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If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Citiesby Benjamin R. Barber
Synopses & Reviews
In the face of the most perilous challenges of our timeand#8212;climate change, terrorism, poverty, and trafficking of drugs, guns, and peopleand#8212;the nations of the world seem paralyzed.and#160;The problems are too big, too interdependent,and#160;too divisive for the nation-state. Is the nation-state, once democracy's best hope, today democratically dysfunctional? Obsolete? The answer, says Benjamin Barber in this highly provocative and original book, is yes. Cities and the mayors who run them can do and are doing a better job.
Barber cites the unique qualities cities worldwide share: pragmatism, civic trust, participation, indifference to borders and sovereignty, and a democratic penchant for networking, creativity, innovation, and cooperation. He demonstrates how city mayors, singly and jointly, are responding toand#160;transnational problems more effectively than nation-states mired in ideological infighting and sovereign rivalries. Featuring profiles of a dozen mayors around the worldand#8212;courageous, eccentric, or both at onceand#8212;If Mayors Ruled the World presents a compelling new vision of governance for the coming century. Barber makes a persuasive case that the city is democracyand#8217;s best hope in a globalizing world, and great mayors are already proving that this is so.
"In an impassioned love letter to cities and their political leaders, Barber (Jihad vs. McWorld) celebrates the diversity and ferment that embody urban life. Modern cities, he claims, fulfill the promises of John Dewey and Walt Whitman's paeans to democracy by allowing 'democratic voices, ardent dreamers and lawless artists' to inspire each other. It is not always clear how mayors fit into this tumult of roiling humanity, but Barber calls them 'possibly the best hope we have for the survival of democracy across borders.' By focusing on practical solutions to the day-to-day problems that affect their constituents, mayors champion a mode of governance characterized by collaboration and consensus, and the global ties they create offer a more human-centered, applied style of politics than the contentiousness of national legislatures or the bureaucratic talking shops of the U.N. and European Union, according to the author. Barber is more interested in crafting a metaphysics of urban life than the down-to-earth minutiae of local stewardship (he derides congestion pricing schemes, markedly successful in many cities, as 'keeping-the-poor-from-driving plan' without offering any realistic alternative), and in the throes of his 'longing for and expectation of an interdependent urbanity as encompassing as humanity's perfervid imagination,' he neglects to notice that many of his castles are planted firmly in the air. Agent: Steve Wasserman, Kneerim, Williams & Bloom." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Can cities solve the biggest problems of the twenty-first century better than nations? Is the city democracyand#8217;s best hope?
About the Author
Benjamin R. Barber is senior research scholar at the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the Graduate Center, the City University of New York. He is also president and founder of the Interdependence Movement and the author of seventeen books, including Jihad vs. McWorld and Strong Democracy. Barberandrsquo;s project for a Global Parliament of Mayors has attracted scores of urban leaders and intercity networks and is on course for a pilot convening in 2016.and#160;He lives in New York City.
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