Review: Social Networks and the Semantic Web (Semantic Web and Beyond)

3 Star, Information Society, Information Technology

Greed Pricing5 for Content and Relevance, Zero for Greed Pricing, June 3, 2008

Peter Mika

I am an author and publisher and I would have bought this book today had it been priced more honestly. It costs a penny a page to produce a book, and this book should not be sold for more than $29.95 (which is ten times cost, and also accounts for Amazon only paying 45% of retail to each publisher).

I hope the author reads this and posts the book online as a Creative Commons PDF. I advise all authors to retain original rights to everything they produce, and to always post a searchable savable PDF for the common good. Earth Intelligence publishes hard-copy books on Amazon as a marker, but the real value to all who wich to create a prosperous world at peace lies in our free PDFs that can also be translated into any language at no cost.

Search the web for the title and author of this book and find interesting free stuff. I am adding this book to my list of grotesquely expensive books I would have bought but will not because of the price.

Review: Web 2.0–A Strategy Guide: Business thinking and strategies behind successful Web 2.0 implementations.

4 Star, Information Operations, Information Technology

Web 2.0 2Superb Overview of Web 2.0, June 3, 2008

Amy Shuen

I found this book mildly irritating, until I realized that it was in fact perfect for what it sets out to be, an introduction of Web 2.0 concepts for those who know nothing about the Web, i.e. executives who still dictate memoranda, still budget for print advertising, etcetera. O’Reilly has a superb model for leveraging conferences and publishing books, but O’Reilly should have known better than to publish this book in 2008 without reference to Web 3.0. Wikipedia has a fine overview of Web 3.0, start there, I have put the URL in the comment below.

I found the book bland and disappointing, and found–when discussing Amazon, for example, the book reads more like an advertisement and has no clue on all the stuff Amazon is not doing (see the comment for two URLs), such as microtext for micro-cash, creating global intelligence councils on poverty and every other topic using top authors, and creating local citizen intelligence minutemen who can do real-time observation in the context of Amazon’s excellent S3 cloud, which is in my view operating at less than 10% of its potential because Bezos has two things on his mind: outerspace and Kindle.

The end notes and the bibliography are the best part of the book. The index stinks. 7 pages for a 214 page book, should have been at least 14–it was an afterthought and done badly.

Better books on Web 2.0 and Generation 2.0 include:
Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
Mobilizing Generation 2.0: A Practical Guide to Using Web2.0 Technologies to Recruit, Organize and Engage Youth
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything

Better books on the larger scheme of things:
Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
New World New Mind Changing the Way We
Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge
The Future of the Internet–And How to Stop It
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

Review: Sway–The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

5 Star, Communications, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Democracy

SwaySuper Book, Fast Read, Relevant to Participatory Democracy, June 3, 2008

Ori Brafman

This is a very fine book, a fast read, and highly relevant to Web 2.0 and all the emergent opportunities to turn our world right side up, restoring power back to all the people. My reading has moved heavily toward cognitive science and “open everything,” and my avowed goal, apart from creating public intelligence in the public interest, is to make “true cost” visible to the public on every product and service, penetrating through the kinds of sway barriers this book describes.

Each chapter is excellent, with a nice teaser diagram. The book is double-spaced with adequate notes and index.

My flyleaf highlights:

+ Diagnosis bias is huge. [The book does not focus enough on how our “experts know more and more about less and less,” but the core point is valid: once their tiny little brain storage reaches a conclusion, they bend everything to fit it. this could also be called paradigm or disciplinary bias.]

+ Hidden currents in the individual and group decision support process include loss aversion, value attribution or negatiion, and a commitment to the wrong s trategy. Holy Cow. Talk about CIA, Microsoft, Google, CISCO, they are all there.

+ NBA draft is mostly guess and speculation [so is most intelligence “analysis” and both groups get away with it because they are not held accountable for getting it wrong.]

+ Labels *matter* and deeply influence outcomes.

+ Visualization *sells* just about anything.

+ Cues and subtle messages are nuanced and complex and omnipresent. I was really engaged by this section.

+ Need to be heard is vital and the more one does that, the more value is created (this is social networking 101, as Web 2.0 starts to go over the cliff so Web 3.0 can rise like a Pheonix.] The authors stress that those offering to listen must *hear* each individual voice.

