of understanding the diverse phenomena we call 'copying,' and can help us rethink basic philosophical terms such as 'subject,' 'object,' 'the same,' 'different,' and 'the other'--all of which, depending on the particular ways they've been presented, have historically supported particular cultures of copying. . . ." "My goal in this book is to account for our fear of and fascination with copying. I argue that copying is a fundamental part of being human, that we could not be human without copying, and that we can and should celebrate this aspect of ourselves, in full awareness of our situation. Copying is not just something human--it is a part of how the universe functions and manifests. The issue of regulating copying, of setting up laws restricting or encouraging copying, is secondary to that of recognizing the omnipresence and nature of copying in human societies--and beyond. . . ." Id. at 7.).

Freyer, Tony A., Antitrust and Global Capitalism, 1930-2004 (Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 2006).

Hacker, Jacob S. & Paul Pierson, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010) (From the bookjacket: "We all know that the very rich have gotten a lot richer these past few decades while most Americans haven't. . . . Why do the 'have-it-alls' have so much more? And how have they managed to restructure the economy to reap the lion's share of the gains and shift the costs of their new economic playground downward, tearing new holes in the safety net and saddling all of us with increased debt and risk? Lots of so-called experts claim to have solved this great mystery, but no one has really gotten to the bottom of it--until now." "[The authors] demonstrate convincingly that the usual suspects--foreign trade and financial globalization, technological changes in the workplace, increased education at the top--are largely innocent of the charges against them. Instead, they indict an unlikely suspect and take us on an entertaining tour of the mountain of evidence against the culprit. The guilty party is American politics. Runaway inequality and the present economic crisis reflect what government has done to aid the rich and what it has not done to safeguard the interests of the middle class. The winner-take-all economy is primarily a result of winner-take-all politics." Located and read Paul Krugman's Op-Ed piece, "There Will Be Blood," in the NYT on 1/22/2010. "One of our parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it's doing the governing." "My sense is that most Americans still don’t understand this reality. They still imagine that when push comes to shove, our politicians will come together to do what’s necessary. But that was another country." "It’s hard to see how this situation is resolved without a major crisis of some kind. Mr. Simpson may or may not get the blood bath he craves this April, but there will be blood sooner or later. And we can only hope that the nation that emerges from that blood bath is still one we recognize." Id.).

Halper, Stefan, The Beijing Consensus: How China's Authoritarian Model Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century (New York: Basic Books, 2010) ("But in ideational terms, China is exporting something simpler, and indeed more corrosive to Western preeminence, than the individual nuts and bolts of its colossal thirty-year transformation. This is the basic idea of market authoritarianism. Beyond everything else that China sells to the world, it functions as the world's largest billboard advertisement for the new alternative of 'going capitalist and staying autocratic.' Beijing has provided the world's most compelling, high-speed demonstration of how to liberalize economically without surrendering to liberal politics. Officials and leaders now travel to China from seemingly every quarter of the globe beyond North America and Europe--Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa[], and Latin America--to learn from the Chinese about how to disaggregate economic and political freedom. . . ." Id. at 32-33. "If the magic of American leadership has faded, says French minister of foreign affairs, Bernard Kouchner, there's a very material reality to this observation: 'You want modern transportation systems? Try France or Japan. New airports? Half the cities of Asia.' . . . " Id. at 40. "Unless China and India suffer outbreaks of serious military conflagration or a calamitous domestic crisis, they will become the world's largest economies in the middle of this century. The potential size of their markets, their endless supply of low-cost labor, the unique combination of many highly skilled but low-paid professionals, and the investment incentives offered by their governments make for an irresistible package that attracts ever more investments away from the first world." "The relocation of manufacturing centers away from the United States had begun a corresponding shift in the center of gravity for R&D as it naturally gravitates toward new hubs of progress and production.' Id. at 41.).

