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Barber offers a bold lens through which to understand the chaotic events of the post-Cold War world and, in the tradition of Alvin Toffler's Future Shock and Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, explains the forces at work, why democracy is under siege, and what the consequences are for citizenship.
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As soon as you hear the conceit of this book--that there are two great opposing forces at work in the world today, border-crossing capitalism and splintering factionalism, and that they are the two biggest threats to democracy--you know it rings true enough to be worth reading. Although capitalism could have only grown to current levels in the soil of democracies, Benjamin Barber argues that global capitalism now tends to work against the very concept of citizenship, of people thinking for themselves and with their neighbors. Too often now, how we think is the product of a transnational corporation (increasingly, a media corporation) with headquarters elsewhere. And although self-determination is one of the most fundamental of democratic principles, unchecked it has lead to a tribalism (think Bosnia, think Rwanda) in which virtually no one besides the local power elite gets a fair shake. The antidote, Barber concludes, is to work everywhere to resuscitate the non-governmental, non-business spaces in life--he calls them "civic spaces" (such as the village green, voluntary associations of every sort, churches, community schools)--where true citizenship thrives.About the Author:
Benjamin R. Barber is the Whitman Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University and the director of the Walt Whitman Center for the Culture and Politics of Democracy. He is the author of numerous books, including the political classic Strong Democracy as well as An Aristocracy of Everyone. With Patrick Watson, Barber also created and wrote the prizewinning television series and book The Struggle for Democracy. He writes regularly for Harper's, the Atlantic Monthly, and many other publications. He is married to the dancer and choreographer Leah Kreutzer.
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