+ Blockers matter, i.e. there have to be people in the loop who have the courage, the commitment, the *role* of saying no to abuses of authority including rankism. [I think of all our flag officers and Congress Members who refused to challenge the criminal lies of the White House and the abuses of power by the Vice President, all documented now in the open literature. Had Colin Powell resigned and called for a stop, he would be President in 2009, instead of those now running. all flawed in their own way [and each a testiment to how easily we are swayed by a lack of substance on the part of all three–visit Earth Intelligence Network to see the 52 questions none of the candidates can answer, and the 52 “starter” answers for a Citizens Summit to discuss (February 2009 in Chicago, over Lincoln’s birthday).

Great little book. Here are some others I have found to be valuable:
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past
Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West
Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
The Age of Missing Information
Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography
Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin
Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq

Below is the first in a series of non-profit books (also free online), relevant to creating public intelligence in the public interest).
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

Memorandum: $2 Billion Obligation Plan Centered on Defense, for a New Open Source Agency

Budgets & Funding, Memoranda

This is the budget created to support Col Vincent Stewart, USMC, then the action officer for surveying Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) reequirements and capabilities across the Department of Defense (DoD).  This amount–not necessarily these specific priorities–was offered to the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), which continues to have the only full-spectrum OSINT capability in the USA, but turned down by subordinates to the Combatant Commander who did not understand that the Long War is a war of both ideas, and universal coverage at the neighborhood level of granulaty, as Dr. Stephen Cambone so wisely called for in January 2004.

If $1.5 Billion is added to this budget for 50 Community Information-Sharing and Sense-Making Networks, a total of no less than $3 billion a year, and ideally $3.5 billion a year, is recommended.

$2B for OSA
$2B for OSA

Review: Nordic Approaches to Peace Operations–a New Model In the Making

3 Star, Humanitarian Assistance, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Stabilization & Reconstruction, United Nations & NGOs

Nordic Peace5 for Substance, Zero for Pricing, June 1, 2008

Peter Jakobsen

I am adding this book to my list of outrageously expensive books that will never become mainstream because the substance of the author has been overwhelmed by the greed of the publisher. This book cost less than a penny a page to produce and received no marketng to speak of.

As a publisher and author myself, I strongly recommend that all authors publish their word in PDF form free online, and also ensure their contract with any publisher includes a not-to-exceed price for a hard or soft cover copy for the publisher.

Amazon allows URLs in the comment section. I now search for books like this on the web rather than paying such an outrageous price. I have sent email to the author encouraging him to identify an online location for a PDF(not necessarily of the book, but of the core ideas). If I receive that, I will post the link as a comment.

I take the Nordics very seriously, both in peace operations and in peace intelligence. They taught me (in Sweden) the importance of what they call Multinational Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information Sharing (M4IS). In the comment below I provide two links, one to the new book on Peace Intelligence that is being edited by Col Jan-Inge Svensson, the other to the one page portal to Open Source Intelligence which now gives way to Public Intelligence.

See also:
Peacekeeping Intelligence: Emerging Concepts for the Future
Intelligence Power in Peace and War

Review: Complex Adaptive Systems–An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life (Princeton Studies in Complexity)

5 Star, Complexity & Catastrophe, Information Society, Information Technology

Complex AdaptiveBest in Class, Very Technical, Saluting and Moving On, May 31, 2008

John H. Miller

Sometime I encounter books that are extremely important, that give me an appreciation for a knowledge domain I do not know enough about, and that I simply cannot read and review.

This book, and Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling (Princeton Studies in Complexity) are two such books. I got half-way through this one, did the introduction to the other, from which I was immediately grabbed by the concept of:

“instead of explaining it, can you grow it?”

Howard Bloom, in Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century teaches us that the only way to create a sustainable peace in the Palestine region is to provide absolute security for an entire generation, and raise two whole generations, one on each side, from kindergarten on us, generations that do not consider “the other” to be “pigs and monkeys” by the age of five.

Similarly, the literature on wealth of networks and the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid is growing, and I am convinced that public intelligence (decision support, full disclosure, end of information asymmetries) is going to accomplish two things in the next twenty years:

1) Eradicate corruption and enforce the triple-bottom line

2) Elevate five billion poor by teaching them one cell call at a time so that they can create infinite stabilizing wealth.

See for example:
Infinite Wealth: A New World of Collaboration and Abundance in the Knowledge Era
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Revolutionary Wealth: How it will be created and how it will change our lives
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)

So the very best thing I can say about this book is that I am glad I bought it, I am very glad to have a sense, however weak, of this important exploratory area, and now I know that I need a team of generative social scientists that can do complex modeling for peace and prosperity solutions.

