Extraordinary Collection, Unique, Timely, No Notes
December 16, 2009
Dacher Keltner, Jason March, Jeremy Adam Smith
This is a truly extraordinary collection of essays from the magazine Greater Good, a magazine I had no idea existed. The editors have done a tremendous job in selecting 35 essays (click on the cover above to see the Table of Contents and over all I am hugely impressed.
Multiple literatures are in convergences, from the consciousness side to the global brain side to the waging peace side. I arrived at this book from the “beyond genes to culture” side, and list ten other recommended books spanning those literatures at the end of this review.
+ 33 authors, 35 essays, drawn from the 2004-2009 timeframe as published in Greater Good, a magazine
+ Herb Alpert Foundation helped make this book possible
+ Three parts to the book: scientific roots; cultivating local goodness; cultivating goodness in society and politics
+ Science stories include evolutionary studies on peacemaking; neuroscientific experiments; and research into hormones like oxytocin that promote trust and generosity, meaning that kindness really is its own reward and that it is contagious
“Adam Smith in Beijing” by Giovanni Arrighi delivers a sophisticated history and analysis of the rise of the Asian economy. Displaying a deep knowledge of world history including novel insights into the works of Adam Smith and Karl Marx, Mr. Arrighi helps us understand why China’s ascent has arrived at the moment when the dream of a single world capitalist state as conceived and championed by the U.S. has failed. Impeccably researched and cogently written, this accessible book succeeds in providing historical perspective on how China has come to be a key player on the world stage.
Bottom line: Humanity can evolve, must evolve, and the Whole Earth, Co-Evolution concepts that Stewart Brand and others pioneered (not mentioned here), that indigenous people’s everywhere have understood for centuries, are a natural path for us all. We *can* create a prosperous world at peace.
Short version of the book: Synergy is cool again, synergy and self-organization complement each other and are distinct; bioeconomics is hugely important and supports the premise that the whole is larger than the sum of the parts and that interactions and exchanges can and should be done for the whole, “beyond selfishness,” cybernetics rules, information is the space between, and ethics is both a form of cybernetics and a cultural adaptation that helps the whole evolve and persist.
It’s too late for anyone to pretend that the U.S. government, whether under President Barack Obama or anyone else, can divert our nation from long-term economic decline. The U.S. is increasingly in a state of political, economic, and moral paralysis, caught as it were between the “rock” of protracted recession and the “hard place” of terminal government debt.
. . . . . . .
Thomas Greco, in his new book The End of Money and the Future of Civilization (Chelsea Green: 2009) , outlines the increasingly familiar story of how things got so bad, and he tells it as well as anyone has ever done. His style is precise and sometimes academic. Behind it, though, is a passion for truth and the type of rock-solid integrity that refuses to sugar-coat a very bitter pill.
More than that, Greco writes about how to change what has gone wrong. His credentials as an engineer, college professor, author, and consultant are impeccable. His book is among the most important written in this decade. It is truly a book that can alter the world and, if taken seriously, give large numbers of people a practical way to survive the gathering catastrophe.