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A Declaration of Interpendence: Why America Should Join the World [Paperback]

Will Hutton
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

12 May 2004
In this shrewd and eloquent dissection of American politics and policies, Will Hutton offers powerful new insight into our new and troubling mores. Great societies, this book holds, are marked by essential core values: the social contract that enhances its citizens' lives; an honest and enlightened economy; a vital public realm; and a recognition that the world is an interdependent place, one best governed under international law. With the triumph of conservatism in America, each of these values has withered. Rampant materialism, corporate corruption, the failure of government regulation, an unquestioning faith in American exceptionalism, and a conviction that Americans must go it alone are all in the saddle. We are not going in the right direction. To turn us around to secure health services and decent work for all Americans, to build faith in the economy, to close the gap between rich and poor, to restore, in short, the American dream America needs to reclaim these values. It could not do better in that task than to renew its historic philosophical partnership with today's Europe, which has chosen a better compass."

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (12 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393325601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393325607
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 13.6 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,071,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Hutton's writing is very insightful. --David Moisl"

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America's founding fathers proclaimed liberty as the essential value. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Declaration of Interdependence 20 Aug 2010
By Kipling
This is a very well-argued assessment of the effects on our 'developed' economies of over-dependence on market driven policies. It was written in 2002 and unfortunately I only became aware of it and read it last year (this copy is for a friend of mine). If only I had read it in 2002 I would have saved myself some investment losses! Hutton's analysis pre-dated by some years, but predicted pretty accurately, what happened in 2007/8. He makes a good case for balance between government intervention and free enterprise and from this point of view is still worth reading today.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wide the Mark - Shows Continuing Decline of The Left! 30 May 2005
By T. J. Olson - Published on Amazon.com
In late May, fellow Brit, the sagacious Mark Steyne, observed: "Sick in bed a couple of months back, I started reading 'A Declaration of Interdependence: Why America Should Join the World' by Will Hutton, and found it such a laugh I was soon hurling my medication away and doing cartwheels round the room." Why?

"The great Euro-thinker. . .compares the American and French Revolutions, and decides the latter was better because instead of the radical individualism of the 13 colonies the French promoted ''a new social contract.''" In other words, the Founding Fathers got it completely assbackwards! First at pains to demonstrate his love of American pop culture, Hutton then gets both his facts and political philosophy completely wrong - thus raising Steyne's triumphant cackles.

First, consider theory.

"[I]t's the [Europeans] willingness to subordinate individual liberty to what Hutton calls `the primacy of society' that has blighted the continent for over a century: Statism -- or `the primacy of society' -- is what fascism, Nazism, communism and now European Union all have in common." Statism, no matter how benign, subordinates the individual to some alleged collective `good.' But American's believe in individual destinies - not any vague societal one.

Why the difference? In the Lockean world of America, people and social relations precede the state. Only by delegating rights to a central authority do individuals gain for themselves what they otherwise would do on their own. But this is no blank check. Rather, inalienable rights belong to each and every one of us, as human beings. This is the ultimate protection against overreaching state power.

Next, consider the many facts.

First, certain US states have practiced democracy for almost 300 years, not Germany or France. The latter have fallen to fascism, Nazism, and communism. Only with US help did Europe regain its way, finding a relatively benign statism instead. Will Hutton should work from the former to the latter, not the reverse, if he is to play fair with the weight of historical evidence.

Secondly, Hutton mistakes the "social safety net" Euro-socialism has constructed for itself with progress. Euro-soc is sclerotic and burdened with cultural inferiority and material backwardness that, by European's own entrepreneurial reckoning, might take a hundred years to catch up to US levels.

The claim that the Euro `social model' of society and politics is superior underwent a decisive drubbing in 2004's "Cowboy Capitalism: European Myths, American Reality," by German business journalist Olaf Gersemann. Using a thorough systematic analysis of the statistical data, he finds that these arguments - often the same deployed by Hutton - are either outright false or seriously overestimated. Hutton argues that Americans pay a huge price for their economic system in income inequality and other social problems, like two working parents because of indebtedness. In fact, very few families find two parents working out of necessity.

Inequality of income is wildly overestimated in the US for several reasons: Most wealthier parents work long hours by choice, yet relatively few of the poor do; "income" figures neglect ubiquitous transfer payments for the poor; and many millions of recent immigrants, typically bottom-rung poor from Mexico, exaggerate income inequality. But when quality of material life is calculated, such as the poor owning cars, air conditioning, homes, and living space, it's much better to be poor in the US than Europe. 60 percent of all the world's immigration is to the US, which remains a beacon for opportunity.

