In the book ‘In Defense Of Globalization’ the author, Jagdish Bhagwati attempts a feat which few in his field have done before and that is to give a direct response to the allegations that are staged against globalization. Bhagwati is renowned in his field and has quite a few feathers in his cap. He is a pioneer of trade theory and unlike a lot of his counterparts is quite well-versed in his subject area as well as in general literature. This fact is further confirmed after reading this book as he frequently cites Shakespeare, Allen alongside Marx and Keynes, which is quite abdominal and not something that every economist would be able to do well. He presents an understandable and unbiased analysis.
This book is an honest attempt to understand the other side of the theory as he tries to understand the points surfacing against globalization and tries to respond to each aspect in detail. He entails traditional insight that a lot of social evils have manifested due to globalization but then responds to each with wisdom. He claims that if aptly regulated and implemented, globalization is actually the strongest instrument to spread social welfare and good in the world. He exhibits strong command over the subject of international economics and intelligently dissuades the claims against globalization. He argues that in a lot of cases, globalization has played the lead role in the general well-being and social prosperity for under-developed countries. If properly regulated it has helped reduce child labor, increase the economic activities, spread education and even upgrade the status of women. He dismantles the charge that cultural hegemony results because of globalization and offers many examples ranging from movies to text where a hybrid web of culture has been woven due to globalization. He thus successfully reaches through the noise and touches the nerve of the most controversial issues proving that globalization is actually a part of the solution rather than an issue itself.
Giving the credit of globalization to the universal economic incorporation is quite justified. The best feature of the book is its rhythmic flow and how each allegation is dealt with in a separate chapter of the book. The main chapters (allegations) that are presented cover debatable issues such as the association of globalization to child labor, increase in poverty rate, environmental degradation, and exploitation of workers by multinational giants and the questionable status of women in the underdeveloped or even developing nations. Bhagwati is of the view that the critics of globalization come from different walks of life. It is not suitable to keep an extremist attitude as it does not leave room for debate and reasoning. Regarding the political left who consider that the people who are settled abroad in other host nations where multinationals have a presence, are exploited. Whereas the others on the political right have issues with globalization due to their own vested mindsets which are anti-immigration for a multitude of reasons. A reason and evidence approach is used which does not leave room for further confusions; hence it is apt to say that Bhagwati has done justice to each issue. The arguments that are given are very solid and convincing, supported further by evidences. As he says in his book.
“Reason and analysis require that we abandon the conviction that globalization lacks a human face, an assertion that is tantamount to a false alarm, and embrace the view that it has one.”
The first allegation against globalization that it hurts the poor is countered by the following response.
“Economic growth should be the principal but not the only strategy for raising the incomes, and hence consumption and living standards of the poor” (Bhagwati, 2007, pg 54).
This is a relatively agreed upon fact that free trade aids in growth and development. However one cannot deny that while it is good in theory it is marred in application due to the influence of politics. The reality remains that while the very founders of globalization like the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO encourage developing nations to indulge in trade, they on the other hand are involved in hefty spending to subsidize their own people (farmers) and ascertain that foreign competition does not arrive there. It makes the reader wonder whether the author is too idealistic to consider the practical aspect of theories. Like in one case Bhagwati argues that context matters. He further gives the example that “if a thousand people become millionaires, the inequality is less than if Bill Gates gets to make a billion all by himself.” The rationale behind this argument is that rich people tend to spend their income on luxuries of life, while a person like Gates would be more inclined to donate huge chunks of his income to development and social causes and hence the reasoning that context is important. The truth on the other hand is that the context of the United states is not what the developing countries aspire. In developing nations, people who have acquired millions tend to make it hidden, avoiding taxes and are more concerned about their own financial stability than any social cause.
The next point emphasizes on the pragmatic proof that with globalization there has been a considerable decrease in inequality. Here the author cites Surjit Bhalla and another renowned economist Xavier. Their studies though quite reliable and extensive but using their text for support is a rather vague approach as other economists of known intellect have even proven the evils of globalization in their works. Furthermore, Bhagwati himself contradicts his claim that globalization decreases inequality, in a later chapter where he says that the basic reason for the growing migration traffic flow is the growing inequality amongst different countries.
If Bhagwati has adopted a rather theoretical approach in offering evidence infavor of inequality and poverty, he is nonetheless very insightful about the needs and requirements of the poor and admits that more careful and structured management is required to reap the fruits of globalization. He presents the example of the Asian financial crisis in nineties which according to him could have been evaded if the financial liberal institutes were less swift and careless and if the banking industry had been empowered. He spells out a policy tripod which entails key aims for the management of globalization in future; advocating labor standards universally, outlining accurate governance by the help of increasing network and the power of NGOs, and above all taking care of all transformations to globalization.
