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Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-First Century

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Rarely has there been a book as explosive and challenging as this brilliant analysis of today's massive geopolitical disorder. The triumphant collapse of communism has brought neither economic stability nor social democracy to the former Soviet Union. Nor, for that matter, to the rest of the world. We are living in a time of fragmentation: increasing disunity in Europe, dangerous eruptions in the Islamic republics, growing disparity between the world's rich and poor, and the evils of the "permissive cornucopia" ...
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Overview

Rarely has there been a book as explosive and challenging as this brilliant analysis of today's massive geopolitical disorder. The triumphant collapse of communism has brought neither economic stability nor social democracy to the former Soviet Union. Nor, for that matter, to the rest of the world. We are living in a time of fragmentation: increasing disunity in Europe, dangerous eruptions in the Islamic republics, growing disparity between the world's rich and poor, and the evils of the "permissive cornucopia" in America which, through overstimulation of material desires and sensual self-gratification, is leading to the collapse of Western moral and spiritual values. In short, we are living in a philosophical climate that is "out of control." It is Zbigniew Brzezinski's firm belief that we must draw both moral and political lessons from the "megadeaths" of the twentieth century, a century in which at least 167 million people were slaughtered in the name of the "politics of organized insanity," or the "metamyths" of such dictators as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, among others. Unless we can practice selfrestraint derived from a moral commitment in the quest for global democratic "interdependence," we stand destined to risk again our very own survival.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The United States's role as the number one superpower could be undermined by the global impact of America's own values, warns Brzezinski. A ``permissive cornucopia'' is his term for the advanced Western nations, and the U.S. in particular, where spiritual emptiness, addiction to television and superfluous consumption preoccupy a society given over to self-gratification without moral restraints. The former National Security Council director opens this blistering jeremiad with a trenchant analysis of the political mythologies that Hitler, Lenin and Stalin used to wield total control. If America is to reassert its moral legitimacy, he argues, it must address its basic dilemmas, including deepening poverty, inadequate health care and education, a greedy wealthy class opposed to progressive taxation, and the mass media's promotion of sex and violence. In the new world of rival global power clusters, Brzezinski urges a greater role for the United Nations and ``redistribution of responsibilities'' within the trilateral nexus of Europe, America and East Asia. First serial to World Monitor. (Apr.)
Library Journal
President Carter's former national security adviser has produced his fourth book in ten years. The last one, The Grand Failure ( LJ 4/15/89), chronicled the decline of communism. This time, Brzezinski joins other recent writers like George F. Kennan ( Around the Craggy Hill, LJ 1/93) and Paul Kennedy ( Preparing for the Twenty-First Century, LJ 3/1/93) in describing the possible dark future facing the United States and the rest of the world. Unlike Kennedy, Brzezinski does not clutter his text with footnotes and references but simply tells it as he sees it in an extended thought-piece. Characterizing the present century as one of megadeath and organized insanity with the complete failure of totalitarian utopias, Brzezinski argues that only through a fundamental realignment of humankind's ethical and moral behavior will we survive into the next century. He sees a trilateral political and economic alliance among North America, Europe, and East Asia developing over the next few years and predicts an enhanced role for the United Nations. As a thinker and writer on world affairs for over 30 years, Brzezinski is worth considering. Recommended for larger collections.-- Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. , Ames, Ia.
Gilbert Taylor
Like George Kennan ("Around the Cragged Hill" ), Brzezinski devoted his career to analyzing, and when in the U.S. government, combatting, the formidable threat of imperial communism. He interlocks a series of subjects central to its implosion--the body counts, the arrogance of its utopian assertions--with some uncomfortable features bequeathed by it to the accelerating chaos of the present geopolitical scene. The flammable debris extending from the Balkans to China, an "oblong of violence," augurs becoming the arena around which all the significant power blocs will rearrange their post-cold war alliances. After handicapping the probabilities, speculating even on a triple alliance of China, a quasi-fascistic Russia, and an imperial Iran, he concludes neither such a grouping nor any conceivable grouping or nation (e.g., Europe or Japan) can replace U.S. primacy. Here the warnings begin: primacy does not translate into authority--getting the world to do what we want--because American society, a "permissive cornucopia" as the author aptly says, while envied for its material wealth, is also abhorred, particularly in Islamic regions, for its indiscipline and spiritual vapidity. Rather than a shining city on the hill, we resemble more a shrill harridan proclaiming a democracy with dubious Third World appeal. As Kennan intended to do in his penetrating book, Brzezinski's sally sounds the alarm in case enough of the nation cares to put out the fires.
Kirkus Reviews
A brilliant and principled analysis of the perilous state of a fractious world as it approaches another millennium. Brzezinski (The Grand Failure, 1989, etc.), director of the National Security Council during the Carter Administration, offers an unsparing appraisal of the current century and views the next with considerable skepticism, even trepidation. Looking backward, he accords short shrift to Communism, Nazism, and other totalitarian movements that attempted, at staggering cost, to establish coercive utopias. But while yesteryear's metamyths have been thoroughly discredited, the author remains unconvinced that liberal democracy can fill the resultant vacuums. Indeed, he contends, the West's advanced, affluent societies could forfeit their influence if they don't halt a self-indulgent slide into conspicuous consumption and relativist hedonism. Although the cold war's end has left the planet with but one superpower, Brzezinski insists that America must be guided by globally relevant virtues if it is to exercise authentic authority. In light of the geopolitical instability exacerbated by the Soviet Union's collapse, the author says, America's socioeconomic and cultural woes may undermine its capacity to control events, and, unless the country sets its own house in order (e.g., by forsaking permissiveness and reaffirming bedrock moral values), US ascendancy may be short-lived. Brzezinski identifies regional belligerencies in Eurasia, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the continuation of the conflicts that pit South against North, and the risk of a fascist renaissance as obstacles to the creation of a consensus that could make the world a comparatively peaceablekingdom. A masterful, if dour, synthesis. (First serial to World Monitor)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684196305
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/12/1993
  • Pages: 240

Table of Contents

Introduction
Pt. I The Politics of Organized Insanity 1
1 The Century of Megadeath 7
2 The Centrality of Metamyth 19
3 Coercive Utopia 32
Pt. II Beyond Political Awakening 45
1 The Victory of Small Beliefs 57
2 Permissive Cornucopia 64
3 Philosophical Polarization 75
Pt. III The Peerless Global Power 85
1 The Paradox of Global Power 91
2 The Dissonant Message 102
3 The Faceless Rivals 116
Pt. IV Dilemmas of Global Disorder 147
1 The Geopolitical Vacuum 155
2 The Vengeful Phoenix 167
3 The Giant of Global Inequality 182
Pt. V The Illusion of Control 201
Acknowledgments 233
Index 235
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