The Fate of the West: The Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea

Bill Emmott. Economist, $28 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61039-780-3
Former Economist magazine editor-in-chief Emmott surveys rising feelings of decline and resurgent nationalism in the West. This informed, eloquent, but superficial overview of recent global affairs maintains the West is being challenged from within for good reason, having failed to deliver fairness, prosperity, and security to all citizens. Emmott makes the future of equality a central subject, calling it the West’s most successful political idea, but his musings on the subject are windy and nebulous. Openness, including open borders, is a second theme. For Emmott, Brexit feels inconceivable, and Trump’s presidential victory reflects deep social pessimism and self-destructiveness. In Emmott’s view, migrants offer a welcome, necessary injection of youth and fresh ideas to closed, often fearful societies with an aging citizenry. With professed optimism, he offers antidotes for the West’s angst and self-interest. But from recognizing human capital’s importance in the digital age to using education as the best means of achieving equality, many of his conclusions seem like old hat. Emmott leaves out the West’s divisive “culture wars” altogether, flattening his inquiry. Adhering strictly to globalization shibboleths, Emmott reminds readers of the vast shared benefits in free-trade agreements and international collaboration that have assisted world order and wealth since WWII. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/27/2017
Release date: 05/09/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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