The central theme in Bhagwati’s propositions is the economic repercussion of globalization specifically in the developing countries. A lot has been said about the evils of economic integration and how it has caused complete chaos and havoc in poor nations and how bodies like the IMF and the World Trade Organization are in reality devilish in their enthusiasm. For the author of this book, the debate whether it is beneficial or not hold no value. He dedicates his efforts in explaining to the people what good it can bring if properly regulated. He blames the inadequate outlook of public policies in areas such as Latin America and East Asia for their financial dilemmas and not free trade. He is persistent that free trade has brought countless benefits to the countries. He acknowledges the evils that are connected to globalization but argues that they are due to bad governance, hegemonic potential of the rich countries, two-faced dual standards in universal bodies and even pure lack of knowledge. He goes to the extent of calling free trade the single instrument for the financial stability of the developing countries of the world.
However, there is another way of looking at the point discussed. First Bhagwati’s claim of comparative advantage that is proposed by Smith and Ricardo is not moving enough. While it remains that most of the nation will make their mark in the world market in order to extend their exclusive trade points but this does not hold good in two instances; firstly when the nation in consideration has no resources of its own to make a ground for export and the second being that the nation’s own institutes were ruined at a very early stage by multinational giants and hence it becomes dependent on these corporations for job opportunities and adequate import supply for use which in turn has a lot of security after effects for that particular nation. To counter this it is imperative to take into account List and Smith’s perception of ‘protection of infant industry’, which proposes that some breathing room should be allowed to any competitive organization so that it is able to understand its full potential for competition before it is exposed to international market competition.
Bhagwati’s point of view on the multicultural aspect of globalization is rather weak and based on idealism. It is true that some features of the Oriental cultures have left their mark on the occident but it is known for a fact that the control of the streamlines by which these exchanges can happen by the West, govern the entire process. Consequently, in developing countries like India, the younger generation has completely failed to tell apart their native customs from the others. The western thing being more appealing has involved them in an inferiority complex. This results in a severe damage to the destruction of self-esteem and pride of the nation in question.
For clarity of discussion, let us now analyze Bhagwati’s claims in light of the neo-classical school of thought. There are basically three key points which drastically diminish the case where variations of free trade are seen as effective. Firstly, a lot of models consider that free trade in practice is not completely efficient. It is nonetheless important to define in parameters the deviations that are possible and the extent to which they count. This resulted in a frenzy of computations and it was then found that the effort and labor that goes in correcting the market costs more than what they are actually worth of. Secondly, instances of local issues supposedly outline and influence an exit from free trade are usually best dealt by a variety of methods of intervention by the government that uphold free trade. It was once suggested by Keynes that tariffs may be advantageous in instances of massive unemployment, instead leave trade free and mount cumulative demand straightforwardly. Lastly, Bhagwati ascertains that if trade barriers and tariffs are forced, individuals attempting to route these benefits to them might spend a lot of resources. Resources spent for such a cause make no contribution to the production. This therefore becomes a case of rent seeking, or in other words seeking of direct unproductive gain, a perception of his own which is quite different. He does not take into account the vice of fake humility. However, this remains an important issue. Rent seeking or fruitless profit chasing of this sort may be so vigorous that it might rule out completely tariffs as a means of effective economic plan.
There is a basic opposition to free trade and that is on the basis of a reality. In any free market each exchange that materializes is due to the fact that all stakeholders wish to gain benefit. This does not ensure that whatever takes place in the market will have benefits for everybody in general. This raises a question that if another shop lowers it prices obnoxiously and as a result you are thrown out of business, you have certainly not gained from the situation. This also implies that evidences of market efficiency are of little worth. It cannot assist Americans who were forced into unemployment or those who were reduced to shackles by the less wage competition from across the board. To them the increased efficiency of the world economy does not matter. Also, it is significant to point here that the Stolper-Samuelson theorem presents evidence that given a set of conditions, the low incomes of foreign employees can actually result in lower local wages.
According to Bhagwati this line of reasoning in case of America atleast does not match with reality. The reasoning calls for the fact that the products that destabilize wages in America are in reality labor intensive. In the market however, foreign competition that damages America is due to other factors such as edge in the technology etc. Now it is also important to note that foreign products will have an influence on local wages only if there is a decrease in the relative prices. This points to the fact that the main underlying problem is if the prices of such products really been decreasing, offsetting the diminishing wages in real world. There is no evidence provided by the author to back this. In the decade of eighties, the time when the wages of American were not changing, the prices of products that were labor-intensive increased compared to the prices of the set of the entire product range in the trade.
Often an objection is posed by those who oppose free trade that it is a constituent of a policy by rapacious multinational giants in an attempt to take advantage of the developing countries and these corporations already mint money by giving a meager sum to the indigent denizens of the developing countries. Bhagwati responds t this by a very subtle point. He ascertains that if the employees agree to what we consider as very low wages, then they might consider these wages as enhancements.
“Several empirical studies do find that multinationals pay what economists now call a ‘wage premium;’ they pay an average wage that exceeds the going rate, mostly up to 10 percent and exceeding it in some cases, with affiliates of U.S. multinationals sometimes paying a premium that ranges from 40 to 100 percent” (Bhagwati, 2007, pg 172).
