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BOOK REVIEW Humanity-Craft for New Epoch Leaders

ARTICLE | | BY Michael Marien


Michael Marien

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Humanity-Craft for New Epoch Leaders

Avant-Garde Politician: Leaders for a New Epoch

Yehezkel Dror (Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Washington: Westphalia Press (Policy Studies Organization), April 2014, 350p, $17.50pb.

[With Comparative Comment on Henry Kissinger World Order (Penguin, Sept 2014) and Ross Jackson, Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and
Political Reform
(Chelsea Green, March 2012).]

Hundreds of books have been written about leadership, mostly about business leaders.

But few if any, place the tasks of leadership in the context of our rapidly changing times and the growing need for some better form of global governance. This “flagship” book by a former senior staff member of the RAND Corporation, and a long-time observer and advisor to heads of state in Israel and other countries, provides the context in extensive, future-oriented detail. Dror is also author of 15 books in ten languages (see concluding comment), Founding President of the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem, an Honorary member of the Club of Rome, and Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.

His book is intended for a global audience: all who are interested in politics and policy studies writ large, political leaders and their advisors, and “the large variety of non-political leaders and decision-makers who desire to impact the future of humanity for the better.”

Dror’s distinctive style of providing long and provocative lists of points to support his wise arguments (sometimes with numbered items, sometimes not) is certainly apparent in this encyclopedic tour de force. It is not easy reading (I found myself dipping into the book on four different occasions), but the wealth of well-documented insights deserves multiple visits. Unfortunately, there is no index. So, to avoid missing any topic of substance, reviewing the chapters “by the numbers” is especially appropriate in this instance.


The fateful leap in human capacities to shape its future in interaction with the environment started around the mid-20th century with the atomic bomb. This was only a beginning: the leap in human capacities has become a quantum jump, and now includes rapidly escalating capabilities to destroy humanity. Citing Donald Michael’s 1968 book on The Unprepared Society, Dror warns of “Unprepared Humanity,” cascading into an epoch of metamorphosis. Yet, the vast majority of humanity is not aware of the existential challenges, and “the vast majority of political leaders are sleepwalkers,” suffering from significant mental blind spaces which assure disasters.

Given this diagnosis, this book fuses two leitmotifs: 1) the need for a novel “Humanity Constitution,” together with constantly expanding global law; and 2) bringing to the fore a novel type of “avant-garde” political leader with the qualities needed to cope with an era of metamorphosis, including founding the required Humanity Constitution. Dror explores the qualities of mind required by these politicians, and offers guidelines for becoming one. A new cohort of innovative moral, value, and spiritual leaders is also needed, “as illustrated by Pope Francis.”

Part One: Humanity: To Be, What To Be, Not To Be?

