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In Mistrust We Trust: Can Democracy Survive When We Don't Trust Our Leaders? (Kindle Single) (TED Books)

In Mistrust We Trust: Can Democracy Survive When We Don't Trust Our Leaders? (Kindle Single) (TED Books) [Kindle Edition]

Ivan Krastev
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

A recent Gallup poll listed the most- and least-trusted professions in America. At the bottom of the list: car salesmen and members of Congress. It's not hard to understand why our politicians rate so poorly — scandals, myopia, obstinence, party loyalty over common good, fiscal cliffs. All have left voters exasperated and confused. But while confidence in our elected leaders has never been lower, we cling to the belief that democracies represent they epitome of societal and political organization. Why? In his provocative book "In Mistrust We Trust: Can Democracy Survive When We Don't Trust Our Leaders", political commentator Ivan Krastev explores this incongruity between our head and our heart. There has been a profound decline of the public’s trust in the performance of public institutions, he notes, which is an outcome of the voters’ sense of their lost power. Tech tools may help provide some openness to the machinations of the political machine, but they may just be putting a band-aid on an open wound. Ultimately, Krastev ponders whether we can enjoy the many rights of our society, without enjoying real political choice or power. Simply put: can democracy survive without trust?

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1395 KB
  • Print Length: 71 pages
  • Publisher: TED Conferences (1 Jan 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #192,519 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars what a great book 23 Nov 2013
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I've heard some of these ideas before......but nicely put together in a brief format. Well done ted for publishing this
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2.0 out of 5 stars Boring 15 Sep 2013
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Very un-inspired writing. I suspect it was an elaboration of a thesis by a 'political sciences' (lol) student. Wasted my money!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Little did he know when he wrote his review.... 8 Jan 2013
By Just Wondering - Published on
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The essence of this book is captured in one of its final sentences describing the problem with the contemporary citizen: "He tries to change society simply by monitoring and leaving." The author, Ivan Krastev, is trying to describe why so much of our political life is driven by the seemingly capricious behavior of people like the first reviewer of this book (Brent Ray). Mr. Ray chose to leave a 1 star non-review and a snarky comment about an awkward sentence in the Amazon written description of the book. But, he couldn't be bothered with actually reading the book itself.

Likewise, Krastev argues that politics throughout the world have been impacted by the substitution of market instead of civic behavior on the part of citizens and politicians. Put simply, civic behavior is characterized by "voice", the acts of complaining, petitioning or protesting intended to lead to improvements within a society. A prime characteristic of market behavior is "exit", the ability to find a different good or service because one is dissatisfied with the current provider. In civic life, the concept of "voice" has driven the development of democratic societies. However, because of the economic and social disruptions of recent times, it is often easier to "exit" or tune out than to follow through with helping to bring effective improvements in a society, abandoning civic engagement much like you would abandon a brand of soap because another one promises better cleaning.

Krastev argues that this state of affairs is one consequence of the incomplete "revolutions" of the past several decades which have extended democracy to such an extent that it is the default political system in the world today. Individuals in many parts of the world have never had more freedom,but this has been accompanied by less tolerance by individuals for interference with their perceived "freedom" to pursue more personal agendas. Compounding this has been the communications and digital revolutions, which have made it easier and quicker to observe events, but also easier to "exit" responsibility as a citizen because of the opportunities for infinite alternative distractions. The result is a willingness to protest, but not necessarily a patience to follow through with real solutions. Hence, in the US we have the Tea Party and Occupy movements in which large numbers of people easily protest the status quo, but have a less than clear idea of what real solutions to society's perceived deficiencies might be. Similarly, hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe more than 20 years ago and, more recently, in the Middle East, but few have stayed engaged in the harder work of building an alternative political system.

Cynicism has become the dominant political ideology in both new and old democracies. Just as it is easier to carp about a copy writer's slip than to actually try to understand what the product is about.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative 4 Mar 2014
By Book Shark - Published on
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In Mistrust We Trust: Can Democracy Survive When We Don't Trust Our Leaders by Ivan Krastev

"In Mistrust We Trust" is a provocative book about the nature of our present disappointment with democracy. According to intellectual Ivan Krastev this disappointment comes from the voters' sense of lost power. The book is more about the questions it asks than the answers it provides. This stimulating 71-page book is broken out in three parts.

