Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Frequent Contributor
Jon_B
Posts: 1,893
Registered: ‎07-15-2008
0 Kudos

Our First Selection: The Post-American World - starting November 3rd!

[ Edited ]

The Post-American WorldFor Fareed Zakaria, the great story of our times is not the decline of America but rather the rise of everyone else -- the growth of countries such as China, India, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Kenya, and many, many more. This economic growth is generating a new global landscape where power is shifting and wealth and innovation are bubbling up in unexpected places. It's also producing political confidence and national pride. As these trends continue, the push of globalization will increasingly be joined by the pull of nationalism -- a tension that is likely to define the next decades.

 

 With his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination, Zakaria draws on lessonsfrom the two great power shifts of the past five hundred years -- the rise of the Western world and the rise of the United States -- to tell us what we can expect from the third shift, the "rise of the rest." Washington must begin a serious transformation of global strategy and seek to share power, create coalitions, build legitimacy, and define the global agenda. None of this will be easy for the greatest power the world has ever known -- the only power that for so long has really mattered. But all that is changing now. The future we face is the post-American world.


 

We chose this book as a starting point for our new Current Events forum as its a very inclusive, broad look at the future on a global level.   Rather than embracing a singular political ideology or supporting any particular political party in the United States or abroad, Zakaria looks at the sweeping changes brought about by globalization happening in Asia, Africa, and South America.

 

In order to give those who wish to participate time to obtain the book, we'll kick off our discussion of this title on October 20th.

 

To get the ball rolling before we begin talking about the book itself, here's something to think about:  a large majority of the members of the Book Clubs community live in, and grew up in, the western world.  Within that group, most of us are Americans, and all of us have lived in a world in which the United States was arguably at the height of its cultural power and influence.   A world in which, when one thinks of movies, one thinks of Hollywood and when one thinks of soft drinks, one thinks of Coca-Cola or Pepsi.

 

The spread of American culture across the world was one aspect of globalization - in many ways following the general spread of western ideas, cultures, and languages that preceded it during the colonial era.  However, rapid developments in technology and continued trends in globalization mean that, in the future, other large nations and the cultures within them might supplant the US as the dominant cultural force on the globe.  Already, for example,  the film industry - in global terms - is now dominated by India rather than the United States.  

 

What do you think these types of change mean for you, on a personal level? 

 

How do you see yourself or your children or grandchildren fitting into a world in which English might not be the "default" language or in which important industries and innovative new technologies are coming not predominantly from the United States or even "the west" in general - as was the case for the last few centuries - but from all over the world? 

 

Given that all of us here on the Book Clubs are already communicating on a near instant global medium - the internet - what do you think this means in terms of the speed with which these kinds of changes take place, especially on a cultural level?  Before we delve into the book itself and Zakaria's ideas on the matter, what do you see as the future of "global culture" in terms of who is influencing it, based on your own personal perspective?

 

 

 

Message Edited by Jon_B on 09-29-2008 11:56 AM
Message Edited by Jon_B on 10-22-2008 12:48 PM
________________________________________

Need some help setting up your My B&N profile? Click here!

Looking for a particular book, but can't remember the title or author? Ask about it here!
RTA
Wordsmith
RTA
Posts: 920
Registered: ‎08-19-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

I had intended to eventually read The Post-American World, though I hadn’t originally planned to get to it this month. As it’s been selected for a reading here, I will now try to get to it sooner rather than later. I have a lot of respect for what Fareed Zakaria contributes to the overall dialogue on international issues. His columns in Newsweek are often clear, cogent and obviously knowledgeable. I miss what he used to bring to George Stephanopoulos’s morning show. He has his own show now on CNN, but since I am one of the cableless/dishless, I don’t get to see it. CNN graciously links segments from his show on their site, but for some reason I don’t as often watch them in that format.

 

I was intrigued by his work in The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, which was originally published back in 2003, and I think had a fairly recent republication. I imagine with the intention of addressing the war in Iraq. An article, "How Not to Save the World,"  recently published in his column in Newsweek, revisits in a cursory way some of his thesis from that book. Here’s a link to a catalogue of his articles at Newsweek, including a fairly lengthy excerpt from The Post-American World. From there you can also find links to reviews for his book.

