From Publishers Weekly
), cofounder and first president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, offers his predictions for the 21st century in this clunky futurist fantasy. Positing that history flows in a single, stubborn, and very particular direction toward man's progressive liberation, the author projects that course with surprising results. He predicts that the mercantile order that prevails today will exhaust itself within a generation or so and be replaced by a unified and stateless global market—a super-empire controlled by an innovative class of selfish hypernomads. This super-empire will lead to extreme imbalances of wealth and poverty that will cause its collapse by 2050—perhaps accompanied by a round of planetary warfare. Humanity will emerge chastened from the wreckage and erect a utopia of hyperdemocracy led by a class of transhumans —a new breed of altruistic citizens of the world. Attali's utopia relies on illusory historical laws, and his thesis proves more entertaining than plausible. (Mar.)
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*Starred Review* Acclaimed for his Millennium: Winners and Losers in the Coming World Order (1991), Attali here boldly extends—and revises—his global predictions for the decades ahead. But before mapping out the future, Attali grounds his chronology in patterns he perceives in the past. At the center of these patterns stand impulses that have persistently fostered democratic governance and marketplace economics—in thirteenth-century Bruges, in sixteenth-century Genoa, in nineteenth-century London. In Attali’s analysis (lucidly translated from the original French), Los Angeles emerges as the nexus of capitalist democracy today. However, Attali anticipates an unraveling of American hegemony as transnational corporations perilously sever the ties linking free enterprise to democracy by creating a polycentric empire of commerce that dissolves traditional nation-states. If this process plays out as scripted, nomadic enterprises will enrich a few while immiserating many. World tensions will then be primed for the horrific warfare of armies, mercenary and religious, fighting for resources and dominance. Implacable jihadists have already deployed for such a struggle. Yet Attali remains astonishingly optimistic about long-term prospects for an enlightened world democracy that will safeguard the rights and well-being of all. A readership anxious about the trajectory of world events will find much here to ponder—and debate. --Bryce Christensen