The book also stresses on the fact that trade leads to business development which as a result brings democracy. Economic reforms must happen before any democratization takes place. The activists in this field should all combine so that they are taken more seriously. They should strive to clear the misconceptions and make a way for progress and development. The book is an extremely polarizing debate. He tries to balance the extremism that has found its way into economic reforms. Maintaining that it does affect culture, but economists are never concerned with the preservation of culture. Bhagwati says in his book.
“Economists generally belong to the philosophical tradition that sees nature as a handmaiden to mankind.” (Bhagwati, 2007, pg 135).
The book ‘In Defense Of Globalization’ thus offers a detailed response to the various critics of globalization. Some of these responses sound idealistic and theoretical but nonetheless they provide a base to build upon to relate to the social and economic consequences.
HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS AND THE POWER OF NEW IDEAS
David Bornstein, the author of ‘How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas’, in his book lauds the efforts of the members of the Ashoka group which was a universal gathering of leading social entrepreneurs. The book commends their passion to bring about a structured change all across the world and how they were able to achieve their goals through commitment and inspiring novel ideas. Being a journalist, David has first hand knowledge and experience in the topic that has become the content of this very popular book.
There are certain set passions that people have and they follow them too but compared to that social entrepreneurship is a relatively new concept which calls for something beyond passion- life long dedication and unwavering commitment from those who aspire to bring good to society in a world that is chasing money and profit. David inspires us in his book by narrating stories of individual people pursuing their missions and the basic outline of social enterprise. He also includes his own experiences in some of the chapters of the book.
David defines social entrepreneurs as people who find solutions to social problems on a large scale. The book chronicles the daring accomplishments of ten brave individuals whose novel ideas and selfless efforts realized as institutional transformation that gave a new direction to entire systems. Weaved in these stories are sections that try to describe who are the people who become social entrepreneurs and the reason behind their choice. The consequence is that if one is able to discover these innovative people, then proper support and some guidance in the initial stages may actually result in another social problem being solved on a massive scale and hence the ratio increases exponentially.
A major part of the book revolves around the life of Bill Drayton who was the originator of Ashoka, which officially acclaims the status of being the world’s first main organization to recognize and sustain social entrepreneurs universally. David is very convincing when he speaks about Drayton’s drive to bring about a social change. Drayton in his early life aspired for a change and this sustained throughout; at his time in Harvard and at EPA and McKinsey. Also the reader gets to know the real obstacles that he had to face and overcome for his ambitions to realize which also creates an air of drama in an otherwise dry topic such as social entrepreneurship. The rest of the book swings from profiles of many established entrepreneurs both within and outside the Ashoka network. The accounts are very inspiring and show the power of an honest individual effort to innovate lives and bring about wide-scale solutions for issues that seem to be entrenched in society.
This very basis and line of thought has been the motivating force of work at Ashoka which offers 3 year fellowships to social entrepreneurs to let them follow their dream ideas full time. It has an established network of people who spot prospective individuals with different ideas and also help them shape and formulate their idea in a better manner. David holds Ashoka’s efforts in very high regard and talks about his work with a great deal of respect. At the same time he is bold enough to pinpoint the flaws that this organization made in realizing its mission. For example, in chapter 14 of the book he speaks of the problem in Ashoka’s approach for going global and how his vision will not be practical in some regions like Africa.
In short about the book, it can be said that it is based on individual effort stories and experiences, more of a case study sort; therefore it gets a little disconnected on occasions. It is not page turning as a thriller would be but the message that the book gives is very strong and unwavering throughout. The beauty of the ten individual documented narratives is that there is nothing common in them except for the wonderful outcome of the work once done. Because of the fact that the field of social entrepreneurship has long been neglected, this work by David is a commendable effort and brings to the reader outstanding examples of people who make this world a better place to live in.
The idea and concept of social entrepreneurship has remained confined within very specialist spheres but the insight and information provided in these true tales introduce the reader to the greater good being done in the world by people whose work speak for them. David tells the complete story, giving details of every project, the hurdles that it faced and the success that it turned into. It leaves such a strong impact on the readers that once you are through you find yourself dreaming up solutions to rectify social evils. It’s not the writing style but the content that is extremely engaging and enlightening at the same time. It is a bible for those wishing to pursue social entrepreneurship. The main setback of the book is that it relies mainly on the Ashoka model which tends to ignore the profit aspect of entrepreneurship leaving a very thin line difference between a social activist and a social entrepreneur.
“Social entrepreneurs advance systemic change by altering governing perceptions and, ultimately, wide-scale, behavior patterns. They do this by envisioning a solution and initiating change (which typically takes place over a very long period of time) until their solution becomes the norm.” (Bornstein, 2007, pg 2-3).
