Review: How to Run the World–Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance

5 Star, Diplomacy, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Public Administration, Stabilization & Reconstruction, Strategy
Amazon Page

Parag Khanna

5.0 out of 5 starsExtraordinary Personal Effort, Constrained by Publisher

February 21, 2011

I received a copy of this book at my request from the author himself (I am unemployed, and globally available).

I gave the author’s first book, The Second World: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-first Century, a five star leaning toward six review. This book is carried from a high four to a low five because of the concluding insights, but it also disappoints in relation to both the contributing experiences (as recounted in the Acknowledgments), and the broader literature that is not evident in this book, very possibly because of page limits set by the publisher. For more, see my Worth A Look: Book Review Lists (Positive) and also Worth A Look: Book Review Lists (Negative) at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog. Indeed, the author’s work, his professional network, and his multi-cultural insights are a perfect complement to my own–he knows much that I do not know, and vice versa. The index is mediocre–that is on the publisher, not the author, and I suspect that other publisher constraints kept this book from being all that the author would normally have offered. The publisher has also been remiss in not offering “Look Inside the Book” details to Amazon, a free service.

The author’s focus is on the failure of state-based diplomacy and the emergence as well as the need for more mega-diplomacy, which he quite ably defined as a constantly shifting mélange of hybrid relationships that full integrate nations, states, businesses, and non-governmental organizations–what they know, what they can share, and what they can do TOGETHER. Although the author is clearly a strong proponent of public-private partnerships, this is an area where others have done more nuanced work, generally limited to one sector. Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems, and Paul Hertzog’s work (Panarchy.com) are where we are all headed. On a second reading I picked up an easy to miss and rather startling emphasis, not fully developed, on the need to re-map colonial territories to diminish incentives for the military-industrial complex while boosting cross-border economic collaboration. The author sees, better than most, the harm done by artificial boundaries inconsistent with natural and tribal boundaries.

Hence, the author gets very high marks from me for seeing that political autonomy is the key to a prosperous world at peace, particularly in the context of the author’s brilliant but all too brief concluding comments on the urgency of achieving information sharing with integrity across hybrid networks. It is here that I feel his book is a perfect complement to my own (or vice versa), INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainaabilty. I urge one and all to consult the Wikipedia page on Secession–there are over 5,000 secession movements around the world, a good 50 of them in the USA, and all a validation of the erudite and extraordinary book by Professor Philip Allott of Cambridge, The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State.

The author gets very high marks from me for recognizing that governments are obstacles to health and efficiency; that failed states are a form of entropy, and that dictators are a core evil undermining the future of humanity. However, he also gets very low marks for being unwilling to focus on the blunt truth: corruption in all its forms is the Satan that curses us all, and the US Congress and two-party tyranny legalizing white collar crime and financial speculation ruinous of the global economy–and the US Government being “best pals” with 42 of the 44 dictators and overly influenced by Israeli Zionists (as opposed to Ha’aretz Jews of intelligence with strong ethical foundations)–are the primary source of global instability. [For a structured listing of books by others see my Negative book list.]

The author also focuses on the importance of mega-cities, and while not his central thrust, I find this part of the book compelling. Forty-one cities are two thirds of the global economy, and fewer than fifty cities cause most of the greenhouse gas output. What this really means to me is that the first “Smart City” could become a model for global revitalization. Although Singapore can make a claim (I gave the National Computer Board there the concept in 1994, a year prior to the publication of “Creating a Smart Nation: Strategy, Policy, Intelligence, and Information,” in Government Information Quarterly 13/2) I personally would like to see a major US city “get it” in partnership with a much-expanded version of IBM’s Smart Cities project. In combination with a national government that finally leverages a Strategic Analytic Model to eradicate poverty and the other nine high-level threats to humanity as identified and prioritized by the United Nations High Level Panel in A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, by creating information sharing models that reveal the trust cost of every product and service and consequently harmonize both consumer power (buycotts, as Jim Turner calls them) and how the eight tribes of intelligence approach every problem, we could within 20 years create a prosperous world at peace. Below is a superb quote buried in a note–the author has much more to offer in the future on this important topic.

