As various challenges confront nations around the world, Stonebarger offers his personal take on our society’s past, present and future, focusing on the intersection of the economic, political and cultural.
Stonebarger’s major assertion is that the most successful, everlasting system in our global history is what he terms “free-market liberal democracy,” which, going forward, will bring worldwide prosperity if and when more nations adopt the system for themselves. He breaks down free-market liberal democracy into three tenets—capitalism, (humanistic) religion and science and technology. As he explores these three pillars, the author compares each to what he believes are their biggest threats—communistic ideology and politics, radical Islam and radical environmentalism (problematic, he asserts, because it includes some extreme adherents who insist society revert to a simpler life in order to avoid global ecological catastrophe as well as counsel against certain pathways of innovation). A common thread throughout the book is the distinction between “win-win” and “zero-sum” transactions, wherein the former benefits both parties, while the latter only benefits one. Stonebarger concludes, perhaps a bit too idealistically, that free-market liberal democracy is a win-win structure that ensures a free, capitalistic, compassionate and healthy society. The author’s conversational tone and style lends itself well to his topic. The book could be improved by an analytically tighter, more reasoned thesis, as competing—stretching, at times head-achingly, into contradictory—conclusions often appear. A stronger execution would cut down on repetition and allow for an overall more engaging narrative arc. It is quite surprising, given the subject, that there is little discussion of the current state of financial affairs in the United States and abroad; Stonebarger’s perspective, as someone who has lived through several major historical events since the Great Depression, allows him the opportunity to make firsthand observations and possibly clarify his premise and positions through real-world contexts.
A treatise uniquely suited for an ideologically and politically likeminded audience, though oddly out of touch with recent game-changing global events.