  1. Channeling Metamorphosis. Discusses the evolutionary perspective (“humanity is rushing into a radically new phase”), disruptive technologies (advanced robotics, next-generation genomics, new materials, advanced oil/gas recovery, etc.), leadership for metamorphosis, general prospects for humanity, desirable scenarios (climate engineering saves the environment, release from wearisome work enables cultural thriving, reduced dependence on scarce materials), disastrous scenarios (devastating pandemics, nuclear or other mass-killing wars, activated doomsday devices, irreversible damage to the environment, continuous breakdowns of the global financial system), problematic scenarios (brain enhancement technologies, cloning of humans, worldwide surveillance, artificial production of multicellular beings), and the Second Axial Age (“likely to be driven by the capacity of humanity to destroy or transform itself”; prudence takes pessimistic contingencies seriously).
  2. Circumscribed Global Leviathan. “Some approximation of what is presented below is probably essential for the future of the human species for an interim period of a couple of generations.” (p.31) Dror imagines an Executive Report of the fictional Omega-Alpha think tank of 15 select persons with different backgrounds, charged to make proposals on the needed form of global governance. The Report calls for a vigorous but strictly and narrowly circumscribed Global Leviathan based on a Humanity Constitution and related global law and institutions, with most ordinary governance tasks left to states on the principle of subsidiarity. Three existential imperatives are axiomatic: human species survival, human enhancement controls, and advancement of pluralistic flourishing. The new governance requires a 16-member Global Authority, a global surveillance system to assure detection of potentially dangerous activities, a monopoly over all types of mass-killing weapons, a Council of 16 eminent persons to serve as checks and balances and as a science court, and a Global Constitutional Court.
  3. Raison d’ Humanitie. Dror repeats and rephrases the three existential imperatives: 1) Survival Imperative (deserving absolute priority to assure long-term survival and prevent serious harm to many); 2) Species-Changing Inhibition Imperative (“production, diffusion, and use of species changing knowledge and technologies for human enhancement should be rigorously controlled on a global scale”); 3) Human Flourishing Imperative (subject to the two imperatives above, strenuous efforts should be made to advance long-term pluralistic flourishing of the human species, while taking care of short-term human needs; “free choice should be given to different societies in choosing their ways of flourishing, as long as they do not impair the free choice of others and respect universal human rights.”) The first two imperatives constitute “raison d’humanitie, radically distancing it from raison d’etat. It should receive absolute priority when issues of importance for the future of humanity are at stake.” Painful value changes are likely to be essential in the service of raison d’humanitie, e.g. values of state sovereignty have to be partly abandoned, the value of freedom of research needs subjugation to selective regulation to prevent potentially dangerous knowledge, free markets have to be strictly regulated to prevent black markets, etc.
  4. Value Compass. Lists 14 important components of the “raison d’humanite compass”: humanity as the measure, protecting essential physical conditions of the planet, panhuman communality as part of a maturing humanity, eradication of absolute evil, elimination of large-scale warfare and violent conflicts (including large-scale cyber-attacks), use of measured violence when essential, responsibilities and duties added to human rights, balance between individualism and social/humanity belonging, right to live and die, increasing elimination of extreme poverty, maturing humanity to enable flourishing (which requires avoiding many vices), creativity subject to minimal censorship, expanded pluralism to counter growing global homogenization, a good measure of compassion, and reducing moral hazards by imposing personal responsibility on those causing avoidable damage (e.g. unessential wars, polluting activities).
  5. Part Two: Being An Avant-Garde Politician

  6. Total Calling. Discusses the idea of “calling” as central to an avant-garde politician, virtues (total commitment, praxis-directed solitary contemplation, gravitas, mental hygiene, wakefulness in that “adequate quality sleep is absolutely necessary”), 12 vices to avoid (e.g. extreme narcissism, King Lear Syndrome surrounded by sycophants, Othello Syndrome seeing enemies everywhere, Faustian delusion viewing minor successes as great achievements, etc.), and a 25-point Code of Personal Ethics (constant self-improvement, accepting full responsibility for errors, accepting criticism without hostility, cultivating other avant-garde politicians, having the courage of your convictions, leaving your position if impaired, etc.)
  7. The Mind Is Your “I”. The mind is at the core of an avant-garde politician and the location of the needed qualities. Explains “greatness” and intelligence, brain and mind, how the brain can acquire new capabilities based on activities, issues of the will, emotions and mental composure, plasticity, psychological interventions, seeking maximum internal autonomy in many domains (“including readiness to engage in iconoclasm of what is held dear and is deeply rooted in the mind”), and exposing oneself to a variety of cultures and readings.
  8. Core Qualities. Articulates 9 “bundles” of a leader laying foundations for a novel future: multiple personas (composer, visionary, entrepreneur, pedagogue, conductor), hybrid hedgehog-fox (including the better parts of the fox who knows many things and the hedgehog who knows one big thing), bondage to the past (not a total hindrance because there is much continuity to partly make the past into a helpful guide for the future), “foresight intuition,” Eureka effects (sudden insights, breakthrough mental events), “reading” minds of others, generalist-professionalism (a macroscopic view of broad domains), good executive function, and strict but not over-demanding self-assessment.
  9. >Historic Prototypes. Profiles of Konrad Adenauer, Mustafa Ataturk, David Ben-Gurion, Osama bin Laden [!!], Fidel Castro, Winston Churchill, Deng Xiaoping, Mahatma Gandhi, Charles de Gaulle, Mikhail Gorbachev, Dag Hammarskjold, Adolf Hitler, Ayatollah Khomeini, Juscelino Kubitschek, Lee Kuan Yew, Vladimir Lenin, Nelson Mandela, Jean Monnet, Pope John Paul II, Margaret Thatcher, Harry Truman, and Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Concludes with a list of 12 shared attributes of these “proto-avant-garde politicians,” including devotion to the embraced mission, a realistic vision of substantive improvement, much pondering, high-quality improvisations, unconventional thinking, a good dose of self-confidence, capacity to inspire and gain support, and iron will.
  10. Part Three: Worlds in the Mind

