Power, Inc.: The Epic Rivalry Between Big Business and Government--and the Reckoning That Lies Ahead

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9780374533670: Power, Inc.: The Epic Rivalry Between Big Business and Government--and the Reckoning That Lies Ahead

The world's largest company, Wal-Mart Stores, has revenues higher than the GDP of all but twenty-five of the world's countries. Its employees outnumber the populations of almost a hundred nations. The world's largest asset manager, a secretive New York company called Black Rock, controls assets greater than the national reserves of any country on the planet. A private philanthropy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spends as much worldwide on health care as the World Health Organization.

The rise of private power may be the most important and least understood trend of our time. David Rothkopf provides a fresh, timely look at how we have reached a point where thousands of companies have greater power than all but a handful of states. Beginning with the story of an inquisitive Swedish goat wandering off from his master and inadvertently triggering the birth of the oldest company still in existence, Power, Inc. follows the rise and fall of kings and empires, the making of great fortunes, and the chaos of bloody revolutions. A fast-paced tale in which champions of liberty are revealed to be paid pamphleteers of moneyed interests and greedy scoundrels trigger changes that lift billions from deprivation, Power, Inc. traces the bruising jockeying for influence right up to today's financial crises, growing inequality, broken international system, and battles over the proper role of government and markets.
Rothkopf argues that these recent developments, coupled with the rise of powers like China and India, may not lead to the triumph of American capitalism that was celebrated just a few years ago. Instead, he considers an unexpected scenario, a contest among competing capitalisms offering different visions for how the world should work, a global ideological struggle in which European and Asian models may have advantages. An important look at the power struggle that is defining our times, Power, Inc. also offers critical insights into how to navigate the tumultuous years ahead.

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

About the Author :

David Rothkopf is the internationally acclaimed author of Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making and Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power. He is the president and chief executive of Garten Rothkopf, an international advisory firm, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and CEO and Editor-at-Large of the FP Group, publishers of Foreign Policy Magazine.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :

1     The Goat with the Red Horns
 
In the abyss itself lie in wild confusion—pell-mell—stones, slag and scoria, and an eternal, stupefying sulphurous vapour rises from the depths, as if the hell-broth, whose reek poisons and kills all the green gladsomeness of nature, were being brewed down below. One would think this was where Dante went down and saw the Inferno, with all its horror and immitigable pain.
—E.T.A. Hoffmann, “The Mines of Falun”
 
