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The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government Hardcover – Illustrated, November 8, 2011
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Recommended by Justin Trudeau (Quora Q&A, April 2017)
"Liu and Hanauer have proposed a powerful new way to think about how society works and there is a lot here for conservatives to work with and debate." --Noah Kristula-Green, The Daily Beast
The Gardens of Democracy provides a refreshing new conceptual approach to understanding our economic and political situation, and it will help us move past the fossilized ideas in today’s public debates.”--Francis Fukuyama, author of The Origins of Political Order
“Society is a garden. Liu and Hanauer’s simple metaphor makes the complexities and limits of social policy emerge before your eyes. Statists can’t see the interconnections of organic systems. Free marketers can’t see that a garden needs some tending. If you’re looking for a way forward out of America’s dangerous gridlock, read this wonderful book.”--Jonathan Haidt, Professor of psychology, University of Virginia and author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
“Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer are progressives who always think outside the box, and that’s why everyone should pay attention to them. The Gardens of Democracy shakes up our stale debate over government’s role in a dynamic society, and in a thoughtful, creative and inventive way. Everyone will find something to disagree with here, and that’s the point: getting us out of our comfort zones is an immensely useful democratic undertaking.”--E.J. Dionne Jr., author of Why Americans Hate Politics
"I just read a remarkable book by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer. It is The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government. I highly recommend it as a big gust of fresh air to clear out the dense, stale, gases we have all been breathing when it comes to how we talk about politics and citizenship. It is time to break out of the prison of left/right thinking that has made politics so mean spirited in recent years... There is something in this new metaphor for both the left and the right."--Ray Smock, Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies
"Even if you don't agree with everything the authors propose, you will find 'The Gardens of Democracy' to be spirited and thought provoking."--The Bellingham Herald
"We’d do well to shift our political and economic metaphors from images involving machinery toward more organic ways of thinking… [A] nifty way of rethinking metaphors for what government does."--Wonkette
About the Author
NICK HANAUER is a Seattle-based serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, author and activist with a knack for identifying and building transformative business models. In 2007, he co-authored The True Patriot with Eric Liu and co-founded The True Patriot Network, a non-partisan group committed to furthering patriotic ideals. He also co-founded the Washington State League of Education Voters (LEV), a non-partisan statewide political organization focused on promoting public education, where he serves as co-president.
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Hardcover : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1570618232
- ISBN-13 : 978-1570618239
- Product Dimensions : 4.9 x 0.7 x 7.04 inches
- Publisher : Sasquatch Books; Illustrated Edition (November 8, 2011)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #456,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The idea of the economy as a garden is, of course, a new way to say that there is a role for the planner (the gardener) in making the economy work. It is nice to have a new name for this, and it correctly implies that an unrestrained free market economy must go to the weeds. This is very true. The idea also is in opposition to the mechanistic notions of intervention proposed in the past by the Left (five year plans, price controls, and the like). So I like very much the garden metaphor, which I heard first in a speech by Bill Clinton some years ago.
A second important idea is that there is narrow self-interest and real self-interest. Real self-interest is considerably prosocial and altruistic. In my work I drop the word self-interest because it is confusing. If we are happier and healthier by giving to others, then giving is self-interested. But we don't feel calculating and selfish when we give, so the word is confusing. I use the terms self-regarding and other-regarding. A self-regarding motive is one that directly affects one's material well-being (what I earn, what I eat, how I enjoy my recreational time, etc.). Other-regarding motives look beyond myself to other people, the environment, issues of justice, fairness, and basic character virtues, such as honesty and loyalty. The authors' discussion of this is very nicely done.
The weakness of this an other books of this genre is that it does not lead to clear policy conclusions. What does it say about financial reform, educational policy, income redistribution, and the other myriad policy choices that we face? Not much, I am afraid.
As Liu and Hanauer note, the foundation of the dominant political ideologies of the United States rest upon scientific ideas liberally misinterpreted during the 19th and 20th centuries. Natural selection misconstrued by Herbert Spencer has been used to justify a wide range of terrible schemes. The book explains in simple terms why libertarianism is not the solution to America's problems. If you have read Debunking Economics or The Origins of Wealth you have likely encountered the arguments against the naivete of Neoclassical economics. If you are familiar with systems theory you are likely already more than familiar with much of the content here. It is presented lucidly and there are few spare words or unnecessary sentences. Yes, the piece is marred by some tautology, but one finds this even in the finest examples of expository writing. If you care about your country, pick up a copy. Give it to your friends. The basic message is simple: a shift must take place. We must move beyond the smoke and mirrors propped up by the Democrats and the Republicans. We cannot afford to heed the left or the right. We must move forward.
Top reviews from other countries
Understanding the world as networked,
Trust is foremost among the social virtues that make healthy societies.
The science of complex adaptive systems teaches us that small acts, little everyday choices, accrue and compound into tipping points.
If there are two minds of souls; Machinebrain view and Gardenbrain view, how to see the things of the world would be different. For Machine, "trust is only for suckers." For Garden, "trust is what makes strong economies and nation."
For Machine, "People are rational and selfish."For Garden, "Individual effort and contribution matter to success; the result of cooperating make the world a better place."
"The power of one" really matters in this digital age, because everything I do, you do, we do, affect others. One time, I went to NY to have a look the way of American society works, for sightseeing. I was thrilled to look around the supermarket where things I have never seen before. I was too excited to find what they are by the package of the foods and spices on the shelves. It was a great English lesson I have ever had in my life. My eyes were too into the lack, a man's soft and tender voice captured in my ears, saying, "Excuse us."
My English book in my head, there was no room for "Excuse and us." together. As I looked around, a man and his son were saying to me, "Excuse us." The father said first, and the son copied what his dad said. The Ailes was too narrow to pass for three people; they were afraid of passing through without words, "Excuse us."
Thirty years ago, the heart-warming story I'd like to deliver, would take a lot of time to share. But now "a moment of light throughout goes world in an instant we are living." Again, "The power of one" really matters in this digital age, because everything I do, you do, we do, affect others for both; good or bad.
The reason I am writing my comments via Amazon is my answer. "Creating Civic Contagions" means is not that you powerless, but you can set off a new chain of copying like "Excuse us." If only we could use "Excuse us." when you want to have something in exchange, the world makes a healthy society naturally, automatically instead of saying, "You are nothing.", "You have a space to learn from now on."
If Amazon is a jungle, firm or field, whatever you call it, to cultivate our minds and hearts, the words that we write on the forest will spread the world from the top of the mountain to the civic country yard where I am living to form the ideal place to live for humans. I withdraw many words from this book to let the world shine. In return, amazon withdrew some money from my account for this book, and somebody would buy this eagerly saying, " I have to read this;The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government." which is my wishful thinking.
PS: I am waiting for the word; "Excuse us." from Amazon would give us points for the comment to encourage purchase for the next excellent move and vibration before my eggs are transformed the soil.
principles I admire and intend to finish this interesting read at a later date.