Former Foreign Policy editor-in-chief Naím (Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats Are Hi-Jacking the Global Economy, 2006, etc.) argues that global institutions of power are losing their ability to command respect.
Whether considering institutions of government, military, religion or business, the author believes their power to be in the process of decaying. He writes that a threefold revolution, characterized by “More, Mobility and Mentality,” is challenging the existing model of power, and he explains his argument in concise terms: “More” is shorthand for more people, more countries and more wealth; “mobility” involves both physical migration between and within countries and includes the communications revolution; “mentality” refers to the increasing openness of people to rejecting the status quo (typified by the recent uprisings in the Middle East). Naím defines power as “the ability to direct or prevent the current or future actions of other groups and individuals,” and he claims that it works through four different channels—the threat of force, codes of accepted behavior, persuasiveness, and incentives or rewards. The author suggests that coercive potentials are undermined by increasing numbers of people who are healthier and more informed, many of whom live in jurisdictions that are more porous, less deferential to authority and harder to police. Naím supplements this broader view with discussions of the decentralization of global business, changes in how wars are fought and similar current developments.
A data-packed, intriguing analysis that is not entirely convincing.