Contributor
Peeps
Posts: 33
Registered: ‎10-08-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

Great, I'm reading this book now, I look forward to the discussion!
http://www.tectonic-uplift.com/deepthiw
RTA
Wordsmith
RTA
Posts: 920
Registered: ‎08-19-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria


Peeps wrote:
Great, I'm reading this book now, I look forward to the discussion!

 

I picked-up The Post American World today.  So, Peeps, how is it so far? 

 

Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

i think this is a great and timely selection and look forward to the discussion. so far, he has addressed many concerns i have had and explained the reasons for them. he continues to pique my interest by introducing and developing new ideas and issues for me to consider.

twj

Frequent Contributor
Jon_B
Posts: 1,893
Registered: ‎07-15-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

Thanks for your comments twj, I'm glad you are enjoying the book!

 

How many others here have the book and are ready for discussions to start on the 20th?  Do you guys think it makes sense to maybe push the discussion back to start on November 1 to give more people time to get the book, and also so that, going forward, the book discussions for Current Events start at the beginning of the month rather than in the middle?

 

 

 

 

________________________________________

Need some help setting up your My B&N profile? Click here!

Looking for a particular book, but can't remember the title or author? Ask about it here!
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

I have the book from the library, but I also have a huge reading pile, so though I will start it soon, I don't guarantee how mch of it I will read.  If it doesn't grab me, I'll move on to other items clamoring to be read.   There are so many books waiting, ifyou just listen carefully I'm sure you can hear the clamor all the way to NY.


Jon_B wrote:

Thanks for your comments twj, I'm glad you are enjoying the book!

 

How many others here have the book and are ready for discussions to start on the 20th?  Do you guys think it makes sense to maybe push the discussion back to start on November 1 to give more people time to get the book, and also so that, going forward, the book discussions for Current Events start at the beginning of the month rather than in the middle?

 

 

 

 


 

 

_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Scribe
debbook
Posts: 1,823
Registered: ‎05-03-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

I vote for Nov 1. I'm focused on the First Look book now, but am hoping to fit in this book soon.

Jon_B wrote:

Thanks for your comments twj, I'm glad you are enjoying the book!

 

How many others here have the book and are ready for discussions to start on the 20th?  Do you guys think it makes sense to maybe push the discussion back to start on November 1 to give more people time to get the book, and also so that, going forward, the book discussions for Current Events start at the beginning of the month rather than in the middle?

 

 

 

 


 

A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...
"bookmagic418.blogspot.com
RTA
Wordsmith
RTA
Posts: 920
Registered: ‎08-19-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

November 1 works for me.
Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

i luv november 1!

twj

Contributor
Peeps
Posts: 33
Registered: ‎10-08-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria


RTA wrote:

 

I picked-up The Post American World today.  So, Peeps, how is it so far? 

 


Great, look forward to the discussion. RTA, I would say it's an excellent primer on world affairs as they stand in an increasingly multi-polar world. Zakaria is an intelligent and sensitive guide, and I feel like I've learned a lot about the macro view of where globalization is headed. Great selection to kick off a current affairs forum!

http://www.tectonic-uplift.com/deepthiw
RTA
Wordsmith
RTA
Posts: 920
Registered: ‎08-19-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria


Peeps wrote:

Great, look forward to the discussion. RTA, I would say it's an excellent primer on world affairs as they stand in an increasingly multi-polar world. Zakaria is an intelligent and sensitive guide, and I feel like I've learned a lot about the macro view of where globalization is headed. Great selection to kick off a current affairs forum!


Peeps, I agree, Zakaria is a very sensitive commentator.  Not only does he seem to have a nuanced view of the world, he's able to get to the heart of major misunderstandings that should be addressed.  Which then takes him to some really unusual musings.  I’m remembering from Future of Freedom, Zakaria draws a distinction between democracy and liberty.  He notes that they are two separate concepts, though a lot of contemporary Western thought seems to combine them.  He points out that there are, or have been, somewhat liberal autocracies/monarchies and illiberal democracies.  And he asks whether it’s possible that liberty is better served, not by unbridled democracy, but by a regulated, representative democracy.  Suggesting that the growing push for unfettered democracy might not be wholly virtuous, he asks if it’s possible to have too much democracy. 