In my report I focus on the overall theme of the book rather than individual stories which are quite motivational and inspiring though. One often wonders how can an individual bring about massive change, especially if its change in the thinking pattern. In his book, David writes about people who are steadfast in their will to change and transform society. They will not stop trying until they have achieved what they wanted. Such determination and commitment is the key to success. It is true that the number of people who will be so obsessed is quite less but they are present, clear in their vision and sure about their accomplishments. The biggest ability of any normal man is that he has many goals which he pursues and balances them well to live successfully. In case of social entrepreneurs, there is a basic prism of their idea and they see everything through it. They do not balance or manipulate their goals; they go for it and get it. Different individuals may contribute at different levels of any developing sector but that has no effect on the value and worth that they are adding to the society. Social entrepreneurship is a domain which needs experiences of people from all sectors of life and this sheer diversity is what makes it so different and wonderful.
The book tells us that to be a successful entrepreneur one needs to be very clear and motivated about the aim and the will to transform the society with the positive idea in mind. A lot of things that are essential to achieve a given task will confront the social entrepreneurs and they will grab and learn it as life throws it at them but they will never be dejected by any hurdle along the way. Amongst my favorite in the book is the story of Jeroo Billimoria of India who is the founder of CHildline India Foundation. Jeroo was determined to do something about the issue of street kids. It was a much ignored subject as nobody ever thought of transforming the lives of the homeless, mostly orphaned street kids. With the small is good approach, Jeroo ventured into a plan; to involve these kids in a self-help program. Initially there were very small successes but with time she was able to establish a distributed and decentralized web of associated Childline programs that have brought about a huge change in the way India now deals with this social issue. Her model is now being adopted all over the world for children self-help programs.
A similar compelling story is that of Erzsebet Szekeres of Hungary who also followed the small is good approach and has now been able to revolutionize her nation’s view and also the treatment of disabled people. The name of her establishment is Alliance Industrial Union (Assisted Living for the Disabled.) She is known and admired for her assisted living societies, incorporated, where a lot of disabled individuals have received a new meaning of life as they learn the art of living well, social and other small job skills that enable a lot of people from these communities to venture out into the society as useful members. This was not easy for Erzsebet to achieve; hers is a tale of unwavering determination and can do spirit with which she was able to tap the strategies that restrict such work in society. The biggest feather to her cap is the way in which she acknowledged the self-assistance chance of making small business ventures in her incorporated community structure.
In another example in South Africa, an institute known as the Tateni Home Care Services, which was founded by a nurse, has educated hundreds of young people who were otherwise without jobs to be effective as home care attendants. Now these young individuals are advancing on a base model for providing quality and efficient care to AIDS patients and children without parents throughout the entire country. Similarly in America, an organization based in Washington with the name College Summit started by an ex divinity scholar has aided hundreds of students from the lower-income group to get registered in colleges with a retention rate as high as eighty percent. This summit is now functioning in collaboration with public schools in many cities to redraft their college guidance methods.
“Social entrepreneurs are not selfless. If anything, they are self-more in the sense that they heed their instincts, follow their desires, and aggressively pursue their ambitions.” (Bornstin, 2007, pg 287).
Each of the above mentioned stories discloses the supremacy of a distinct human being steadfastly devoted to making a difference. The power of the book lies in the novel ideas of these determined individuals and the manner in which they executed them.
“People who solve problems must somehow first arrive at the belief that they can solve problems. This belief does not emerge suddenly. The capacity to cause change grows in an individual over time as small-scale efforts lead gradually to larger ones.” (Bonstein, 2007, pg 94).
All of the above mentioned social entrepreneurs started a small organization based on the philosophy of small is good, each expanded largely over time because of the quality of the work that they were doing, and each represented a typically novel method, a distinct model for dealing with a given social issue in some particular context. The social impact that they were able to achieve was not by any increasing gigantic or structured service association, but by mere perseverance and growth through continuous evolution and reproduction. All of these individuals were followers of natural influence in the absence of any command. They started off with a mere outline infrastructure, enough to suffice the need then present, showcased their ideas and visions for social transformation, and lastly they persistently involved stakeholders and influenced people who were essential for expansion and to see the result of their self-less efforts.
Ideas aren’t sufficient. There are lots of ideas that go nowhere. It requires a person to move from an idea through the complex process of implementation/realization. (Bornstein, 2007, pg 13).
As with every other field, there is a lot of criticism regarding social entrepreneurship too. Some people are of the opinion that these social entrepreneurs are people who utilize business expertise to realize social ends, while others argue that these are the people who start businesses that follow double or triple base line returns. While these aspects are somewhat present in the field of social entrepreneurship, none of these arguments grasp the true spirit and essence of this field. As Bornstein argues in his book that social entrepreneurs cannot be characterized by their plans or tools or skill sets, but they can only be defined by their goals, visions, determination and work ethics.
