The Rise of Global Civil Society: Building Communities and Nations from the Bottom Up

5 Star, Civil Society, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Future, United Nations & NGOs
Civil Society
Amazon Page

Superb Overview, A Bright Light Into the Future,April 22, 2008

Don Eberly

I would normally penalize the publisher one star for being lazy about providing basic information using Amazon's excellent digital loading dock.

Here's the part the publisher should have provided:

Foreword: Poverty Reduction in the Age of Globalization
01 Compassion: America's Most Consequential Export
02 Core Elements of Community and Nation-Building: The American Debate
03 The Great Foreign Aid Debate: Stingy or Generous
04 From Aid Bureaucracy to Civil Society: Participation & Partnership
05 Wealth, Poverty, and the Rise of Corporate Citizenship
06 Microenterprise: Tapping Native Capability at the Bottom of the Pyramid
07 The Great Tsunami of 2004 and America's Generosity
08 Conflict or Collaboration: Religion and Democratic Civil Society
09 Understanding Anti-Americanism
10 Civil Society and Nation-Building: Prospects for Democratization
11 Conflict and Reconciliation in the Context of Nation-Building
12 Habits of the Heart: The Case for a Global Civic Culture
13 Roadmap for Bottom-Up Nation-Building in the 21st Century

Although there are omissions and correspondences that are not addressed in this book, which relies on a handful of core readings, I have nothing but admiration for the author's talent, insight, and art in bringing this all together. This one book is easily a substitute for 10-25 other books, and the author communicates some key ideas with discipline.

Highlights for me:

+ Shift from vertical to horizontal power

+ 85% of aid is NOT from governments

+ Key trends include citizen-led development; provision of opportunity instead of charity; and use of electronic devices, notably the cell phone, to counter corruption and the abuse of power (while also increasing individual and group productivity)

+ Propaganda (public diplomacy or strategic communication or covert action media placements and influence operations) DOES NOT WORK. What works is good works for the right reasons.

+ We are in the midst of an association revolution at the same time that corporate citizenship and social responsibility is on the rise.

+ Local ownership and local innovation are the heart of success

+ There is an emerging role for religion and culture that is distinct from the negative role now played by extremists on both sides

+ Anti-Americanism is making US government aid ineffective at same time that door is being left open to non-governmental aid from US sources

+ Goal is to cultivate democratic citizens by creating civil society, which the author reminds us citing Tocqueville, is what actually nurtures citizenship–not state or government directives

+ Capital trapped in poverty far exceed all combined sources of aid

+ Third World is a hot-bed of innovation and small-scale experimentation, and the cell phone is playing a huge role in helping individuals climb out of poverty

+ Pushing democracy before civil society has been established, or before reconciliation and stabilization have been achieved, will not work

+ In next 25 years 31-41 trillion dollars in wealth will become available for philanthropy (or debauchery, but the author is an optimist)

+ In the age of networks collaboration, the concept of sound governance is one that needs development–I thought immediately of a sparse matrix in which various organizations have metrics associated with a specific project, and they strive to turn each from red to yellow to green.

+ 75% of US individual taxpayers did not itemize deductions, this is a huge untapped source of charity–however, while the author focuses on increasing individual donations to intermediaries like the Red Cross, we at Earth Intelligence Network would much prefer to create global range of gifts tables that allow all individuals to opt in at any level ($10 and up) and start peer-to-peer giving on a global scale at the household level of precision.

+ Key trends: from the giant to the small; from the remote to the local; from the bureaucratic to the non-bureaucratic; from the impersonal to the personal; from the compartmentalized to the holistic

+ More key trends: from clientelism to citizenship; from giantism to human scale; from credentialism to capacity building (see EIN's idea for teaching the poor one cell call at a time using global virtual networks of volunteers–they do not need diplomas, they need knowledge on demand); from fragmentation to integration (e.g. must harmonize all twelve policies to eradicate any given threat); from aid bureaucracies to civil society

+ Bottom-line: empower the indigenous and do not pretend you know what they need. It is NOT “on us” to do anything other than practice the Golden Rule and be compassionate and generous.

+ The final section of the book needs to be read in detail but includes ideas such as government becoming a catalyst rather than a supplier (steer not row); achieving a means of tracking (and we hope, orchestrating) government, private and NGO giving, and remittances, which the author feels must be counted.

+ He speaks of a third way that combines conditionality (give us a good legal environment) with anti-corruption (on this point his focus is on mis-direction of aid, not on the Canadian gold company paying a single Colonel to move a village so they can loot billions in gold from the Peruvian commonwealth)

+ Corporate strategic or venture giving is a favorable emerging trend, along with social entrepreneurship and I would add, hybrid enterprises

+ Web-based giving is in its infancy (and still gives control of the money to large organizations with huge staffs–EIN wants to get to P2P Web 3.0 giving that is both point to point and on the record for all to see

The book concludes with 26 suggestions spanning the full eight tribes as I call them (government, military, law enforcement, academia, business, media, NGOs, and civil society) and for this alone you must buy the book or check it out of the library. Solid common sense.

Amazon does not provide a capability to link to lists, so I can only offer a couple of examples in several literatures. If I point to a book you can read my review and find 10 more links there.

Poverty Potential
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom

Capitalism 3.0
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage

Civilization Building
The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition

Tao of Democracy
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

Failure of Government and the Two-Party Spoils System
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025
Running On Empty: How The Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It

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