 

His discussion on polling in the U.S., in this context, was particularly interesting.  In what is meant to be a representative democracy, is it advantageous to the system to be constantly surveying the pulse of the nation on every separate issue? 

 

I’ve never had the opportunity to read Zakaria with a group, I’m definitely looking forward to this discussion.

 

Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

 

He points out that there are, or have been, somewhat liberal autocracies/monarchies and illiberal democracies.

 

I haven't read the book you're referring to, but if he indeed says that, he displays a curious ignorance of political reality.  There is not in the modern world a single democracy, and if there have been any democracies in the history of the world of nations, they have been only for short periods and in insignificant countries.

 

 


RTA wrote:

Peeps wrote:

Great, look forward to the discussion. RTA, I would say it's an excellent primer on world affairs as they stand in an increasingly multi-polar world. Zakaria is an intelligent and sensitive guide, and I feel like I've learned a lot about the macro view of where globalization is headed. Great selection to kick off a current affairs forum!


Peeps, I agree, Zakaria is a very sensitive commentator.  Not only does he seem to have a nuanced view of the world, he's able to get to the heart of major misunderstandings that should be addressed.  Which then takes him to some really unusual musings.  I’m remembering from Future of Freedom, Zakaria draws a distinction between democracy and liberty.  He notes that they are two separate concepts, though a lot of contemporary Western thought seems to combine them.  He points out that there are, or have been, somewhat liberal autocracies/monarchies and illiberal democracies.  And he asks whether it’s possible that liberty is better served, not by unbridled democracy, but by a regulated, representative democracy.  Suggesting that the growing push for unfettered democracy might not be wholly virtuous, he asks if it’s possible to have too much democracy. 

 

His discussion on polling in the U.S., in this context, was particularly interesting.  In what is meant to be a representative democracy, is it advantageous to the system to be constantly surveying the pulse of the nation on every separate issue? 

 

I’ve never had the opportunity to read Zakaria with a group, I’m definitely looking forward to this discussion.

 


 

 


 

_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Frequent Contributor
Jon_B
Posts: 1,893
Registered: ‎07-15-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

[ Edited ]

Well, there is not a single pure democracy, but there are many existing forms of democratic governments such as our representative democratic republic or the British parliamentary democracy - and in common speech such governments are generally referred to as "democracies" collectively.  I'm sure Zakaria is aware of the technical definition but he's writing for a rather broad audience. 

 

It's similar to how in common speech "classical music" refers collectively to European musics of the Baroque, Romantic, and Classical periods.  Among specialists, professionals, and enthusiasts technical definitions are preferred but in casual speech the broader definitions are accepted.

Message Edited by Jon_B on 10-17-2008 03:57 PM
________________________________________

Need some help setting up your My B&N profile? Click here!

Looking for a particular book, but can't remember the title or author? Ask about it here!
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

I always worry when people excuse sloppiness of terminology on the ground that the writing is for a lay audience.  But then, I don't know whether the terminology was Zakaria's, or whether he was carelessly quoted.  Or whether perhaps at some earlier point in the book he had explained his use of terminology.

 

At any rate, it is a lack of precision to call our government a democracy rather than a republic with democratically elected representatives (often shortened to a democratic republic).  But if we're going to discuss world governments here, I think we need as much precision as possible, otherwise we will get lost in differing meanings of terminology.

 

(This is also a significant problem when using the terms "liberal" and "conservative" loosely or without careful definition.The term liberal, for example, has undergone a major shift in meaning just during my lifetime.  The liberalism of Stevenson, Humphrey, et. al. which I grew up with and still to a large extent embrace is very, very different from the liberalism of Pelosi, Frank, and other self-proclaimed liberals of the moldern Democratic Party.)

 


Jon_B wrote:

Well, there is not a single pure democracy, but there are many existing forms of democratic governments such as our representative democratic republic or the British parliamentary democracy - and in common speech such governments are generally referred to as "democracies" collectively.  I'm sure Zakaria is aware of the technical definition but he's writing for a rather broad audience. 

 

It's similar to how in common speech "classical music" refers collectively to European musics of the Baroque, Romantic, and Classical periods.  Among specialists, professionals, and enthusiasts technical definitions are preferred but in casual speech the broader definitions are accepted.

