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The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy Paperback – September 16, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; Reprint edition (September 16, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006055973X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060559731
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cambridge University economist Hertz asserts that Reagan's and Thatcher's brand of free market capitalism has had dire social and political repercussions, although it has triumphed as the dominant world ideology and brought prosperity to many. She sensibly argues that with government in retreat from its traditional rule-setter role, multinational corporations have grown so powerful 51 of the hundred biggest economies in the world are corporations that they determine political policies rather than operate subject to them. Market success may rule, but Hertz laments that the state, in appearing to serve business, may be nullifying democracy's social contract to represent and protect the rights of all citizens equally. WTO protests and activism reinforce her sense of growing political discontent not only about income distribution effects (97% of the increase in income over the past 20 years in the U.S. has gone to the top 20% of the families) but also about human rights issues. Campaign finance realities, declining voter participation, increasing alienation and terrorism amid glowing corporate results represent an urgent cry for reform to Hertz. Since corporations are not designed and cannot be expected to serve a general population's social and political needs, she argues that democracies need to move toward a realignment between the state's political power and the corporations' economic power so that all people have a positive stake in world economic progress. Hertz maps out a proposed agenda, and her eloquent call to action deserves the attention of every concerned citizen of our troubled world.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In the new global economy, the rule of government has taken a backseat to the power of big business. Corporations control much of the way we live, from the quality of the food on our plates to the news we consume through the media. According to Hertz, NAFTA and the WTO allow a small group of unelected officials who answer to no one but big multinational corporations to make secret rulings that can override the laws of nations in the name of fair trade. Although it's depressing to read her account of the market rule we live under, she does offer hope. In a society of consumerism, individuals do have power when they vote with their pocketbooks. Protest is back, and the Internet has become a powerful medium for dissenting voices. Not only that, investigative journalism, boycotts, and sensitivity to their public image have suddenly made business leaders mindful of ethics. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Noreena Hertz is the Associate Director for the Centre for International Business at the University of Cambridge. Recognized as one of the world's leading experts on economic globalization, her work has been published in the Washington Post, the New Statesman, The Observer, and the Guardian.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 84 people found the following review helpful By J.W.K on June 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We sometimes catch a glimpse of "anarchist" protesters and heads of state at global economic summits, but many of us lack a comprehensive view of the process of globalization. Depending on what papers you read and how closely you read them, your view of globalization may be more or less informed, more or less ideologically biased, but is most probably lacking in some aspect. This book brings it all together in a timely and accurate historical tale. Hertz starts by identifying certain realities and discontents: corporations getting larger and larger everyday through mega-mergers; a widening gap between the rich Haves and the poor Have-nots; fewer and fewer people turning out to vote, as more and more people, from Seattle to Genoa, hit the streets in protest of profligate politics and out-of-control business. She then focuses on one of the major causes of these problems: the government's mad-dash to "liberalize" and deregulate their control of commerce and industry. In other words, the private sector is set free and the state withers away in every capacity -- except insofar as campaign and lobby contributions purchase the last of our "representative" influence in the political sphere. The picture this book paints is nothing less than the hijacking of our democratic political heritage by large, increasing global corporations who pay no homage to local people, public health, labor rights, environmental degradation or national sovereignty -- and, conversely, the shrinkage of our government to the role of a corporate nanny, whose primary function would appear to begging large corporations not to flee to the Third World with large, tax-fed subsidies and lax environmental codes.Read more ›
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By William Hare on July 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Noreena Hertz is a gentle, soft spoken economist from Cambridge University with a microscopic intellect capable of dissecting elements of prevailing tragedy in the world global economy. Along with Greg Palast and Kevin Phillips, she sees the inherent dangers of a world economy in which ethics and humane considerations have been preempted by a rush to riches of multinational corporations and international bankers, led by the World Trade Organization.
The gentle, soft spoken Hertz was one of the many individuals who was victimized by tear gas during the demonstrations in Genoa during World Trade Organization discussions in that city. Regrettably even the highly respected New York Times political journalist Thomas Friedman, following such demonstrations against the WTO in Seattle, referred to the demonstrators as "flat earth proponents." Ms. Hertz does not fall into that category, as she demonstrates in her articulate presentation of how nations in need were ultimately bankrupted by loan policies dictated by the World Trade Organization. She asserts that she is not opposed to major corporations entering the economic pictures of nations in our current multifaceted global economy. What she abhors is the danger of such emergence without appropriate regulatory patterns being in place. She accordingly parts company with the so-called "free market" concepts of economist Milton Friedman of the "Chicago School" and delineates how his theories misfired when applied by adherents such as Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain.
Hertz notes that "the next revolution will not be on television.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on May 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whether done silently or not, the author makes the case for the fact that huge transnational corporations (TNCs) have taken on the societal role that formerly fell to governments and that governments largely accede to and support the agenda and maneuverings of those corporations. As a result, perhaps as many as one half of voting-age citizens in democracies do not find their political processes viable, worth participating in. The author examines alternatives to democratic participation, to pressuring corporations.
Beginning with the rise of Thatcher and Reagan, neo-liberalism has become the dominant economic and political philosophy worldwide with deregulation and privatization being core elements of that thinking. It is a very sparse view of the obligations of leading institutions to look out for the general good of society. However, for the book supposedly being a critique of laissez-faire capitalism, the author seems to have somewhat mixed feelings concerning the desirability of free-running capitalism. Her biggest concern seems to be the maldistribution of the wealth gains of the 1990s. But she also seems to be dazzled by the huge increases in wealth experienced by many and the overall benefits of free trade.
What is missing from the analysis is any real understanding of the true powerlessness of the working class to withstand this business assault. With the mass media and politicians firmly supporting the business agenda, workers have nowhere to turn as they are downsized, benefits are cut, jobs are shipped overseas, and workers' rights on the job are toothless or nonexistent. As a substitute for actual worker power on the job, the author would suggest shareholder activism: forcing ethical behavior and investment through pressuring boards of directors and fund managers.
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