18 September 2005

20. The Silent Takeover

The Silent Takeover
Noreena Hertz
ISBN: 006055973X (palm version)
My rating:

Mind triggering, but just not elaborated well enough

In my opinion, "The Silent Takeover" gives only an introduction to the global problems Noreena Hertz sees developing in the 21st century.

Probably she did it on purpose, but when reading the different chapters, I was often wondering where she was taking me. From the very start it is clear that Hertz does not agree with the economic policies of the USA and the UK, that now dominate the world. But every now and then, especially in the beginning of the book, I wondered: so, what's so bad about all this?

Hertz sums up loads of data to illustrate the point she is trying to make. Somehow, I got the feeling that she often makes somewhat strange comparisons. Probably, those who oppose her point of view will find it rather easy to prove her wrong (in their own manipulative way of using statistics).

But all in all, I think the general idea of this book is interesting. It is probably true that companies are acting more and more globally and getting more and more bargaining power with respect to governments. We also see that people are losing interest in politics and that they start protesting against companies. Yes, information provided by the media is crucial for people to know when they should protest, and yes, media companies depend to a large extent on advertising revenues from those same companies, so there you have another problem.

There are many social issues that cannot and will not be dealt with by companies. I think Hertz could have explained that in more detail. I also missed a deeper discussion about the fundamental difference between people voting during elections and people influencing the way companies do business by boycotting them and/or using their votes as shareholders. Or, of course, between NOT voting and NOT influencing those companies.

But my largest disappointment was that the suggestions Hertz offers are very concise. I think she should have spent at least one third of her book in providing solutions, not just some one liners covering the last five pages of the book. With such an abrupt ending the book is unfinished, giving the George Ws and Berlusconis of this world all the opportunities to claim that it is always much easier to criticize than to really do something.

Finally, I think it is also not very convincing to mention that more and more people are joining the camp of the "anti-globalists", when it is clear that most of these have completely different reasons to protest. Although probably many readers of this book would sympathize with Hertz's ideas, I doubt that they would also identify themselves with those protesters we see on TV during G8 meetings etc. In that sense, I think Hertz also failed to present a clear vision, something all her readers would be able to keep in the backs of their minds and do something with, for example convince other people.

In the end, I believe that political parties with such a clear vision could have the impact to change.

So, I think this book is incomplete and therefore a missed opportunity. However, I sympathize with the thoughts presented by Hertz, so I hope she will compensate for the missing solutions in next books.

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