We know that power is shifting: From West to East and North to South, from presidential palaces to public squares, from once formidable corporate behemoths to nimble startups and, slowly but surely, from men to women. But power is not merely shifting and dispersing. It is also decaying. Those in power today are more constrained in what they can do with it and more at risk of losing it than ever before.
In The End of Power, award-winning columnist and former Foreign Policy editor Moisés Naím illuminates the struggle between once-dominant megaplayers and the new micropowers challenging them in every field of human endeavor. Drawing on provocative, original research, Naím shows how the antiestablishment drive of micropowers can topple tyrants, dislodge monopolies, and open remarkable new opportunities, but it can also lead to chaos and paralysis. Naím deftly covers the seismic changes underway in business, religion, education, within families, and in all matters of war and peace. Examples abound in all walks of life: In 1977, eighty-nine countries were ruled by autocrats while today more than half the world's population lives in democracies. CEO's are more constrained and have shorter tenures than their predecessors. Modern tools of war, cheaper and more accessible, make it possible for groups like Hezbollah to afford their own drones. In the second half of 2010, the top ten hedge funds earned more than the world's largest six banks combined.
Those in power retain it by erecting powerful barriers to keep challengers at bay. Today, insurgent forces dismantle those barriers more quickly and easily than ever, only to find that they themselves become vulnerable in the process. Accessible and captivating, Naím offers a revolutionary look at the inevitable end of power—and how it will change your world.
Over the past few years, grassroots movements have redirected global conversations about power and rights, though the status quo in many cases has proved more resistant to change. Nevertheless, Na m (Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy) contends that traditional forms of power are being transformed and shifted onto new shoulders. Having served as editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy and the executive director of the World Bank, Na m knows better than most what power on a global scale looks like. He first guides readers through an understanding of "How Power Got Big," before demonstrating the myriad ways in which the dominance of hierarchical organizations is eroding. Technological developments have empowered individuals to group together for the betterment of society, but they have also enabled extremists to wreak havoc with very few resources. "The implications of the decay of power are momentous and manifold," Na m argues. He says that our best defense is to be prepared: we must eschew "dangerously antiquated" notions of power and shift our focus from rising to the top to "inhabit the middle of the curve in a time of massive and rapid change." It's a timely, insightful, and eloquent message.