 
The Past, Present, and Future of the Power Struggle That Defines Our Times
Throughout the writing of this book, I have had an image in my mind. It is of one of those charts showing the evolution of mankind. You know the type: they begin with an ape, heavy-browed, bent over, walking on all fours. They end with us, Homo sapiens, walking upright and looking somewhat brighter. The chart in my imagination however, illustrates another side of the story of human evolution. Rather than presenting us from a purely biological perspective—from the point of view of where, for example, in our family trees we picked up those useful opposable thumbs or the ability to digest frozen yogurt—it is describing a much more recent, still-unfolding aspect of our collective development. The imagined diagram, like this book, focuses on stages of our social evolution. More specifically, it describes the evolution of some of the most important organizations by which we bring order and productivity to our societies. As it happens, these are also the mechanisms by which power is distributed and wielded, by which rules are formulated and enforced, by which human collaborations and conflicts are facilitated.
Studying these organizations closely, you begin to wonder whether they themselves are actually the alpha organisms on the planet, the life forms that rule here on earth and of which we individuals make up only the temporary and replaceable working parts—much like the giant interconnected families of Armillaria ostoyae, also known as honey mushrooms, can grow to cover thousands of acres and live for millennia. A mushroom here or there gets lopped off, tossed into a salad, or eaten by some charming woodland critter, but the rest of the organism goes on about its business, sucking the water and nutrients out of great forests of trees that tower above the largely unseen fungus but that ultimately succumb to Armillaria’s superior organization.
After all, we individual human beings are fragile, small, and—at least for the moment—not even capable of reproducing while acting alone. Our time here is limited, and unsurprisingly, this unfortunate twist in the rules of nature has weighed heavily on us. Almost all human societies have cooked up higher powers that we define as higher first and foremost because they are immortal. And one of the things that distinguish us from the organizations we have created to live within is that they too are designed to be immortal, to outlast us and thus in some important respects to be above us like the gods themselves ... or like large, enduring fungal networks.
In my imagined chart, the great-ape phase of evolution is the family, the basic social building block of every stage of human civilization. Then comes the tribe, and then the village. After that we see the development of ever larger, stronger, more complex products of organizational evolution until we reach one of those forks in the road, a little bit like the one that occurred during the period during which Neanderthals and Homo sapiens lived simultaneously. Grappling with the choice we face at that crossroads is where we have been these past few hundred years. On the one hand, there is an organizational approach that often seems to have much in common with the Neanderthals, better suited to the past but still strong and with much to recommend it. At the same time, we can see the irreversible rise of another one, not fully formed perhaps, suggesting several evolutionary steps to come, but clearly better suited to the global environment that is developing and changing around it.
On this timeline, however, the Neanderthals are national governments (this illustration was not created, I should hasten to say, because governments are on the verge of extinction, but rather because they are not as well suited to thrive in their current environment as some of their contemporaries on the organizational evolutionary chart), and the Homo sapiens, the ones that seem to have the evolutionary edge, are corporations—or at least global structures that are a lot more like multinational companies than they are like the traditional images of countries that we have today. No doubt some might say this is comparing humans to apes—apples and oranges as primates go—evolutionary cousins but clearly not the same species. But tell that to the companies and the governments. They have been locked in a power struggle with each other since the earliest days that companies were ushered into being by sovereigns who used them for economic purposes. They are different, but they are often compelled to occupy the same space. They are different, but in order to survive, it may well be that each must become more like the other. They are different, but they are both facing major evolutionary hurdles that must be addressed if they are to continue to exist in a rapidly changing international environment.
Also, as with the story of human evolution, this one is not without controversy. Just as the idea that men descended from the same ancient grandma as lemurs and chimps is offensive to those who take the Bible as literal truth, so too is the idea that somehow corporations are usurping the traditional place of countries on the international stage, thus upsetting some deeply ingrained, very nearly theological intellectual conventions. For example, to that group of political scientists who call themselves “realists,” this idea undercuts a central tenet of their worldview. Of course, one must always be skeptical of groups that give themselves a name that implies that only their adherents “get it” and that everyone else is by definition out of touch with “reality.” And in this instance, the skepticism is warranted despite the fact that “realists” trace their intellectual origins back thousands of years to venerable characters whose names are now inscribed on library friezes, such as Thucydides. Because while realism is purportedly built around the study of power, “realist” theory suggests that international power is solely concentrated in the hands of states. Private actors don’t really have a role in the realist cosmology. This despite the fact that today private organizations often and obviously wield power in ways that once only countries could, and in some cases in ways that many countries no longer can.
Many companies have greater economic resources at their disposal than many countries. Countries once derived power from their ability to print money, but now most can’t or don’t or have ceded the power to set the value of their currencies to markets. In fact, most of the value-bearing instruments in today’s financial markets are actually created by private organizations, traded in private markets, and only very lightly if at all regulated or understood by governments. And recently governments have concluded that the fate of private financial institutions is so important to the well-being of society that when those institutions falter—even as a result of greed and, in some cases, malfeasance—it is incumbent upon states to prop up the private entities even as private entities have from time to time propped up states.
Countries once controlled borders, but now borders are no longer the effective barriers to commerce or cultural exchange they once were, and while states are weakened by this, global private actors are strengthened. Multinational corporations effortlessly move capital, products, services, and production facilities across borders that are far more porous now than they were in the past. As has been the case almost since their very inception, private actors also have the ability to project force and influence political outcomes, and many have far more developed mechanisms of international persuasion than do the vast majority of countries. Think about the private military companies that the U.S. government employs to fight in the Middle East, or the influence that corporate lobbyists wield in democratic legislatures, or the success that some major energy companies have had in forestalling action on climate change and other environmental issues.
To be fair, even more recently developed theories of international relations such as liberalism (which is similar to realism but stresses the pacifying effects of free trade, democracy, and international institutions) and constructivism (a theory that focuses on cultural factors and asserts that the international system is a social construct) mention private actors only in passing despite their growing influence and role in the global era. In short, most theories of how international society works—the supposed focus of the academic discipline of international relations—are state-centric. Which, as I suggest, is either to miss or to grossly undervalue an important part of what is shaping today’s world and will shape tomorrow’s.
Such intellectual blind spots lead, not surprisingly, to some pretty important flaws in theories on which some pretty important decision making is based. For example, they lead to the thought that the central work involved in advancing national interests involves diplomacy between states. They also assume that national borders define sovereign bubbles in which there is considerably more unity of purpose among resident actors than there actually is. Yet as we all can see from recent headlines, nonstate actors from giant corporations to terrorist groups ...

