No One’s World: The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn

Charles A. Kupchan. Oxford Univ., $27.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-19-973939-4
Contrary to the conventional wisdom that capitalism begets democracy, the developing world will supersede the West without emulating it, according to this shrewd treatise on the dawning international order. Kupchan (The End of the American Era), a Georgetown professor and former member of Clinton’s National Security Council, contrasts the distinctive political culture that allowed Europe and the United States to overshadow the world for centuries with the divergent characteristics of China, India, Brazil, and other countries that will soon dominate the global economy. While the West rose on the dynamism of a middle class that overthrew authoritarian state and church hierarchies, he argues, emerging powers will comprise disparate regimes—China’s powerful dirigiste state, theocracy in the Middle East, left-wing populism in Latin America—that may outperform the West’s increasingly gridlocked liberal democracies. (The author’s acerbic advice to the U.S. is to put its own house in order, “retrench” from overinvolvement abroad, demand “responsible governance” instead of formal democracy from other nations, and accept its relative decline gracefully.) Kupchan’s erudite but lucid and engaging comparative history sketches the big picture while highlighting the diversity and particularism of individual peoples; his is a warily hopeful forecast for an age without a dominant power. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/19/2011
Release date: 03/01/2012
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