Message Edited by Jon_B on 10-17-2008 03:57 PM

 

 

_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

By the way, we should also recognize that Russia, China, and North Korea have democratically elected governments. 
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

RTA, thanks for the links you provided in an earlier post. i thought you raised two interesting questions from zakaria.

 

as far as too much democracy, i guess that depends on your definition. can you have too much of a good thing? maybe...

personally, i think we have too much polling and possibly too much information which we are assaulted with far too oftenevery time there is "breaking news" i am sure many of us think it is an emergency advisory and usually, it is not. also, if there is a disaster, it is shown repeatedly and it is easy to begin to think you are seeing multiple disasters rather than the same scene over and over again. i think it creates too much tension and fear and perhaps irrational reactions. on the other hand it can inure us to the horrors, making them almost commonplace.

twj


RTA wrote: (edited by twj)...(about fareed zakaria)
1-Suggesting that the growing push for unfettered democracy might not be wholly virtuous, he asks if its possible to have too much democracy...
2-His discussion on polling in the U.S., in this context, was particularly interesting.  In what is meant to be a representative democracy, is it advantageous to the system to be constantly surveying the pulse of the nation on every separate issue? 

Contributor
Peeps
Posts: 33
Registered: ‎10-08-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria


RTA wrote: 

Peeps, I agree, Zakaria is a very sensitive commentator.  Not only does he seem to have a nuanced view of the world, he's able to get to the heart of major misunderstandings that should be addressed.  Which then takes him to some really unusual musings.  I’m remembering from Future of Freedom, Zakaria draws a distinction between democracy and liberty.  He notes that they are two separate concepts, though a lot of contemporary Western thought seems to combine them.  He points out that there are, or have been, somewhat liberal autocracies/monarchies and illiberal democracies.  And he asks whether it’s possible that liberty is better served, not by unbridled democracy, but by a regulated, representative democracy.  Suggesting that the growing push for unfettered democracy might not be wholly virtuous, he asks if it’s possible to have too much democracy. 

 

His discussion on polling in the U.S., in this context, was particularly interesting.  In what is meant to be a representative democracy, is it advantageous to the system to be constantly surveying the pulse of the nation on every separate issue? 

 


 

RTA, I'm glad you pointed out how he distinguishes between democracy and liberty. IMO, His focus on reclaiming the rhetoric of "freedom" and "liberty" from the narrow confines of current Western political thinking lies at the very heart of his work. And while he doesn't talk about too much democracy in this book (as far as I've read anyway), he does point out that autocratic governments can transition to a representative-like form of government that functions in a very similar fashion to Western-style rule. 

 

And regarding polling, that's an interesting viewpoint on it. I certainly see his point--continuous opinion polling makes it very hard to pursue the long-term view of issues, as policymakers tailor their decisions to crowd response--which I think most people can agree is not always the most logical animal! I have my own qualms about it, as many polls are only indicative rather than statistically significant. But policymakers are usually NOT educated on quantitative research methods and therefore put too much stock in them. I shudder when I think that these are the people making the big decisions about our nation's financial future!

 

BTW, Everyman, I'm not sure that disputing commonly accepted usages is high on Zakaria's agenda. He's much more focused on a high level discussion. His emphasis on practical objectives like human rights and standards of living over ideological concerns is what makes his work so refreshing to me. 
http://www.tectonic-uplift.com/deepthiw
RTA
Wordsmith
RTA
Posts: 920
Registered: ‎08-19-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

Everyman wrote: I haven't read the book you're referring to, but if he indeed says that, he displays a curious ignorance of political reality.  There is not in the modern world a single democracy, and if there have been any democracies in the history of the world of nations, they have been only for short periods and in insignificant countries.

 

Uh, Everyman, there are tons of democracies.  Careful—I never said anything about direct democracy.  It’s true that there are many types of democracies, including direct democracy; but, direct democracy does not hold a monopoly on the general use of the term democracy, any more than indirect democracies would.  Democracy is a method of government where the power is vested in the people, either directly or through elected representatives.  Zakaria uses democracy to describe the procedural method for selecting a government.  And I think, though I’m not sure, that he further notes the gradients of democracy with regard to the openness and fairness of an election.  (So a country will become more democratic according to who is actually permitted to participate in the elections.)  He also briefly mentions faux democracies, dictators who put on a show of an election.  He, however, is careful to note that the term democracy doesn’t really speak to the quality or type of government that might be democratically elected.