See also, just published at Amazon and free online at Earth Intelligence Network, Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

I urge one and all to become familiar with World Index of Social and Environmental Responsibility (WISER), as best I can tell that is the center of gravity for empowering individuals with deep knowledge of the true costs and many human rights abuses and other crimes that we support today for lack of knowledge. I also recommend the pioneering EarthGame work of Medard Gabel, at BigPictureSmallWorld.

Review: Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling (Princeton Studies in Complexity)

5 Star, Complexity & Catastrophe, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Priorities, Survival & Sustainment, Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean)

GenerativeInstead of Can You Explain It, Can You Build It?, May 31, 2008

Joshua M. Epstein

Sometimes I encounter books that are extremely important, that give me an appreciation for a knowledge domain I do not know enough about, and that I simply cannot read and review in the traditional sense. However, having invested good money and time in the book, if I admire I book, I generally seek to use my broad reading as a base for putting the book in an appreciative context with useful links for other readers.

This book, and Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life (Princeton Studies in Complexity) are two such books. This one starts with:

“instead of explaining it, can you grow it?”

Howard Bloom, in Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century teaches us that the only way to create a sustainable peace in the Palestine region is to provide absolute security for an entire generation, and raise two whole generations, one on each side, from kindergarten on us, generations that do not consider “the other” to be “pigs and monkeys” by the age of five.

Similarly, the literature on wealth of networks and the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid is growing, and I am convinced that public intelligence (decision support, full disclosure, end of information asymmetries) is going to accomplish two things in the next twenty years:

1) Eradicate corruption and enforce the triple-bottom line

2) Elevate five billion poor by teaching them one cell call at a time so that they can create infinite stabilizing wealth.

See for example:
Infinite Wealth: A New World of Collaboration and Abundance in the Knowledge Era
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Revolutionary Wealth: How it will be created and how it will change our lives
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)

So the very best thing I can say about this book is that I am glad I bought it, I am very glad to have a sense, however weak, of this important exploratory area, and now I know that I need a team of generative social scientists that can do complex modeling for peace and prosperity solutions.

See also, just published at Amazon and free online at Earth Intelligence Network, Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

I urge one and all to become familiar with World Index of Social and Environmental Responsibility (WISER), as best I can tell that is the center of gravity for empowering individuals with deep knowledge of the true costs and many human rights abuses and other crimes that we support today for lack of knowledge. I also recommend the pioneering EarthGame work of Medard Gabel, at BigPictureSmallWorld.

Eventually I see the USA Waging Peace, with a Multinational Decision Support Center providing unclassified intelligence to all actors on the world stage, and publishing an annual and constantly updated Global Range of Gifts Table to connect the billion rich with the five billion poor at the $1-$100 level.

In commenting on this book, I am primarily seeking to point readers toward other books on the substance of peace and prosperity and our many ills. If you are technically inclined, this is a very top work that also inspires the lay reader who “does not do math.”

Review: The Story of Civilization [Volumes 1 to 11] (Hardcover Set 1963-1975)

5 Star, History

History CivilizationBuy This for Later Reading, May 29, 2008

Will and Ariel Durant

I own this set. As I pass through the 55-year old mark, I keep coming back to it and will read it from start to finish one day. The price is a bargain.

If you want just a taste of the rich content, buy The Lessons of History.

Two other major works I recommend are:

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

Review: Spies for Hire–The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing

4 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret)

cover spies for hireUseful Contribution, Neglects Outputs & Constituencies, May 28, 2008

Tim Shorrock

Edit of 4 Jun 08 to strongly recommend Retired Reader’s review as a companion to my own observations.

I sat down with this book today and found it absorbing. It is perhaps the best overview for anyone of names and numbers associated with the $60 billion (or more, perhaps as much as $75 billion) a year we waste on the 4% we can steal, and next to nothing on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). The book loses one star for failing to integrate over 300 relevant books (see the annotated bibliographies to my first two books), and for failing to apply any visualization at all. This book is a mass of facts and figures, names and places. With or without visualization, it is a seminal reference point and recommended for all university and public libraries.

The book focuses mostly on technical waste–the inputs–and does not cover outputs nor constituencies. The reality is as General Zinni has put it so well: the IC produces 4% of what is needed, at a cost so horrendously wasteful as to warrant severe outrage among all taxpayers.