1. Interesting and provocative topic. Worthy of a TED Talk.
2. Global politics.
3. Book is infused with some great quotes. "And it was none other than Winston Churchill who dryly observed that `the best argument against democracy is a five-minute talk with the average.'"
4. A very interesting look at democracy. "What we are witnessing in all this is not the end of democracy but, rather, its radical transformation."
5. The changing role of politics. "Politics has been reduced to the art of adjusting to the imperatives of the market."
6. A lot of focus on the diminishing power of the voter. "In short, the voter has lost the capacity to counterbalance the power of the market in the name of a shared public interest."
7. One quote that captures our current American political system. "Democracy has been turned into a game of chicken, in which preventing the other side from governing is more important than governing yourself."
8. Defining what a democracy in crisis is. "A democracy that constantly changes its governments but fails to correct its dysfunctional policies is a democracy in crisis. A democracy in which public conversation has lost its capacity to change opinion and in which debate is reduced to a confirmation of existing ideological biases is a democracy in crisis."
9. The five revolutions that have shattered our world in the last half-century.
10. So what makes democracy so attractive? Find out.
11. Trends of inequality of disposable income. "For instance, by 2011, 20 percent of the U.S. population owned 84 percent of the total wealth of the country. And this disparity exists not only in the U.S. All over the world, globalization has led to the decline of inequality between states but the increase of inequality within nations."
12. An interesting look at the elites. "The new elites are self-confident because they are not only mobile but often refuse to see themselves as a part of a wider society. In times of crisis, they do not lead the community but leave it."
13. This book in a nutshell. "Citizens are losing trust in democratic institutions not because these institutions are less efficient or more corrupt, but because we have lost our power to influence them."
14. The power of smartphones. Probably the best part of this brief book. Many great examples. "In Russia, the legitimacy of the Russian Orthodox Church was undermined when a blogger posted a photo on Facebook showing the patriarch donning an expensive watch, and it declined further when Russians learned that the patriarch's public relations team doctored videos to conceal this fact from the public."
15. An interesting discussion on transparency. "The transparency movement embodies the hope that a combination of new technologies, publicly accessible data, and fresh civic activism can more effectively assist people to control their representatives." "Inundating people with information is a time-tested way to keep people uninformed."
16. So what brings change? Find out.
17. The importance of trust. "It is this basic trust that allows society to advance. This is why democracy cannot exist without trust and why politics as the management of mistrust will stand as the bitter end of democratic reform."

1. The writing style is uneven and some thoughts lack lucidity. A lot of interesting thoughts and observations but the overall book lacked a smooth flow.
2. The parts are greater than the whole.
3. Krastev has some great quotes and provides provocative ideas but missed opportunities to build on them.
4. A section on the science of trust would have added value.
5. No formal bibliography.

In summary, a very provocative topic and some keen observations. A lot of substance in a small book but it's communicated in an uneven manner. Some missed opportunities aside; there is also a lot to like in this book. The book is full of great quotes and the section on the power of smartphones is worthy of a book on its own. The book provides a great topic for a TED Talk and it's worthy of your time. I recommend it.

Further recommendations: "Lesterland: The Corruption of Congress and How to End It (TED Books)" by Lawrence Lessig, "The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises Are Teaming Up to Solve Society's Toughest Problems" by William D. Eggers & Paul MacMillan, "The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future" by Joseph Stiglitz, "Winner Take All: China's Race for Resources and What It Means for the World" by Dambisa Moyo, "The Post-American World: Release 2.0 2nd (second) Edition by Zakaria, Fareed published by W. W. Norton & Company (2011)" by Fareed Zakaria, "That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back" by Thomas L. Friedman, "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class - And What We Can Do about It (BK Currents (Paperback))" by Lou Dobbs, "Screwed" by Thom Hartmann, "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming" by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway, and "The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World" by Larry Diamond.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A difficult dilemma for democracy 13 Jan 2013
By B. Michael - Published on
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A fascinating dilemma which seems to hold true across most democracies in the world. It is a book written by an intellectual for intellectuals. And therein lies the writers own dilemma. The majority of voters in democracies would be unable to understand the language of the book but can hear (not necessarily understand) the messages in the media. The lack of discussion of the media and what drives the majority of the population is a striking omission particularly given the quite insightful discussion on the smartphone culture. I particularly liked the discussion on the use of webcams in Russia. It reminds me of the ridiculousness of the 'Freedom of Information' laws in my country. Essentially prior to introduction of FOI laws there was no legislated restriction of information. However following the introduction of FOI legislation, there are now legislated barriers preventing almost all access to decision making information and the costs of obtaining available information can be prohibitive. Hence it has become colloquially known as 'Freedom from Information'. The other observation in the book that it was now simple to change party allegiancies from left to right is a key observation in how democracies where there are a small number of political parties often do not reflect the views of the majority. As an external observer watching the gun debate in the US, one cannot help but wonder why a minority group of 5 million in a population of around 275 million can have so much sway. Are we all just simply disengaged?
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening! 30 Jan 2013
By Jeanne D'Arc - Published on
A very interesting, counter-intuitive analysis of the state of democracy today. Even if one disagrees with some of the observations or conclusions, this book is such a great inspiration: an origonal reflection, a rich fundament for an essential debate.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very inspiring and thought provoking. 9 July 2014
By Wallace Lau - Published on
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Able to explain many new phenomena taking place in the political scenes around the world. Pose lots of meaningful questions for future study in politics.
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