GFB Update

A monthly newsletter on the vast and underappreciated world of current affairs books


Michael Marien, Director

1:2, February 2011

In This Issue
Book of the Month
Related Paradigm-Breaking Books
Recently Added Recommended Titles
Special Alert: Internet Downsides
Search Specific Issues
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Book of the Month


The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy. Dani Rodrick (Prof of International Political Economy, Harvard U). NY: W.W. Norton, Feb 2011, 346p, $26.95.


The Globalization Paradox

The Globalization Paradox 

The basic narrative on globalization has lost its credibility and appeal, and a new narrative is needed, based on two simple ideas: strong markets and governments are complementary, and prosperity and stability can and should be attained in many ways. These ideas have "enormous implications" for globalization and democracy, because we can't pursue both at the same time. The ultimate paradox is that reempowering national democracies with a thin layer of international rules will put the world economy on a healthier footing. Seven principles for "Capitalism 3.0" and a new globalization are offered, and then applied to four key challenges: reforming the international trade regime (the current Doha Round strategy isn't working), regulating global finance (responsibility should be at the national level), liberalizing global labor flows (doing so would produce far more benefit than any trade agreement), and accommodating China (before a major backlash develops). This new paradigm for "smart and sane globalization" surely deserves consideration.

Related Paradigm-Breaking Books

Dani Rodrick offers a fresh and thoughtful new way to think about the global economy. Can other new paradigms also provide help, and perhaps strengthen Rodrick's argument for "sane globalization"?

GFB provides a special listing of some 60 Paradigm-Breaking Books in many areas. Among these books are ten that may be especially relevant:

  • Free Trade Doesn't Work by Ian Fletcher (US Business and Industrial Council, Jan 2010) argues that absolutely free trade is an extremist position, which complements Rodrick's revisionist view that all-out trade policy is faulty.
  • Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom by David Harvey (Columbia Univ Press, July 2009) calls for an emancipatory form of global governance.
  • Commonwealth by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (Harvard/Belknap, Oct 2009) outlines an ethics of freedom for living in our common world, and governance adequate for a global commonwealth.
  • Darwin's Second Revolution by David Loye (Benjamin Franklin Press, 2010) offers a new view of Darwin's writings that emphasizes moral qualities driving evolution, not survival of the fittest, and calls for a new Global Ethic.
  • Factor Five: Transforming the Global Economy through 80% Improvement In Resource Productivity by Ernst von Weizsacker et al. (Report to the Club of Rome, Earthscan, Dec 2009) describes our unique historic opportunity to scale up resource efficiency.
  • Fast Forward: Ethics and Politics in the Age of Global Warming by William Antholis and Strobe Talbott (Brookings Institution Press, June 2010) argues for a new mindset: rather than a global treaty on climate change, a less formal process is needed.
  • Global Development Outlook 2010 (OECD, Aug 2010) considers the view of the world as divided by developed and developing countries to be outdated, and calls for rethinking on how to promote progress.
  • To Change the World by James Davison Hunter (Oxford U Press, April 2010) sees Christian action as ineffectual, and argues for a different paradigm of Christian engagement.
  • Megaregions edited by Catherine L. Ross (Island Press, June 2009) views concepts of the city and state as obsolete, and megaregions as the new scale for economic growth.
  • Crafting State-Nations by Alfred Stephan et al. (Johns Hopkins Univ Press, Dec 2010) explains how to accommodate distinct ethnic and cultural groups.

What are the similarities and differences of these new paradigms? Do they complement and reinforce each other to a great degree, a minor degree, or not at all? Or do they compete with each other?

Such an ongoing integrative assessment is well beyond the scope of GFB, but it is needed far more than another new idea thrown on the growing pile of undigested but necessary revisionist thinking. A relatively small effort in seeing if and how the pieces fit together horizontally could have a large payoff in improved understanding.