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Description du livre Farrar, Straus and Giroux, United States, 2013. Paperback. État : New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. The world s largest company, Wal-Mart Stores, has revenues higher than the GDP of all but twenty-five of the world s countries. Its employees outnumber the populations of almost a hundred nations. The world s largest asset manager, a secretive New York company called Black Rock, controls assets greater than the national reserves of any country on the planet. A private philanthropy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spends as much worldwide on health care as the World Health Organization. The rise of private power may be the most important and least understood trend of our time. David Rothkopf provides a fresh, timely look at how we have reached a point where thousands of companies have greater power than all but a handful of states. Beginning with the story of an inquisitive Swedish goat wandering off from his master and inadvertently triggering the birth of the oldest company still in existence, Power, Inc. follows the rise and fall of kings and empires, the making of great fortunes, and the chaos of bloody revolutions. A fast-paced tale in which champions of liberty are revealed to be paid pamphleteers of moneyed interests and greedy scoundrels trigger changes that lift billions from deprivation, Power, Inc. traces the bruising jockeying for influence right up to today s financial crises, growing inequality, broken international system, and battles over the proper role of government and markets. Rothkopf argues that these recent developments, coupled with the rise of powers like China and India, may not lead to the triumph of American capitalism that was celebrated just a few years ago. Instead, he considers an unexpected scenario, a contest among competing capitalisms offering different visions for how the world should work, a global ideological struggle in which European and Asian models may have advantages. An important look at the power struggle that is defining our times, Power, Inc. also offers critical insights into how to navigate the tumultuous years ahead. N° de réf. du libraire AAC9780374533670

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Description du livre Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Paperback. État : New. Paperback. 448 pages. One of the worlds leading experts on power offers a penetrating look at the rise of private interestsThe rise of private power may be the most important and least understood trend of our time. David Rothkopf provides a fresh look at how we have reached a point where thousands of companies have greater power than all but a handful of states. Beginning with the story of an inquisitive Swedish goat inadvertently triggering the birth of the oldest company still in existence, Power, Inc. follows the rise and fall of kings and empires, the making of great fortunes, and the chaos of bloody revolutions, and traces the bruising jockeying for influence right up to todays financial crises, growing inequality, broken international system, and battles over the proper role of government and markets. Rothkopf argues that these recent developments, coupled with the rise of powers like China and India, may not lead to the triumph of American capitalism that was celebrated just a few years ago. Instead, he considers an unexpected scenario: a contest among competing capitalisms offering different visions for how the world should work, a global ideological struggle in which European and Asian models may have advantages. An important look at the power struggle that is defining our times, Power, Inc. also offers critical insights into how to navigate the tumultous years ahead. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. N° de réf. du libraire 9780374533670

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