The greater market freedoms in America create a more flexible, adaptable, and prosperous system than the declining welfare states of Europe. The US leads in opportunity, economic growth, quality of life, R & D, cultural exports, and higher educational quality and opportunity, leaving Europe far behind except when it comes to access to basic health care.

Upon the sound defeat of the new EU constitution in France, The New York Times reported on reaction in Bobigny, a working-class suburb of Paris, with 18 percent unemployment and a large ethnic Arab and African population, where 72 percent of the voters there said `no.' The suburb's Communist mayor, Mr. Biringer said: "We are already in a Europe of unemployment and regression."

Recent research conducted by political scientist Paul Gottfried revealed a salient changed ideological reality. Before the Fall of Communism, leftist ideas and politics flowed from Europe to the US. But after the Fall, this process was reversed. Thus, New Labour and Prime Minister Blair in Britain achieved its present success through imitating Clinton and the DLC. Others like Germany's Chancellor Schroeder and French leftists have only gained power in the absence of coherent alternatives from the right, not by dint of political seriousness.

The endemic problem for the left today is its inability to cease navel gazing, projecting distracting animosities, and do the hard work of actually rethinking its political identity and program. Facile won't do, nor will perfunctory or mediocre. But like Michael Moore, that's all we ever get. (Sigh.) Will Hutton's opus is similarly wide of the mark.
13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rejects Liberty for government controlled conformity 30 May 2005
By Jack Flack - Published on Amazon.com
At first you wonder if Hutton is serious. When you realize that he apparently is serious, there is a tendency toward laughter. Then you realize that he really IS SERIOUS. He honestly believes that we have too much liberty in the US and that newspapers have too much freedom to publish. Instead of liberty, what does Hutton cherish? The "primacy of society". Which is? As best as I can determine, the primacy of society is greater control of society by government, those wise and kind overseers who want only what is best for us poor ignorant uneducated masses.

Hutton should have been born 80 years ago, in Germany. Or 50 years ago in the Soviet Union. He would have loved it.
18 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, Hutton should be president of Europe 11 Oct 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
In the onslaught of US inspired conservative values and against a backdrop of ever more mediocre and uninspired media noise, this book serves as sober and enlightened analysis of the merits and strenghts of the European social democratic value system and its economic achievements.
8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Benefit of an Outside Observer 1 Sep 2003
By doomsdayer520 - Published on Amazon.com
This is a revealing examination of the American system by an outside observer who is not bogged down by native ideologies. Hutton is also a solid liberal in the European tradition, and in the process he delivers a very solid manifesto of modern liberal theory, of the type that American left wingers have been far too chicken to utter for a long time. Hutton shows us that American liberalism is currently so weak because of the consolidation of power by the new American conservatism, and its prohibition of all opposing viewpoints through empty patriotism and ideological extremism that is increasingly divorced from reality.
Hutton outlines the social and political effects of the modern conservatism, and things aren't looking too good in America from the European standpoint. The social safety net is being dismantled as everything remotely "public" is inaccurately condemned as socialist big government; while economically, long-term prosperity and innovation are disappearing under the rush for short-term profits and pressure from Wall Street to follow unproven "efficient market" ideologies. Hutton also includes interesting examinations of how the European system, based on far greater amounts of social goodwill and assistance than the US, has plenty of its own strengths that can benefit both Europe and the US in the long run. Europe's strengths should not be swamped by political and economic pressure from America to adopt the current conservatism
The only problems with this book are Hutton's rather repetitive and verbose writing, especially his habit of rattling off long lists of social and economic problems that give the impression that he is trying to boost his own nation's image. Hutton's proposed solutions to the dire long-term problems being engendered by unyielding conservatism are solid, but they are long-term only and he offers no answers for how political transitions can be made realistically. But this book is still an excellent example of how an outside observer can point out problems and weaknesses in the American system that we are unlikely to admit to ourselves, and a solid compendium of liberal theory. [~doomsdayer520~]
3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Propaganda from a paid hack! 8 Aug 2006
By Rich The Reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
There is a good compendium in here about

what 'they' want to do TO us, not for us

and that we should be greatful for. Who

is this guy Hutton to suggest that our

great Constitution is outdated and needs

to be scrapped? A paid lackee for the

Rockefellers, I think the way his lousy

book reads. Hey Hutton, YOU GO BACK TO

Europe if it's sich a Utopia, you Socialist!
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