Having read the book, I can state that the author’s agenda, if he has one, is to expose the risk to our civil liberties of creating a national surveillance state in which the bulk of the expertise is outside the government and subject to corruption and cronyism as well as lack of oversight.

Here are three tid-bits that strongly support the author’s general intent, and some links.

1) Secret intelligence scam #1 is that there is no penalty for failure. Lockheed can build a satellite system that does not work (for NASA as well as the secret world–two different failures–or get the metrics wrong so priceless outer space research does not deploy a parachute–}and get another contract. Similarly SAIC with Trailblazer, CACI in Iraq, Blackwater murdering civilians and ramming old men in old cars out of the way, this is all a total disgrace to America.

2) “Butts in seats” means that most of our money goes to US citizens with clearances who know nothing of the real world, *and* the contractor gets 150% of their salary as “overhead.” That is scam #2.

3) Scam #3 is that the so-called policy world, when it exists, does not really care what the secret world has to say, unless it justifies elective wars, secret prisons in the US (Halliburton) and so on. Dick Cheney ended the policy process in this administration. But even without Cheney and his gang of proven liars, the dirty little secret of the secret world is that a) there is no one place where all information comes together to be made sense of; and b) less than 1% of what we collect gets looked at by a human; and c) most of the policy world could care less what Top Secret Codeword information is placed before them–as Colin Powell says so memorably in his autobiography, he preferred the Early Bird compilation of news clippings.

I have been saying since 1988 that the secret emperor is not just naked, but institutionalized lunacy. Books like this are helpful, eventually the public will hear our voice.

Here are specific tid-bits that caught my attention as I went through the book.

+ Two errors in reference to me: I was neither a committee chair nor a program director. The author does quote me accurately.

+ Early on I am impressed to note documented facts:

– 50% of the clandestine case officers at CIA are contractors

– 35% of the Defense Intelligence Agency workforce is contracted

– Virtually 100% of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is contracted

– 70% of all US Intelligence Community funds are spent on external contracts rather than internal capabilities.

– Booz Allen Hamilton has 10,000 employees with Top Secret Codeword clearances

– Revolving door is gutting the agencies (and most retirements will take place between 2007 to 2012–we have no middle management, no bench).

– Total Information Awareness (TIA) program never died, it went underground

– Pentagon under Cheney, then Cheney-Rumsfeld, now Cheney-Gates appears committed to outsourcing everything except the shooting–this is very very bad for all of us

– SIGINT data stream is wagging the dog–three V’s of unstructured data are volume, velocity, and variety (183 languages we don’t speak) but the author cited General Tony Zinni, USMC (Ret) telling a conference that all the high-tech in the world cannot give him plans and intentions on the battlefield.

– History of outsourcing goes back to the Odeen (CEO BDM) report sponsored by the Defense Science Board, this was the beginning of trying to privatize everything possible. Combined with the Pentagon’s inherent disrespect for the CIA, it made privatizing intelligence even more attractive.

– McConnell comes out of this book looking respectable, Woolsey and Tenet less so. Dempsey was not a Navy officer by career–they sent her to knife and fork school when she managed the Navy intelligence budget within GDIP, much as the USMC took care of Arnold Punaro who ultimately made one-star while being Staff Director of the SASC. Although the author excels at naming names, and he discusses failures where they are known, there is very little substantive understanding of how the US IC has collapsed on all fronts–personnel, budget, finance, facilities, global presence, global coverage, relevance to the customer, etcetera.

– CACI and SAIC come out of this book looking truly terrible, while ManTech and Booz Allen Hamilton come out as moderately competent. I have to remind myself that contractors are not evil–they do what we incentivize them to do, and right now it is OUT OF CONTROL.

– He names LtGen Ken Minihan, USAF, as the de facto ideologist for the intelligence-industrial complex, and provides a good review of how venture capital funds were created to focus specifically on secret contracts.

– John Brennan emerges from this book as the man behind the curtain, levering the International and National Security Alliance (INSA) to further the complex. I disagree with the author’s characterization of the DNI and INSA alliance as unethical. I do however agree that it is unprofessional in that INSA is executing myopic orders and not contributing at all to the needed cross-fertilization and understanding of where the real innovation is happening, in Collective, Peace, and Commercial Intelligence (the latter the complete opposite of Contractor Intelligence, or butts in seats).

