The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy Paperback – 26 Apr 2001
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The Silent Takeover might be thought of as something of a contradiction in terms. In the world of modern mergers and acquisitions, hardly a single transaction goes by without noisy comment from every conceivable angle. But the Takeover here is of an altogether different order, referring to the takeover of the planet itself rather than a business rival. Did you know that of the world's largest economies, 51 are now corporations and only 49 are nation-states? You do now.
Noreena Hertz gives an evocative and highly readable account of economic change over the past two decades. Such material in the wrong hands can be stultifingly boring, but this is fast and accessible, personal, almost intimate. The reader is left in little doubt of the author's view that not everyone benefits from the capitalist dream (the work is, after all, subtitled Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy). "The 20-year neo-liberal experiment that began in Westminster and Washington has not delivered for all of us".
One would expect to see the names of Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner, Time Warner, General Electric and McDonalds in any review of the rise and rise of the corporate giant. But Big Brother, Buddha, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Ku Klux Klan and Soylent Green? Noreena Hertz, once an investment banker in Russia, now based at the University of Cambridge, draws attention to the apocalyptic visions of several films of the 1970s. Included in the list is Rollerball, a depiction of life on earth after a series of corporate wars. Anyone who thought that far-fetched in the 1970s might care to reconsider, she ventures to suggest. "A world in which Rupert Murdoch has more power than Tony Blair, and corporations set the political agenda, is frightening and undemocratic", she writes. "We stand today at a critical juncture. If we do nothing... all is lost", she concludes. --Brian Bollen
"Dr Hertz is one of the world's leading young thinkers, whose agenda-setting book on corporate power is already sparking intense debate on both sides of the Atlantic" (Observer)See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
However, I paricularly liked The Silent Takeover because she prsents an ibjective argument with plenty of evidence. It is up-to-date, including events which couldn't have happened more than a short while before publication. It is not wholly negative and biased against big business, as No Logo seems to be, and gives a number of reasons why business is good.
She examines why business, in many cases, seems to be better than government - it's more flexible, less beaurocratic, and able to quickly adjust to consumer demands if it wants.
In examining the role of the WTO and World Bank, she points out the good and bad of each.
A strong book, well-argued and definitely one to replace No Logo on your coffee table... stand out from the crowd!
In her book, Ms Hertz has fashioned a fiery indictment of business, government and the business of goverment in the 21st Century. She has done so with wit, showmanship and - most importantly - without losing her audience.
Agreeably, her end point is a radical one. But it is not so much a conclusion as a starting point for action and discussion. For the corporate control of the way in which we live is an issue which is growing, not shrinking.
The reviewer writes that "The only real way to effect change is through the law and the reaffirmation by governments and the courts of their authority".
Had he read the book more closely, the reviewer would realise that this view is shared by Ms Hertz. What she suggests, however, is that there is an alternative.
What's more, that the pharmaceutical companies backed down in South Africa is an endorsement of her arguments. It was brought to light through the inability of South Africans to buy generic AIDS medicine. This was an economic battle. And it was won not through legislation, but through people power.
THE SILENT TAKEOVER is a superb book. I was left contemplating the erosion of democracy at the most personal level i.e. how it affects me. And I was shocked.
As for a publicity campaign, it is just that: publicity, not hype. If Ms Hertz is sold as glamorous or as a "pop" economist, then all the better. Hers is not a message for the dusty bookshelves of academia.
It is for us, here and now.
Given the irrelevance of who may or may not have won the US presidential election last year combined with the very recent US senate changes, Hertz's provides a book that isn't just political rhetoric. Instead we have a discussion of the corporate-government-people relationships that, regardless of whether they may or may not have taken place, have changed how people feel. We can all dispute the facts and the version of events put forward by Hertz in the book, but how do people feel? Yes, this book touches a raw global nerve. We can not shy away from the very real perception that politicians are impotent in the face of corporate globalisation.
The book makes some astute observations of the roles of the WTO and UN at the global level, asking whether they really serve us? or we them? in terms of accountability and conflict of interests. How does one balance the "blind trust fund" concept of public ownership, in order to remain impartial, with the desire for transparency and accountability, in order to ensure voters feel enfranchised?
This book will not appeal to those who champion either extreme of free market or public ownership models, instead it will have popular appeal to those who (a) have never experienced the need to fight for basic suffrage (b) increasingly see politics as a complete waste of time. Why do we bother? This is not a high minded book, it is a worthy attempt at trying to engage the "real voters" in a debate about what is important and where the power lies. Do you really vote?
If you didn't vote in your last election, you should buy this book.
Moreover, it is actually relatively balanced, presenting as it does the counter-arguments to the main theme. This makes it more of an argument than a polemic, which is refreshing.
A superb read that illustrates and explains the inequalities in todays world together with reasons why voting is seen less important than protests.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I liked this book; it was amazingly easy to read, without being trite or condescending. Many of the stories and anecdotes I knew from other readings, but there was new material,... Read morePublished on 16 Oct. 2003 by Keith Appleyard
Noreena Hertz premise is; with the state now seeking to serve corporations rather than citizens, and an unwillingness to intervene on our behalf, it is now up to consumers to... Read morePublished on 9 July 2002 by D. Martin
'There shall be greater rejoicing in Heaven at one sinner who repents than at 100 just men.' (or something like that). Read morePublished on 28 May 2002 by Ruari McCallion
For a long time I've felt uncomfortable about the whole process of privatisation of public goods and the idea that the free market was the Holy Grail. Read morePublished on 29 Jan. 2002
Noreena Hertz impresses as a thinker who has studied the problem of Globalisation.A thoroughly researched topic,ruthlessly drawn conclusions from facts,sincere and simple narrative... Read morePublished on 23 Jan. 2002
A well written book that sews together a fair and accurate picture of the state of the world ecomony and the direction in which the major coporations are steering it, and along... Read morePublished on 5 Jan. 2002
Superb read . Noreena Hertz succeeds in portraying complex issues in the simplest of ways. Practicaly anyone can read and understand this book . Read morePublished on 18 Dec. 2001 by Kurt Cini (email@example.com)
This is an interesting read for anyone interested in globalisation. The book is well balanced (as opposed to No Logo which only makes passing references to the counter-argument). Read morePublished on 8 Nov. 2001 by Anthony Hill
growing inequality, corporations getting more powerful, governments acting to look after business interests, the powerless rising up in dissent - this book addresses all these and... Read morePublished on 6 Nov. 2001