  11. Comprehending Reality. The three types of reality—historic reality, future possible realities, and virtual realities (including fictional situations)—exist as “worlds in the mind”, images cognized by the mind and mapped in different languages. Of all the caves in which one unavoidably lives, the most influential and insidious (but also necessary and sometimes ennobling) are ideologies, including all systematic belief systems. The three existential imperatives also constitute a kind of ideology. Also includes a list of 14 caveats about theories (past-based theories are often misleading, tacit theories are important but suffer from bondage to the past, many issues have competing theories of part-validity or less) and 9 specific warnings (big data can be helpful but also very misleading, concepts such as “unemployment” are often fuzzy and misleading, the situation is much worse with surveys and polls—and doubly true for security intelligence and analysis, the Internet makes access to information easy but separating little wheat from much chaff requires a lot of knowledge).
  12. Humans. The multiple natures of humanity and its contradictions are outlined in 9 points: individualism vs. being part of packs, sublime peaks of art and science/technology vs. simplistic thinking and barbarism, animalistic drives vs. sainthood, unequal vs. equal, etc. Humans are very problematic. Reflections follow on collectives and mass psychology, tribalism and fundamentalism, increasing autonomy of individuals, good and evil, causes for pessimism and optimism (“it is quite amazing that reputable thinkers view humanity as clearly on the way to benevolence”), future families, and sociability in an age of globalization and the Internet (likely to change radically).
  13. Alternative Futures. A chart lists 19 desired aspects of humanity in 2100 (no mass-killing fanaticism, pluralistic with many basic human values, increased carrying capacity of earth and stable population, serious economic crises avoided, much improved global political leadership) and 19 “moderately dismal” futures in 2100 (more sordid mass culture, constant clashes of civilizations, no signs of a Second Axial Age, failed controls on science/technology, some upgrading of the UN but still very inadequate, some serious natural catastrophes without real learning on taking care of the human species). Also discusses predictive vs. prescriptive futures, short vs. long-term horizons, low vs. high realization likelihood, and four outlook approaches (extrapolation, theories, tacit knowledge of experts, imagination).
  14. Part Four: Composing Humanity-Craft

