In the latest issue of Barron's, I've got a review of Moisés Naím's excellent new book, The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn't What It Used to Be.
Here's a snippet:
The year 1977, notes Naím, "was the high-water mark of authoritarian rule, with 90 authoritarian countries," according to Freedom House's count. By 2008, there were only 23 authoritarian nations left. In the corporate world, of the top 100 companies on the 2010 Forbes 500 list, two-thirds were survivors from the 2000 list and one-third hadn't existed in 2000. Between 1998 and 2008, the top five motor-vehicle manufacturers in the world saw their combined market share decline from 54% to 48%.
The author also shows how traditional, top-down, mega-organizations such as labor unions, school districts, charities, and organized religions are losing ground to smaller, nimbler arrangements ranging from worker co-ops to charter schools to micro-lending. Naím attributes the decay of power to what he calls the "more revolution," the "mobility revolution," and the "mentality revolution," each of which empowers individuals. These revolutions can be thought of as economist Joseph Schumpeter's "creative destruction" on steroids. Capitalism generally decentralizes power by disrespecting status, wealth, and tradition. As Marx and Engels put it memorably in The Communist Manifesto, under capitalism, "all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned…."
Read the whole review here. The End of Power is a powerful, persuasive, and measured analysis of the most important trends of the past several decades.
And check out the excerpt from the book that appeared in the April 2013 issue of Reason.