QUOTE: “According to the Legatum Prosperity Index, smart countries promote government efficiency, make starting businesses quick and cheap, expand education at all levels, invest in innovation, steadily open their economies, improve public health, and guarantee political and social rights. Australia, Austria, Finland, Germany, and Singapore are at the top of the list, while the Central African Republic, Mali, Zambia, and Yemen round out the bottom.” [137]

This book would have been much stronger–and a certain 6 (my own rank, 10% of the books I review achieve that status)–if the author had spent more time studying both the obstacles to information sharing among the varied forms of organization and network, while also suggesting novel scalable approaches. He does recognize the importance of information sharing and sense-making. Written before the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and now China and Wisconsin, the author is proven prescient, but he could have done more with this.

Before ending with a small selection of quotes (quite a few more are in my worksheet for this book, with a link to that worksheet embedded in my copy of the review at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog), I want to itemize some principles the author mentions across the book that resonated very strongly with me.

+ Pillars of the next renaissance are intellectual humanism, the rediscovery of ancient wisdom, and the rise of vernaculars. The next Renaissance is about universal liberation through exponentially expanding and voluntary interconnections.

+ To manage collective space across communities, three principles (inclusiveness, decentralization, mutual accountability).

+ Seven core principles: Proactive, ends in mind, delegate trust to regional experts, win-win mind-set, understand others first, synergize, network.

QUOTE: “In 2008, twenty five years of poverty reduction efforts were wiped away through food and fuel price hikes.” [157]

QUOTE: “We should think in terms of technology rather than technocracy to get the world’s poorest the basics they need.” [172]

QUOTE: “All grand global schemes miss the point that representation–democratic or otherwise–is not enough to satisfy out visceral need to be in control of our own affairs. Today, for the first time, the underrepresented and disenfranchises have access to information, communication, money, and the tools of violent revolution to demand and effect real change, not just variations of the status quo.” [209]

QUOTE: “If a new global social contract is to emerge, it will be as a result of the communities of the world–whether nations, corporations, or faiths–sharing knowledge and cooperating, but also learning to respect one another’s power and values. As they practice mega-diplomacy, they leverage each other’s resources and hold one another accountable. In a world in which every player has a role in global policy, the only principle that can reliably guide us is pragmatism; learning from experience and applying its lessons. The dot-gov, dot-com, and dot-org worlds are converging toward such pragmatism.” [213]

I collect English-speaking minds. His mind is easily in my top 100, and especially gifted in its multicultural understanding. He is too easy on both Wall Street and the ideologically-driven largely corrupt decisions of the US Government with respect to protecting both white collar criminals and dictators; I am sympathetic, he was labeled “unhinged” in his first book by those who are in denial over the high crimes associated with US Government protection and legalization of US capitalism as a predator as well as US Government systemic nurturing of dictators while paying lip service to human rights. In a separate conversation I learn that he is truly focused on systemic corruption and on bureaucratic inertia as a form of systemic corruption. I do not credit Transparency International as much as he does, nor is the UN proving effective with its first hybrid, the International Committee Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), whose first Commissioner, and first Chief Security Officer, were astonishingly corrupt in their own practices, something I experienced personally, along with gross negligence on the part of the US officials in charge of DSS, DPA, and the US Embassy in Guatemala. Corruption is indeed pervasive. To understand my holistic appreciation of corruption, see my commentary, Reflections on Integrity, at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, and links below.

I respect this author, and look forward to his next book.

See Also:
Corruption and Anti-Corruption: An Applied Philosophical Approach
Overcoming Corruption: The Essentials
Anti-corruption: Webster’s Timeline History, 1954 – 2007
Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure
The Rise of Global Civil Society: Building Communities and Nations from the Bottom Up

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See Also:

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corruption

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Leadership for Epoch B

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Civilization-Building

Worth a Look: Book Reviews of Capitalism Reincarnated

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Conscious, Evolutionary, Integral Activism & Goodness

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Dialog for Truth & Reconciliation