Social entrepreneurs provide an identical function with reference to social amendments as business entrepreneurs accomplish with regard to economic revolutions, that is they clutch prospect chances, assemble resources, put together associations, conquer opposition; and, via a very challenging procedure of promotion and repetitive corrections, they progressively change blueprints in their respective areas, thereby opening new avenues for others to explore. When viewed from a global standpoint, the development in a field like social entrepreneurship represents a major restructuring of the society in general and hence proposes wide scale chances for a lot of individuals. What actually happens is that a small segment of the society that gives importance to social values, a segment which has been operated upon like a power economy, is eventually starting to look like a market economy, constituted by young, enthusiastic, flexible associations drafted by these social entrepreneurs. It has resulted in a somewhat creative confusion and chaos with a lot of self-charged individuals trying to tackle social problems in their own unique ways, learning in the process how to interlink amongst themselves and with government bodies.
Bornstein concludes this book with recommendations on how to further amalgamate this segment of social entrepreneurs deeper into society for its welfare. He suggests that it could officially be studied in colleges and universities with government funding. The last chapter of the book also presents a big challenge to the charitable sector. He maintains that any association’s dearth of investment for it to be able to bring about positive change to society remains a stigma for society. A lot of foundations consider themselves as originators of novel concepts. Once a model has been tested by any foundation, the best method is that triumphant and scaleable plans should get government support in financial terms; which remains a big and yet unsolved loop hole in reasoning and experience. Bornstein here compares the potential of these social entrepreneurs to that of the private sector’s capacity to help. He is against extra dependency on quantitative performance variables, specifically those that are not meant and utilized by the organization itself in determining its own success. He says that people in this field should realize that transformation on mass levels and doing good for society has better, elevated and usually non-measurable aspects.
‘How to Change the World’ offers the readers with a comprehensive view at the strength of individuals and the capacity present in the organizations to solve social issues successfully. According to him, discovering such people, helping them and supporting their endeavors is another way of philanthropy.
Fritjof Capra, the author of the book under discussion and previously a physicist, is renowned for his skills of bringing out the mystic, and to a certain extent, religious elements in life. He is also widely acknowledged for his work in the domain of system sciences. This is a difficult feat to accomplish due to the fact that the conventional western technology-driven approach is quite antithetical to the contrasting mindsets. This book not on displays Capra’s own evolution from meager bystander inquisitiveness to a scientific curiosity in the different religions of the world and moreover, mysticism to a radical understanding of the restrained interlinks amongst thought process and life, and the human consciousness and brain. The differences among the physical and social sciences as the slit in the human survival method and its understanding of the world, have often been explained but Capra has managed to express his experience and hence been able to bridge this existing gap.
The book, Hidden Connections broadly speaks in two domains. In the first half of the book one finds an outstanding briefing to systems science and in the second half, the author describes how to seek organic rather than mechanical solutions for the problems faced by our planet.
The book proposes that in general the human societies will do far better if they imitate its existing natural surroundings with which it coexists. The insights that are presented in the book are very inspiring and leave the reader with a better understanding of the basic links to the complex web of other living systems. There are insightful updates on different theories such as the complexity and the Santiago theory of cognition, as well as updates on chemistry and physics and in the end, biotechnology. Furthermore, the author successfully applies the varying facets of complexity theory to the ongoing issues of global capitalism and the current state of affairs of the world. Hence it offers a detailed insight on the intricate adaptive system which has been a progressing trend in the field of science.
The views expressed by Capra provide a detailed synopsis of the international financial system and also explains the unfortunate shift in the United States approach; from liberty to free trade/free market which depicts a very single-minded inclination of overall economic globalization. Capra depicts that eco-design and ecological awareness are two primary steps that are required for the formulation of sustainable societies. He also proposes a revolutionary agenda of drafting an abstract framework for the successful integration of varying living systems of cognition, community and biology.
Capra in this book spins a web of intellect that adds more significance to the general way of dealing with the major problems of natural networks combined with the many feedback loops taken in context of patterns, relations and processes. These natural networks should be understood so that we don not overlap with their space as they serve all forms of life including the humans. There is infinite potential for development in nature along with ample room for creativity, diversification and upcoming innovativeness of new forms. It is therefore on humans to understand the system to become ecologically smart. The book explains the biggest mystery of all times, that is the survival of life form on earth. As Capra describes, the nature works in a holistic manner whereas, on the contrary, traditional thought process is usually blindly robotic. This is best explained by the fact that some see it as a mere collection of elements where as others are able to see beyond the wall and they discover the values and the intricate purposes that are manifested in the coexistence. The difference is obvious in the functioning of both the systems and their ability to respond to data. A mechanical system merely functions as per the given set of conditions. It is only the inherent intelligence of a living system that it is able to respond to information according to the meaning hidden in it. The intricate feedback loops help the living system to formulate its own response depending upon the situation.
The book begins at the most basic stage; the cell being a self-sufficient and self-sustaining, developing system and not something which can be defined in terms of a linear equation from input to output. The prime element of life is of a network unlike the assumption by majority of a machine. According to Capra, nature has nothing to do with failure or success as it is above ay such intent nor does it require competition which the humans thrive upon and as a result of which they attribute their thought processes and even their manner of living to nature. It is a inherent feature in all life forms to survive off each other; the feeding mechanism illustrates this further. So there is no concept of waste product as in its industrial counterpart. In nature one form’s waste might be another’s food and in this very fact lays the symmetry and magnificence of nature imparting a sense of self integrity which the human mind strives to understand.