Kaplan, Robert D., Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power (New York: Random House, 2010) ("The map of Europe defined the twentieth century. . . . Momentous trends and events happened elsewhere, to be sure. But great power politics, from the collapse of Old World empires to the bipolar struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, had more to do with Europe than anywhere else." "It is my contention that the Greater Indian Ocean, stretching eastward from the Horn of Africa past the Arabian Peninsula, the Iranian plateau, and the Indian Subcontinent, all the way to the Indonesian archipelago and beyond, may comprise a map as iconic to the new century as Europe was to the last one. Hopefully, the twenty-first century will not be as violent as the twentieth, but, to a similar degree, it could have a recognizable geography. In this rimland of Eurasia--the maritime oikoumene of the medieval Muslim world that was never far from China's gaze--we can locate the tense dialogue between Western and Islamic civilizations, the ganglia of global energy routes, and the quiet, seemingly inexorable rise of India and China over land and sea. For the sum total effect of U.S. preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan has been to fast-forward the arrival of the Asian Century, not only in economic terms that we all know about, but in military terms a well." Id. at xi. "Indeed, the challenge to America, ultimately, is less the rise of China than communicating at a basic level with this emerging global civilization of Africans and Asians. . . . But unless America makes its peace with these billions symbolized by the Greater Indian Ocean map, many of whom are Muslim, American power will not be seen as wholly legitimate. And legitimacy, remember, is a primary feature of power in the first place. . . ." Id. at 322. See Aaron L. Friedberg, "The New Great Game," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 11/21/2010.).

Lewy, Guenter, Assisted Death in Europe and America: Four Regimes and Their Lessons (Oxford & New York: Oxford U. Press, 2011) (From the book jacket: "The literature dealing with the moral, legal and social aspects of assisted death is voluminous, but there is a paucity of writing that provides a detailed account of way these four regimes are actually working. Many partisans, on both sides of the issue, cit existing data selectively or, at times, willfully distort the empirical evidence in order to strengthen their case. Based on the documentary record and interviews, with officials and scholars, this book seeks to given the specialist as well as the general interested reader a reliable picture of the way assisted death functions and to draw relevant lessons, While accurate factual information cannot settle a moral debate, it nevertheless is a precondition of any well-founded argument.").

Minow, Martha, Partners, Not Rivals: Privatization and the Public Good (Boston: Beacon, 2002) (From the bookjacket: "What happens when private companies, nonprofit agencies, and religious groups manage what government used to--in education, criminal justice, legal services, and welfare programs? As for-profit companies run schools, where will they make their profit margin? As religious groups provide job training and food stamps, will they respect public rules against discrimination and forcing people to pray?" "[Minow] acknowledges that private commercial interests are here to stay, and that religious providers have long played crucial roles in health care, social services, and schooling. New arrangements expanding these trends are not necessarily bad--market forces can be useful in improving public services, and the motivation and know-how of religious groups can help many of the most needy. Minow shows us how to guard against the dangers of privatization and preserve essential public values of due process, freedom form discrimination, and democratic participation.").