See also:
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
Blond Ghost
The Very Best Men Four Who Dared:The Early Years of the CIA
Blank Check: The Pentagon’s Black Budget
Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency
None So Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam

There are success stories. Here are two books on one such case, where the White House and the Pentagon chose not to act over four days:
First In: An Insider’s Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan
Jawbreaker: The Attack on bin Laden and al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA’s Key Field Commander

Bottom line books:
On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

I put this book down wishing that the field of cognitive science would evolve more quickly. Our profession is in disarray, in confusion, seeking to substitute butts in seats and dollars for cultural, linguistic, historical, and other forms of context. We need several multinational life boats of change catalysts–such as a Multinational Decision Support Center in Tampa, taking over the rapidly vacating Coalition Coordinating Center, in order to create the world’s first unclassified intelligence center dedicated to providing open decision support to all parties active in stabilization & reconstruction, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief (both at home and abroad). The IC is, as I said in Forbes ASAP, Inside Out and Upside Down. This is not the contractor’s fault. It is our fault. We are a Dumb Nation instead of a Smart Nation. Bad. Very bad.

Who’s Who in Collective Intelligence: George Por

Alpha M-P, Collective Intelligence
George Por
George Por

George Pór is an advisor to leaders in international business and government. Former Senior Research Fellow at INSEAD, currently he is a PrimaVera Research Fellow in Collective Intelligence at Universiteit van Amsterdam and Publisher of the Blog of Collective Intelligence.  His clients include: British Petroleum, EDS, Ericsson, European Commission, European Foundation for Management Development, European Investment Bank, Ford Motor Co., Hewlett Packard, Intel, Siemens, Sun Microsystems, Swiss Re, and Unilever. He can be reached at George(at)Community-Intelligence.com.

The book would not have been possible without the help of George Por and Tom Atlee, and this is acknowledged at the book’s dedication page.  It is also understood that the book is a snapshot of the emerging discipline, and that the conversation will continue, assisted by George Por, at http://cic.evolutionarynexus.org.

Cultivating collective intelligence: a core leadership competence in a complex world

Interview with Professor Pierre Lévy

The Book
The Book

Who’s Who in Public Intelligence: Arpan R. Patel

Alpha M-P, Commercial Intelligence
Arpan R. Patel
Arpan R. Patel

Arpan Patel is Director of Somat Engineering, Inc’s Information Engineering practice in Washington, DC.  Mr. Patel has over 17 years of technology, financial advisory and operations experience.

He began his career as an investment banker at leading firms including Lehman Brothers, Lazard Frères, Wasserstein Perella and Credit Suisse First Boston, advising leading corporations and financial buyers on complex financings and M&A transactions exceeding $5 billion.

In recent years, he has gained significant operational experience and insight as a technology and financial services entrepreneur.  He previously cofounded eFrontiers, a pioneering online asset management platform for institutional investors, and Plans365, a recognized developer of online personal finance and collaboration solutions.

Mr. Patel holds a BA in economics from The Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from The University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business.

Review: Digital Natives & Digital Immigrants

5 Star, Information Society

Digital NativesEarly Insights into the Future, May 24, 2008

Johann Günther

It’s a pity this work is not more readily available. The best work right now that is available is Marc Pensky’s Don’t Bother Me Mom–I’m Learning!, whose 2005 article in Educational Review (December 2005/January 2006) on “Listening to the Natives,” first illuminated this huge distinction. As Pensky says, children today are no longer “little versions of us.”

Forthcoming in August 2008 is Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. The key point that I have seen in my broad reading is that the future is not here now–it will be here when the digital natives are digital adults, and overthrow the “command and control” (“do it because I say so”) regimes that are all too prone to corruption and misdirection behind closed doors.

See also:
Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
Mobilizing Generation 2.0: A Practical Guide to Using Web2.0 Technologies to Recruit, Organize and Engage Youth
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

Review: Against the Grain–Christianity and Democracy, War and Peace

5 Star, Philosophy, Religion & Politics of Religion, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution
Against the Grain
Amazon Page

5 for Christian wisdom, Chapters on Iraq Questionable, May 18, 2008

George Weigel

This was my first exposure to this author, who has 14 other books to his credit and was for seven years president of the ethics and public policy center. The essays that comprise the book were written over the course of 15 years, generally as lectures at Catholic centers of learning excellence. Each has a current introduction and explanation of provenance.