Recently Added Recommended Titles 

Some of the selected titles added to the Recommended Books listing in the past month:

  • WORLD FUTURES: Humanity on a Tightrope by Paul R. Ehrlich and Robert E. Ornstein (Rowman & Littlefield, Sept 2010) views a quick spread of the domain of empathy as a basic element for solving the human predicament.
  • WORLD FUTURES: Making Policy in the Shadow of the Future by Gregory F. Treverton (RAND, 2010) concisely surveys a broad range of trends and issues, pointing to longer-term thinking that could change short-term policy.
  • WORLD FUTURES: International Human Rights Law: An Introduction by David Weissbrodt and Connie de la Vega (U of Pennsylvania Press, Aug 2010) provides an overview of the development of human rights, national processes, and emerging rights such as sustainable development, peace, and security.
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years by Mark Hertsgaard (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Dec 2010) discusses rising sea levels, harsher heat waves, stronger storms, more power blackouts, less food, the $50 billion wine industry as an early warning for all food crops and businesses, and the need for a Green Apollo program for a climate-resilient economy.
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: Smart Solutions to Climate Change: Comparing Costs and Benefits edited by Bjorn Lomborg (Cambridge U Press, Nov 2010) convenes a panel of economists to evaluate and rank the attractiveness of a wide range of policy options and technologies.
  • ENERGY: Energy for the 21st Century: A Comprehensive Guide by Roy L. Nersesian (M. E. Sharpe, 2010); second edition updates chapters on oil, synthetic crude, natural gas, coal, nuclear, geothermal, wind, solar, oceans, and bio-mass, with an expanded section on sustainability. A fair-minded introduction.
  • SUSTAINABILITY: Interim Report of the Green Growth Strategy (OECD, Aug 2010; encourages a strategic vision to promote economic efficiency, environmental integrity, social equity, and sustainability. A Synthesis Report will be released in April-May 2011.
  • SUSTAINABILITY: Fostering Sustainable Behavior by Doug McKenzie-Mohr (New Society, Nov 2010), a Canadian psychologist's introduction to community-based social marketing that identifies barriers to change, targets commitment strategies, enhances motivation, and communicates effectively.
  • ECONOMIC CRISIS: What Caused the Financial Crisis edited by Jeffrey Friedman (U of Pennsylvania Press, Dec 2010) assembles the views of leading economists on the major causes. Contrast with the report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (Public Affairs, Feb 2011, 545p).
  • HEALTH: The Treatment Trap by Rosemary Gibson and Janardan P. Singh (Ivan R. Dee, 2010) describes overuse of medical care as the most neglected issue in American medicine; money spent for questionable or useless care is wasted.
  • HEALTH: Energy and Life: The Promise of Evolutionary Medicine by Douglas C. Wallace and Robert Cooke (Prometheus Books, Jan 2011) describes the vital role of tiny mitochondria in every cell, which is largely responsible for age-related disorders; new drugs will lead to better treatments and longer lifespan.
  • EDUCATION: A Chance to Make History by Wendy Kopp of Teach for America (Public Affairs, Jan 2011) on what works and what doesn't in providing an excellent education for poor children.
  • EDUCATION: Waiting for "Superman" edited by Karl Weber (Public Affairs, Sept 2010), companion to an award-winning documentary film on how to save America's broken school system and help at-risk kids.
  • CRIME/JUSTICE: Who Are the Criminals? The Politics of Crime Policy by John Hagan (Princeton U Press, Nov 2010) on distorted crime policymaking that has led Americans to fear street crime too much and white-collar crime too little.
  • METHODS: Future Search: Getting the Whole System in the Room by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff (Berrett-Koehler, Oct 2010); third edition of a widely-used and proven method enabling people to make and implement ambitious plans; designed for any major change requiring stakeholder engagement.

Special Alert: Internet Downsides


We can't live without the Internet, which has enabled many wondrous things, but perhaps we can't live with it either.

Under Search by Subject, there are currently 19 items under "Internet," and a dozen or so additional items under "Communication." About a half-dozen books are concerned with Internet governance issues. A couple books show the promising upside of the net, e.g. Digital Medicine (Brookings, March 2010) and Wired for Innovation: How Information Technology is Reshaping the Economy (MIT Press, Sept 2009). 