Morris, Ian, Why the West Rules–for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010) (From the bookjacket: "It is not . . . differences of race or culture, or even the strivings of great individuals, that explain Western dominance. It is the effects of geography on the everyday efforts of ordinary people as they deal with crises of resources, disease, migration, and climate. As geography and human ingenuity continue to interact, the world will change in astonishing ways, transforming Western rule in the process." "Deeply researched . . . , Why the West Rules -for Now spans fifty thousand ye rs of history and offers fresh insights on nearly every page. The books brings together the latest findings across disciplines--from ancient history to neuroscience--not only to explain why the West came to rule the world but also to predict what the next hundred years will bring." As to the twenty-first century: "First, we must restructure political geography to make room for the kinds of global intuitions that might slow down war and global weirding; then we must use the time that buys to carry out a new revolution in energy capture, shattering the fossil-fuel ceiling. Carrying on burning oil and coal like we did in the twentieth century will bring on Nightfall even before the hydrocarbon runs out." Some environmentalists recommend a different approach, urging us to return to simpler lifestyles that educe energy use enough to halt global weirding, but it is hard to see how this will work. World populations will probably grow another 3 billion before it peaks at 9 billion around 2050, and hundreds of millions of these people are likely to rise out of extreme poverty, using more energy as they do so. David Douglas, the chief sustainability officer of Sun Microsystems, points out that if each of these new people owns just one 60-watt incandescent lightbulb, and if each of them uses it just four hours per day, the world will still need to bring another sixty or so 500-megawatt power plants on line. The International Energy Agency expects world oil demand to rise from 86 million barrels oer day in 2007 to 116 million in 2030; and even then, they estimate, 1.4 billion people will still be without electricity." Id. at 611-612. It is the reading books such as this Why the West Rules--for Now, I am force, again and again, to confront the extent of my ignorance, and the narrowness of my perspective.).

Moyn, Samuel, The Last Utopia : Human Rights in History (Cambridge, Massachsetts, & London, England: Belknap/Harvard U. Press, 2010) ("An alternative history of human rights, with a much more recent timeline, looks very different than conventional approaches. Rather than attributing their sources to Greek philosophy and monotheistic religion, European natural law and early modern revolutions, horror against American slavery and Adolf Hitler's Jew-killing, it shows that human rights as a powerful transnational ideal and movement have distinctive origins of a much more recent date. True, rights have long existed, but they were from the beginning part of the authority of the state, not invoked to transcend it. They were most visible in revolutionary nationalism through modern history--until 'human rights' displaced revolutionary nationalism. The 1940s later turned out to be crucial, no least for the Universal Declaration they left behind, but it is essential to ask why human rights failed to interest many people--including international lawyers--at the time for decades. In real history, human rights were peripheral to both wartime rhetoric and postwar reconstruction, not central to their outcome. Contrary to conventional assumptions, there was no widespread Holocaust consciousness in the postwar era, so human rights could not have been a response to it. More important, no international rights movement emerged at the time. This alternative history is forced, therefore, to take as its main challenge understanding why it was not in the middle of the 1940s but in the middle of the 1970s that human rights came to define people's hopes for the future as the foundation of an international movement and a utopia of international law." Id. at 7. Also see, Belinda Cooper, "New Birth of Freedom," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 9/26/2010/).

Pomeranz, Kenneth, The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2000) (From the backcover: "The Great Divergence brings new insights to one of the classic questions of history: Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe, despite surprising similarities between advanced areas of Europe and East Asia? Kenneth Pomeranz shows, as recently as 1750, parallels between these two parts of the world in life expectancy, consumption, product and factor markets, the strategies of households, and perhaps most surprisingly, ecology. Pomeranz argues that Europe's nineteenth-century divergence from the Old World owes much to the fortunate location of coal, which substituted for timber, and trade with the America. Together, coal and the New World allowed Europe to grow along resource-intensive, labor-saving paths." "Meanwhile, Asia hit a cul-de-sac. Although the East Asian hinterlands boomed after 1750, both in population and in manufacturing, this growth prevented these peripheral regions from exporting vital resources to the clothing producing Yangzi Delta. As a result, growth in the core of East Asia's economy essentially stopped, and what growth did exist was forced along labor-intensive, resource-saving paths--paths Europe could have been forced down, too, had it not been for favorable resource stocks from underground and overseas.").

Sowell, Thomas, The Housing Boom and Bust (New York: Basic Books, 2009) (From the book jacket: "This is a plain-English explanation of how we got unto the current economic disaster that developed out of the economics and politics of the housing boom and bust. The 'creative' financing of home mortgages and the even more 'creative' marketing of financial securities based on American mortgages to countries around the world, are part of the story of how a financial house of cards was built up--and then suddenly collapsed." Brutal analysis.).