Highlights of this extraordinary work:

Six big ideas:
01 Religion and its moral views are a huge part of the public dialog
02 Abortion, euthanasia, and stem-cell research destructive of embryos violate first principles.
03 Free economy empowers the poor
04 Just war tradition balances freedom, justice, & security
05 John Paul II/Second Vatican was about challenging modernity to rediscover the value of truth and love
06 Catholic Church has a “form” from Christ

The author calls on reviewers to pay attention to his introduction to the book, which is indeed a very fine summary (but no substitute for a full reading). He outlines why he titled the book “Against the Grain:”
01 Political science is not just about statistics
02 Democracy is not just procedural
03 Challenges functional pacifism
04 Challenges the amorality of RealPolitic (AMEN!)
05 Asserts the inherent Christianity of America and the constant propositions (see The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country and also The Faiths of the Founding Fathers
06 Disintegration of mainline Protestantism *combined with* the abdication of universities from teaching values opened door for Catholic reflection but the door was slammed shut by the 1960’s

I have a note at this point that the book is an inspiring example of political theology, and am surprised at its stark conservatism.

The author develops a theme throughout the book, to wit that there are three major spheres: the political, the economic, and the cultural, and that it is the Church–the Catholic Church alone among all religions in having diplomatic representation across 172 nations, that is a major player in the cultural arena while having a helpful influence on the other two spheres.

At this point I am furious to discover a really crummy index, mostly names. This work is too important to allow a lazy publisher to dismiss a proper indexing job, and I recommend the author demand a proper index for the paperback edition.

Unlike A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World this book is “not for Catholics only,” and I also find it a great deal more challenging, more substantive, more reflective.

The principles of Catholic social doctrine (the author steadfastly refuses to acknowledge “liberation theology” as having standing:
01 Personalism (human rights)
02 Common good (communitarianism)
03 Subsidiarity (civil society as milieu)
04 Solidarity (civic friendship–relationships–added by John Paul II. See also Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies and Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

He cites John Paul II as saying that work is “becoming” not drudgery, and those who revere Peter Drucker will remember that he said precisely the same thing.

The author discusses how the Church “proposes”
01 Free *and* virtuous society (see my review of Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography
02 Combination of democratic political community, free economy, *and* public moral culture
03 Democracy and economy are not machines that can run on their own. See the many books I have reviewed on the complete break-down of the government, predatory capitalism, and the mass media that has betrayed the public trust.
04 Freedom must be tethered to moral truths
05 Voluntary associations are vital (and citing others, freedom must characterize both a choice of faith and a choice of society)
06 Wealth is ideas, not just resources. See The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom and The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks).
07 Poverty in the 21st Century is about being excluded from the network that can create infinite wealth in every clime and place. AMEN!

I have another six pages of notes but am certain to run into the 100 word limit. A tiny taste of what else this author offers all of us:

Three competing political theologies today: Pragmatic Utilitarianism (Europe), Political Islamism (Caliphate), and Catholic Social Doctrine. Not sure where that leaves those discussed in American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America).

Quote: “The social doctrine of the Church is rarely preached and poorly catechized.” Quoting John Paul II, “Bishops don’t know the social doctrine of the Church.” (pages 23 and 24).

Five specific issues
01 Need to appreciate Catholic international relations concepts and doctrine
02 Inter-religious dialog and global “social question” must be addressed
03 Emerging global economy & the environment must be addressed
04 Life issues *are* social doctrine
05 Priority of culture and deepening of civil society matters

There is a strong section, without too many damning details, about how the Church has erred in the past and today in forming inappropriate alliances with secular authorities (so has the US Government, see Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025)

Church’s first task is to *be* the Church, not be too accommodating of political and economic norms de jure, and fully represent the Catholic Church in the ideal. This book is a superb manifestation of that ideal.

The author suggests that the Church makes three contributions in support of democracy, its natural ally:
01 Makes room for democracy by rendering unto Caesar
02 Makes democrats (citizens)
03 Enables “giving an account”

The author articulates strong feelings of betrayal in how three Supreme Court Justices in particular have sought to elevate the individual’s self-determination above communal moral precepts, and he is especially damning of the Clinton Administration for seeking to make abortion-on-demand a human right worldwide.

I must close without listing the elements of the Catholic theory of international relations, or the five realities facing the Church. Buy the book (or some other reviewer, take those two chapters).

On Iraq, he is way out of his league on intelligence and policy matters. I did not allow that to detract from my appreciation of the book over-all, for his is a great mind, broadly read, and most challenging.

Vote on Review