 

Everyman wrote: At any rate, it is a lack of precision to call our government a democracy rather than a republic with democratically elected representatives (often shortened to a democratic republic).  But if we're going to discuss world governments here, I think we need as much precision as possible, otherwise we will get lost in differing meanings of terminology.

 

If you look very closely at what I wrote, I don’t call our government a democracy, I call it a representative democracy.  And I use that phrasing intentionally, because I was speaking specifically to our democratically elected representatives polling their constituents for their opinions. 

 

Zakaria raised an interesting point on this matter, at least for me.  As a knee jerk reaction, the idea of trying to find out the public’s wishes would seem a good thing, to me.  But, one could ask if that undermines the actual objective of a representative democracy.  Is it a virtue to make legislative decisions according to the ebb and flow of the will of the people?  Could it be argued that part of the point of electing a representative is to elect the person that one thinks will make the best decisions?  And does the constant polling for constituents’ preferences interfere with this purpose? 

 

And, yes, Zakaria is using the term liberalism throughout in the classical sense.  He’s not speaking to social liberalism. 

 

BTW, if there’s a confusion on how I’m using terminology, why not just ask?  I don’t mind defining my terms to make the discussion all the more clear.  I apologize if I caused any confusion, and I’m sorry that you assume that was sloppiness on my part.  I do try to be careful with my language, though I freely admit I don’t always succeed.  You are certainly right, the clearer our terms the clearer our intent will be, and the more successful our discussion is likely to be. 

 

Everyman wrote: By the way, we should also recognize that Russia, China, and North Korea have democratically elected governments.

 

If you’re interested, there’s at least a chapter on what Zakaria terms “Illiberal democracy,” and I remember both Russia and China figuring prominently in that discussion.  As I recall, he describes each country’s different paths towards what may become liberal democracies.  I’d have to review my notes in order to speak more directly to his discussion.  If you’re interested, I could make time, between now and when we start the official discussion, to review most of that material. 
RTA
Wordsmith
RTA
Posts: 920
Registered: ‎08-19-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Our First Selection: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

[ Edited ]

thewanderingjew wrote:

RTA, thanks for the links you provided in an earlier post. i thought you raised two interesting questions from zakaria.

 

as far as too much democracy, i guess that depends on your definition. can you have too much of a good thing? maybe...

personally, i think we have too much polling and possibly too much information which we are assaulted with far too oftenevery time there is "breaking news" i am sure many of us think it is an emergency advisory and usually, it is not. also, if there is a disaster, it is shown repeatedly and it is easy to begin to think you are seeing multiple disasters rather than the same scene over and over again. i think it creates too much tension and fear and perhaps irrational reactions. on the other hand it can inure us to the horrors, making them almost commonplace.

twj



 

Heh, TWJ, I pulled the book off my shelf today, because I’ve been thinking about it so much over the last couple days, and I see that Chapter 5 is actually titled “Too Much of a Good Thing.”  He notes that, as a constitutional republic, the goal of the U.S. government is to balance the will of the majority with protections for minority rights.  But, with the emphasis on polling, government has increasingly embraced notions of populism, gauging the popularity rather than the virtue of decisions.  He notes that, though this leads to more representation—as the people's influence is greater under such a practice—it may actually lead to less liberty.  He also notes that it may be this pandering of politicians to their constituents that leads to general attitudes of dissatisfaction.  I’ve noticed in other threads that you write about Americans criticizing the U.S.  Zakaria suggests that the criticism is directed not at the country, but at its government, largely due to a lack of confidence in government.  And some of that lost confidence might be due to increased polling, increased transparency, and, in the end, less authority and independent decision making among our elected representatives.  To be honest, it’s a position that’s contrary to what I probably feel intuitively, or more so how I’ve grown to think, but his position is provocative enough to give pause.    

 

 

BTW, the link has an extra "http//", just in case anyone is trying to open it.

Message Edited by RTA on 10-18-2008 01:53 AM