The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die

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Allen Lane, 2012 - Business cycles - 173 pages
The latest work from Niall Ferguson, bestselling author of Empire, The Great Degneration is based on his 2012 BBC Reith Lectures 'The Rule of Law and Its Enemies'The decline of the West is something that has long been prophesied. Symptoms of decline are all around us today, it seems: slowing growth, crushing debts, aging populations, anti-social behaviour. But what exactly is amiss with Western civilization? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues, is that our institutions - the intricate frameworks within which a society can flourish or fail - are degenerating. Representative government, the free market, the rule of law and civil society: these were once the four pillars of West European and North American societies. It was these institutions, rather than any geographical or climatic advantages, that set the West on the path to global dominance after around 1500. In our time, however, these institutions have deteriorated in disturbing ways. Our democracies have broken the contract between the generations by heaping IOUs on our children and grandchildren. Our markets are increasingly distorted by over-complex regulations that are in fact the disease of which they purport to be the cure. The rule of law has metamorphosed into the rule of lawyers. And civil society has degenerated into uncivil society, where we lazily expect all our problems to be solved by the state.The Degeneration of the West a powerful - and in places polemical - indictment of an era of negligence and complacency. While the Arab world struggles to adopt democracy, and while China struggles to move from economic liberalization to the rule of law, Europeans and Americans alike are frittering away the institutional inheritance of centuries. To arrest the degeneration of the West's once dominant civilization, Ferguson warns, will take heroic leadership and radical reform.

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User Review  - RobertP - LibraryThing

The book touches on three aspects of "degenration" of Western nations: civil society, the rule of law, economics. He will no doubt be accused of being right-wing, which for Ferguson appears unlikely ... Read full review

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User Review  - gmicksmith - LibraryThing

This small volume delivered as lectures are a distillation of most of Ferguson's main points. He demonstrates how institutions decay and an economy, particular the U.S., has degenerated. It could ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

Niall Ferguson is one of Britain's most renowned historians.He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier and Civilization. He has written and presented six highly successful television series for Channel Four: Empire, American Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, Civilization and China: Triumph and Turmoil.

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