- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (June 14, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 068484530X
- ISBN-13: 978-0684845302
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,851,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order 1st Edition
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Francis Fukuyama cements his reputation as a wide-ranging public intellectual with this big-think book on social order and human nature. Following his earlier successes (The End of History and the Last Man and Trust), Fukuyama argues that civilization is in the midst of a revolution on a par with hunter-gatherers learning how to farm or agricultural societies turning industrial. He finds much to celebrate in this cultural, economic, and technological transformation, but "with all the blessings that flow from a more complex, information-based economy, certain bad things also happened to our social and moral life." Individualism, for example, fuels innovation and prosperity, but has also "corroded virtually all forms of authority and weakened the bonds holding families, neighborhoods, and nations together." Yet this is not a pessimistic book: "Social order, once disrupted, tends to get remade again" because humans are built for life in a civil society governed by moral rules.
We're on the tail end of the "great disruption," says Fukuyama, and signs suggest a coming era of much-needed social reordering. He handles complex ideas from diverse fields with ease (this is certainly the first book whose acknowledgments thank both science fiction novelist Neal Stephenson and social critic James Q. Wilson), and he writes with laser-sharp clarity. Fans of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel and David Landes's The Wealth and Poverty of Nations will appreciate The Great Disruption, as will just about any reader curious about what the new millennium may bring. This is simply one of the best nonfiction books of 1999. --John J. Miller
From Publishers Weekly
Fukuyama attempts to reconcile the extent of social disruption experienced in many Western countries during the past 30 years with his neo-Hegelian belief that the triumph of Western liberal democracy represents an end of history (articulated in The End of History and the Last Man). He successfully contends that the "Great Disruption" Western nations are experiencing as society moves from an industrial to an information economy is much like the social upheaval that accompanied the industrial revolution. After defining the Great Disruption (the usual litany of increased crime, family breakdown and lack of confidence in public institutions), Fukuyama turns to an exploration of the nature of human beings and morality. In doing so, he makes much of the idea of "social capital," which he defines as "a set of informal values or norms shared among members of a group that permits cooperation among them." Social capital is lacking in periods of disruption and is present when periods of disruption come to an end. Simply put, it's what makes civil society possible. He concludes that Western societies are now reconstructing their social ordersAmuch as they have over the course of historyAthrough revitalized morality, renewed civic pride and strengthened family life. As in previous books, Fukuyama's conclusions are less interesting than the way he arrives at them through a willingness to ask the big questions and an ability to look at contemporary society through the lens of his own vast reading and scholarship.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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In the end his conclusions were very anti-climactic. There have been many of these "disruptions" in the past and this current one is just another like the ones before (not so "Great" after all?) and it is currently on the decline, taking care of itself, so apparently all you and I need to do is sit back in our LazyBoys and have another beer! NOT a feel-good book, they say? I think it IS. I would recommend it only for the first half of the book.
Esperanto is the futile attempt at coldly and analytically inventing a world language. A mere handful of academics and other peculiar devotees keep this doomed hope alive. Meticulously planned utopian schemes conflict with an individual's required freedom to create new paradigms when the serendipitous urge strikes their soul. Religion, like language, is also a phenomenon relying heavily upon a pervasive irrationality and unplanned events to convert the hearts and minds of its loyal adherents. Unitarianism is the dubious relative of the Esperanto movement. This religious organization's total world membership might not fill a good size football field. Fukuyama may accept the pragmatic importance of religious belief, but does he share my uneasiness when attending a religious ceremony? The data overwhelmingly prove that the more conservative religious traditions are organizationally more vibrant and have much higher membership rolls than their Liberal latitudinarian opposites. Does this mean that most people desire authoritarian direction? Am I a hypocrite who argues that religion is great for everybody else but me? Should I join a religious organization merely to prove solidarity with my next door neighbors? Is the general welfare, the so called communitarian social capital, instead better served if I opt to intellectually improve myself by reading the Sunday morning edition of the New York Times? Also, am I permitted to make fun of well educated Yuppies who indulge in such peculiar practices as "feng shui?" Paraphrasing the previously mentioned G.K. Chesterton, are people who abandon mainstream religions more susceptible in falling for the more bizarre manifestations of religious practices? The "true believer" depicted by Eric Hoffer frighten us far more than the agnostic. A secular democracy prefers ambiguity to the alternative risk of seeking final answers to questions that have forever haunted the human condition. It may be paradoxically conceded that religious faith sustains the typical citizen's desire for meaning in a heartless and uncaring universe, but aren't we compelled to discourage them from taking it too seriously? Cutting slack whenever possible and placing minimal restrictions upon adult behavior seems to work best for our Twenty First century American democracy. "The Great Disruption" has few answers, but that is not the fault of the author. I think it was Michael Oakshott who said that polite and genuine conversation is our best hope. Francis Fukuyama is to be wholeheartedly credited for assisting us to ask the right questions. That is why this book deserves five stars.
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Fukuyama has collected research from dozens of different sciences to expose western social problems.Read more