  15. Pondering. “The most important activity of an avant-garde politician is composing humanity-craft,” a transformed version of “statecraft” applied to the long-term future of the human species. This is expressed in a series of grand policies, translated into more specific policies and plans. The central process for composing humanity-craft is pondering, which involves thinking and intuiting. A list of 34 grand-policy conjectures follows: expanded and strictly enforced “responsibility to protect,” preventing all forms of mass atrocities, help to prevent states from failing managed under the Global Authority or a revamped UN organ, a global forest policy, geoengineering to ward off or compensate for planetary changes, preparation for avoiding or containing large natural disasters, radical revamping of employment/unemployment concepts (probably with some form of assured minimum income), a global refugee policy, elimination of all tax havens and anonymous bank accounts, obligatory contributions by the wealthy to public causes, global enforcement in stages of a minimum list of basic human rights, a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities and Duties to supplement the UDHR, universal obligatory two years of service in a “humanity corps,” systematic efforts to develop humanity-committed leadership, and much more. This is followed by 7 exercises of possible dilemmas that might be faced (e.g. a “crazy” country with nuclear bombs, a novel technology prolonging life expectancy to 120 years of good health at a cost of $500,000 per person, a cheap but habit-forming drug that produces ecstatic happiness without health damage, a new brain-imaging technology enables fully reliable findings as to whether a person is lying), and elements of a possible rise and decline of humanity. In turn, for those not yet exhausted, a list of 17 appropriate guidelines for pondering on domains undergoing metamorphosis is added, including thinking in novel dimensions, much attention given to current and expected science/technological innovations and their likely impacts, careful monitoring of value changes, constant awareness of the likelihood of unforeseen events, rejecting politics as “the art of the possible,” and application of multiple perspectives.
  16. Schemata. This includes “perspectives, schemes, frames, modalities, models, templates, structured heuristics, checklists, considerations, formalized principles, trains of thought, concept packages, procedures, and formats.” Recommended schemata include realistic visions along with nightmares to prevent balancing values with reality, prioritization (“a lot of time and energy goes to activities that lack real significance or at least political utility”), avoiding too much “now time” by adding three time horizons (the next 5 years, 10-20 years for most pondering, and up to about 100 years for select critical choices), developing a more holistic field view, dialectic pondering between opposing points of view, opportunity seeking, and constant but not paralyzing doubt.
  17. Debugging. Explores 25 serious and widespread cardinal fallacies that endanger humanity-craft: exaggerated trust in “rationality,” misuses of “common sense” and “pragmatism,” the tendency to expect linearity, selective and biased evaluation of opinions, wishful or fearful distortions, erroneous attribution to deal with causes, intolerance of ambiguity, dithering in the face of problems that get worse, dissonance reduction, misplaced preference of a golden mean (i.e. that the midpoint between two extremes is preferable), concentrating on what is easy to know, following fashions, and forgetting Murphy’s Law Expanded (“everything can and much is very likely to go wrong”—of profound importance as a counterweight to overdoses of optimism).
  18. Swerving History. The possibility of very desirable and totally dismal alternative futures necessitates switching the trajectories of history—a demanding and speculative endeavor that is inherently a fuzzy gamble. But not trying to swerve future history is also a choice, and probably one of the worst options. “Successful redirecting of future-shaping historic processes is possible, but failures come frequently and easily.” To help thinking-in-history to serve historic processes, Dror provides 47 Theses on History, e.g., understanding the past is difficult because “facts” are infinite, philosophies of history differ from each other, broad theories of historic processes such as “rise and decline” are helpful but culturally biased, large-scale natural disasters continue to be significant but very unlikely to end humanity, all deliberate efforts to bring about a “new human” by change in social institutions have failed, main drivers of the future are ongoing metamorphosis and peak creativity in science/technology, leaders are sure to become more important drivers of the future for better or worse, there is no reason to assume that “progress” is built into the processes of history, values should be expected to change radically as they did throughout history, the leap into a new epoch driven by science/technology “is likely to require and bring about radical changes in at least some major values,” rises and declines in hegemony are sure to come (with Asian civilizations becoming increasingly important and probably dominant).
  19. Bounded Fuzzy Gambling. Engaging in fuzzy gambling for the high stakes of human existence and welfare is troubling, because many important choices are much fuzzier than a lottery, where ranges of outcomes and their probabilities are partly knowable. Thus “maximal efforts to improve fuzzy humanity-craft gambles are imperative; an avant-garde politician must understand the nature of thick uncertainty and of choices as fuzzy gambles.” Discusses upgrading approaches, constant adjustment, coping with leaping environments, the importance of timing, and cloaking the true nature of fuzzy gamble choices from the public.
  20. Part Five: Personal Resources

  21. Public Interest Machiavellianism. “Writing this chapter was an exciting, challenging, but not pleasant chore.” It deals with “the unavoidable necessity of avant-garde politicians to behave to some extent immorally in order to mobilize and maintain the power essential for fulfilling their missions.” The main cause of the decline of the public standing of politics is the failure of political leaders and institutions to deliver what the public wants and needs. And the overall decline in “capacities to govern” hinders coping with important issues. Dror considers 19 strategies for the praxis of public interest Machiavellianism, such as camouflaging necessary but unpopular action, being visibly different from other politicians, unique promotion to provide a competitive advantage over mainstream politicians, looking authentic and frank even when not fully so, revealing yourself as much as possible, conveying a true picture when crises strike to limit panic, downplaying commitment to humanity-craft when essential, scripting in your mind how to address the public while looking spontaneous, delicately playing on the “hero” theme, giving special attention to global forums (crucial for the future of humanity, but don’t identify with the rich and cosmopolitan), being on the side of the many in need without alienating the powerful if possible, and engaging in a lot of “give and take” to mobilize necessary money (but remain strictly within the law).
  22. Helpmates. Discusses the disparate “global avant-garde humanity elite,” partners, personal “pondering networks,” a well-run office and a reliable Chief of Staff, intelligence units (but beware “turf wars”), spouse and children (can make or break a politician), a “hermitage”(private study or retreat), informal private advisors (“grey eminences” acting behind the scenes), special advisors (spiritual advisors, security advisors, political/marketing advisors, human species advisor), professional advisory staffs (none are adequately equipped). A list of 16 principles to get the best out of your personal professional staff suggests an inner circle of 10-15 persons, all advisors with comprehensive perspectives, strict exclusion of friends, good collegial relations despite disagreements and competition, different perspectives within shared commitment to the imperatives, dismissing “Yes Sir” advisors but not tolerating impudence, rewarding good work, a senior advisor accepted by all to coordinate work, and cost consciousness (all implementation requires adequate resources).
  23. Innermost Philosophy. Considers 14 main facets including personal orientation to the future, being dominated by the mission and calling, tenacity, facing the certainty of death and preparing for exit when appropriate, consciousness of being a partner in creation and genesis (but aware of the dangers of hubris: “toxic rulers throughout history who viewed themselves as Masters of History are a red light”), humbleness and gratitude, a strong sense of belonging to an aristocracy of merit, working for a better human future as the intrinsic and only worthwhile reward, a large measure of stoic enthusiasm (expecting many failures), a stout inner citadel, much but not full trust in reason (“renovated enlightenment”), tolerance for what one does not like or understand, containing anxiety and fear, and being “somewhat hopeful about the future of humanity in order to cling to the missions.”
  24. Afterglow. However well one is doing, “exit is unavoidable.” But there are several modes of exiting, ranging from the honorable to the brutal. Discusses conflicts of interest, preparing successors (a very significant part of the job), easing the change-over, continuing missions when out of office, and full retirement (leaving the public arena).