Furthermore, Capra explains that it is an exercise in futility to try to capture the non-linear features of living systems in mathematical equations as they are neither completely conventional nor are they totally controllable in the manner which the traditional physicists desire them to be. The only way to capture the essence of nature can be through probabilistic manner of post-quantum philosophy and/or physics as these are the fields that encompass the observer and his state of being as a part of his observation. This is also in accordance with the Santiago theory that maintains that mental activity is the main organizing activity of all living forms at all levels of life. Myths and descriptions make their way into text and are passed on in an attempt to explain the mystery of life and yet have never been completely deciphered by knowledge or even intellect which is the only tools available to man for accomplishment. This calls for the need of a different kind of view that is wide-ranging and hence a different type of education for the people. The target objective of such an education would be to encourage the capacity to understand the hidden connections between different phenomena. Once man is able to realize this, then only will he end the race to control nature and will learn to coexist in harmony with it.
After explaining complex adaptive systems, the origin of mind, the nature of life forms, social reality establishing that networks along with its interconnections form the basic structure of life, Carla moves to make the next point in his book. Hidden connections strongly emphasizes that life, society and consciousness are actually surfacing features of other simpler procedures that are deep-rooted in the networks which are the fundamental elements of life. After a lucid introduction to his own thought process in the first half of the book, Carla now moves on to express his views about organization and leadership and other related topics. He has applied complexity theory to organizations in this book which makes it a rather interesting read. It is worth mentioning that Carla has experience in this domain as he devotes his time lecturing and advising senior mangers of corporate giants. He expresses views which are certainly different and even difficult for big corporations to put into practice but one is left with no choice but to admit the rational behind his ideas.
He gives a certain examination of global capitalism where he explains the origin and development of the networked economy, the diversified character of the economic grid and the programmed trading of wealth and stocks. He is quite right when he claims that the entire system is beyond the control of any corporation or government or least of all any individual and in its given state yet its automation is in the hands of governments and corporate giants. It may be a monster out of leash but the stake holders that profit from it are quite known. It is no surprise then that when he speaks of employee empowerment, it does not by any mean, imply employee appropriation. He goes on to explain why it is such a challenge to transform the existing culture of big organizations. It is because the people in charge to restructure the organization will draft an organizational chart in a robotic manner but in reality it’s the social network which is the actual hub and heart of the organization that draws out elements from the plan that best suit their interests. Hence the solution to the external perturbation is in reality organically not known, though it may be innovative making the consultant appear well but has little worth in its core.
The discussion in the book becomes more captivating when Capra attempts to explain the swift deregulation of economic and trading activities in the past two decades, which mainly took place by non-democratic means via under the table dealings and nominated, instead of elected representatives. This had an impact which unleashed the power of wealth. He strongly criticizes the system where profit minting has made authorities turn a blind eye towards all values, and in the process exposing people to wasteful trade actions. He says that the protesting people are not against globalization which was bound to take place in the technology and information- savvy age but instead they are requesting and forcing for unbiased check and balance structure to be drafted. The basic inherent form of human intelligence should find its proper place in the system and this requires wide-spread activism at the grass-root levels. Looking back at the sixties era and comparing it with the present, Capra identifies that there exists a new generation; one that has been surrounded by a world divided in cultures. The book ‘Hidden connections’ spells out an approach, which aims at amalgamating the visions, biological, cultural, environmental and social into one prospect of life. Also, it elucidates that this synthesis in its content has the power to eradicate the sustainable development efforts of its completely biased overtones and instead present it with a clear and solid human and scientific ground.
‘Hidden connections’ is a book that also points out the fallacies in globalization. Capra considers the issue of globalization a main feature when considering values. In his view, globalization together with all the evils that it manifests in the society is the prime reason for ‘making money a standard measure of everything’ mindset. He strongly advocates change and instead values being the core of everything. He presents his point by giving the example of societies that are involved in ecologically conscious ways of production and that they are technologically motivating too, but they have no positive influence on the basic principals of economics, class or control/power. Capra’s aim in this book is to reform capitalism so that it works in favor of society, rather than completely eradicate it.
I think that the last section of the book is the strongest of all. This is the part where Capra expresses his views on bio-technology. Genetic engineering is termed as the ‘main dogma’ by Capra where he expresses that it is fabricated on the notion that individual genes have a direct link on the characteristics and also on the behavioral patterns. Put in other words, genetic engineering is nothing but functional biological determinism. The issue is dealt with head on, outlining the intricate inter-links among organisms, genes and the basic environment in general. Here a lot of quotes are used from other molecular biologists that are also with Capra in questioning this system of belief. He hence explains that biological determinism is one-dimensional and does not even enjoy the support of scientific proof. Moreover, genetic modification and bio-engineering are in essence intensely suspect and hazardous technologies by nature. Here he makes a mention of the genetically modified crops. He is of the view that those engineers who claim that they can engineer food and that would be an answer to the global food scarcity and pest issues are wrong. The end result of biotechnology and the experiments that are carried out are quite obvious. It is more of a technical problem but this could become an unleashed monster if not controlled. These genetically modified crops are actually a false and fake perception of nature and will not work in the long run.
