1-Sentence-Summary: The End Of Power explains why the old positions of power aren’t as powerful as they used to be due to recent changes in society and technology and how this shift has put more influence in the hands of everyday citizens like you and what it might mean for the future of our governments and world.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
At one time, most people believed that the most powerful person on earth was the United States president. But today, that isn’t as much the case. In the last several decades, governments in every part of the world have been slowly losing power. Just think about the Arab Spring or the fall of the Berlin Wall. We’ve no doubt seen some pretty big changes of world powers in the last fifty years.
Armed with new technology and societal views, ordinary people everywhere find more power. While, old fortresses of power are starting to fall. Rather than a few wealthy elites calling the shots, power is now more evenly spread. And it’s not just true of governments. Armies, the media, and churches are also experiencing a never-before-seen shift in power.
In The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn’t What It Used To Be by Moises Naim, we explore these societal changes in depth. We also learn what the consequences of this drastic decay of power might mean for our future.
Here are just 3 of the many useful and eye-opening lessons I got from this book:
- People are changing their minds about many things, which means that we’re now questioning everything.
- More and more people and countries are getting the opportunity to have political power.
- While there are benefits to the decay of power, it brings up challenges, but we can get through them with the right tactics.
Ready to discover what this powerful book has to teach you? Let’s jump right in!
Lesson 1: The 20% gap between being satisfied and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight and gaining it.
In just the last few decades, the world has seen a radical shift in the notion of what is important. Countries that were formerly poor and now have an emerging middle class are now dealing with expectations from citizens that now want more in life than just food and shelter. This change has meant people now want liberal values such as freedom, fairness, transparency, and property.
For example, marriage has been regarded as the holiest and highest bond. That if you’ll break it, comes an intense shame for many hundreds of years. In just the last thirty or so years, we have seen this institution become increasingly obsolete. Divorce rates are on the rise everywhere, even in conservative countries.
The more people want liberal values, the more they start to mistrust the authorities who are supposed to instil these values in society. In the United States during the ‘60s, 75 per cent of the population trusted that their government did what right most of the time was. Recently, that number has fallen somewhere from 20-35 per cent.
We saw this discontent on an even greater scale during the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. Leaders in the Middle East and North Africa who held unchallenged power for decades suddenly were forced to leave their positions or fight their citizens. The result was a drastic redistribution of power in these areas.
Lesson 2: Political power is being shared now more than ever before.
As people become more involved in decision-making, political leaders lose more and more power and influence. The spread of democracy throughout the world has helped spread power among the people of these newly-democratized nations.
We can see just how much democracy has spread in the last fifty years when looking at the statistics. In 1947, there were just 67 sovereign states in the world. Today, just the UN has 193 members. In the ‘70s, there were twice as many autocracies as there were democracies. Now, that ratio has been reversed and is four to one.
What’s more, governments now tend to hold more frequent elections than ever before. This means the people have more power to decide who runs the country, and there is an increased pressure on political leaders to act. When you have more elections, politicians are more likely to consider whether not people approve of their actions.
Before, organizational and cultural barriers separated everyday people from political elites; those boundaries are now fading. Anyone can be involved in politics if they want to.
For example, it took journalists two whole years to bring down Nixon after the Watergate scandal. Today, pretty much anyone who works in government can leak important documents and cause a scandal.
This increased transparency has meant people are less trusting of politicians, and politicians are more and more aware of making public slip-ups. This gives them less freedom to act and respond in the right way to challenges, which means they are less effective leaders.
Lesson 3: The distribution of power has its benefits and challenges, but we can ride the storms with the right tools.
We can’t deny there are both positive and negative side effects of this increased distribution of power. On the positive side, societies are freer. There is more market competition. While, voters have more power to express discontent, and ideas can move more freely.
But there are also some pretty big risks. Crumbling power can mean more disorganization and frustration. When Democratic leaders don’t have enough power, they sometimes cannot react to modern challenges.
One example of this is that governments need a powerful international authority to come to agreements on the world stage. One of these is making agreements to reduce greenhouse gases worldwide.
When power is moving from person to person quickly, the players can be less efficient. Experienced organizational leaders have the benefit of experience, which new players don’t have on their side. And shorter times in power make people less likely to invest in long-term goals and more likely to prefer short-term ones.
The decay of power means people will be less likely to invest time in important issues because they can’t see long-term consequences right away. For instance, when the media now has millions of journalists telling every little story, it can make it harder to find the most important issues.
Furthermore, when people shift to more low-effort contributions, like just pushing a “Like” button or signing an online petition, it can take away resources from more effective solutions. A doctor can do more for a region in crisis by travelling there to provide free medical care than she can by simply sharing posts on Facebook.
The End Of Power Review
The End of Power is a cool book and idea! It was really nice to see a different perspective on the typical media narrative that the world is on fire and everything is awful. We really are becoming a more global world and improving many things left and right, which is amazing!
Who would I recommend The End Of Power summary to?
The 75-year-old who can’t wrap their head around why the world has changed so much, the 41-year-old social justice warrior who needs some encouragement, and anyone that wants a more accurate picture of the worldwide political atmosphere.