In sum, “developing an improving type of politician…is essential for the future of humanity.” (p.314) It is hoped that the “best of the best,” both young and old, women and men, will consider seriously serving humanity as a high-quality politician, more or less in line with the model proposed here. Concludes with a five-page biblioessay of Recommended Readings and an impressive but poorly edited Bibliography of about 500 items.


A thoughtful and important guide that should be closely studied by current politicians (who won’t have the time to do so), would-be politicians, and the myriad types of advisors to avant-garde politicians and those seeking a “new paradigm” for human affairs. Unfortunately, the text is marred by an inordinate number of distracting typos, which will hopefully be corrected soon in a new edition.

Many of the themes in this book are prefigured by Dror’s two most recent books. The Capacity to Govern: A Report to the Club of Rome (London: Frank Cass, 2001) has a leitmotif of “Guiding Global Transformations,” and chapters on Unprepared Societies and Obsolete Governance, Fostering Raison d’Humanite, Rulership, Empowering People with Public Affairs Enlightenment, Deepening Policy Reflection, Fuzzy Gambling, Making Global Governance More Resolute, Augmenting Oversight, and Gearing Governance for Crises. Many of these themes are elaborated in Dror’s 2014 book. More recently, Israeli Statecraft: National Security Challenges and Responses (London: Routledge, 2011; Global Foresight Books “Book of the Month,” Sept 2011), defines “statecraft” as applied to Israel, but also has excellent chapters on likely ruptures ahead (the necessity for global action on climate issues, more rapid change in violence modalities, increased standing of Asian countries, and increasing power of civilizations and faiths not based on the Bible) and ten long-term global mega-trends (e.g.: intensified faith, rising Islam, more non-state actors, radically novel science/technology impacts, more competition for resources, diminishing US hegemony).

The back cover of Avant-Garde Politician brags that this is an “iconoclastic book,” and, in the introductory pages, Dror hopefully states that “this book will cause some controversy.” The carefully-introduced Chapter 17 on “Public Interest Machiavellianism” may well provoke complaints from progressive purists (who seldom get elected to any position because of their purity), and Chapter 2 on a “Circumscribed Global Leviathan” will surely upset many others, especially firm believers in state sovereignty and scientific freedom of inquiry. (Is the scary image of “Leviathan” really needed to promote better global governance and tame science/technology?)

But viewed through another lens, this book is not so iconoclastic (although several icons are questioned) or potentially controversial. Rather, it is timely, sensible, pragmatic idealism. Chapter 3 on “Raison d’Humanitie” deserves to be pondered and introduced into policy discussions as equal to or greater than “raison d’etat” (e.g., the response to the ebola epidemic in West Africa is clearly unvoiced “raison d’humanite”). Chapter 4 describing 14 components of the humanity value compass (e.g. protecting essential physical conditions, ending large-scale violence, eradicating evil, and expanding pluralism) is perfectly reasonable and unremarkable. Chapter 11 listing 19 desired aspects of humanity in 2100 (e.g. pluralism, stable population, increased carrying capacity, no serious economic crises) also provides sensible goals to strive for (perhaps fitted under the attractive banner of “sustainable development”, which Dror unfortunately ignores). This positive future is offset by 19 dismal futures to avoid.