Cover 1However, there are a number of notable recent books on the downside of the Internet. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (W.W. Norton, June 2010; GFB Book of the Month) argues convincingly that the net is re-routing our neural pathways, and promoting cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. A similar warning is made in Virtually You: The Internet and the Fracturing of the Self by Stanford psychiatrist Elias Aboujaoude (W.W. Norton, Feb 2011), who says we spend too much time online, making us impatient and unfocused. In Alone Together (Basic Books, Jan 2011), MIT sociologist Sherry Turkle worries that much of our modern life online leaves us less connected and more isolated. Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson (Prometheus Books, Sept 2009) says we are damaging our capacity for deep attention in a culture of diffusion and fragmentation.

Texture: Human Expression in the Age of Information Overload by Richard H. R. Harper (MIT Press, Nov 2010) argues that too many technologies assume that more is better. What Is Happening to News: The Information Explosion and the Crisis of Journalism by Jack Fuller of the Chicago Tribune (U of Chicago Press, May 2010) views infoglut as making us more receptive to sensational news. Similarly, Losing the News by Alex S. Jones of Harvard (Oxford U Press, Aug 2009) mourns the loss of fact-based reporting that serves as public watchdog and warns that declining commitment to serious news will weaken democracy.

Cover 2The supposed freedom of the Internet may also be limited, perhaps increasingly so. Access Controlled edited by Ronald Deibert et al. (MIT Press, April 2010) presents findings of the Open Net Initiative at U of Toronto and Harvard, on increased filtering, surveillance, and censorship worldwide. Similarly, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of the Internet by Evgeny Morozov (Public Affairs, Jan 2011) describes how authoritarian regimes are effectively using the Internet to suppress free speech, noting that greater access to information can pacify a population as well as incite it. The Future of the Internet-and How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain (Yale U Press, Feb 2009) warns that the net is on a path to a lockdown and new kinds of control.

The Offensive Internet edited by two U of Chicago law profs, Saul Levmore and Martha Nussbaum (Harvard U Press, Jan 2011) critiques the lack of regulation and the frontier mindset leading to abuses. Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords by Joseph Menn (Public Affairs, Feb 2010) describes the evolution of cybercrime and shows it is much worse than thought. Finally, there is the growing threat of cyberwar, e.g.: Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security by Richard A. Clarke and Robert Knake (HarperCollins, April 2010) and Surviving Cyber War by Richard Stiennon (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2010).

Further information on these 14 "downside" books can be accessed at GFB by subject, author, or publisher. They should be seriously considered--especially all together.

Search Specific Issues 


GFB's Browse by Subject feature offers perhaps a thousand A-Z descriptors of both general and specific topics. The January GFB Update briefly described what can be found under the headings of Children, China, and Climate. To provide further examples, consider what can be found under "D".

The generic listing for Democracy has 35 items, including books on measurement, threats, grass-roots democracy, Islam and democracy, and the US agenda to promote democracy.

The generic listing for Development offers some 100 items, with specific listings for questioning development, a 50-year outlook for development (by Barry Hughes), and the relationship of development to land tenure, water, sanitation, security, NGOs, foreign direct investment, artisan work as an important income source, etc.

The generic listing for Disaster has 7 items, with specific topics focusing on prediction, prevention, reduction of damage, response, and reconstruction. With many more disasters in the offing, in part due to global warming, these books will assist preparedness.

The generic listing for Drugs also has 7 items, including books on addiction, drug education, treatment, and the ruinous drug wars.

Easy Link to 


Amazon widgetNote the widget at the bottom of GFB search results, which will greatly facilitate ordering of new (and sometimes used) current affairs books, often at a substantial price discount. We encourage you to order books via this Amazon link because GFB gets a small commission on each sale, which, accumulated over time, might help in sustaining this website.

Global Foresight Books is an experimental nonprofit website, the 21st century successor to Future Survey, a monthly publication that Michael Marien founded and edited for the World Future Society. Please visit GFB often, use it freely as a resource, tell your friends (click Forward, below), and think wisely about current affairs.