Capra strongly defends the nature and calls for solutions that are environment and nature friendly not the currently deployed modes of industrialization, capitalism or mass marketing. The basic idea presented in the book is quite simple; the elementary design procedures to be used in framing of any sort of human organization should be in harmony with the underlying core values of organization in nature which has progressed through decades to form an intricate, yet beautiful web of life. The network remains the core prototype of all living forms and spans from the metabolic cell networks all the way through the food webs existing in the ecosystem. All the processes and constituents are connected with each other. When this understanding is applied to the social sphere then even organizations are viewed as live social establishments. Then Capra moves his attention to the whole human community and reveals his inspiration of the NGOs which play an active role in framing a substitute to the blind undertaking of resource-wasting path of capitalism inspired industrialization and globalization. Motivated by the lust of affluence and the crazy race of information technology, the procedure is taking inevitably to a further misery and estrangement of the poor. The underdeveloped and poor nations are no longer in a state to have their own plan except for what is shoved on them by the Western systems hidden in the name of ‘best interests’. He paints a very real image of the global financial market where a mere click of the mouse enriches individuals and where people are indigent due to a presumed notion of market logic or inaccurate perception of risk. Money has thus become the main instrument to make more money where it has more worth than values, democracy or nature in the least. Capra thus tries to open the eyes of the common man and make him realize that life is not a problem to be solved; it is rather a mystery to be lived to the fullest.
The book ‘What the bleep do we know’ is a result of joint efforts of three individuals who have different perceptions about things that otherwise appear as ordinary. William Arntz is known to have formulated a software that is extensively used all over the world. A spiritual seeker and a research physicist, he took an earl retirement to pursue his interests. He wished to combine his four areas of interest; science, art of film making, spiritual curiosity and computer technology. Co-author Betsy Chasse worked as a freelance production manager on more that 30 films and is also accredited for producing 8 films before setting up her mind to use her life in a more constructive manner and do something more purposeful. Co-author Mark Vicente, previously a cinematographer turned director possessed keen interest in mystifying, unusual and also insightful subject themes.
The book which is the combined intellect of such fine minds is hence difficult to categorize. It is a self-help book and at the same time it is about science and spiritual guidance too. It deals the issues of the nature of reality, improbability, the influence of mental, physical and spiritual agents in formulating human reality. The book does not provide answers but opens different avenues for thought. It outlines the spiritual queries and scientific information that take the reader in deeper regions allowing him to accept the clinch of psyche and science. Perhaps the best thing about the book is the ease with which it discusses the topics and contains insightful discussion on the given subject matter.
A long time back, in the battle of discovery and justifications, religion and science split in different directions. However, the truth remains that both are different sides of the same coin and cannot be viewed as separate entities. Science and religion both aid in discovering the mysteries of the universe, human’s position in this divine layout and hence the purpose of our living. This they can only achieve when they work with each other as opposed to against each other. In this book of amazing science, on the basis of extensive research and theoretical scientists, it takes the reader to a different level of consciousness; one that is a thin line between the inner/outer limits of our scientific know-how, vision, brain structure and even body chemistry. It makes the reader wonder what thought is made of, what constitutes reality and most of all how is a thought capable of transforming the nature and perception of reality.
“The whole purpose of this game: we prepare our body chemically, through a thought, to have an experience. However, if we keep preparing our body chemically to have the same thoughts, to have the same experiences, we wont ever evolve as human beings.”
All this knowledge and science takes the reader beyond the materialistic world into the deeper spheres of spirituality. If one’s vision and outlook has an effect on the end result, then each individual is not just an observer of the universe but an active participant in shaping it. The authors propose that if visions are more than mere haphazard neural firings, then realization is indeed is much more than just an anatomical happening. All this indicates to the presence of a supreme authority out there but the question remains is it really there; if yes then what is the definition of ‘out there.’ The book is a mind boggling exercise as it does not give answers but opens a thinking process of mind exhausting queries; a book that does not outline the path but the numerous possibilities that lead to the destination. One is left wondering if one really has to follow a set routine everyday; why do the same chores, why feel the same and why end up in the mess of chores that life throws. As William Tiller puts it.
“Our purpose here is to develop our gifts of intentionality. And learn how to be effective creators.”