Part 3 offers five chapters on Composing Humanity-Craft, including #16 on Dror’s original views about “fuzzy gambling” for the high stakes of human existence and welfare. Most important, the ponderous Chapter 12 on “Pondering” includes a list of 34 “Grand-Policy Conjectures” related to the three existential imperatives and the Chapter 4 “value compass,” dealing with critical humanitarian issues, restricting radical human enhancement research, expanding and enforcing the responsibility to protect (“R2P”) doctrine, preventing states from failing, containing greenhouse effects, protecting biodiversity, a global refugee policy, eliminating tax havens, promoting education programs to strengthen human communality, compensatory payments to countries harshly damaged by global warming, and much more. In other words, it’s a perfectly reasonable and useful progressive agenda incorporating many current prescriptions.

Another way to position Dror’s thinking is to consider it on the axis of global urgency and anger. At one extreme is Ross Jackson, author of Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform (Chelsea Green, March 2012; GFB Book of the Month, Sept 2012, 315p;, which views the current global structure as dysfunctional, undemocratic, corrupt, and exploitative of the environment and developing countries. In contrast to Dror’s relatively modest planetary “metamorphosis,” Jackson (chair of the Gaia Trust in Copenhagen) views civilization in the midst of a painful “global collapse that will continue for several decades.” This is supported by chapters about the assault on nature, the drivers of destruction (economic beliefs, neoliberal ideology, deregulation), the “corporatocracy” in charge, the Kennan Doctrine as a blueprint for empire, growing inequality, etc. This radical view leads to a call for Gaian economics and an elaborate and idealized “Gaian World Order” scheme including a Gaian Trade Organization, Gaian Development Bank, Gaian Congress composed of delegates appointed by Gaian League governments, a Gaian Resource Board, and a Gaian Council of elected wise elders. Jackson’s “global roadmap,” which includes a small-state “breakaway strategy” for getting there, is endorsed by Maurice Strong, David Korten, Dennis Meadows, and Hazel Henderson. Although there is some overlap with Dror’s relatively tame “Circumscribed Global Leviathan,” there are many differences along an idealistic/pragmatic axis.

At the other end of the axis of urgency and anger is Henry Kissinger’s reflective World Order (Penguin Press, Sept 2014, 420p), with chapters on the global Westphalian system dating back to the 17th century (no true “word order” has ever existed), today’s European order (“suspended between a past it seeks to overcome and a future it has not yet defined”), Islamism and the Middle East as a world in disorder (the region is “pulled alternately toward joining the world community and struggling against it”), the US and Iran, the multiplicity of Asia (with no common religion and deepening ethnic and cultural differences), China and world order, the historical US concept of order (“acting for all mankind”), the US as ambivalent superpower, the challenge of nuclear proliferation (any further spread of weapons “multiplies the possibilities of nuclear confrontation”), cyber technology and world order (Internet technology has outstripped strategy, and it is easier to mount cyber attacks than to defend against them), and the question of “World Order in Our Time,” in a world of multipolar power in “unprecedented flux” and increasingly contradictory realities, with lack of an effective mechanism for the great powers to consult and possible cooperate on long-range strategy. “Reconstruction of the international system is the ultimate challenge to statesmanship in our time,” requiring “a coherent strategy to establish a concept of order within the various regions, and to relate these regional orders to one another.” (p.371) In sum, “A world order of states affirming individual dignity and participatory governance, and cooperating internationally in accordance with agreed-upon rules, can be our hope and should be our inspiration.” (p.372)

Given the preceding topics, this vision seems reasonable. Yet it is very limited. Other than a passing reference on page 2 to “environmental depredations” and “the spread of new technologies threatening to drive conflict beyond human control or comprehension,” Kissinger makes no mention of climate change, global warming, new biotechnologies and human-enhancing technologies, growing inequality, or any form of global governance. The fact of these omissions should be controversial! Yet the book is favorably reviewed on the front page of The New York Times Book Review (Sept 14, 2014) by the like-minded editor-in-chief of The Economist, who calls it “a book that every member of Congress should be locked in a room with—and forced to read before taking the oath of office.”

Suffice to say that all members of the US Congress, and national leaders and would-be leaders everywhere (along with leading editors and relevant academics), should spend a week with Avant-Garde Politician if we are to get serious about world order in an undeniable age of metamorphosis and possible global collapse. It won’t happen, of course. But the slim possibility of a maturing humanity would be improved if this were so, and if we could acknowledge the structural problems that keep us from learning about—and seriously debating--more appropriate worldviews for our turbulent times.

About the Author(s)

Michael Marien

Senior Principal, The Security & Sustainability Guide; Fellow, World Academy of Art & Science