It offers a very interesting and different approach to spirituality and self-help on almost every aspect of life. It teaches the readers how the reality, mental, physical and spiritual forces integrate and formulate the human reality as we see it. It therefore explores thoroughly the spiritual aspect of humans and transforms them into debatable discussions. The authors present direct questions such as, “Are we seeing the world as it really is? What are thoughts made of? What is the relationship between our thoughts and our world”? And “Are we biologically addicted to certain emotions”? The possibilities lie in the chapters of the book that offers intriguing insight into human reality. The book proposes that mind is in essence matter because we are what our mind tells us. As Budha puts it.
“All that we are is a result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”
The book also makes a mention of the controversial experiment by Dr.Masaru Emoto where he froze water as crystals and took certain photographs of it. He claimed that when the word love was uttered infront of these crystals they took shape of happier objects and similarly when sickness was mentioned the result was gloomy photographs. This however remains a very debatable experiment as one can argue that it is the observer’s perception into play and for the experiment to actually work, the observer should be unknown to the meaning of the words spoken.
Besides this the book presents a different definition of the observer. The readers are made to wonder who actually is an observer and what influence does he have in deducing reality. It also presents different situations where experiences could have multiple outcomes depending upon the context in which they were viewed. It basically stresses on the fact that each individual plays an active role in shaping his or her reality and therefore one has to step forward and take ownership of responsibility. It goes a step further in the rabbit hole and aids us in confronting the key questions and then offers ample food for thought. The information provided in the book is easy to comprehend; like how the brain functions, how human emotions participate in the firm wiring of the manner we respond to situations in life etc. It encourages human to create their own lives rather than wasting their lives in search of somebody else’s ides of life. As Henry D. Thoreau says,
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
The book also offers insight into the field of quantum physics explaining in detail the various theories of the subject which are well presented with captivating illustrations and actual simulation of the right human brain. A common perception is that humans don’t really experience first hand, in any manner, the quantum dynamics in everyday life. Given this understanding then there is no logic to wait for the human senses or the more alert intuition to develop to comprehend the quantum world with ease, the manner in which we perceive time, gravity, cause/ effect etc. This is another way of saying that the human brains are not able to appreciate the quantum mechanics, simply because of the fact that they never had to comprehend it till recent times. In short, the humans have utilized their intellectual capabilities to examine it as a highly sophisticated branch of physics. This rationale is not justified in practice as it does not permit the current day’s developmental self-actualization debates at all.
“Every observation can be looked upon as quantum measurement, because quantum measurements produce brain memory”.
There is a sequence in how we see things. Our ideas of the memory of the past lead us to a perception of any observation of the present scenario which then transforms into a vision affecting or altering reality. Another strong domain of the book is the manner in which it explains the power of mind; how humans have the potential to enforce logic, rationale and significance on the haywire and self-centered universe that it survives in, abandoning the ingrained superior intellect and judgment in the course. As a society too, humans do not seem to realize that reality might not necessarily be instinctive and there might exist some superior authority out there which has a better agenda and logic for the human existence. Humans have a lot of information but there is a whole lot that they are unaware of, countless mysteries in the universe that instead of accepting they try to substitute with what they wish to be real and true. As Ramtha mentions,
“We are here to be creators. We are here to infiltrate space with ideas and mansions of thought. We are here to make something of this life.”
The most impressive thing about the book is its ability to drill down into practical subjects of demonstrating with the assistance of effects how supplementary things act with growing age. It surely makes a huge difference in one’s way of thinking. It describes a strange yet intriguing world where it is said that matter cannot survive, despite the fact that it may make multiple appearances at the same time. It is only what the human mind wants to see making the difference between religion and science very bleak as the readers become aware that both these aspects of life point to the same concept. The authors claim that people can actually rewire their synapses and hence conceive a better vision or perception of their surroundings. The character in the book, Amanda is made to re-assess her life. As her seemingly dull life begins to untangle, she becomes aware of the uncertainty inherent in it and also of the quantum field that lay beneath what she deemed as her normal routine life. In this journey, Amanda is forced to admit that by really opening her mind and thoughts and seeing the world, her life transforms into something new altogether. She thus learns how to take control and transform her life by merely changing the manner in which she took the situations and circumstances she was in.
“Most people think the outside world just happens. We’re suggesting there’s a big connection between what you think inside your mind and what’s happening outside.”
There is a novel understanding revealed of the manner in which matter, molecules, energy, atoms, particles all work in our surroundings. There are scenarios where gravity does not hold good. There are things which can be classified as both particles and waves as opposed to common understanding of physics, electrons have the tendency to simply vanish into oblivion without any reason and all these things happen round the clock. If the universe in which the humans live in is so untamed and erratic, blossoming with possibilities then why such an inside the box approach to life and why chain our understanding and thoughts in any given spheres.
Arntz, William; Chasse, Betsy;Vicente, Mark 2005: What the bleep do we know, HCI.
Bhagwati, Jagdish 2004: In Defense of Globalization, Oxford University Press.
Bornstein, David 2007: How to Change the world: Social entrepreneurs and the power of new ideas.
Capra, Fritjof 2005: The hidden connections, science for sustainable living, Harper Collins.
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